What's the used Volvo XC90 4x4 like?
The original Volvo XC90 was one of the first cars to make the prospect of buying a large seven-seat SUV almost something a keen owner could look forward to. It was stylish, spacious, practical and, above all, classy, and it soon established itself as a school-run favourite.
This second-generation version, launched in 2015, found itself up against a far greater number of premium rivals than the original XC90 had to contend with, such had been the growth in this market. To that end, it was a new car in every conceivable way, teeming with new technologies and sitting on an all-new platform. Like the original, though, it was incredibly spacious, usefully practical and beautifully finished – the interior is a very special and luxurious place to be, and it’s handsomely equipped.
Perhaps controversially, it followed Volvo’s new edict of offering only four-cylinder engines. These were initially two petrols and just one diesel: the petrols were a 2.0-litre T6 that offers impressively quick performance and reasonable economy and a hybrid version labelled T8 that’s even faster and yet offers, on paper, an outstanding average claimed fuel consumption figure. The sole diesel version was a 2.0-litre D5 that offers more than adequate performance and was the most popular engine available.
A subtle facelift in 2019 brought in a new B5 diesel engine to replace the D5, and confusingly a B5 petrol engine too. Both of these used mild-hybrid technology, with an electric motor to ease the load on the engine and increase fuel economy, as well as reduce CO2 emissions and give a little performance boost, too.
There are three trim levels to choose from, in increasing levels of luxury: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. Momentum trim is the pick of the bunch. Just look at what you get: adaptive cruise control, automatic (LED) headlights and wipers, leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate with ‘gesture’ opening and closing, sat-nav, Bluetooth, 19in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a DAB radio and automatic emergency city braking. Pro versions of each trim level add a heated steering wheel, nappa leather and a head-up display - although that last one was deleted if a heated windscreen was chosen.
Only go for R-Design trim if you really love its sporty looks. It adds sports seats with electric adjustment for the passenger, privacy glass, a 12.3in digital instrument cluster, 20in alloy wheels and a host of sporty design touches, but it doesn’t really make much financial sense.
Inscription trim gets the R-Design’s 12.3in digital instrument display and electrically adjustable passenger seat, along with softer nappa leather, 20in alloy wheels, swanky ambient illumination throughout the interior and handsome walnut trim.
On the road, all the engines are smooth and refined and surprisingly quick. Delivering decent low-rev pull, the B5 diesel is a relaxed performer. It picks up smoothly, and getting up to motorway speeds is an effortless experience. Then there are the petrols. Both the mild-hybrid B5 petrol and, to a lesser extent the turbocharged and supercharged T6, need to be worked harder than the diesel. But when you do that, the B5 petrol is brisk enough. Indeed the T8 hybrid can sprint from 0 to 62mph in just 5.8sec, so no one can accuse that of being tardy.
All versions ride well, too, although large imperfections can be felt a little at lower speeds. Versions with smaller wheels tend to ride better than those with the larger wheel option, however.
In the bends, the XC90 can’t match the sportier BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne for outright handling finesse, but it’s on a par with the Audi Q7 and much sharper to drive than the wallowy Land Rover Discovery. There’s minimal body lean unless you really throw it about, and it never feels like it’s going to topple over around a series of bends.
Inside, it's wonderfully classy and extremely comfortable. The driving position is great, visibility is good and the seats are supportive. The infotainment is controlled through a large 9.0in tablet-style touchscreen. This looks stunning but can be fiddly in everyday use. As far as quality goes, with a mix of smart materials across the dashboard and around the centre console it looks the part. There are soft-touch fabrics across the top of the dash, plus gloss-black fascias around the infotainment screen and gear lever.
Space up front is plentiful, in the middle row it's truly excellent for three and even in the rearmost two seats there is more than adequate room for two children or even adults for shorter journeys. Flexibility is first-class with these seats, too, with all manner of options being available. Boot space is huge in five-seat mode and even rather impressive with all seven seats up.
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