Volvo XC90 4x4 full 9 point review
The 222bhp D5 diesel engine pulls strongly from 1700rpm, so the eight-speed automatic gearbox (standard on all models) doesn’t need to change down too many gears when pressing on. The 316bhp T6 petrol version has to be worked slightly harder, but there’s still more than enough shove at the ready for confident overtaking. Press the 396bhp T8’s accelerator hard and the electric motors’ near-instant torque propels you forward, and it’s genuinely quick when the petrol engine is also helping out.
Ride & Handling
Whether on standard steel springs or optional air suspension, the XC90 is slightly firmer than an Audi Q7 and more prone to thudding over large bumps. However, we’d still opt for the air springs as they help smooth things out over patchy surfaces. The air suspension also allows you to stiffen the dampers, making the XC90 handle well, with good body control and direct steering to connect you to the road. There’s lots of grip and good traction from the four-wheel drive system, too.
Work the D5 engine hard and you’re greeted with a four-cylinder diesel rattle, but it never becomes intrusive and there’s hardly any engine noise at a cruise. Little vibration makes it through to the pedals or steering wheel, either. Refinement is even better in the T8 petrol-electric hybrid, which is whine-free in pure-electric mode and quiet when the petrol engine does kick in. The door mirrors kick up some wind noise at speed, though, and the gearbox can be a tad jerky and unresponsive.
Buying & Owning
Our favourite XC90 – the D5 Momentum – is priced marginally above BMW’s four-cylinder X5 xDrive25d SE, but beats its performance, fuel economy and CO2 figures, while offering more equipment and seven seats as standard. Porsche’s Cayenne isn’t as cheap to run, either, and costs a lot more to bring it up to the Volvo’s level of kit. The equivalent Range Rover Sport has more equipment, but it costs considerably more to buy and its third-row seats are an optional extra.
Quality & Reliability
The interior is certainly plush, especially in top-end Inscription versions, which get stitched leather surfaces higher up to complement the dense, soft-touch areas below. An optional range of classy dashboard and door trims help to lift the cabin even further. This generation of XC90 is too new to feature in our reliability surveys, but Volvo as a manufacturer has scored above-average marks for reliability in recent years.
Safety & Security
Every XC90 sports an array of high-tech safety systems beyond the standard six airbags and stability control. The most notable of these is the city braking system, which works at up to 31mph and can detect vehicles slowing down (even in the dark) and bring the XC90 to a complete stop should you fail to react in time. An alarm and engine immobiliser are fitted to every model.
Behind The Wheel
A tablet-style 9.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system is fitted to every XC90; it is a responsive set-up with a crisp, bright display that is easy to read in direct sunlight. The driver’s seat is comfortable, and there’s lots of adjustment to this and the steering wheel, so you should have no problem finding the perfect driving position. All the major controls are within easy reach, and your view forwards and backwards is good.
Space & Practicality
The XC90’s lofty roofline ensures plenty of headroom for those up front, and things are equally good in the middle row, which will accommodate a couple of six-footers with ease. The two rearmost seats are the same size as those in the second row, and there’s enough head- and legroom for even adults to get settled. Most rivals can’t compete with the XC90’s huge 775-litre boot, either.
Our favourite trim is Momentum, which despite being the cheapest gets 19-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, an electronic tailgate, LED headlights, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, Bluetooth and automatic wipers. R Design adds larger wheels, sports seats and a digital instrument cluster, while range-topping Inscription models get plusher leather upholstery and sunblinds integrated into the rear doors.