In-depth reviews

Vauxhall Grandland SUV review

"The Vauxhall Grandland may not be the most scintillating SUV on the market, but it ticks a lot of family-friendly boxes"

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Handsome looks
  • Easy to drive
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Rear visibility limited
  • Unlikely to set pulses racing
  • Less stylish than the Peugeot 3008

The market for mid-sized SUVs must surely be close to saturation point. With choices including the Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, Renault Kadjar, Mazda CX-5 and SEAT Ateca all competing for the same customers, SUV buyers have never had such a wide array of choice. 

In fact, such is the demand for choice in the SUV market, it continues to diversify with models such as the style-conscious Toyota C-HR, providing a less expensive alternative to premium SUV-coupes, including the Audi Q2 and BMW X2. Vauxhall's strategy is to straddle the sector by offering the small Crossland, bigger Mokka and this larger-still Grandland, crowning its entire car range.

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As this is the brand's premium SUV, you get a high driving position, a good view out, an appealingly imposing stance and sufficiently desirable looks to match the competition. In late 2021 the ‘X’ was dropped from the name and the Grandland’s nose was redesigned to include Vauxhall’s new ‘Vizor Style grille. For early 2022, the trim levels of the Grandland have been renamed, and a few minor alterations have been made to the standard equipment. 

It shares its mechanical backbone with the Peugeot 3008 and is available with similar engines, the smallest of which is a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol that produces 128bhp and returns around 45mpg. The flagship 1.6-litre petrol engine was the peppiest in the range, managing around 40mpg, but Vauxhall didn't carry it over to the facelifted Grandland. A six-speed manual comes as standard with the 1.2 petrol engine, but an eight-speed automatic gearbox can also be equipped. The same automatic comes as standard with the 1.5-litre diesel engine.

There's also a 128bhp diesel that officially returns more than 54mpg and is offered with the automatic transmission only. A range-topping 2.0-litre diesel engine was discontinued in early 2021.

Not every SUV buyer wants four-wheel drive, and Vauxhall doesn't even offer it as an extra in the standard range. As part of the 2021 facelift, the pair of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were reduced to one Grandland Hybrid-e model. It's the quickest model in the range, with a total output of 222bhp, and manages up to 39 miles of electric-only driving according to Vauxhall. It's expensive, though, and the biggest cost-saving (a reduction in Benefit-in-Kind liability) will only make real sense for company car drivers. According to Vauxhall, the front-wheel-drive hybrid model will manage close to 200mpg under the right circumstances. Vauxhall could be bringing back the more powerful 296bhp four-wheel-drive variant of the Grandland Hybrid-e – although if it were to make a return, its likely starting price of more than £45,000 could be off-putting for some buyers.

The Grandland's dashboard design has been updated with Vauxhall's latest ‘Pure Panel’  infotainment set-up, shared with the Mokka. All models come with alloy wheels, an infotainment touchscreen, climate control, LED lights, traffic-sign recognition, cruise control and high-beam assist.

That's a decent amount of kit from standard, but it's worth going for the GS Line trim. This brings black alloy wheels, a larger 10-inch infotainment screen complete with sat-nav, a 12-inch digital instrument panel, a rear-view camera and a sporty interior and exterior makeover. For a bit more kit, the range-topping Ultimate trim adds a 360-degree camera, advanced park assist, Pixel Matrix headlights as well as Alcantara seats. Night Vision can be equipped for around £1,300; it’s usually reserved for much more expensive cars.

Exhibiting such a rational, conventional approach elsewhere, it probably won't surprise you to learn the Grandland is also thoroughly sensible to drive. The driving position is high, so the view ahead is decent. While this leads to a sense of sitting on the Grandland rather than being hunkered down in it, many motorists will prefer feeling elevated above ordinary family cars.

On the motorway, the Grandland is a relaxing car to drive. It's not exciting, though. Its slightly notchy manual gearbox will frustrate if you try to hustle it along country roads, while considerable body lean and a lack of feedback from the light steering mean there's little to reward your driving enthusiasm. There's no doubt that the Vauxhall was designed for comfort rather than fun and the powerful plug-in hybrid version isn't any better to drive, despite its surprising turn of straight-line speed.

That's not inherently a bad thing, however. If you want a sensible, practical and quiet family car with a good view out and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the Grandland makes a lot of sense. However, it struggles to offer a more complete package than the Peugeot 3008.

We reckon the latter is a far more stylish car inside and out, and it shares its fundamental mechanicals – as well as a starting price – with the Grandland.

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