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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For You can seat seven in this roomy, safe and comfortable 4x4

Against It's pricey to buy and not as sharp to drive as a BMW X5

Verdict Very practical, posh family transport

Go for… 2.4 D5

Avoid… 4.4 V8

Volvo XC90 4x4
  • 1. Look underneath for signs of off-road abuse
  • 2. Check all round the car for parking damage, especially the front corners
  • 3. The cabin is solidly screwed together and provides seating for seven
  • 4. Servicing costs are about the same as for a BMW X5, but cheaper than on a Mercedes M-Class
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Volvo XC90 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The XC90 is a very practical family car and brings a splash of class to the school run, yet it’s also a very comfortable, refined long-distance motor.

The cabin is solidly screwed together and provides seating for seven. In the front five seats, there's plenty of room for anyone, but the rearmost seats are best for kids only. There's even a splash of MPV-style versatility, too: the middle row has three individual chairs that slide and adjust independently, and the back two fold into the floor to boost boot space.

The driver sits comfortably and high up - as you would only expect of a 4x4 - although the high bonnet makes it tricky to see the front corners.

Don’t expect the driver to rave about how it goes round corners on the road, either. The XC90's a competent enough drive, but it rolls more and isn’t as sharp as, say, a BMW X5. Off-roading isn’t its strongest suit, either, but it will get you out of a muddy gymkhana car park or up a seaweed-covered slipway.

Trade view

John Owen

Well built, good to drive, early diesels lack low-down grunt. Seven-seat versatility

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The 2.4 diesel models make most sense. Early ones have 163bhp and those badged D5 give 182bhp, but it’s their strong pulling power that really counts in everyday driving. That and, of course, their significant advantage in fuel economy over the petrol models.

Mind you, if you don’t mind bank-rolling the oil companies during your XC90 ownership, there’s a wider choice of petrol models. Our preference is the 210bhp 2.5, which is marginally less thirsty than the 272bhp 2.9 T6 – both are turbocharged.

Then, in 2006, a lusty 236bhp 3.2 and rapid 4.4 V8 (0-62mph in 6.9 seconds) joined the line-up as part of a mild face-lift that only dedicated car spotters would really notice. But, neither are really worth bothering with.

Whatever version you go for, safety kit is first class – with twin front, side and cabin-length curtain airbags – and basic S trim has climate control, CD player, cruise control and alloys. SE adds leather, Executive a DVD player and a fridge.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Showroom star because of high demand, 2.4 D5 SE Geartronic is the pick

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Once you’ve stretched to the asking price, don’t think you can run an XC90 on a shoestring. This is a big, complex vehicle and it takes a fair wad of cash to look after one of those. Servicing will set you back about the same as the X5, albeit less than for a Mercedes M-Class.

It should be cheaper to insure than either of those rivals, though. The diesels fall into group 15, unless you go for Executive trim, which ups it to 17. The 2.5, 2.9 T6 and 3.2 weigh in at group 16 while the 4.4 V8 lands a group 19 premium.

You’ll also be doing well to see much above 20mpg with the V8 and none of the petrols are likely to average more than low 20s in daily use. The diesels, meanwhile, should be good for mid-30s.

Trade view

John Owen

Well built, good to drive, early diesels lack low-down grunt. Seven-seat versatility

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

A full service history is essential. Any cars that lack it should be cheaper, but a missing service will have invalidated the remaining manufacturer’s warranty, which is potentially a dangerous gamble when repairs can cost big bucks.

With timely servicing, though, the XC90 is a very reliable bit of kit. It’s also well screwed together, so if there are any rattles, ill-fitting trim or uneven panel gaps, be suspicious – the car has probably been abused and may have suffered crash damage.

Look underneath for signs of off-road abuse, check the car’s four corners for parking damage (easily done, especially at the front) and ensure the door mirrors adjust properly and watch for cracks in the reflective glass.

A few owners in the US have reported transmission failure after only 30,000 miles and the injectors can fail on the diesels, which can cost £1200 to fix. So, if the diesel is reluctant to start, walk away.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Showroom star because of high demand, 2.4 D5 SE Geartronic is the pick

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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