Used test – winter warmers: Audi Q5 vs BMW X3 vs Land Rover Freelander vs Volvo XC60

These upmarket SUVs are reassuringly high-and-mighty and come with cosseting interiors, making them perfect for winter – but which makes the best used buy?

Words ByWhat Car? team

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What will they cost?

The BMW X3 is, by quite some margin, the cheapest car here to own. That’s thanks in large part to its superb fuel economy; it gets 50.4mpg, which compared with the 41.5mpg of the Volvo and the 40.4mpg of both the Land Rover and Audi, is frankly in a different league.

That low fuel consumption equates to low tax rates, too – just Β£145 a year, compared with the Β£230 a year any of the other three will cost you. What’s more, the BMW can also boast the lowest servicing costs of our quartet. All of which should mitigate against the fact that the BMW is the second most expensive car here to buy.

It is, however, considerably less expensive than the Audi Q5. The Audi’s purchase costs are head and shoulders above any other car here. Granted, you will see proportionately more of your cash back when the time comes to sell it on – but in real cash terms, you’ll actually lose about as much as you will on the BMW, and more than on the Land Rover and Volvo, purely because they’re starting from a lower initial price.

At least the Audi has the second-lowest servicing costs after the BMW. By contrast, it’s the Land Rover that’s the most expensive to service, with the Volvo filling the gap between the two.

Land Rover finished last in the most recent JD Power Vehicle Dependability Survey; however, neither Audi nor BMW fared much better. And while the Freelander doesn’t fare all that well in the What Car? Reliability Index, the Audi Q5 performs far worse. And while there’s no score yet for the current BMW X3, if the previous model is any indication, it won’t do all that well either.

That leaves the Volvo XC60 looking the most reliable of the three, although it doesn’t exactly get a clean bill of health; its score in the Reliability Index is no better than average.

All of which means that if cost is a factor, it makes the most sense to choose either the Volvo for its low purchase price and reasonable reliability score, or the BMW for its cheap running costs and decent resale values. It’s a toss-up between the Audi and the Land Rover as to which will be the most expensive to own, but thanks to its disastrous reliability score, we suspect the Q5 would edge it.

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