Volvo has added several new engine choices since the launch of the new XC90. T5 trim gets a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out 250hp. T6 trim gets the same 2-liter engine but a turbocharged and supercharged layout pumping out 315hp. While the range topping T8 Hybrid gets the same 2-liter turbocharged & supercharged layout but boosts output to 400hp. Pick of the range still remains with the T6 which we think is the best way to go with the XC90. The entry T5 is okay but it just doesn’t feel as refined as it should be and the T8 Hybrid is more on the steep side of the pricing, which does pay for itself in standard kit and low running costs.
Our tester car came equipped with air suspension and 20-inch alloys and the ride quality is actually good. Large bumps won’t even send shutters into the cabin. Handling is okay it won’t defy logic like a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne but it holds its own well. Steering is smooth and offers excellent feedback. Refinement is good in the XC90, when at relaxed speeds you can barely hear a peep out of the engine and road noise is virtually unheard of. There is a bit of wind noise around the side mirrors but it’s far from intrusive or annoying.
Volvo has the best seats in the auto industry hands down. These seats provide enough comfort for drivers of all sizes. The infotainment system is actually quite easy to use and of course you get a full nine-inch display which adds a bit of class to the overall look and feel. All the controls are within easy reach and your view forwards and backwards is good. Boot space is okay with the third row seat in place. Fold the third row seat down and you’ve got even more space, fold down both rows and you have so much space that you would need a transit van if you find the space lacking.
The third row seat is actually quite roomy for adults, even though most will only tolerate it for short journeys. The second row space is generous too, in fact this is one of the few seven-seat 4x4s we’ve ever driven where the balance between utility and people carrier is so good that we have to give it a standing ovation.
Momentum trim comes with Full-LED headlights, navigation system, panoramic sunroof and collision mitigation support for the front. R-design adds 20-inch alloys, R-design design ques. Inscription trim adds ventilated leather seats, linear walnut wood inlays, 12.3 digital instrument display. Range toping Excellence adds Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System, beverage cooler/refrigerator and high-spec ventilation and massage function for front and rear seats.
We challenge you to find a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne with the same equipment for similar money and what you’ll find is all the reasons why the XC90 is the better buy. It may not have the resale value of both brands yet but this XC90 looks promising and we do predict that the value will hold very well. Running costs are similar to that of the BMW and Porsche and even though Volvo doesn’t offer a diesel engine it does however offer a plug-in hybrid option which makes it one of the of the cleanest seven-seat crossovers behind the Tesla Model-X.
Interior quality is superb and many of the plastics feel classy and upmarket; a far departure from the previous generation. Volvo has scored above-average in reliability and we do see this being a new trend for years to come. If Volvo had a middle name it would be safety and everything that you could ever possibly want in terms of safety kit Volvo has it. The most notable of these systems is the city braking which works at speeds up to 30mph, by slowing you down and bring you to a complete stop if the driver so happens to take his or her eyes off the road.
When you think of luxury 4x4s most will venture to the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne because well both are good in their own right. However, the XC90 is better than both in its own way. It may not be as sharp to drive or defy logic, but it is a comfortable cruiser with an outstanding interior and can really fit seven people aboard. Plus it is one of the most handsome looking 4x4s we have ever seen in a while. Volvo really did tick all the right buttons and play all the right notes with the new XC90. Hopefully the new looks and well equipped trim-levels will lure buyers in because passing one up without giving it a real gander is a real shame because this 4x4 is a gem.
Devon’s pick: T6 AWD R-design is where our money would go. It feels like you get a lot of car for your money and still somehow you undercut the X5 and you’re still way below what you would have to pay if you picked the Cayenne. It’s classy and stylish plus we just love those LED headlights.
Like: The XC90 is the most handsome 4x4 in the segment and that style carries inside too. Infotainment system is easy to use and those seats are the best. It can really fit seven people aboard and somehow manages to undercut the heavy hitters in kit and price.
Dislikes: The auto gearbox is a little sluggish to react. The T5 engine isn’t as refined as it should be.
T5 (Despite it being the cheapest of the range, the engine isn’t that refined. We certainly wish that Volvo aimed to make the best four-cylinders they possibly could. Despite that only gripe, it really is a good choice if you have your heart set out on a Volvo but can’t justify the T6.)
T6 (This is the best engine choice of the range. It offers the flexibility you’d desire and the running costs aren’t too much more than the T5. You get the standard features that make it a worthy contender against the X5 and Q7.)
T8 (We’ve finally had the opportunity to test drive this and well this is the crème de la crème of the range. The massive amount of torque at low revs helps make it feel more responsive than the T6 and you can also drive it on electric mode alone and up to 60mph. You’d think that this wasn’t worth it because the price tag is high, but looking at the keen rivals from Audi and BMW. Volvo pretty much justifies itself. It’s not our pick of the range but it certainly isn’t one you should ignore.)