Volvo XC90 Review

Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 range...

List Price

£56,390 - £77,875

Acceleration (0-62mph)

5.4 - 7.7 seconds

Top speed

112 - 140 mph

Engine Power

235 - 455 bhp

CO2 Emissions

154 - 179 g/km

Fuel Economy (Combined)

- mpg

Prices & Specification

Comfortable to drive and to ride in; plenty of space for passengers and luggage.


Not the most economical engines; handling in corners could be better.

The Volvo XC90 was launched to compete with the top end 4x4’s on the market. In some ways it really is a match for its rivals such as the BMW X5, for a start it is competitively priced against them and the interior is comfortable and practical, which makes the XC90 an easy car to live with. However, the Volvo XC90 can’t really compete when you look at performance, both in terms of economy and power, and the handling doesn’t have the sharpness of its rivals either.


The Volvo XC90’s performance options are rather limited with only one engine available after the lack of demand for Volvo’s petrol offering led to them dropping it from the range. Now you are left with a 2.4 diesel branded as the D5. There was a good reason why everyone was opting for the diesel: its 5 cylinders produce 197bhp which is dished out evenly throughout the gears. You have to have an automatic gearbox and Volvo have done their best to provide a nice smooth shifting box. You do have to put up with a bit of noise and there are better engines out there, but on the whole the Volvo XC90’s engine does a good job.


The best word to describe the Volvo XC90’s handling is comfortable. On long haul drives you feel soothed by the XC90’s supple suspension which allows you to cruise along without feeling all but the biggest lumps and bumps. Cornering isn’t quite as refined though, as a driver you feel very disconnected from the road and it tends to fight its way in and out of corners, body roll is not a major problem but is definitely noticeable.


Volvo is looking to tap into the top end of the market with the XC90 and to achieve this they’ve altered some of their traditional styling traits to try and lure in new customers. There is an overall refinement to the XC90’s looks which run throughout the car’s styling. That said, it still looks solid and hard working, and it’s difficult to tell if this is a deliberate move from Volvo or just an ingrained habit.


The comfort of the ride is mirrored in the interior, with the Volvo XC90 being the perfect place to find yourself if you are going on a long drive. The XC90 can carry 5 people comfortably and with 7 seats as standard across the board you can transport 7 people on short to medium length journeys with little problem. All the seats provide excellent comfort levels which adds to the enjoyment of the journey. The boot increases the Volvo XC90’s appeal as an option for the family with 615 litres available when you have 5 seats up, though this space is cut to a tiny amount if you have all 7 seats up.


At the bottom end of the Volvo XC90 range you find the ES trim, which has some nice features including dual zone air-con, 17 inch alloys, CD player with USB connectivity, rear parking sensors and cruise control. Next up is the SE and you need to move up to this if you want Bluetooth. You also get part leather interior, rain sensitive wipers as well as larger alloys, but these do have a negative effect on the handling. The SE Lux adds some stylish touches including some smart dials and a flashier interior and roof rails, as well as heated seats and full leather interior. The R Design is the sportier model, which lowers and stiffens up the suspension amongst other things. The Executive trim is the real cruiser with dashes of Walnut, extra seat padding and massaging front seats.


It’s easy to see why the Volvo XC90 was awarded 5 stars in its Euro NCAP test. All the safety gear you want comes as standard with front, side and cabin length window airbags plus all the tech that should keep you under control including ESP, ABS and technology specifically designed to make sure you don’t roll. If you are unfortunate enough to roll the XC90, the roof has been made of stronger materials to protect both driver and passengers.

Buying & Owning3/5

The XC90 is a Volvo and this comes with certain preconceptions, one of which is excellent reliability. In this case the car conforms to the stereotype with owners having no complaints about mechanical problems. The one engine on offer is not a great big gas guzzler, but it does only average 34 mpg which is far from the best in the class. That said, you don’t have to pay class leading prices to purchase it, and residual values are pretty high.

Reviewed by cars2buy