Review

Volvo XC90 SUV

Price  £46,850 - £64,555

Volvo XC90 SUV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Very comfortable and quiet inside
  • Luxurious, yet also spacious and practical
  • Advanced safety tech and clever touchscreen
Cons
  • Pretty expensive to buy
  • Petrol engine is noisy and thirsty
  • Hybrid can’t match economy claims

At a glance

Our Pick
2.0 D5 AWD Momentum 4wd Auto 5dr £46,850
The greenest
2.0 T8 AWD R-Design 4wd Auto 5dr £63,605
The cheapest
2.0 D5 AWD Momentum 4wd Auto 5dr £46,850
The fastest
2.0 T8 AWD R-Design 4wd Auto 5dr £63,605
Top of the range
2.0 T8 AWD Inscription 4wd Auto 5dr £64,555

“The latest Volvo XC90 ticks a lot of SUV boxes. It’s spacious, high-quality, comfortable, efficient and very safe.”

The first-generation Volvo XC90 was the Swedish brand's first luxury SUV and proved extremely successful. Families loved its space, safety credentials and reliability, while prestige buyers loved its luxury and slightly alternative image. It certainly stood out from the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes ML.

It's a tribute to the success of the original that it remained in production for 12 years, and Volvo knew it would have a hard task replacing the XC90 with something that would capture the public's imagination in the same way. The result was an all-new XC90 that arrived in 2015, giving the establishment something to think about once again.

If anything, it rivals the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes GLE with even more confidence than before, boasting superbly crisp, individual looks. It means business, with an imposing grille and signature ‘Thor's hammer’ LED headlamps. Volvo's current clean design language runs through to the rear of the car, while the wheelarches have muscular shoulders and the tailgate is framed by long, tapering tail-lamps.

The interior is possibly classier still. As before, there are seats for up to seven, but this time two adults can actually sit in the third row in relative comfort. There's luxury to spare, too, with attractive materials all round and a real feeling of quality in everything you touch.

Volvo is justifiably proud of its identity and heritage, and you’ll find reminders such as Swedish flags on the seat cushions and ‘Since 1959’ etched into the seatbelts – a reference to the year Volvo pioneered the three-point seatbelt. Meanwhile, you’re left in no doubt that Volvo is thinking about the future by the large, portrait-orientated high-resolution display that dominates the centre of the dashboard. This screen is the control centre for much of the XC90's impressive in-car technology.

XC90 occupants will find themselves blissfully undisturbed by intrusive mechanical noise, as the car's sound insulation is very effective and the engines themselves are impressively muted. All three engines are the same size (2.0 litres) and much smaller than many rivals’ engines. However, they employ clever technology to make sure there's plenty of power allied to impressive fuel economy.

There are two petrols, named T5 and T6, as well as two diesels called D4 and D5 and a plug-in petrol hybrid called the T8 Twin Engine. The D4 is available with front-wheel drive only, but all the others are four-wheel drive. All versions have an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Our pick of the fleet is the D4 diesel with front-wheel drive. It's likely to be a best-seller, boasting 54.3 mpg fuel economy and a £130-a-year road-tax bill while still being impressively powerful. The T6 petrol is fast, but suffers from higher running costs, while the T8 Twin-Engine hybrid is zero-rated for road tax but considerably more expensive to buy. Also, its claimed 134.5mpg fuel economy is, in our experience, very difficult to realise.

The XC90 is an impressively quiet car, but it's far more at home as a cruiser than a sporty tool for back roads. If taken through a corner energetically, it grips well, but it leans quite a lot and the steering is too light to give you much confidence. If you’re looking for driving involvement and a sporty feel, the BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne would be our recommendations.

The XC90 excels in other areas, though, especially comfort. All models come equipped with a huge amount of standard equipment, including Volvo's Sensus sat-nav system, LED headlamps, DAB radio, powered front seats and a powered tailgate. The range is split into three series: Momentum is the standard version, then there's either Inscription or R-Design if you want to emphasise luxury or sportiness.

In keeping with its image of safety and technology, the XC90 carries an impressive amount of safety equipment, including an army of airbags, maneuvering cameras all round and an automatic emergency braking system. There's also a system to detect cyclists and pedestrians and take evasive action to avoid a collision with either. All of this resulted in Euro NCAP awarding the car its maximum five-star rating for crash safety, with a 97% score for adult occupant protection.

The XC90 should be on your premium SUV shortlist if elegance, comfort, safety and technology are buying priorities.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.2 / 5

T8 Twin Engine hybrid is the running-costs star of the new Volvo XC90 range, but cheaper D5 diesel will be satisfactory for most buyers

Engines, drive & performance

4.1 / 5

Powerful petrol, diesel and hybrid engines ensure the big Volvo XC90 isn’t short of power

Interior & comfort

4.3 / 5

The new Volvo XC90 interior combines sleek and stylish design with advanced yet easy-to-use technology

Practicality & boot space

4.7 / 5

Like its predecessor, the new Volvo XC90 offers a huge amount of space for passengers and luggage inside

Reliability & safety

4.8 / 5

Volvo has always been a car safety pioneer and the new XC90 is well placed to continue that tradition

Last updated 
30 Jun 2016
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