There’s no doubt that SUVs are Australia’s newest obsession. It’s all anyone is talking about. Gone are the days when you had to give up comfort for a car that can take you from the ’burbs to the bush. Sure, they may not get the chance to get their tyres muddy too often, and a bunch of die-hard off-roaders probably scoff every time they see one drive past, but the Toorak Tractor is still going strong in Australia.
Wheels has given us its insight into five great cars in the luxury SUV segment. From bigger boots to interiors loaded with technology, here are our picks.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
These cars are all luxury SUVs.
THE AIM OF THE WHEELS GAME
The Audi Q5 may be the reigning champ of the medium-sized premium SUV class, but new competitors have driven interest in the segment and buyers now have greater choice than ever. The team at Wheels pit Audi’s offering against its rivals to see which car emerges victorious (click here to read the full Wheels comparison).
Land Rover Discovery Sport
As standard, the Land Rover Discovery Sport includes satellite navigation, reverse camera and automatic braking. Of this group of mid-sized SUVs, the Disco Sport is the only capable off-roader for those who don't mind getting their tyres dirty. It’s spacious, flexible, and includes some pretty cool technologies such as Wade Sensoring which gauges water crossings.
It is also available with an optional third row of seats for added versatility at a cost of about $1990. On the downside, the Sport has experienced some technical glitches. It also has a fairly large turning circle and lacks the hardware of other four-wheel drives.
In typical Audi fashion, the Audi Q5’s interiors are bursting with class and flexibility with a cabin that can adapt to your needs. It features the Technik package, with three-zone climate control, reversing camera and satellite navigation. Large side mirrors with blind spot monitoring add to the already high visibility.
It’s not the most spacious in its class, but the rear seats are versatile and can be folded flat for greater cargo space.
The Lexus NX300h offers great value with electric steering wheel adjustment, heated seats and reversing camera. For the eco-conscious, its hybrid engine delivers good fuel economy and for music lovers it has 10 speakers scattered throughout its cabin. The Enform Communications system, an added extra, delivers handy information such as weather, and can even locate your closest petrol station.
As the smallest car tested here, the Lexus is marked down for cargo room and interior space. The drive can also feel unsettled at times.
Space is a notable feature in the Volvo XC60. The second row is propped up so everyone gets a good view, the boot swallows any cargo you have, and with the back seats and front passenger seat folded down, you could move a small apartment. Its safety credentials are also solid with Collision Avoidance technology to help prevent low-speed impacts.
Satellite navigation comes at an added expense of a few thousand dollars and the Volvo XC60 Road Sign Information technology can be a bit hit and miss.
The BMW X3 offers an entertaining all-round driving experience from its comfortable seating position, accurate steering and powerful engine. It is especially suited to those who feel like putting their foot down. The iDrive controller and dials are easy to use and boot space is abundant.
The X3 loses points inside where the interior feels cheaply made by comparison, with hard materials, a low-resolution centre screen and flat and firm seats. The ride of X3 is also less refined over poor surfaces.
Audi Q5 2.0TDI Quattro: 7.5/10
BMW X3 xDrive 20i: 5.5/10
Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury: 7.5/10
Lexus NX300h F-Sport: 6.0/10
Volvo XC60 D4 Luxury: 6.5/10
As for the WhichCar verdict, we realise one size doesn’t fit all. In-built booster seats in the XC60 are great for families whilst the ability to take the Land Rover off-road is a drawcard for others. However if we were to categorise, these would be our choices:
- The Volvo XC60 is our pick for a younger family.
- The Audi Q5 rates highly as an all-round family car.
- The Land Rover Discovery Sport takes the cake for anyone searching for a little more adventure.
- The Lexus NX300h is perfect for those wanting a city car with extra space and a whole lot of luxury.
- The BMW X3 is our choice for more enthusiastic drivers.
This full comparison was published in Wheels August 2015.