Volvo XC90 vs BMW X5 vs Land Rover Discovery

Can the Volvo XC90 hold its own against the BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery? We find out which is the best sub-£50k seven-seat SUV...

Volvo XC90 vs BMW X5 vs Land Rover Discovery


All things considered, the XC90 has to go down as a resounding success. It’s not quite as brilliant to drive or as refined as we’d hoped, but its high quality, spacious and cleverly thought out interior makes amends. It’s also cheaper than its rivals to own privately or run as a company car, and it comes brimming with standard safety kit to help keep you and your family out of harm's way.

Put simply, if want to buy a posh seven-seat SUV and can't quite stretch to the brilliant Audi Q7, the latest Volvo XC90 is your best bet.

The BMW X5 isn’t far off the pace, though. It’s more comfortable and generally more enjoyable to drive than its Swedish rival, and it’s a quieter cruiser, with less road and suspension noise disturbing the peace.

However, reliability is a major concern and, just as crucially, the X5 is the least accommodating seven-seater here. It’s perfectly adequate if your needs extend to collecting a gaggle of nine-year-olds from football practice once a week, but not if you regularly need to ferry around seven adults or lanky teenagers.

Considering the Discovery is a decade old and nearing retirement, it puts up a surprisingly good fight. It’s easily the most spacious of our trio and is relaxing and pleasant enough to drive if you do most of your miles on big A-roads and motorways. Despite its poor fuel economy, it won’t cost you that much more than its rivals to own privately over three years, and it’s by far the most capable off road.

That said, it’s horrendously expensive to run as a company car, lacks some important modern safety features, has the least intuitive infotainment system and isn’t as well equipped as its rivals.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

1st - Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum  

For Practical, user-friendly cabin; high-quality interior; great value; refined engine

Against Unsettled ride; road and suspension noise

Verdict As good as it gets for this money

Read the full Volvo XC90 review

2nd - BMW X5 xDrive25d SE 7st

For Tidy handling; comfortable ride; brilliant infotainment; lots of standard kit

Against Cramped third row; reliability concerns

Verdict Better to drive than the Volvo. Not as practical.

Read the full BMW X5 review

3rd - Land Rover Discovery SDV6 Graphite

For Massively spacious cabin; relaxing drive; off-road ability

Against Fuel economy and CO2 emissions; shortage of safety kit; unwieldy to drive

Verdict Outclassed, but not embarrassed

Read the full Land Rover Discovery review

Specifications: BMW X5 xDrive25d SE 7st

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £48,270

Power 228bhp

Torque 369lb ft

0-62mph 7.7 seconds

Top speed 137mph

Fuel economy 50.4mpg

CO2 146g/km

Specifications: Land Rover Discovery SDV6 Graphite

Engine size 3.0-litre diesel

Price from £47,505

Power 225bhp

Torque 443lb ft

0-62mph 8.8 seconds

Top speed 112mph

Fuel economy 36.7mpg

CO2 203g/km

Specifications: Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £46,850 

Power 222bhp

Torque 347lb ft

0-62mph 8.2 seconds

Top speed 137mph

Fuel economy 46.9mpg

CO2 149g/km