The rear exterior of a white Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90 review

The Volvo XC90 sets the benchmark for luxury and style. This SUV has the most comfortable seats in the class and its impeccable safety credentials make it one of the safest cars on the road.

Pros

  • Stylish, eye-catching design
  • Excellent interior space and comfort
  • Economical engines across the range

Cons

  • More expensive to buy than some premium rivals
  • Has had recall issues
  • Infotainment system can feel a bit complicated

Summary

“Safe, stylish and swift, all packaged into a sophisticated piece of Swedish design.”

The XC90 strikes the perfect balance between everyday practicality, fantastic safety tech and elegant Swedish design. 

Luxurious inside and out, the XC90 features Volvo’s signature Thor’s Hammer headlights which add to its impeccable style.

It’s a great car for commuting to work and for taking the family on a weekend in the countryside. It also features plenty of practical storage solutions and spacious cubby holes for all your everyday essentials. 

If safety is one of your main priorities, then the XC90 is a great choice as it’s one of the safest cars on the market.

The exterior of a white Volvo XC90

What's the interior like?

“It’s seriously stylish and comfortable.”

Understatedly elegant, there's a minimalist feel to the dashboard with only eight buttons in the centre console. Almost everything has been included in the vertically-styled Sensus touchscreen infotainment system. This is where you can alter settings, stream your favourite music or even check the weather. There are a lot of menus and sub-menus, which can seem complicated at first, but once you realise where things are it works really well. 

Most of the information can also be shown on the digital instrument cluster (the dials you can see through the steering wheel). There’s also a head-up display for essential info like speed and navigation instructions. This clever piece of tech superimposes the information on the windscreen so it’s in your line of sight when you’re driving.

The seats are exceptionally comfortable with lots of adjustment. Depending on the model or the different options available, they can be heated or cooled and even provide you with a back massage. The rear seats slide or recline to give the best level of comfort to passengers and it’s relatively easy to get people into the third row of seats.

There’s a long list of standard equipment, including electric driver’s seat adjustment, heated mirrors and parking sensors, even in the entry-level Momentum model.

The interior of a Volvo XC90 with steering wheel and dashboard in shot

What's it like to drive?

“It's comfortable, economical and reasonably quick, all in a stylish package.”

There’s a four cylinder petrol and diesel option, as well as a T8 model which is a plug-in hybrid. All deliver excellent response, great economy and low emissions. The diesel is the pick of the bunch for its balance of performance and low fuel consumption.

There’s a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission that’s very comfortable to drive. As an SUV, there’s a bit of body lean when going around corners due to its height, but the XC90 is extremely well composed on the road even when driven quickly. It handles bumps well, although if you go for R-Design models with bigger wheels, you may find it a little less comfortable. 

It also has plenty of technology, including a parking assistant and Pilot Assist. This is Volvo’s driver assistance system that features active cruise control and lane keeping guidance. It helps to make longer journeys easier.

Rear light shot of the Volvo XC-90

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Prices are still high but you get a lot of SUV for your money.”

Prices are going to be fairly similar to competitors, although as Volvo is becoming more popular, the XC90 might cost a little more than an equivalent Audi or BMW. 

All models are surprisingly economical for their size, but the diesel powered D5 is the best and is most likely to give you figures in the high 30s for mpg. The T8 surpasses it by miles but unless you can run it in electric mode most of the time, you’ll be in the mid 30s. 

Insurance costs are going to be lower than rivals, while servicing and maintenance will be similar.

The side exterior of a white Volvo XC90

How reliable and safe is it?

“It's one of the safest cars on the planet.”

There have been a number of reliability issues with the XC90 and a few recalls. Mainly for faulty airbags, a cracking fuel hose and a potential fire risk. All should have been taken care of through the dealer network by now, but it’s worth checking.

Safety is exemplary, with the Euro NCAP crash test giving the XC90 five stars. There’s a long list of safety tech, including anti-roll protection, City Safe crash prevention, autonomous emergency braking and even seats that protect your spine in an impact.

Engine shot of the Volvo XC90

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - D5 Momentum

Best for family - D5 Momentum

Best for fun - T8 AWD R-Design

The D5 diesel is the top seller and for good reason. It delivers excellent fuel consumption but isn’t short on performance. You barely even notice it’s a diesel thanks to excellent sound insulation in the cabin. Although, you need to be driving more than 12,000 miles a year in order to make the diesel work for you.

If you live in or commute into a city then it might be worth considering a petrol T5 or T6 or the Twin Engine Hybrid T8 for its electric-only range, good overall economy and range-topping performance. 

The Momentum and Momentum Pro trim should give you all the kit you’re likely to need, plus many will have had options fitted when new. The R-Design models are fun to drive but the ride will be a bit firmer.

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