New BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 hybrids vs Lexus NX: practicality

Running on a diet of petrol and electricity, these large SUVs all put efficiencyfirst. Time to see which offers the best all-round recipe...

New BMW X3 rear space

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

Unless you’re approaching six and a half feet tall, you’ll fit easily in the front of any of these cars, despite the Volvo XC60 coming with a panoramic glass roof (an £1190 option on the BMW X3 and not available on the Lexus NX). The X3’s seat goes back the farthest, though, and its tall roofline provides the greatest head room. But the margins are small, as they are for storage space; each car offers a decent-sized glovebox and door bins, plus cupholders and oddment cubbies up front. 

Lexus NX rear space

Move to the rear and greater variance creeps in. While the NX offers just as much head room as its rivals, six-footers will have noticeably less room for stretching their legs. The NX does, however, have the most comfortably contoured rear seats, which can also be reclined if occupants fancy a kip; this is an £890 option on the X3 and not available on the XC60.

The X3 and XC60 also force their middle rear passenger to straddle a much bigger floor hump, so the NX is actually the best for carrying three side by side, despite it being the narrowest in the back.

With the seatbacks set in their default positions, the boots of all three cars can swallow seven carry-on suitcases. However, open the X3's tailgate and you'll find that its boot floor is 3.5in higher than a conventional X3's, in order to accommodate the hybrid system's battery. This means, if you fold the rear seats to extend the load area, the forward boot floor ends up with an awkward step down that is obstructive when unloading from the rear.

New Volvo XC60 rear space

The XC60 also suffers from an uneven boot floor, but it's less noticeable than the X3's. Meanwhile, the NX's boot floor sits level with its folded seatbacks, and it's the only one with enough underfloor storage space for the charging cables and load cover. 

Speaking of folding rear seats, the X3 and XC60's split and fold in a slightly more flexible 40/20/40 arrangement than the NX's 60/40 set-up. None of our contenders is available with seven seats, so if you want to carry more than five people, look at the Land Rover Discovery Sport or Mercedes GLB instead. 

Boot space


New BMW X3 boot space

Boot 450-1500 litres Suitcases 7

Volvo XC60

New Volvo XC60 boot space

Boot 468-1395 litres Suitcases 7

Lexus NX

Lexus NX boot space

Boot 545-1436 litres Suitcases 7

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