Volvo knows a thing or two about making practical and safe cars. The XC90 is no exception, even though it is stylish and more practical than its keen rivals. It's styling and interior design is lacking behind in times. Can Volvo still provide a valid reason why the XC90 should be on top of buyers list? Let's find out.
Performance: The 3.2-liter six-cylinder produces 243hp. Acceleration around town and on the highway are modest at best. You'll have to push it harder than it's keen rivals to get up to pace. Fuel economy is also rather disppointing when compared to the BMW X5 and Acura MDX which both use a more modern take on the six-cylinder.
On the road: The XC90 hides its bulky size really well. It may not be as sharp to drive as a BMW X5, but the ride comfort is very smooth. We suggest avoiding the larger alloy wheels which can make things a bit choppy on some road surfaces. The optional all-wheel-drive sends power to the front wheels unless wheel slip is sensed. Although the XC90 has a smooth highway ride and is decently quiet all round. The XC90 can't hide its age and it shows in the engine refinement and steering feedback.
Behind the wheel: The XC90's center console looks button overload, but when you take the time to navigate through you'll see that everything is logically laid out. The front seats are very comfortable and offers plenty of support. There's plenty of space in the second row while the third row should remain for children. With all three rows in place there isn't much space in the boot. Fold down third row and you'll have a decent size boot. Fold down the second row also and you'll have an cargo van sized boot.
Equipment: All XC90's come well equipped. Entry-level model gets leather interior, keyless entry, automatic headlights and Bluetooth. You'll have to pay extra for all-wheel-drive on all trim levels. The top of the range R-design adds unique body-kit, alloy wheels and navigation system. You'll have to pay extra for Xenon Headlamps on all trims.
Buying & Owning: The XC90 undecuts it's rivals on price and discounts are available. Running costs however won't be so great due to the thirsty and underpowered engine. Resale value is a meer average which isn't great compared to the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes ML.
Quality & Safety: The materials used in the cabin feel upscale and long lasting. Some of the switchgear feel dated. The XC90 was rated above average in mechanical reliability. Although we still worry about electrical problems in the future, which seems to be an achillies heel for Volvos. When it comes to safety Volvos are nortorious for being overly safe vehicles. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes are all standard across the range. Anti-whip lash head restraints are standard as well as front/side curtain airbags. Deadlocks and anti-theft alarm keeps theft at bay.
The XC90 undercuts it's rivals with low price and tons of equipment for the money. This is where the positives end sadly as the XC90 feels aged and behind it's keen rivals the BMW X5 and Mercedes ML. Some of the switchgear feel old and the design is aging gracefully but is still in need of a major redesign. If you can overlook these few downsides you'll find that the XC90 is an alround great SUV to own and is worth considering over it's much more expensive rivals.
Devon's Pick: The 3.2 Premier Plus makes the most sense financially. You'll pay extra for all-wheel-drive but you get the extra luxury bits that the standard trim doesn't offer. Which in my books is worth it. The Platnium and R-designs are both major bargain deals compared to the BMW X5 and Mercedes ML. It's a shame that they are all attached to an outdated six-cylinder that feels underpowered.
Likes: Classy inside out. Legendary Volvo safety. Cheaper than most of its keen rivals.
Dislikes: Starting to show its age inside out. Six-cylinder engine feels underpowered and outdated. In desperate need of a redesign.