Drive Car of the Year 2021 - Best Medium Luxury SUV
The cars each offer their own key strengths, but only one can bring it all together to take the win.
It’s a segment on the rise in more ways than one. Australian monthly sales of Medium Luxury SUVs have more than doubled since August 2020, as buyers turn to accessible and practical examples from some of the biggest brands.
Lashings of leather and tonnes of technology are wrapped in stylish packages that are equally at home on the open road as they are around town. These are ‘sensible’ prestige cars that work in any role, so it comes as no surprise that the segment is about as competitive as you can get!
So much so, that we started with four Drive Car of the Year finalists as it was impossible to curate a top-three without testing them together. The Mercedes-Benz GLB, which is currently the top-selling model in the segment, only narrowly missed out.
The GLB is a very smartly packaged and well-equipped car, but due to some of the cabin finishes and switchgear feeling more aligned to the small segment (it is based on the same platform as the A-Class) rather than the medium, and the ride for rearmost passengers feeling a tad under-damped at times when compared to the other finalists, it didn’t make the top-three.
Our other contenders though are as similar as they are different, with the BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Volvo XC60 all offering mainstream models which span a price bracket from roughly $70,000 to $100,000. The cars are all well-equipped and spacious (the Land Rover is available with seven-seats) and answer the ‘sensible luxury’ brief from buyers.
However, the BMW has a strong dynamic focus, the Land Rover adds exceptional off-road ability and the Volvo gives a choice of drivelines which includes a plug-in-electric hybrid.
And the Winner is...
The XC60 looks the part but delivers proper family practicality, safety and luxury as well.
In a segment where all the contenders, whether part of our testing group or not, tend to be well-sorted and polished in their role as a premium ‘do everything’ vehicle, it has never been more challenging to find one that stands out from the pack.
However, looking through a luxury lens, the Volvo XC60 is a deserved winner.
The BMW may be more enjoyable on the road, the Land Rover more capable off it, but the Volvo offers a complete and practical package with the style and luxury to set it above the rest.
Read the full comparison at Drive.com.au