There’s a new generation of lighter and more fuel-efficient 4x4s, and the Volvo XC90 is one of the best of them. It makes a very fine tow car, too.

At the legal limit we found the XC90 stable and secure, but there was a little more movement when we pushed on to 70mph.

In the lane-change test, the Volvo took charge for the first two runs, but on the third and fastest attempt it was unable to control the caravan which collected one of the traffic cones marking out the manoeuvre.

The hill start was more to the Volvo’s liking. With 354lb ft of torque the XC90’s 2.0-litre engine has less muscle than some of the big 4x4s tested, but it proved enough to comfortably haul over the 1-in-6 slope.

Compared with the six-cylinder engines in most rivals, the Volvo’s four-cylinder unit doesn’t sound as cultured and smooth. However, it delivers exceptional economy and emissions figures for a big 4×4, returning 49.6mpg and putting out 149g/km of carbon dioxide.

Inside, the Volvo is beautifully made with a clean, uncluttered and thoroughly modern design, with the dashboard dominated by a huge touchscreen.

It’s practical as well as good looking, with genuine space for seven rather than a cramped third row of seats. With five seats upright, our practicality testers found room for a full load of holiday luggage, and the handy reversing camera and fitment of trailer stability control picked up more marks.

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2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1550-1699kg

Volkswagen Arteon

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BMW 520d

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2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

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Ford Focus Estate

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Previous Winners

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport


Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*


Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business


Volkswagen Passat Estate

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2.2D Premium Luxury


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Land Rover Discovery 4

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Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic


Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

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