2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2020 Land Rover Discovery

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/24

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Discovery doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Land Rover Discovery doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Land Rover doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Discovery. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Discovery’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Discovery doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Discovery doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the XC90 and the Discovery have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 132 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Discovery has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Discovery’s (12 vs. 6 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Land Rover only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Discovery.

There are over 52 percent more Volvo dealers than there are Land Rover dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the XC90’s warranty.

Reliability

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The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Discovery’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volvo vehicles are better in initial quality than Land Rover vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volvo 31st in initial quality. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Land Rover is ranked 33rd.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volvo vehicles are more reliable than Land Rover vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volvo 29th in reliability. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Land Rover is ranked 30th.

Engine

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The XC90 Recharge’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid produces 60 more horsepower (400 vs. 340) and 140 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 332) than the Discovery’s 3.0 supercharged V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the XC90 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Discovery:

MPGe

XC90

AWD

Electric Motor

58 city/53 hwy

Discovery

MPG

AWD

3.0 turbo V6 Diesel

21 city/26 hwy

3.0 supercharged V6

16 city/21 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Discovery:

MPG

XC90

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

26 city/28 hwy

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

Discovery

AWD

3.0 turbo V6 Diesel

21 city/26 hwy

3.0 supercharged V6

16 city/21 hwy

The XC90 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 18 miles. The Discovery must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Discovery doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Discovery doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Land Rover Discovery (1 to 7). This means the XC90 produces up to 47 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Discovery every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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The XC90 stops much shorter than the Discovery:

XC90

Discovery

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

137 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

148 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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The XC90’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Discovery’s standard 65 series tires. The XC90’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Discovery’s optional 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Discovery’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 R-Design/Inscription has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Discovery doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the Discovery (117.5 inches vs. 115 inches).

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Discovery HSE Luxury pulls only .69 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Discovery HSE (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the XC90 w/19” wheels’ turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the Discovery’s (38.7 feet vs. 40.6 feet). The XC90 w/22” wheels’ turning circle is .9 feet tighter than the Discovery’s (39.7 feet vs. 40.6 feet).

Chassis

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The Volvo XC90 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 400 pounds less than the Land Rover Discovery.

The XC90 is 5.9 inches narrower than the Discovery, making the XC90 easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

The design of the Volvo XC90 amounts to more than styling. The XC90 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .33 Cd. That is lower than the Discovery (.36) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC90 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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The XC90 has 1.8 inches more front legroom, .8 inches more rear hip room and 2.9 inches more third row hip room than the Discovery.

Cargo Capacity

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The XC90’s cargo area provides more volume than the Discovery.

XC90

Discovery

Behind Third Seat

12.6 cubic feet

11.8 cubic feet

The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the Discovery’s in almost every dimension:

XC90

Discovery

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

11.8”/44.1”/77.3”

Max Width

54.7”

55.6”

Min Width

44.5”

39.3”

Height

35”

37”

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the XC90. The Discovery doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics

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The XC90 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Discovery doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

A manual rear sunshade and rear side window sunshades are optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Discovery doesn’t offer a rear or rear side window sunshades.

The XC90 has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Discovery doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

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The XC90 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Discovery doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

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IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volvo XC90 will be $5218 to $10815 less than for the Land Rover Discovery.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/24

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Land Rover Discovery isn't recommended.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Discovery has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Discovery has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Discovery has never been chosen.

The Volvo XC90 outsold the Land Rover Discovery by almost four to one during 2019.

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