In-depth reviews

Volvo XC90 SUV review

"The second-generation Volvo XC90 is an impressive SUV, with lots of space and style as well as incredible safety technology"

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.2 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Very comfortable and quiet inside
  • Advanced safety and in-car tech
  • Luxurious, yet also practical

Cons

  • Pretty expensive to buy
  • Petrol engine is noisy and thirsty
  • Hybrid can’t match economy claims

The XC90 has been around for well over a decade and a half, so it's becoming hard to imagine a time before Volvo made SUVs. Now into its second generation, the Volvo XC90 offers all the sensible safety features that the brand is famous for wrapped up in one of the most handsome shapes on the road.

Larger than its predecessor, the latest XC90 appeals to buyers who would also consider the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery. The XC90 is family friendly at the same time as offering genuine luxury and innovation inside. The exterior is simple yet stylish, and all the better for it – those distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED daytime running lights and vertical grille have real presence, while its bumpers and flanks avoid the brash sculpture of many rivals. It's modern yet still recognisably a Volvo, and has proven so successful that designers left the car’s looks virtually unchanged during a mid-life refresh.

The same is true on the inside thanks to attractive materials in combination with visual reminders of Volvo's Swedish heritage; there are Swedish flag tags on the seat upholstery, and the seatbelts bear the inscription 'Since 1959'; the year Volvo introduced the three-point seatbelt.

There's plenty of technology amid all the heritage, too. It's hard to miss the huge Sensus high-definition infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard. Portrait-orientated, it becomes the interior's focal point and controls many of the XC90's sophisticated features. Gadgetry doesn't get in the way of practicality, though, and you'll find three rows of seats – even the rearmost of which are suited to adults – to allow seven to travel in comfort. The ride is smooth, too, with little road, wind or engine noise to disturb passengers.

Top 10 best large SUVs 2021

Considering its bulk, the XC90's 2.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines might seem a little on the small size, but they prove capable of endowing the big SUV with respectable performance, as well as impressive fuel economy. The Recharge T8 petrol plug-in hybrid makes particular sense for company car users and those who live in crowded, urban areas. All models use an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Our favourite is the B5 (D) diesel which offers up to 41.5mpg fuel economy. The B5 (P) and B6 petrols are faster but rather more costly to run, and although the Recharge T8 plug-in hybrid offers impressive economy on paper, not all motorists will achieve it in the real world. While the grippy XC90 is happy to carve through corners, the high degree of body lean and light steering don't encourage the spirited driving that a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5 allows. The XC90 is far better suited to quiet, relaxed cruising.

The XC90 is very well equipped as standard, with features like the Sensus infotainment system, LED headlights, leather seats, a powered tailgate and 19-inch alloy wheels. You can choose from Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trim levels, the two offering enhanced sportiness and luxury respectively. Our pick of the line-up is the XC90 B5 diesel in R-Design Pro trim.

Volvo is regarded as something of a pioneer when it comes to safety and the XC90 is its flagship model, so there’s a long list of technology to keep you safe. This resulted in a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, with an impressive 97% score for adult occupant protection. The XC90 is designed to keep other road users safe, too, with pedestrian and cyclist detection to help avoid collisions.

Recommended

Kia e-Niro review
Kia e-Niro
Kia e-Niro
16 Sep 2021

Kia e-Niro review

2022 Mazda CX-5 revealed with a range of updates
2022 Mazda CX-5 Newground
Mazda CX-5
15 Sep 2021

2022 Mazda CX-5 revealed with a range of updates

Dacia Duster SUV review
2021 Dacia Duster SUV
Dacia Duster
15 Sep 2021

Dacia Duster SUV review

Kia XCeed hatchback review
Kia XCeed crossover
Kia XCeed
15 Sep 2021

Kia XCeed hatchback review

Most Popular

New 2022 Toyota RAV4 Adventure revealed
Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Toyota RAV4
14 Sep 2021

New 2022 Toyota RAV4 Adventure revealed

Best new car deals 2021
Hyundai Tucson SUV front 3/4 tracking
Deals
10 Sep 2021

Best new car deals 2021

PCP deals explained – what is PCP finance?
Car dealer and customer talking
Car finance
8 Sep 2021

PCP deals explained – what is PCP finance?

More on XC90

Top 10 best used 7-seater cars 2021
Skoda Kodiaq SUV
7-seater cars
13 Aug 2021

Top 10 best used 7-seater cars 2021

Seven-seat cars tend to be expensive, but you can save a lot of money by scouring the second-hand market. We've picked out the best used 7-seat cars t…
Top 10 best hybrid SUVs 2021
Toyota C-HR Nearside
Hybrid cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best hybrid SUVs 2021

The best hybrid 4x4s can be as cheap to run as family hatchbacks, yet also offer the extra space and pace many covet. Will list the top 10 you should …
Top 10 best hybrid family cars 2021
Volvo V60 Recharge hybrid
Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine hybrid
2 Aug 2021

Top 10 best hybrid family cars 2021

Need a practical car with very low running costs? Read our guide to the best hybrid family cars
Top 10 best large SUVs 2021
Kia Sorento SUV
Family SUVs
28 Jul 2021

Top 10 best large SUVs 2021

The best large SUVs combine the space and practicality of an MPV, some of the all-terrain capability of a 4x4, and a touch of limo-like luxury. Below,…
Top 10 best 7-seater cars 2021
Kia Sorento driving
7-seater cars
28 Jul 2021

Top 10 best 7-seater cars 2021

The best 7-seater cars carry around large families in comfort, and they needn't break the bank despite their load capacity. We have picked out the bes…
Top 10 best tow cars 2021
Skoda Kodiaq SUV driving
Best cars
21 Jul 2021

Top 10 best tow cars 2021

Choosing the best tow car can be tricky, so read our rundown of 10 great models. We’ve selected a range of cars with excellent towing credentials to s…
Top 10 best cars with panoramic sunroofs 2021
Toyota Yaris
Best cars
28 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cars with panoramic sunroofs 2021

Putting a hole in the roof can add a real feeling of light and warmth to a car's interior. Here's our rundown of the best panoramic sunroofs
Volvo XC90 Recharge hybrid review
Volvo XC90 Recharge driving
Volvo XC90 hybrid
21 May 2021

Volvo XC90 Recharge hybrid review

“The Volvo XC90 Recharge is stylish, luxurious and desirable but it’s not the most economical large hybrid SUV”
Top 3 used luxury SUVs for £45,000
Audi Q7 SUV
24 Jul 2020

Top 3 used luxury SUVs for £45,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I’ve got a budget of £45,000 for a nearly new, large luxury SUV. What do you recommend?”
Top 3 used luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs for £45,000
Volvo XC90 hybrid
1 May 2020

Top 3 used luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs for £45,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I want a used luxury hybrid SUV for £45,000. It must have a nice interior and plenty of kit. What do you recommend?”
Facelifted Volvo XC90 SUV revealed: price, hybrid versions and release date
Volvo XC90 SUV
2 Sep 2019

Facelifted Volvo XC90 SUV revealed: price, hybrid versions and release date

New mild-hybrid technology for Volvo’s updated flagship SUV
Volkswagen Touareg R-Line review
Volkswagen Touareg
6 Nov 2018

Volkswagen Touareg R-Line review

In R-Line trim, the Volkswagen Touareg is luxurious and has lots of convenience features
Volvo adds T5 petrol power to S90, V90 and XC90 SUV
Volvo XC90
7 Aug 2018

Volvo adds T5 petrol power to S90, V90 and XC90 SUV

Volvo has shown its commitment to petrol, adding its T5 engine to the S90, V90 and XC90
Volvo aims for 50% EV sales by 2025
Volvo XC40
25 Apr 2018

Volvo aims for 50% EV sales by 2025

Volvo has committed to half the cars it sells being electric by 2025, building on its 2017 plans
New Volvo S90: prices, specs and on sale date
Volvo S80 saloon
22 Jun 2016

New Volvo S90: prices, specs and on sale date

The new Volvo S90 executive saloon is on sale now with prices starting at £32,555
Volvo V90 estate: full prices and specs revealed
Volvo V70 estate
22 Jun 2016

Volvo V90 estate: full prices and specs revealed

Full details of the new Volvo V90 executive estate have been announced
Watchdog: Volvo steps in to ensure owner can reject XC90
Volvo XC90
2 Mar 2016

Watchdog: Volvo steps in to ensure owner can reject XC90

After intervention from Volvo, owner is finally able to reject problematic SUV at local dealer
New 2016 Volvo V90 estate first pictures leaked
Volvo XC90 SUV
5 Jan 2016

New 2016 Volvo V90 estate first pictures leaked

First disguise-free pictures of Volvo’s new large estate have been leaked ahead of the car’s launch later this year
Volvo XC90 crowned Auto Express Car of the Year
Volvo XC90 SUV
30 Jun 2015

Volvo XC90 crowned Auto Express Car of the Year

The new Volvo XC90 fought off strong opposition to be named Car of the Year and Best Large SUV.
New Volvo XC90 specs, price and release date
Volvo XC90 SUV
30 Apr 2015

New Volvo XC90 specs, price and release date

The Volvo XC90 in showrooms soon, will be priced to take on the BMW X5 and Lexus RX450h
Volvo overhauls engine range - full details
Volvo V40 hatchback
28 Apr 2015

Volvo overhauls engine range - full details

Swedish brand makes comprehensive replacements - new Drive-E engines more fuel efficient
Volvo XC90 SUV (2003-2014)
Volvo XC90 SUV
27 Mar 2015

Volvo XC90 SUV (2003-2014)

"The Volvo XC90 helped define the modern, family oriented 4x4 when it was launched in 2002, and even today it's still a very appealing car."
Paris Motor Show 2014: round-up
Land Rover Discovery SUV
3 Oct 2014

Paris Motor Show 2014: round-up

This year's Paris Motor Show saw plenty of exciting new car launches, from Audi to Volvo and everything in between

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks