The XC90 sets new standards for the SUV market in terms of technology, refinement, and value. It’s performance characteristics don’t quite live up to the German standard but the T8 Hybrid is no slouch, one of the quickest on the market. Safety has always been Volvo’s priority and this SUV delivers it in spades, including two world firsts. We’re sure this Volvo will set new sales records for the brand.
Though Volvo has been previously relegated to the “premium” purgatory between standard and luxury brands, the XC90 elevates the brand to legitimate luxury, without a doubt. As such, the plethora of standard equipment will save you thousands over a comparably equipped Bimmer or Benz. All without sacrificing the luxurious accouterments you expect from the big boys. This interior rivals even the plush Range Rover for four figures less. The addition of world's first standard driver assistance features means you get a stylish and safe SUV for a bargain.
The XC90 is a available with three different powertrains: a 250 horsepower 2 Liter inline 4 cylinder that makes 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm, a 316 horsepower turbocharged and supercharged 2 Liter inline 4 cylinder that makes 295 lb-ft of torque, and this engine with 2 permanent magnet synchronous AC motors that make a combined 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque.
Obviously, acceleration varies dramatically amongst these three powertrains. The first takes 7.5 seconds to get from 0-60 mph, while the second does it in 6.5, and the last, a blistering 5.3 seconds. All are mated to Volvo’s 8-speed automatic transmission.
We’d recommend upgrading to the T6 model, the mid-tier, as it adds the third row and provides the adequate power for this big SUV. We’re quite impressed by the level of performance Volvo has achieved with 4 cylinder engines, they can easily compete with V6 rivals. The Hybrid is one of the most powerful Hybrid SUVs ever produced.
The XC90 rides on the firm side for the segment, which is good news for those who like responsive handling but bad for those who expect isolation from bumps and road imperfections. The brakes are some of the best yet tested and will reduce the likelihood you’ll be involved in an accident. The variable electric power steering lacks feedback when compared to German rivals but provides quick inputs and a nice overall feel.
It’s not the top performing luxury midsize SUV but Volvo has closed the gap between itself and the luxury big boys. Most will gladly trade a perceived lack in performance for the few miles per gallon extra the XC90 has on its many rivals.
The interior varies from luxurious to grandiose depending on which trim you choose. Seating configurations vary from posh seating for four in the Excellence trim to five or seven-passenger setups in all other models above the T5. The standard leatherette is actually quite good but can be replaced with Nappa Leather for just $1,400 for seating surface snobs. The seats are some of the most comfortable ever tested, with the sport seats in the R design package being incredibly supportive as well.
We wouldn’t recommend the latter for wider drivers as the buckets are quite narrow, though that’s kinda the point. Volvo’s new infotainment system is a boon to techies and includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard.
The stock audio system it’s connected to is one of the most powerful standard systems we know of, 224 watts of amplified auditory excellence. The 1,400 watt Bowers & Wilkins Premium Audio can be added and may be one of the best ever installed in an SUV. There are stunning materials throughout the cabin and the Active Noise Control keeps things quiet as a monastery.
The second-row seats handle two adults with ease and an integrated child booster seat can be added to the middle seat, an industry first. The third row, if equipped is suitable for children or small adults only. An all-digital, customizable driver information display replaces traditional gauges and Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system is as capable as any tablet on the market.
This SUV is long on utility as well with up to 85.7 cubic feet of cargo space and 41.8 cubes behind the second row. The liftgate is power activated and hands-free standard, which can be an expensive option in competitors. We’re impressed with the XC90’s epicurean interior, it may be one of the best interiors available today.
Remember when Volvos were boring boxes your weird aunt drove? Well, times have changed. The Volvo design team deserves several awards in creating this masterpiece of an SUV. It’s gorgeous! Especially in the R-Design form. The market agrees as the “release of 1,927 individually numbered black First Edition XC90’s which were offered for sale exclusively online and sold out in 47 hours,” according to Volvo Cars. The XC90 is the first to feature Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture which will extend across their lineup in the future. The XC90 displays a prominent new badge across its grille, which varies depending on trim. It’s sandwiched betwixt LED headlamps that feature “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lamps that add some serious Swede attitude. Below, a nicely styled lower bumper stays true to athletic theme. The side profile is equally well crafted and enhances the beefy stance. The wide rear is accented with large vertical LED
The market agrees as the “release of 1,927 individually numbered black First Edition XC90’s which were offered for sale exclusively online and sold out in 47 hours,” according to Volvo Cars. The XC90 is the first to feature Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture which will extend across their lineup in the future. The XC90 displays a prominent new badge across its grille, which varies depending on trim. It’s sandwiched betwixt LED headlamps that feature “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lamps that add some serious Swede attitude. Below, a nicely styled lower bumper stays true to athletic theme. The side profile is equally well crafted and enhances the beefy stance. The wide rear is accented with large vertical LED
The XC90 displays a prominent new badge across its grille, which varies depending on trim. It’s sandwiched betwixt LED headlamps that feature “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lamps that add some serious Swede attitude. Below, a nicely styled lower bumper stays true to athletic theme. The side profile is equally well crafted and enhances the beefy stance. The wide rear is accented with large vertical LED
Below, a nicely styled lower bumper stays true to athletic theme. The side profile is equally well crafted and enhances the beefy stance. The wide rear is accented with large vertical LED taillights and an integrated dual exhaust, which changes slightly with the trims. Above, a rear spoiler adds confidence to the SUV’s striking pose.
There’s no question that this is a good-looking SUV with broad appeal due to its conservative yet classy design.
Safety has always been synonymous with the Volvo brand and the XC90 is no exception. It now comes standard with front crash prevention technology that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates “SUPERIOR,” the highest possible.
In addition, it receives top marks in all their crash testing and the esteemed designation of “Top Safety Pick.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers top marks as well, with a 5-star overall safety rating. Volvo Cars claims the XC90 has “the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry.” They claim they do so with two world firsts: run-off road protection and Auto brake at intersections.
The first uses Lane Keeping Aid to apply “extra steering torque if the car is about to leave the lane unintentionally, while Driver Alert Control… detects and warns tired or inattentive drivers.” The second is the first system “that features automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car.” These features are standard on all 2018 models, which we commend because similar technologies cost thousands extra in competitors. The XC90 is one of the safest SUVs on any road!
The XC90 receives a slightly below average 2.5 out of 5 predicted reliability rating from JD Power and just a 1 out of 5 predicted reliability rating from Consumer Reports. These ratings are rather out of character for the Volvo brand, which is generally considered reliable.
The gas-powered models are subject to 4 NHTSA recalls. The first is for significant water drainage from the A/C that may affect airbag deployment and affects 43,766 XC90 and S90 Volvos. Some 740,027 Volvo vehicles have seat belt buckles that may separate from the bracket on the front passenger seat. 10,476 Volvos contain curtain air bag securing bolts that may fail. Just 1,305 XC90s were equipped with a faulty Micro Gas Generator on the right-hand side third-row seatbelt. All these problems will be resolved by a Volvo dealer, free of charge.
There’s a NHTSA complaint filed for the collision mitigation system applying the brakes erroneously. Another one for the park assist feature hitting a curb and damaging the wheels. There’s just one complaint filed for the Hybrid model, the owner claims the Hybrid battery failed for no explicable reason. A Technical Service Bulletin was filed by Volvo for the intermittent functioning of the climate control. Another for problems with the Hybrid model’s Inverter Generator Module that may throw a trouble code if exposed to high temperatures. Most of the remaining TSBs advise technicians on how to perform various maintenance tasks and are no cause for alarm.
It seems there may be some issues Volvo needs to sort out with the advanced driver assistance technologies but it’s reasonable to expect software updates will be available to improve these systems’ efficacy. We’d rank this SUV as a bit less reliable than many of its luxury SUV competitors.
Another SUV that offers strong value when compared with luxury rivals, is the Acura MDX. Like the XC90, it comes standard with advanced safety technology. Though, more advanced features like a 360-degree camera are available for less in the Volvo. From the outset, the MDX is a better performing SUV with a strong V6 that’s good for a sub-six second zero to sixty. The Hybrid MDX is a competent alternative to the T8, available for some 5,000 dollars less. The interior of the Acura can’t match the Volvo’s refinement, we’d classify it as “premium” rather than luxurious. The Hybrid is the quickest of MDXs, with a 5.5 zero to sixty. We’d also give the MDX the edge in handling. The steering provides more feedback and the ride is more composed yet noisier. The Acura receives equal safety scores but much higher reliability ratings. Not to mention, the strongest resale value of all luxury SUVs. The Volvo may save you money initially but the Acura is more practical when you factor in the long-term cost of ownership. Still, we’d have a difficult time buying the Acura over the stunning new Volvo XC90.
The XC90 Momentum starts at $46,900 and includes keyless entry with a hands-free power tailgate, illuminated door handles, front spoiler mounted fog lights, Volvo On Call, side impact airbags, inflatable curtains, and Intelligent Driver Information System. Even the base Momentum trim arrives standard with cutting-edge safety technology, like Collision Mitigation Support, blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, a lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise control, hill descent control, park assist rear, and Pilot Assist. Inside, an 8 inch digital driver display is standard, along with illuminated vanity mirrors, auto-dimming inner and exterior mirrors, a 224 watt High Performance Audio System with tweeters and woofers, HD radio, leather steering wheel with Deco inlay, leather gearshift knob, textile carpet, aluminum sill moldings, a blond headliner, clean zone air quality system with humidity sensor, 2-zone electronic climate control, and aluminum inlays.
The seats are trimmed with Leatherette, including the 10-way power front seats with power lumbar and memory function, all seats feature comfort seat padding. Many modern convenience features are also included, like a Rear Park Assist Camera, a Graphical Head-up Display, USB connection, Bluetooth connection, electronically variable power steering, smartphone integration, and Sensus Navigation. On the outside, standard equipment includes Silver roof rails, LED headlights with Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights, auto high beam, brightwork side windows, heated windshield washer nozzles, retractable mirrors, Rainsensor, rear privacy windows, laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, aluminum cargo scuff plate, 18 inch 5-spoke Sparkling Silver alloy wheels, and dual integrated tailpipes with chrome sleeves.
Performance characteristics entail selectable drive modes, a touring chassis, stop/start technology, Active Noise Control, and an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. $2,200 extra equips the SUV with All-Wheel-Drive. The T6 model, which features AWD and a larger engine, starts from $54,050. The T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid has an MSRP of $64,950 yet qualifies for a Federal Tax Credit of $5,002. Real leather in your choice of three colors is available for $1,400. A Front and Rear Skid Plate Kit costs $2,715. A Rugged Styling Kit with side scuff plates costs $6,185, while the Urban Styling Kit with side scuff plates is $6,080. Dark Flame Birch Wood inlays can be installed for $400, the corresponding steering wheel is $325. The $1,950 Convenience Package adds a 360 degree surround view camera, compass, cargo area 12V power outlet, front park assist, and a grocery bag holder. The Heated Seats and Heated Steering Wheel Package is $750. Lastly, the Momentum Plus Package installs Active Bending Lights, interior high-level illumination, illuminated sill plates, Dark Flame Birch Wood Inlays, headlight high-pressure cleaning, and a 12.3 inch Driver Display. A Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System can be installed for $3,200. An integrated child booster seat can be equipped for $250.
The R-Design trim starts from $52,300 for the T5 FWD, $59,900 for the T5 AWD, T6 AWD starts from $58,050, and the T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid costs $68,950 but qualifies for a Federal Tax Credit of $5,002. Standard equipment on this trim level includes high-level interior illumination, a 12.3 inch driving instrument display, R-Design key fob, black headliner, R-Design 3-spoke steering wheel, R-Design perforated gearshift knob, R-Design pedals, R-Design carpet, 4-way power adjustable lumbar support on, front seat power cushion extensions, sport seat padding, Charcoal Nubuck & Nappa leather in charcoal interior, metal mesh aluminum inlays, and illuminated R-Design sill moldings. This trim receives different dual integrated tailpipes, Silk Metal Decor Side windows, Glossy Black Stripe rear bumper, Matte Silver rear view mirror covers, an R-Design Grille, Paddle Shifters, and 20 inch 5-spoke Tech Matte Grey Diamond Cut alloy wheels. Carbon Fiber Inlays are $800. The $1,950 Convenience Package adds a 360 degree surround view camera, a compass, cargo area 12V power outlet, HomeLink, and grocery bag holder. The Heated Seats and Heated Steering Wheel Package can be installed for $750. A Rugged Styling Kit with side scuff plates costs $6,185, while the Urban Styling Kit with side scuff plates is $6,080.
The Inscription trim is only available in T6 AWD for $59,150 or the T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid for $70,050. Standard features on this trim include Nappa Leather upholstery, comfort seat padding, power cushion extensions, 4 zone climate control, Inscription carpet, Leather gearshift knob and steering wheel with Deco inlay, rear window sun blinds, power folding rear headrests, perforated front seats, and Linear Walnut Inlays. On the outside, the XC90 receives the inscription grille, brightwork side windows, inscription color coordinated sills and bumpers, Inscription trim exterior rear, and 20 inch 10-spoke Tinted Silver Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels. A Rugged Styling Kit with side scuff plates costs $6,185, while the Urban Styling Kit with side scuff plates is $6,080. The $1,950 Convenience Package installs a 360 degree surround view camera, a compass, cargo area 12V power outlet, HomeLink, and grocery bag holder. The $3,150 Luxury Package provides heated rear seats, NuBuck headliner and pillar liners, leather-wrapped sun visors and grab handles, and, best of all, backrest massaging front seats. A Tailored Dashboard & Upper Door Panels clads the dashboard and door panels in exclusive black leather with color coordinated seams for $1,000.
The $104,900 dollar Excellence trim is only available as the T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid with a four individual seat configuration. This trim is fully loaded with Park Assist Pilot, Park Assist front and rear, Pilot Assist, compass, 1,400 watt Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System with subwoofer, Crystal Gearshift knob by Orrefors, massaging seats with comfort padding, tailored instrument panel, high-spec ventilation on all seats, Perforated Nappa leather upholstery, Nubuck and textile headliner, and grocery bag holder. The exterior receives chrome door molding with excellence logo, Inscription grille, Inscription rear, and 21 inch 8-spoke Diamond Cut Silver alloy wheels. Features exclusive to this trim include a FOUR-C Active Chassis, 4-corner AIr Suspension, and Pre Ventilation or Prolonged Heating after engine shut off.