Which full-size off-roader is versatile enough to be every car you'll ever need? Read our quick guide and find out1: Land Rover Discovery 4
Just re-worked version of this beefy seven-seat off-roader moves it even closer to executive-car territory. It looks classier than ever, perfect to slot in beside the Audis and BMWs in the directors' corner of the company car park. Even so, it's still as super-capable off-road and will take you along a rutted forest track or even across a stream, should you wish. Its now 140kgs lighter than it was, while its new diesel engines are more economical, while pumping out less polluting gases. And, unlike many offering space for seven, every chair here has sufficient space for a six-footer to sit at ease. There’s even a bit of space left over for some baggage. Of course, the Discovery’s forte is yomping up a rock-strewn hill and we all know that few of its owners would even think of trying that. Still, I guess it’s nice to know that you can... For whatever time it spends on made-up roads, it’ll roll smoothly and drive so precisely that you’ll soon forget its impressive size. If your conscience will let you drive something that emits 244g/km of CO2, it’s a terrific buy.
2: Volvo XC90
The XC90’s another big, imposing car that works as an executive express, family taxi, and mud plugger. Its style is less aggressive than most and that alone carves it enough buyers. And, like Volvos of old, it feels tough enough to last for decades. It can’t claim to drive as sweetly as the Discovery or the X5 and while it has space for seven, its rear seats are too wee for big adults, unless just for a hop into town. The diesel models are best, although they are noisy compared to the X5 or Discovery, while the suspension may join in with a thump or two if taken across broken surfaces. It’s still one of the best, but it’s now an older design and shows its age a touch.
3: BMW X5
Like the Discovery, this big BMW is mighty fine to drive on-road: powerful and very smooth. Alas, unlike the Discovery, it seats only five as standard. You can add a pew to carry two, but it costs over £1000 extra, halves boot space and is cramped for grown-ups. What’s more, the X5 just isn’t at its best in the rough stuff, though it should get you through snow or across a muddy field. Still, it ds what it ds well, delivering much of the hush and poise you’d expect of a 5-series saloon. The 3.0 diesel version promises 34mpg and emits 216g/km, while the 4.2 petrol manages 24mpg and pumps 299g/km. However you choose, though, leave the Sport models unless their firm ride suits you. Verdict ****