What Car? Car of the Year awards 2009 - SUV

Article 12 of 18 See all
  • 16 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2009 revealed
What we were looking for: The primary attributes for success are composure and comfort on the road, a classy image and practicality. Off-road prowess is useful, not vital.

The contenders
Best buy under £25,000
Land Rover Freelander TD4_e GS
List price £23,324
Target Price £19,864
Best web price na

Best buy £25,000 – £30,000
Volvo XC60 2.4 D SE
List price £25,697
Target Price £25,442
Best web price £23,654 (www.carfile.net)

Best buy over £30,000
Land Rover Discovery TDV6 XS auto
List price £35,635
Target Price £30,264
Best web price £28,025 (www.carfile.net)

The winner is…
Volvo XC60 2.4D SE
List price £25,697
Target Price £25,442

Volvo is renowned for two things — making some of the world's most family-friendly cars, and some of the safest. The XC60 reinforces that reputation.

Let's start with the family car role, because that's what most compact SUVs are used for. Quite simply, it doesn't get much better than this. Whether you're in the front or in the back, there's a stack of space for the long-of-leg and the broad-of-backside to make themselves comfortable. The perfectly sculpted seats give amazing support, and for a few quid more you can add pop-out child boosters that are built into the rear bench — genius.

What's more, the classy cabin materials are also durable, so they should easily survive the stresses and strains of hard, daily family use.

Don't worry about whether your clan's clutter will fit, either. The boot is enormous, and even more impressive if you don't need the rear seats. Pull one lever and you'll stare in amazement as the seatbacks and headrests tumble simultaneously to provide a totally flat load area.

Safety matters
Safety is hugely important in a car that's used to cart the family about, and the XC60 is the safest car that Volvo has ever built. With a record like Volvo's, that's enormously impressive.

You get all the safety measures you'd expect at this money — oodles of airbags and a range of electronic aids to stop your car doing pretty much anything you don't want it to. However, there's also the new City Safety system, which uses laser sensors to monitor the distance to the car in front, and automatically applies the brakes if you get too close. This helps prevent an impact, or at least minimise the damage. A range of optional extras makes things even safer, including a system that warns you about cars sitting in your blind spot, and one that prevents you wandering out of your lane.

Behind the wheel
Even more impressively, the XC60 is also the best car in its class to drive. The ride is smooth, so you glide over bumps in the road as though they were never there, and it feels secure and composed in a set of bends thanks to strong grip and impressive body control. Refinement is class-leading, too; there's barely any road noise, wind noise is well isolated, and although there's a distant rumble from the 2.4-litre diesel engine as you accelerate, it's not enough to spoil the calm. It's quieter than the more powerful D5 unit, too.

Granted, there are greener cars in the class, so fuel and company car tax will be costly. However, the sharp looks, strong image and premium badge all keep resale values among the class best, helping the car win this category.

Click image above to enlarge

What Car? Car of the Year awards 2009 - Compact executive


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