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Large SUV of the Year 2016: Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 is the 2016 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, with the Audi Q7 and Kia Sorento commended

It’s a hugely competitive market, but Volvo has managed to take home the title for Best Large SUV once again this year, with its brilliant XC90. That’s hardly surprising, as it also scooped our coveted Auto Express Car of the Year title in 2015. Plus, with its unrivalled combination of superb luxury, advanced technology and affordable prices, the slick Swede is still on top of its game.

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But it’s the cool Scandinavian styling and clever design features that make Volvo’s premium seven-seater stand out, and sets the tone for the brand’s future model line-up.

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Outside, crisp, minimalist lines are combined with distinctive features, such as the aggressive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running lights. A classy cabin is set apart by brushed metal inserts, lots of leather and a refreshingly uncluttered dashboard, where a modern tablet-style infotainment screen controls the multimedia, climate and sat-nav systems.

Volvo has continued to build on its reputation for comfort and safety, too. Not only does the SUV get some of the best seats in the business, Volvo also includes its City Safety auto-braking technology, Queue Assist and self-parking. 

On the road, the XC90 has plenty of get-up-and-go, and despite its permanent ‘on demand’ four-wheel-drive system, the road-biased set-up means it’s incredibly comfortable, feeling more luxury saloon than off-roader.

Volvo XC90 long term - front/side

A range of decent 2.0-litre engines is on offer: one smooth, refined 231bhp diesel, a 316bhp petrol and a hi-tech 401bhp petrol hybrid. The most popular of these is the D5 diesel, which promises reasonable economy of 49.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km – although that’s well beaten by the T8 hybrid’s remarkable 49g/km figure.

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The XC90’s vast interior includes seven full-size seats which can be configured in a variety of ways. Each chair in the middle row slides independently, and the extra two seats also fold flat to reveal a huge 1,102-litre boot.

With all that in mind, it’s no wonder the practical and stylish XC90 is such a firm family favourite.

Our choice

Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum (£46,850)

All XC90s get the same crisp lines, imposing proportions and neat detailing, so the entry-level Momentum looks as classy as Volvo’s flagship Inscription. The four-cylinder D5 diesel delivers a surprising mix of refinement and punch, while inside it’s a masterclass in minimalist luxury. There’s loads of kit, but air-suspension is a worthwhile extra.

Commended

Audi Q7

Audi Q7 2016 - front tracking

As the technological flagship for Audi, this luxurious Mk2 SUV is bound to impress buyers looking for more than just an off-road vehicle. Innovations include Traffic Jam Assistant, which helps steering at low speeds, and a tablet-style infotainment display. The Q7 is agile and quick, while efficient diesels deliver decent economy. 

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento long termer front

The Sorento has also had a style makeover, with a bolder design and higher-quality materials inside, creating a more upmarket look. Combine that with the SUV’s already rugged off-road ability, plus a powerful and surprisingly punchy 2.2-litre diesel engine, and it offers buyers great value for money. Better still, you get Kia’s seven-year warranty.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2016 

For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2016, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...  

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