Volvo XC90 2012 review

* 2012 Volvo XC90 driven * Priced from 35,175 * On sale now...

Volvo XC90 2012 review

The Volvo XC90 has been given a mild face-lift for 2012 to help it compete against newer rivals.

Exterior changes include new six-spoke alloys, LED daytime running lights, new rear light lenses, LED brake lights and restyled lower door mouldings.

Look closely and youll also spot silver roof rails (previously they were black), while inside theres a new three-spoke steering wheel, aluminium trim and new-look instruments.

An all-new replacement model is at least 18 months away, so this upgrade is designed to keep the XC90 competitive in a market thats moved on a lot since the car appeared in 2003.

Whats it like to drive? The only powerplant is the 2.4-litre five-cylinder D5 diesel.

It was tweaked last year to provide 197bhp and 310lb ft of torque (up from 182bhp and 295lb ft), but the XC90 still feels ponderous because its gearbox takes an age to shift down. Ask for a burst of acceleration and theres a huge delay before the car responds, and when it does the engine emits an unpleasant growl.

Its a pity, because the XC90 is good at shutting out wind- and road noise, and it feels both comfortable and secure when cruising at speed.

Just dont expect sharp handling; youre always aware that its a big, heavy car, and the steering is slow.

Whats it like inside? The cabin of the XC90 has always been a pretty good place to spend time, and this remains the case.

The dashboard might look a bit dated, but it feels very solid. Whats more, the commanding driving position offers an excellent forward view and the new instruments are clear.

Only die-hard XC90 fans will spot the differences, but the new trim is tasteful, and the leather seats are comfortable. There are seven of them, and the versatility they offer is one of the cars high points.

The rearmost seats fold down flat into the boot floor, but even when theyre all in place theres a reasonable amount of luggage space.

Should I buy one? The 2012 modifications do little to disguise the fact that the XC90 is getting on a bit; younger rivals such as the BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery are significantly better to drive and more refined.

Even so, theres still a lot to like about the XC90. Its classy, comfortable and well built, and while the prices dont look especially low at first glance, massive discounts are available.

Land Rover Discovery

What Car? says

Mark Pearson