In this group test we’re going to check out three of them and compare their practicality, drive and more importantly price.
Volkswagen Touareg - from £44,850
The Touareg has been the flagship model of the Volkswagen range since 2002 and is now into its second generation having had a facelift in 2014, but not that much has changed in terms of looks.
There is a choice of a 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine with either 201hp or 258hp, the latter packs a punch with 580Nm of torque available and using an 8-speed automatic transmission it gets from 0-62mph in just 7.3 seconds. CO2 emissions are as low as 176g/km so will fall into tax band I and cost £355 for the first year and then £230 annually.
Despite its size it’s really agile so you can actually get more from a drive in it that you think, the ride is good too tackling rough roads smoothly and an option is air suspension if you really want further comfort. It also comes with their four wheel drive technology ‘4MOTION‘ as standard. Steering could do with being more reactive but overall it’s an enjoyable driving experience.
There are good levels of head and leg room and rear passengers can make use of sliding seats to increase space, which also helps to enlarge the boot space which holds 580-litres but can be increased to 1,642-litres with rear seats folded.
The interior space isn’t as cluttered as the previous generation, Volkswagen designers have made it simpler with less buttons, a large touchscreen and with three trims to choose from it comes with plenty of standard equipment. Entry level SE trim offers leather seats, parking sensors, 19-inch wheels, bluetooth and DAB radio, while the top of the range R-Line Plus is sportier looking with 21-inch wheels, their Area view camera for parking assistance, keyless entry and a panoramic sunroof.
Volvo XC60 - from £32,880
The Volvo XC60 came along for customers wanting something slighter smaller than the seven seat XC90 back in 2009 and like the Touareg it also got a facelift in 2014.
It now features Volvo’s Drive-E technology which are highly efficient engines that don’t lack in performance and there are two diesel engines and a petrol.
The diesel D4 comes with 190hp and 420Nm of torque and is available as a manual or 8-speed automatic with either all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. The 2.4-litre D5 produces 220hp and also has manual and automatic transmissions but comes just in all-wheel drive.
The petrol T5 is only available as an automatic front-wheel drive and delivers 245hp with 350Nm of torque.
CO2 emissions are as low as 117g/km for the D4 so will cost just £30 annually and with a combined 62.8mpg then running costs will be very low.
The Volvo XC60, like the Touareg is a really good drive, ride is comfortable and the steering, although slightly heavy gives you that extra precision when you need it so it feels well planted going into corners.
It’s not as large as the Volkswagen with 495-litres of boot space that increases to 1,455 with seats down, but it’s still a spacious car and will easily seat four adults in comfort.
As it’s not as new as the latest XC90 it doesn’t benefit from the swish looking, Volvo interior design including the stylish ipad sized display screen. Instead there are just a bit too many buttons on the centre stack which now looked dated, although the driver’s display screen does look more modern.
The range starts with the SE trim offering Bluetooth, rear park assist, a power operated tailgate, 17-inch wheels and Volvo’s City Safety technology. The luxury SE LUX has leather seats, 18-inch wheels, active bending xenon lights and an 8-inch TFT crystal driver’s information display and there’s a sporty looking R-Design trim available too.
Jeep Cherokee - £26,345
It might not always be the most obvious of choice if you’re looking for an SUV but thanks to its heritage the fourth generation Jeep Cherokee should be on the list.
There are two new diesel engines available for the model, a 2.0-litre and a 2.2-litre Multijet II. The 2.0-litre delivers 140hp with 350Nm of torque while the 2.2-litre variant has two options, a 185hp one and a 200hp with 440Nm of torque, all coming with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
CO2 emissions are as low as 139g/km so fall into tax band E costing £130 annually, while combined MPG figures are around the late forties to early fifties.
The latest version is a lot less bulky than the previous generation, it’s not the best handling SUV out there, steering lacks some feedback but it has plenty of grip if you’re really looking to drive this as a serious off-roader as it comes with their Selec-Terrain traction control system that will have you tackling snow, mud, rock and sand with relative ease.
Boot capacity is the smallest in this group test holding 412-litres, with seats folded it increases to 1,267-litres and rear seats slide and recline for better comfort for passengers.
The interior is very driver orientated and they benefit from a 7-inch TFT display screen, while the centre touchscreen is easy to use the centre stack is quite clustered and the cheap feeling plastics don’t make it feel as premium as the Touareg or XC60.
There are five trim levels starting with Longitude which features rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control, DAB radio, Bluetooth, 17-inch wheels and cruise control, while the top of the range Trailhawk has an off-road suspension, leather trim, a wireless charging pad and 17-inch wheels.
Celebrating 75 years of Jeep they have come up with anniversary edition which looks very cool with its exclusive Recon Green exterior colour, 75th Anniversary Edition badges, an 8.4-inch touchscreen and an enormous sunroof.
Which is the best?
It’s a tough one to call as all three are really good cars, although the Volkswagen Touareg is the most expensive in this test it offers plenty of standard equipment and a large boot but it doesn’t offer enough engine choices.
The Jeep Cherokee has the history, great off-roading capability and the special 75th Anniversary Edition, which in the flesh does look very unique. But what stops it from taking the top spot is the interior which lets it down with its design and the smaller load space.
It’s pipped to the post by the Volvo XC60 which exudes extreme comfort, has a really good range of engines and includes lots of safety equipment as standard.