posted 2 years ago

Volvo XC90 Review

The Volvo XC90 SUV model goes from strength to strength. User Verdict
From £49,050
  • Safest car in the UK
  • Lots of space and also a seven seater
  • Really comfortable
  • Large for parking spaces
  • Touchscreen is hard to use on the move


When we say that Volvo are on a roll, they are, in a big way. After the hugely successful launch of their new XC40 model, the popularity of the larger XC60 has seen it take the top honours with the World Car of the Year 2018 award and the V90 has also been causing a stir amongst the premium estate line up.

The XC90 has been their large SUV model since 2002 and is now into its second generation with over 70,000 of them being sold in the UK.

So how does it compare to the other premium offerings? We spent a week with it to find out.

On the Road

The XC90 we had on test came with the diesel D5 engine which produces a very healthy 235hp with 480Nm of torque, the 2.0 litre propelling it from 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 137mph.

Mated with a seamless 8-speed automatic gearbox there is plenty of power on tap to move the large SUV, especially when you need it to pull away quickly at junctions and it does make an excellent motorway cruiser, but beware that it isn’t as economical for those sort of journeys.

We got on average around 30-31mpg and with it emitting 149g/km of CO2 it will cost £145 annually in road tax.

If you are looking to purchase an XC90 but looking for better fuel economy then the T8 Hybrid is a good option as road tax is cheaper and Volvo reckon it can achieve a combined 134mpg, but that would really depend on your driving.

What’s surprising is how light the steering is, it’s really responsive despite it being such a heavy car and Volvo have made sure the ride is extremely comfortable too.

Our XC90 test car came with electric air suspension which does make light work of the sometimes appalling roads we encountered in the UK, but that comes at a cost, £2,150 to be exact.

Would you off-road it? With the various drive modes available including off-road you certainly could but it’s whether you’d want to, it seems too nice a car to want to drive it through mud.

It does have hill start assist and hill descent control if you do want to tackle the rough stuff.

The Volvo designers should definitely take a bow when it comes to the overall design of the XC90, in the same vein as their recent model additions it is dominated by the grille with the new badge, it seems to be a lot beefier looking than its predecessor and with silver roof rails, window surrounds and along the doors it has an unmistakable presence on the road.

Our test car was kitted out in the Inscription specification which made it feel very premium indeed: Nappa soft leather on the seats in Blond colour (that’s cream to you and me) gave it an added luxurious look, although with a family in tow it might not remain too nice in colour after awhile.

There is great attention to detail and some distinguished design additions including a rimless mirror, a snazzy flip button to start the car and this test car came with a Bowers and Wilkins sound system. If you want to listen to your favourite tunes like you would hear it in the Gothenburg Symphony Hall then you can do this on the touchscreen.

In the car

Overall visibility is really good in the Volvo XC90 despite the fact it’s nearly five metres long and it makes sense to add the Xenium pack to the car as it includes a 360 degree surround view parking camera.

The perforated, heated front seats are extremely comfortable, electronically adjustable and give really good support to both driver and front passenger and the soft touch steering wheel is also heated.

With a 9-inch centre touchscreen, everything can be operated on this display including drive modes, climate control, media and car settings. The only downside to this is it shows all fingerprints and if you want to adjust the temperature while driving it can be hard to do so.

The driver benefits from a 12.3-inch TFT crystal display screen, which seems to be the weapon of choice amongst manufacturers as they continue to move away from analogue dials.

If you’re looking for space then the XC90 has it in abundance as it is nearly five metres long and over two metres wide.

It does come with a third row of seats, not that an adult might fit too comfortably in the far rear, but these two seats do fold flat into the floor if you’re looking for extra boot space.

With these upright space is 451 litres, in five seat mode it holds 1,102 litres and with all rear seats down it is a huge 1,951 litres - you could sleep in that! Or as we did, set up a child’s train track in the back.

The family pack at £450 adds a load protection net, sun curtains in the rear doors, an integrated booster cushion for the rear centre seat and power child locks.

Other helpful additions in the rear include climate control along with heated seats, a 3 pin plug socket and cup holders.

This test car had the option of a comfort pack with a cooled glovebox, although it may have taken awhile to work out how to open it. A button to press to open it was in the centre stack - but we worked it out eventually!


The Volvo XC90 starts from £49,050 but how does that compare to its rivals? It sits between the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 and is fractionally more expensive than the Land Rover Discovery, so in terms of cost it’s well-priced in the premium SUV market.

If you can ignore the Volvos of yesteryear with their attraction to the, dare we say it, more mature owner, the past couple of years sees Volvo on a mission to appeal to the masses with this new design direction, which is just stunning. Whatever they come up with in the future is sure to be exciting.

We love the XC90 for its practicality, looks and its applaudits in the world of safety and it fits the bill perfectly if you’re looking for a large SUV.

It always seemed to be the German manufacturers that had the jump in terms of premium quality, but Volvo and a lot of other brands are hot on their heels and the interior of the XC90 is a masterpiece in design and finish. The walnut inlays weren’t to our taste but the chrome and black gloss finishes always make an interior well polished and materials were of a durable feel.

The Volvo XC90 has never had any major reliability issues, overall the brand seems to do quite well in the driver surveys and last year saw it named one of the most reliable manufacturers along with Kia in the JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Survey.

What makes the Volvo XC90 stand out from all its rivals is its safety, a few months ago the model was named the safest car in the UK as no occupants have died in crashes in the car.

With Volvo being the pioneer for a lot of safety technology it’s no wonder that they’ve set themselves the task that by 2020 no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.

Naturally the XC90 took the maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP ratings in 2015 scoring 97% for adult occupant protection and 87% for a child.

It comes loaded with safety equipment, plenty of airbags and driver assist systems which include City Safety, this can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals and will stop the car in the event of a collision. There is also vehicle deceleration control, a speed limiter, stability and traction control, lane keeping, oncoming lane mitigation and distance alert.

There is an alarm which has an immobiliser and remote control central locking which includes the fuel flap.