The third-generation ‘full fat’ Range Rover was launched in 2002 by BMW, which bought Land Rover two years earlier. Boss Wolfgang Reitzle promised “perfect reliability” and lifted standards greatly. Codenamed L322, it has all Range Rover attributes: comfort, quietness, versatility and an ability to deliver imperious progress. Best versions are undoubtedly the 2006-'07 petrol and diesel models re-engineered with Jaguar V8s and Ford diesels.
You’ve got a choice of two generations to fit inside our £10,000 budget: the fourth or fifth. But we’d recommend the fourth (2003-2008) for high specification and the fifth (2009-2015) for more standard specification. The car is quiet, comfortable, surprisingly agile and has bags of integrity. On balance, we’d recommend the later 3.0-litre 730d for economy; the 750 petrol for power.
There are two Brooklands iterations, but only one – the 1990s four-door saloon – fits our price range. Created with all the luxury but less performance and a lower price than the revered Bentley Turbo R, earliest cars used a naturally aspirated version of the Bentley-Rolls 6.75-litre pushrod V8, while a light-pressure turbo was used for the last couple of years.
Land Rover Discovery 3 - Built 2003-2009 Price range £6000- £11,000 We’d pay £8500 See Land Rover Discovery 3 for sale on Pistonheads
These fine 4x4s are cheap, usually because they’ve done a high mileage and have a reputation for imperfect reliability. They’re superb for low road noise, mainly because they use a separate chassis with tall tyres and excellent, high-tech insulation between rigid body and under bits. Add amazing configurability, mechanical refinement and high seating and you’ve got a car you’ll enjoy every time you drive it.
Toyota’s luxury-car arm launched this revised version of its premium four-door in perfect time for demand for big saloons to fall, and for the recession to begin. Consequently, there are not many second-hand cars about, but those available are mostly in fine order (despite mileages around 100,000) because of superb build and affordable servicing. Quiet and comfortable, it is stodgier than a BMW but affordable and reliable.
Jaguar’s mid-2000s luxury saloon, codenamed X350, is ageing well. The car that kicked off the marque’s love affair with aluminium construction combines old-school looks and a tradition of comfort with modern mechanicals and much better space than older XJs that are superficially similar. A considerable bargain these days – especially V8s – but they work well.
Always great for comfort, a late version of Ford’s third-generation Mondeo looks best at the money. You will pick up a 2014 low-miler inside our budget. On the comfort front, it lacks only the big name. It is spacious (especially as an estate), packed with goodies and – as all Fords have done for decades – steers and handles brilliantly with no compromise on comfort.
Space is luxury, says many a distinguished designer, and the Grand Picasso has plenty of that. It also has a long wheelbase, a soft suspension, comfortable seats and the distinct advantage of no price premium for a big name, so potential owners can aim at recent cars with low miles. The best are diesels, but the petrol 1.6 is also a decent option.
It’s the fifth-generation W221 we’re concentrating on here, the one with the exaggerated wheel arches and the shrink-wrapped styling. Not the most handsome thing going, but well and truly available between £7000 and £11,000. The S500 is our comfort choice because it packs a 5.5-litre V12 with a seven-speed automatic transmission and a cool 382bhp for dispensing powerful, effortless performance.
This is the Volvo SUV they couldn’t kill. The car has been replaced now but had a 12-year life because it kept selling well and the complexities around Volvo’s change of ownership from Ford to Geely encouraged them to keep going. Tough, spacious, well- equipped and, above all, comfortable, the big Volvo rides softly but handles well anyway. A great practical choice.
The wonderful thing about comfort is that it comes in so many forms.
Some drivers see it as pure seat comfort, some as space, some as quietness, some as a feeling of security. The best comfort choices have a mix of them all. We’ve tried to choose a cross section in our line-up here.
Click through the gallery above to check out our picks.
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