New Volvo XC90 vs used Land Rover Discovery: which is best?

The latest Volvo XC90 is proving popular – but a used Land Rover Discovery could be even more luxurious for the same price. Which should you choose?...

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Alex Robbins
3 Jun 2017 06:00 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

New Volvo XC90 vs used Land Rover Discovery – driving

New Volvo XC90 vs used Land Rover Discovery: which is best?

Remarkably, despite the fact it gives away a whole litre and more than 20bhp to the Land Rover Discovery, the Volvo XC90 actually feels slightly perkier away from the line. Indeed, it holds off the Discovery all the way to the 62mph mark in the acceleration stakes – quite an achievement.

Where the Volvo does fall down is in terms of its engine’s smoothness – its four-cylinder 2.0 just isn’t quite as hushed as the Land Rover’s 3.0 six-cylinder. It also suffers from more road noise at speed.

What’s more, the Land Rover comes with air suspension as standard, so any secondhand example you see will have it fitted. The result is a wafty, delightfully comfortable ride on all but the worst surfaces. By contrast, it’s an optional extra on the Volvo, so you’ll have to spend extra. Not that you should, because it doesn’t improve the standard ride – which is decent enough, but not as comfortable as the Land Rover’s – all that much.

The payoff for that stiffer ride is that the Volvo feels more at home if you’re cornering quickly. It’s no hot hatch, mind you, but you still get precise steering, and it doesn’t lean over as much. The Discovery, on the other hand, feels decidedly put-out if you try to hurry it along, swaying around and trying to push on ahead if you enter a corner too fast. That said, it’s the one you’ll want in your corner if you’re doing any serious off-roading.


New Volvo XC90 vs used Land Rover Discovery – costs

New Volvo XC90 vs used Land Rover Discovery: which is best?

Even second-hand, the Discovery is likely to cost you a little more to buy than the brand-new Volvo, especially if you decide you want to take advantage of Land Rover’s excellent Approved Used scheme, which gives you a two-year warranty.

That said, if the car you’re buying is only a year old, the manufacturer’s warranty should cover you for most of that time anyway, so this might be less important than it first appears. Either way, you’ll probably want to make sure there’s as much warranty left as you can, because Land Rover’s reliability record is appalling – the brand finished second-from-bottom in our 2017 Reliability Survey, and while we don’t have specific data on this generation of Discovery, the previous model came 23rd out of 27 large SUVs. Having said that, the XC90’s reliability record is pretty atrocious too – it came 26th in the same ranking, though at least if you buy a new XC90, you’ll get the full three years’ manufacturer warranty, which will protect you from any big bills for a little longer. You can extend the Discovery’s warranty, but it isn’t cheap to to do so – expect to pay upwards of £1000 a year.

Where the Volvo does better the discovery is in terms of its fuel economy. Its official average consumption figure of 47.1mpg makes the Discovery’s 39.2mpg look rather poor. To put that into context, if those figures are accurate, then over 10,000 miles at today’s prices it’d cost you around £250 more to fuel the Land Rover.

However, you might be able to mitigate some of that extra cost if you buy a Discovery registered before 1 April 2017. That’s when the new flat-rate tax rules came in, under which all cars costing more than £40,000 – including both of these cars – incur an annual £450 fee. However, under the old regime, the Discovery would only cost you £290 a year to tax, so it’s worth seeking one of these examples out. Don’t forget, too, that as it’s already a year old, the Discovery will have taken its big first-year depreciation hit already – meaning you’ll probably find much less of your money has disappeared down the drain when the time comes to sell it on.


New Volvo XC90 vs used Land Rover Discovery: which is best?