Volvo XC90 vs VW Touareg

  • We pit the two big off-roaders head-to-head
  • What's the best for practicality to performance and value?
  • Who will come out on top in the battle of the 4x4s?

The UK's perennial bleak winter means that the sales of off-roaders continue to increase in UK. Despite the rising fuel prices it's not just the small 4x4s that are being snapped up, but popularity persists for the larger models too.

With this in mind, we've taken two of the best models currently on sale in the class - the Volvo XC90 D5 SE Lux Premium 2.4-litre and Volkswagen Touareg SE V6 3.0-litre TDI - to see which one would come on top.

Fuel economy and emissions

If your big concern is saving the planet and fuel, then neither car is going to be your fit. Out of the two it is the Volkswagen that edges it. This is mainly thanks to the addition of BlueMotion technology including stop/start and regenerative braking. Emissions of 195g/km mean you'll pay £245 in annual tax and £445 in the first year. Claimed average economy is 38.2mpg, but we were getting nearer the 35 mark. The Volvo emits 219g/km which means you'll pay £260 a year in VED and £580 for the first year. It's also less efficient than the VW with a claimed 34mpg - on the same route as the Touareg we were getting 30.3mpg.

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Company car choice?

You'll have to do a bit of work to try and convince the boss to put any of these cars on the fleet, unless you are the boss of course. The Volvo is the best choice for the company car driver. Despite sitting in the 35% company car band, the P11d value is £43,710 and will cost £509.95 a month on the 40% tax rate. The VW falls in to the 32% company car band, but due to expensive options the P11d value is £48,955.  At 40% the Touareg costs £522.19 per month.

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This is the main focus points for both of these cars. If you're after space then both will do a very good job. However, the Volvo XC90 is holding a bit of an ace here with the option of seven-seats. With these in place you get 249 litres of boot space. Drop these down and the boot space expands to 615 litres. Put down all seats in the rear and you have 1,837 litres to play with. All these figures trump the Touareg. With the rear seats in place there is 580 litres of room on offer, while dropping them improves this to 1,642 litres.

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VW - The Touareg SE V6 3.0-litre TDI eight-speed automatic costs £40,215 in its basic form. Throw on the extras of our car like 20-inch alloys (£1,875), upholstery upgrade (1,640) and a number of other optional kit rises the price up to a hefty £49,455

Volvo - The XC90 D5 SE Lux Premium 2.4-litre starts at £41,910. It has a lot less extras than the big VW including Premium Sound (£1,025), Family pack (£715) and Towbar (£695). This pushes the price of the car a more reasonable £43650.

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If you are going on the value of the cars after one year and 10,000 miles the VW is the winner, worth 72% of its values compared to the Volvo's 69%. However, look further to three years and 30,000 miles and the Volvo takes the lead to be worth 44% of its original value, while the Volvo falls 42%. So we'll go for a draw here.

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This is an easy one. The VW comes with a big V6 producing 237bhp that powers the Touareg to 62mph in 7.8 seconds, an impressive time for such a big car. It's all noticeable too as it pushes you back as you put your foot down. The Volvo on the other hand comes with a 197bhp powered 2.4-litre engine. This takes 9.7 seconds to hit 60mph. Unlike the VW, accelerate and you can feel the weight of the XC90 with things feeling sluggish.

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Ride and handling

The Volvo stretches out its lead further here, but it's more to do with the Touareg's minor failings rather than the XC90's superior dynamics. Despite the size and shape, the Volvo only has a small amount of body roll in the corners, while the ride is rarely disturbed by undulating roads. The Touareg on the other hand leans much more in the corners and the ride is too fidgety, something not helped by the sizeable ride-height.

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Things are very close here. The Volvo is like any other Volvo model. The seats are incredibly comfortable and even after a two-hour drive, you'll be happy to climb back in. The surroundings are pleasant too with the usual swooping dash of the Swedish manufacturer. However, the VW just edges ahead. The seats are just as comfortable as the XC90, but the interior is that little bit more special with the soft-touch material and wood finish.

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As much as other manufacturers attempt to challenge VW, brands like Volvo still can't tempt buyers away from the German powerhouse. Put the two cars side-by-side and the Touareg is likely to be the car that gets the public's vote.

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