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Car group tests

Volvo XC90 vs Land Rover Discovery: first UK test

We see if Volvo’s hi-tech new XC90 can go straight to the top of the seven-seater SUV class as it meets capable Land Rover Discovery

The original Volvo XC90 4x4 changed the brand’s image. When it joined the range of boxy saloons and estates way back in 2002, the stylish seven-seat SUV brought some premium pizzazz. It stood the test of time as well, finally being axed in 2014, 12 years after it first went on sale.

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This means the all-new XC90 has a lot to live up to – but with an interior packed full of the latest technology, some very clever safety systems and a new, highly efficient family of engines that’ll feature in Volvos of the future, the car has what it takes to rocket straight to the top of the class.

Plus, as prices start at £45,750, it has value on its side when compared to the competition. Its closest rival has always been the Land Rover Discovery. Over the past decade, if you wanted a refined and practical SUV with lots of space, seven seats and genuine off-road ability, the Disco has arguably been the default choice.

But with the Mk2 XC90 now on sale, has that all changed, or is the ageing Land Rover’s appeal still strong enough to rival the hi-tech newcomer as the family SUV favourite? We get behind the wheel of both models to find out.

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Volvo XC90 review

Land Rover Discovery review

Click on the links above to read each in-depth review, then read on below for our verdict.

Head to head

Off-road ability

Not only can the Discovery tow bigger loads thanks to its 3,500kg limit, it’s also the more capable choice for buyers wanting a premium seven-seater with go-anywhere versatility. It has three computer-controlled locking differentials and off-road tyres. Unlike the Land Rover, the Volvo doesn’t come with any special off-road programmes.

Digital revolution

The XC90’S digital dials are similar to those on the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, while its iPad-style interface is one of the best around. The Disco is showing its age by comparison, but we’re sure the new model – due next year – will get lots of gadgets to bring its tech tally up to scratch.


Room in the back row of both cars is good, and six-footers will be comfortable on short journeys. XC90’s seats are more forgiving, and the mechanism is more user-friendly; the middle row slides and folds in one smooth motion, meaning access is a lot easier.


First place: Volvo XC90

A cool new design direction for Volvo and impressive efficiency make this XC90 a winner. It keeps on delivering, too, with great practicality, a firm yet comfortable chassis and superb levels of equipment and technology. Add into the mix the newcomer’s value for money and it’s a milestone for Volvo; the brand’s first exciting step towards posing a real threat to its upmarket rivals.

Second place: Land Rover Discovery

Time hasn’t blunted the Discovery’s appeal. Yet even though it’s been updated over the years, next to cutting-edge rivals like the XC90, it’s no longer the force it once was. That’s partly due to its poor efficiency and the fact this SE Tech model offers a lower spec at a higher price. The ride is still serene, though, and it’s the best seven-seater if you want proper off-road ability.


 Volvo XC90 D5 AWD MomentumLand Rover Discovery SE Tech
On the road price/total as tested£45,750/£50,025£47,500/£49,025
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£25,048/54.8%£25,650/54.0%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£2,460/£4,919£3,464/£9,927
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,986/£3,310£2,428/£4,047
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost33/N/A/F/£14542/N/A/K/£290
Servicing costsN/A£699 (5yrs)
Engine4cyl in-line/1,969ccV6/2,993cc
Peak power/revs221/4,250 bhp/rpm252/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs470/1,750 Nm/rpm600/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission8-spd auto/4wd8-spd auto/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel71 litres/repair kit82 litres/space-saver
Boot capacity (7/5/2 seats)451/1,102/1,951 litres172/1,260/2,558 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight2,130/741/2,700kg2,570/690/3,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.9 metres/N/A11.5 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers18,000 miles (1yr)/10915,000 miles (1yr)/130
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.17th/17th*29th/28th*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/A4/3/1 (2006)
0-60/30-70mph8.1/8.0 seconds8.4/8.3 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.5/4.4 seconds3.3/3.7 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th5.7/6.9/9.3/12.9 secs5.2/6.5/7.9/12.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph137mph/1,650rpm112mph/1,650rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph50.5/36.8/9.3m50.6/38.1/9.2m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph59/63/62/62dB66/58/58/60dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range33.0/7.3/515 miles27.1/6.0/489 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined45.6/52.3/49.6mpg33.2/39.8/36.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.0/11.5/10.9mpl7.3/8.8/8.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket229/149g/km/27%279/213g/km/37%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/yes/£700Eight/yes/yes/£360
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/yes/£575Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£700/LEDs/yesYes/yes/£815
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

Volvo XC90: video review

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