Volvo XC90: room to groove

Riley Riley


What is it?

The grand daddy of Volvo’s SUV range.

The seven-seat XC90 is also the oldest of its SUVs, dating back to 2002 and now in its second generation.

The current shape was introduced in 2014 and is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor — at 4950mm in length, with a wheelbase of 2984mm.

The second row features three individual seats with recline adjustment and can be slid backwards or forwards to create more legroom for passengers in the third row or to increase luggage space.

The third row which packs flat  is suitable for teenagers and small children.

A child booster cushion is integrated into the second row centre seat.


What’s it cost?

Prices start from $93,900 plus on roads for the diesel 2.0-litre Momentum.

Our 2.0-litre twin charged petrol T6 R-Design is priced from $104,900, but that’s not where the range stops.

There’s also the T8 hybrid, priced from $122,900, $124,900 or a rarefied $174,200 — all figures before on roads.

Our test vehicle had a few options fitted including the Premium Pack, which brings the final figure to $114,800 plus on roads.

The Premium Pack priced at $8000 includes sunblinds for the rear side doors, Bowers & Wilkins audio, heated rear seats, active chassis with rear air suspension, and tailored dashboard and door top panels with colour-coordinated seams.

Metallic paint adds another $1900.

The dash with its dominant, vertically mounted 9.0-inch touchscreen computer is familiar from the smaller XC40 and XC60 models.

The Bowers & Wilkins system is a real work of art, with 1400 watts of power and 19 speakers.

In fact, the 19th speaker, the subwoofer, uses the car body itself, turning the entire interior of the car into a giant speaker.

Being a Volvo the XC90 comes choc full of safety equipment too, including active cruise with auto emergency braking and receives a maximum five star rating for safety.

When linked to your mobile phone, Volvo On Call automatically alerts emergency services in the event of an accident.


What’s it go like?

The interior sets a benchmark for comfort and ergonomics, with oodles of room and large easy to use controls.

In our test vehicle it was trimmed in an attractive combination of greys and blacks, with carbon fibre look inserts and metal speaker grilles.

Loaded with technology the seven-seat wagon features a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine that is both turbo- and supercharged.

The unusual combo produces 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque, the latter from 2200 to 5400 revs.

The supercharger is designed to boost bottom end performance and combines with the turbocharger to deliver a strong, smooth throttle response across the entire rev range.

VW offered a similar twin-charged setup with the Golf for a short period, longer with the Golf Convertible which sat on an older platform.

The twin charged engine in the XC90 is paired with an 8-speed auto, with drive to all four wheels as required, and does the dash from 0 to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds — despite a 2 tonne plus weight penalty.

Drive modes include Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Off Road, but with a space saver spare, 20 inch rims and expensive low profile Continentals — few people are likely to actually take the car off road.

Gear change paddles are provided, but to be honest we did not bother with them — with plenty of torque the need just wasn’t there.

The steering is light and perhaps a touch too sensitive, but the lane keeping assistance technology which steers the car back into its lane is among the best and least intrusive that we’ve tested.

Speed can be displayed digitally and cameras are employed to keep an eye on the current speed limit, with information available either in the dash or projected onto the lower windscreen via head-up display.

The system also warns of school zones and fixed speed cameras, although we still haven’t worked out how to get audible warnings.

The only problem with the head-up display is that it is almost invisible with polarised sunglasses.

With fuel consumption rated at 8.5L/100km, we were getting 10.7L100km from the 71-litre tank after some 430km of mixed driving.


What we like?

  • Imposing
  • Great paint job
  • Strong performance
  • Rear air outlets
  • Superior implementation of lane assist
  • Impressive Bowers & Wilkins sound system

What we don’t like?

  • No wireless charging
  • Still can’t work out how to get audible camera warnings
  • Digital radio does not supply artist/song title
  • Touchscreen show finger marks
  • Can’t see head-up display with polarised sunglasses


The bottom line?

Taken in isolation it’s too big and too expensive.

But in comparison with a Benz, BMW or Audi. the XC90 starts to look a whole lot more attractive.

CHECKOUT:  Volvo XC60: the Goldilocks option

CHECKOUT: Volvo XC40: what’s the big attraction?


Volvo T6 R-Design, priced from $104,900
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8.5/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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