All XC90s come with electric adjustment for the driver’s seat that includes adjustable lumbar support, so finding a top-notch driving position shouldn’t take you long. In fact, it’s one of the most comfortable cars in the class to get behind the wheel of, helped by Volvo’s perennial ability to develop brilliantly supportive seats. The sports seats in the R-Design trim are particularly good.
The pedals line up nicely with the driver’s seat to ensure there’s no skewed driving position, and the dashboard buttons are kept to a minimum, with most features operated from the large, tablet-style 9.0in touchscreen. This isn’t as great as it sounds, though, because while the dashboard looks clean and minimalist, it’s not always easy to use the small on-screen buttons without diverting attention from the road. And the fact that even the temperature for the climate control has to be changed via the screen means you can be distracted often.
Volvo XC90 visibility
Happily, large windows all round make it jolly easy to see out of the XC90, and thin front pillars help when navigating roundabouts and junctions. Even the over-the-shoulder view is good for such a large SUV, unless the third-row seats are in place and occupied.
Not only that, but every version comes equipped with front and rear parking sensors as standard, making it easier to navigate its large bulk into a tight car park space. You can also add a rear-view camera, a 360-degree camera and a Park Assist Pilot (which performs parallel and 90-degree parking).
Volvo XC90 infotainment
We firmly believe that the least distracting infotainment systems are those controlled via a rotary dial – as with the BMW X5 or Audi Q7, for example - rather than touchscreens.
Volvo has chosen to go down the touchscreen route. Now, as these systems go it has its plus points, such as its large, extremely high-definition 9.0in tablet-style screen. As with all touchscreens, though, the small screen icons are trickier to use on the move than physical buttons or options selected using a dial controller, and with so many operations incorporated into the screen, the Volvo’s menus can be confusing to work through. Familiarity will at least make that last point a less contentious one. It’s also not quite as instantaneous as the best systems out there in responding to your inputs.
No doubting the fulsome amount of features it offers, though. You get DAB radio, Bluetooth and voice control functionality, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which facilitate using your smartphone’s apps from the screen, are part of a reasonably priced add-on.
A system called Volvo On Call offers on-board Wifi, and you can also download an app to your phone that lets you activate the climate control remotely, so you can get the temperature just right on hot summer afternoons or cold winter mornings, and forward a route map to the sat-nav.
The standard 10-speaker stereo sounds good, but there’s an excellent 18-speaker Bowers and Wilkins hi-fi upgrade, although this will cost you a minor king’s ransom.
Volvo XC90 build quality
As is always the case you get what you pay for, so the top-level Inscription trim feels the plushest with its fine-grade Nappa leather seats and dashboard trim, as well as swish, walnut inlays. Then there’s the T8 model’s unique touch: a blown-glass gearlever sourced from a specialty Swedish glassmaker, which looks and feels particularly splendid.
But even the entry-level Momentum trim offers what many will agree is a sharp-looking, high-grade interior finish. Quality materials are used in all the key places, along with substantial-feeling switches and buttons; R-Design models add sporty metal inlays, too. It has to be said you don’t get quite the sense of impeccable robustness that you do from a Q7, but that’s Audi pushing to extreme boundaries rather than Volvo dropping the ball.