We were asked “What are the top 5 vehicles to take off-road” so we decided to seek the opinion of the experts from Carbuyer, one of the most influential car review websites in the UK, to help compile our top five list. But unless you are going to opt for a dedicated off-road vehicle that is probably not going to be very family friendly most people will be looking for an allrounder, otherwise referred to as an SUV.
So, for this list we are only going to look at the Sports Utility Vehicle sector which includes many of the largest 4x4 models currently available. SUVs are becoming more common in the UK but originated in the US where the trend setter was the Jeep Wagoneer. Here in the UK the Range Rover, launched in 1970, became the first off-road type vehicle that would appeal to a much wider audience, not just farmers and the Barbour Jacket brigade!
Early Range Rovers were not designed as luxury vehicles, though undoubtedly up-market compared to the typical Land Rover models of the time, as they had fairly basic interiors with vinyl seats and plastic dashboards that could be washed down with a hose! Features such as powered steering, carpets, air conditioning, cloth or leather seats and wooden interior trim would come later. Back then it would be difficult to envisage what the Range Rover would have evolved into nowadays where it has become a luxury vehicle. Increasingly today off-road 4x4s are becoming lavish SUVs that are considered an alternative to traditional executive cars.
Our Top Five SUVs
You can read the Carbuyer Review in full but our Top 5 Vehicles to take off-road, as voted by Carbuyer is as follows:
#1 - The Volvo XC90
Voted top was the Volvo XC90 that has been around for well over a decade. Now into its second generation, the Volvo XC90 offers all the safety features that you would expect from a Volvo with one of the most handsome shapes on the road. Larger than its predecessor, the latest XC90 appeals to buyers who would also consider the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and off course the Land Rover Discovery, which came in at #2!
#2 - The Land Rover Discovery
Replacing the previous “Disco” was no easy task as it was around for 14 years and proved a big hit! With versatility in abundance and a practical yet plush interior, the Discovery was always renowned for its towing and off-roading abilities. The new model has kept all the assets that made the Discovery so popular, but brought it up-to-date with an unmistakable design and the ability to conquer almost any terrain.
Land Rover Discovery Interior Space
Unless they are a professional basketball player, third-row Discovery passengers will find their knees no longer rub on the seat in front, and there’s more headroom, too. When all seven seats are in use there is as much boot space as the average family hatchback, and when the third row is folded down the load space exceeds that of most large estate cars.
Land Rover Discovery Performance
Having a more car-like design than the previous model, and weighing in 450kg lighter means a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine provides ample power for this large SUV, with fuel economy a competitive 43.5mpg and an impressive 0-62mph time of just 8.3 seconds thanks to its 237bhp output. The latest Discovery is also more agile than its predecessor, and its Terrain Response system and generous ground clearance give it exceptional off-road capability.
The entry-level Discovery S includes an eight-inch touchscreen, seven seats as standard, air suspension and a ‘powered inner tailgate’ and undercuts most rivals as BMW X5 buyers are charged extra for a third row of seats. After Euro NCAP crash-testing, the Discovery was awarded the maximum five stars, so overall, it’s of no surprise that the Land Rover Discovery continues to be a very desirable family SUV.
#3 The Audi Q7
The Audi Q7 was launched to an enthusiastic audience who'd long awaited an Audi SUV and its now a rival to the BMW X5, and Mercedes GLE, Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne and the Volvo XC90, although it's actually closer in size to the Range Rover and the Mercedes GLS. For the latest version, Audi has kept what made the original a success story, its huge seven-seat interior, but addressed criticisms that it was seen as too bulky and intimidating both to look at and to drive. The latest version has lost none of its imposing presence, but it's leaner and more agile than before.
#4 The Range Rover
The latest generation of the legendary Range Rover SUV would be almost unrecognisable to owners of the original model, which was a simple design that offered more comfort than the Land Rover on which it was based, but was still rather spartan by today’s standards. However fairly soon the Range Rover was adopted by wealthy owners and footballers’ wives, making it the 4x4 to be seen in, a fact reinforced by the Royal Family often being photographed driving one. The down-to-earth plastic interior trim was gradually evolving to a more luxurious appearance with wood veneer and swathes of leather.
Range Rover Off-road Capability
Over the years the iconic Range Rover has been updated often, but one thing that has never changed is Land Rover’s commitment to ensure that the Range Rover remains the most capable off-roader you can buy. To demonstrate this even a high-end Range Rover with an interior as luxurious as any executive saloon car, and that may be destined to only go off-road when parked on the pavement in Kensington, still has the technology and ability to scale almost any type or terrain.
The latest Range Rover has taken this concept to the next level, with a greater emphasis on exterior and interior design than before. A recent update has modernised the infotainment system, making it far more attractive and easier to use while comfort for rear-seat passengers is better than ever, especially if you go for the long-wheelbase option.
Range Rover Performance
Despite all of the technological additions, the latest Range Rover is 420kg lighter than its predecessor which improves performance and running costs. The 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel is cheapest to run, despite its impressive pulling power and if you want more performance there’s also a 4.4-litre SDV8 with 334bhp! For those wanting to embrace new technology there’s also a Range Rover PHEV with electric motors coupled to the 3.0-litre diesel.
If fuel economy is less of a priority three petrol engines each have appeal. Vogue SE buyers can choose a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 with 334bhp, which is impressively smooth and quiet. The other extreme is the 5.0-litre supercharged 543bhp V8 engine of the SV Autobiography Dynamic, which is as menacing as you’d ever need. This model comes with a tuned chassis that’s designed to be as close as possible to a Range Rover sports car and manages 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds, while passengers travel in brazen luxury!
If you’re happy to settle for a 5.4 second 0-62mph time the ‘normal’ 505bhp version of that engine is also available on Ranger Rover Autobiography LWB models, the top of the Range Rover line-up. You can also spend hours poring over the options list of colour combinations and accessories that could easily send the cost into three figures however, even the entry-level Vogue and Vogue SE models are well equipped. The opulent Autobiography version comfortably competes with the Bentley Bentayga, the world’s most expensive SUV to date.
We imagine few owners buy a Range Rover expecting it to save them money and there’s nothing else on the road quite like it, with a stunning design and a unique ability to seemingly shorten long journeys or canter up grassy banks too steep for most horses.
#5 The Kia Sorento
Kia has expanded its SUV range and the Kia Sorento acts as big sister to the popular Kia Sportage compact SUV. The Sorento is a large, seven-seat SUV aimed at undercutting the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe. While the Sorento has been around for over a decade Kia hopes the latest version will appeal on desirability, not just value for money. Today's Sorento is a step forward in quality, design and performance compared to its predecessor and is now an eye-catching SUV. With such rivalry in the large SUV market, no manufacturer can afford to be complacent and the Sorento gets off to a good start in the battle for showroom appeal. This continues with the interior where the design is tidy and up-to-date though it's no match for a Discovery when it comes to sheer quality, but it's a lot less expensive to buy!
Contact Heritage Range Rover
For more information regarding the Land Rover Discovery, the Range Rover or any other vehicles in our line-up simply contact us here at Heritage Land Rover using the Online Contact Form. Heritage Land Rover is conveniently located at Staverton, midway between Gloucester and Cheltenham, within easy reach of Junction 11 of the M5 motorway.
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