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Used test: Honda CR-V vs Kia Sorento vs Land Rover Discovery Sport

Buy any of these hybrid SUVs at three years old and you can save yourself a tidy sum on the cost of a new one. But which should you choose?...

New Kia Sorento and Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Honda CR-V fronts

The contenders

Honda CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid AWD SR

List price when new £36,340
Price today £28,000*
Available from 2018-present

It's the cheapest car here, but the CR-V promises strong performance and fuel economy

Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDI HEV AWD 2

List price when new £38,845
Price today £33,000*
Available from 2020-present

The Sorento looks like great value, especially with the surplus of space it has to offer

Land Rover Discovery Sport P200 AWD R-Dynamic S Plus 7-seat

List price when new £39,975
Price today £36,000*
Available from 2014-present

We like the Discovery Sport in diesel form, but how will this mild-hybrid petrol version fare?  

*Price today is based on a 2020 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Each of the X-Men has a special gene that grants them an extraordinary trait, such as teleportation, shapeshifting or a slightly long neck (Google it).

Honda CR-V 2021 rear

And like those superheroes, these versions of the Honda CR-V and Kia Sorento are genetically enhanced. As well as a conventional engine, they also have an electric motor, allowing them to harness petrol and/or electric power at will. In other words, they're hybrids.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport P200 is a mild hybrid and its battery and electric motor combination has slightly less power than the CR-V and the Sorento, but that's no reason to dismiss it.

And keep in mind that these aren't just hybrids, but also large SUVs of the used car variety. That means they'll need to be heroically practical and super-good value for money. At three years old, you can enjoy a healthy saving off the price of a new one each. 

We've tested their range of abilities to see which of our trio is best, starting with pace.

Kia Sorento 2021 rear


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

The CR-V is the most powerful of our contenders, so it's hardly surprising that it's the quickest in the sprint from 0-60mph, pipping the Sorento by a small margin (8.0sec versus 8.3sec). The Discovery Sport is around one and a half seconds adrift, only just scraping under 10 seconds for that dash.

Likewise, the CR-V can whizz you most easily up to motorway speeds or past slower-moving traffic, while the Discovery Sport is the tardiest. And the CR-V has the quickest reactions when you put your foot down (the Sorento and the Discovery Sport take a breath before starting to surge forward).

Land Rover Discovery Sport 2021 rear

The CR-V is helped by the fact that its CVT automatic gearbox is seamless. The Sorento’s conventional six-speed auto is generally smooth, but the Discovery Sport’s has nine gears and doesn’t seem to know what to do with them all. Occasionally, it lunges aggressively from one to another. Or, if you lift off the accelerator, anticipating some mild engine braking, it alternates between holding on to a low gear defiantly or slumping immediately into a higher gear with hardly any retardation at all.

At tickover, the Discovery Sport’s engine sounds more like a diesel, although it does smooth out as the revs increase. The Sorento is the opposite when it comes to engine noise. It’s almost silent when running in electric mode at low speeds, and is still pretty serene when the petrol engine kicks in – until you accelerate hard, at which point it gets a little coarse.

The CR-V can also run quietly in electric mode, and mostly uses its electric motor to drive the wheels, with the engine simply charging up the battery.

Honda CR-V 2021 nose

Sometimes the engine drives the wheels directly through the elastic-band-like CVT ’box, and its behaviour doesn’t follow normal rules. It can be subdued when you’re driving very gently, but on other occasions – such as when you’re climbing a hill – the engine screams away frantically. The noise isn’t deafening, but sometimes it’s incongruously out of step with the speed at which you’re travelling.

On top of that, the CR-V generates the most tyre noise at motorway speeds, followed by the Sorento, while the Discovery Sport has the least. The Discovery Sport whips up the least wind noise at high speeds, but it's the least impressive when it comes to stopping power – it needed an extra 10 metres to pull up from 70mph (in damp conditions) compared with the Sorento, and eight more metres than the CR-V.

Still, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is able to tow the most: a braked trailer up to 2000kg. The Kia Sorento can pull 1650kg and the Honda CR-V a feeble 750kg. What's more, the Discovery Sport is the best off road, because it's not only able to draw upon four-wheel drive (like the others) but also a raft of electronic driving aids, the most ground clearance and all-season tyres.

Kia Sorento 2021 nose

The Sorento has the least ground clearance but a few gizmos to keep you going on slippery ground, such as hill descent control and Terrain Mode, which mimics the Discovery Sport’s ability to optimise its four-wheel-drive system for mud, snow or sand. The CR-V has four-wheel drive, but that’s it.

What about their on-road dynamics, though? Well, none is going to make you quiver with joy on a meandering B-road, but the Sorento is the most composed and confidence-inspiring. True, it has the slowest steering, but that makes it feel relaxed and easy to master, plus it leans the least through bends and grips hardest.

The CR-V is also tidy for such a bulky brute. It steers with just the right weight and response to let you guide it blithely along twisty roads, but with softer suspension, it isn’t as agile as the Sorento.

As for the Discovery Sport, that's a bit of an oddball. Its light, quick steering could have come from a sports car but there's a lot of body lean as you turn in to corners, and the Discovery Sport has the least grip, especially in the wet.

Land Rover Discovery Sport 2021 nose

It's not the smoothest-riding car here, either. R-Dynamic S Plus trim comes with big, 20in wheels and that's part of the reason why it’s the clumsiest over potholes and the least settled at motorway speeds, although it’s never truly uncomfortable.

The CR-V is like a plumped-up pillow by comparison. It’s the best at softening off speed bumps and damping down potholes, and is the smoothest at high speeds. The trade-off is that it sways about and bounces around the most along undulating roads.

The Kia Sorento sits between the two, and on balance that makes it the most comfortable. It’s less knobbly than the Land Rover Discovery Sport and steadier than the Honda CR-V – characteristics that will appeal to a wider audience.

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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