2008 Volvo XC90 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Volvo XC90 SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volvo XC90 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.4 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 311 hp @ 5850 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 13/19 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Volvo XC90

  • Newer competitors may outdo the 2008 Volvo XC90 when it comes to luxury and performance, but it's still one of the safest, most kid-friendly premium midsize SUVs out there.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Pleasing to drive, impressive safety ratings, high-quality interior materials, snug and comfy front seats, ample cargo space.

  • Cons

    Overall design is getting a bit stale, third-row seating compromises second-row space, subpar fuel economy with either engine.

  • What's New for 2008

    After receiving significant changes last year, the 2008 Volvo XC90 carries over much the same. An auto-dimming rearview mirror is standard on all XC90s, while the V8 models get some mild interior and exterior trim updates. A 3.2 Special Edition trim also debuts.

Full 2008 Volvo XC90 Review

What's New for 2008

After receiving significant changes last year, the 2008 Volvo XC90 carries over much the same. An auto-dimming rearview mirror is standard on all XC90s, while the V8 models get some mild interior and exterior trim updates. A 3.2 Special Edition trim also debuts.


Volvo has been a lead purveyor of wagons for decades. While these traditional people haulers continue to sell well for the Swedish automaker -- particularly in Europe -- SUVs have become the go-to vehicle for most American families in need of extra space and seating capacity. In response, Volvo introduced its flagship XC90 crossover SUV in 2003. The XC90 turned out to be a hit for the brand, and in fact has been Volvo's best-selling model the past two years.

A few years on, the 2008 XC90 combines Volvo's long-standing wagon expertise with the popular attributes of luxury crossovers. It has seating for up to seven passengers, a high-quality cabin packed with features, a choice of six-cylinder or V8 power and a decent tow rating. As with all Volvo products, there's a strong emphasis on safety. The XC90 pioneered stability-control-based rollover avoidance technology and has full airbag coverage. There are also less obvious points, such as the heavy-duty third-row seat that's carefully positioned over the rear axle to ensure the largest possible crumple zone in the event of a rear-end crash. As a result, the XC90 is also one of but a handful of luxury SUVs to achieve the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) "Good" rating for all three of its crash testing areas -- frontal offset, side and rear.

We've recommended the Volvo XC90 since its debut, and it's still a very good choice for an upscale crossover SUV. In the areas that most family-oriented buyers deem important, including style, utility, power and of course safety, the 2008 Volvo XC90 delivers. But this segment has witnessed a lot of change in the past couple of years. The recently redesigned Acura MDX and BMW X5 have a more sporting and luxurious flair to them, for example, and the all-new Buick Enclave provides superior interior space for less money. The XC90 still holds its own against these newer competitors, but it's probably worth doing a bit of comparison before making a final decision.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A midsize luxury SUV, the 2008 Volvo XC90 comes in three main trims: 3.2, V8 and V8 Sport. There is also a Special Edition trim available for the 3.2. The XC90 3.2 seats five and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, wood interior trim, an eight-way power driver seat with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an eight-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio jack, and a PremAir-coated radiator to minimize ozone emissions. The V8-powered XC90 adds a third-row seat for seven-passenger capacity and comes with a self-leveling rear suspension, 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, wood interior trim, a power front-passenger seat, an integrated child booster seat in the second row, a separate rear air-conditioner, upgraded instrumentation and a sunroof. The V8 Sport adds unique exterior trim, a more firmly tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, quicker steering, extra lateral bolstering for the front seats, cool blue metallic gauges and a sportier three-spoke steering wheel.

Most of the standard V8's features, including the third-row seat, can be added to the 3.2 model by selecting the Premium and Versatility Packages. A Convenience Package adds rear park assist, power-retractable side mirrors, power child door locks, a compass and an interior air quality system. The Climate Package adds heated front seats, headlamp washers and automatic wipers. Other options include active bi-xenon headlamps, Volvo's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), an upgraded surround-sound audio system (not available on the 3.2), a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens. Although the active bi-xenon headlamps and Dynaudio system are stand-alone extras on the base V8 model, they must be purchased in a Technology Package (along with satellite radio) on the V8 Sport.

The new 3.2 Special Edition model basically groups together a number of packages and options. The Premium, Versatility and Climate packages are included, along with 18-inch wheels, rear parking assist, BLIS and retractable mirrors. There are also two exclusive colors.

Powertrains and Performance

Engines correspond to the model name. The 3.2 model comes with a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated for 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The XC90 V8 models get a 4.4-liter V8 good for 311 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. XC90 3.2 models come standard with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive (AWD) is available as an option. The AWD system is standard on the V8-powered Volvo XC90s. Towing capacity for both models is respectable, with an approximate 5,000-pound rating. In testing, we've found that the XC90 V8 Sport model takes 7.4 seconds to hit 60 mph, about average for a V8-equipped luxury crossover. Fuel economy ratings are a bit below average for this class of vehicle.


Standard safety features on the 2008 Volvo XC90 include full-length side-curtain airbags, front-seat side airbags, anti-whiplash front seats and antilock brakes. Integrated into the standard stability control system is a rollover sensor. Options include power child safety locks, adaptive headlights and Volvo's Blind Spot Information System. Known as BLIS, this bit of technology monitors vehicles entering the XC90's blind spots and warns the driver via indicator lights. In government frontal-impact crash tests, the XC90 earned a full five stars for protection of the driver and four stars for the front passenger. In side-impact tests, it earned a perfect five stars across the board. The Volvo earned ratings of "Good," the highest possible, in the IIHS's frontal-offset, side-impact and rear-impact crash testing.

Interior Design and Special Features

It's hard to see the XC90's cabin as belonging to anything but a Volvo. Materials are first-rate, ergonomics straightforward and the overall design consistent with the hip, minimalist look Volvo has utilized with great success for a decade. Having said that, it's not particularly luxurious in the traditional sense when compared to some of its competitors, like the Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX and Lexus RX 350. However, the addition of standard sapele wood trim in the V8 model should please those who have found past XC90s a bit austere.

The XC90 is arguably more about family accommodations than wood and leather, and it certainly doesn't disappoint in this regard. When equipped with the third-row seat, the center position in the second row has an integrated child booster cushion that slides forward, allowing easier access to children in the back. Legroom in the rearmost quarters is better than in many competitors, although the second row does get cramped as a result. Cargo capacity is 43.3 cubic feet with the third seat folded (or not there at all if you have a five-passenger model), and it expands to a generous 85 cubic feet with both rows folded.

Driving Impressions

Buyers can expect adequate acceleration from the 3.2 model, while the 2008 Volvo XC90 V8 will appeal to those seeking brisk response with only a slight loss of fuel economy. For the 3.2 and regular V8 trims, ride quality is soft and comfortable. Although it lacks the silky ride quality of the Lexus RX 350 or the sport-sedan demeanor of an Acura MDX, this Volvo offers an appealing blend of comfort and handling that will satisfy most drivers. Those whose preferences run more toward athletic handling should check out the impressive V8 Sport. Its retuned suspension and more aggressive wheel-and-tire package makes a world of difference, transforming the XC90 from a friendly utility vehicle with a comfy-couch ride and slightly vague steering into a confident highway cruiser with a secure, highly controlled character.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Over 40k miles

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Vehicle: 2008 Volvo XC90 3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

I purchased my 3.2 AWD with 22k miles when it was two years old. I have since put about 45k miles on it. What repairs have I done? Only one thing that I can think of besides brakes and tires. An emissions pump. I consider one repair outside of maintenance in almost 70k miles acceptable. Because of it's weight if you drive aggressively expect it to eat brakes and tires and gas mileage to be in the teens. The original Pirellis had to be replaced shortly after I bought it because they were worn out. I put Sumitomos on it and have yet to replace them with over 40k miles. I do a pretty even mix of city/highway driving. I anticipate getting another year (15/20k miles) out of them.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Was a volvo family

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Vehicle: 2008 Volvo XC90 3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

We own both the XC90 and S60and have been frustrated with both. In the XC90 past two years, we have collectively had to repair or replace numerous parts and sensors that seem trivial to have to get fix in such an early life of a vehicle. For example, the ignition switch had to be replaced. The right and left side of the seat panel had to be replaced because the plastic cracked. The sunroof leaked. This doesn’t cover all the other issues of the S60. Without exaggeration, this is the most we have ever been inside of a service station. We have written to Volvo to share our concerns and got back a “get lost” attitude. We will never buy another Volvo. Shame on them for their response.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Beware of transmission issues

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Vehicle: 2008 Volvo XC90 V8 4dr SUV AWD (4.4L 8cyl 6A)

As represented by MANY blogs, transmission failure is very wide- spread issue. More surprising is the repeat replacement issue. Vovlo doesn't seem to be concerned as there is no public discussin regarding design or manufacturing changes, even for the new models. I fully believe the only reason Volvo has not recalled the vehicle for faulty trany (replacement) is because they haven't been able to link fatalities to the issue. Based on what I am reading and what I am hearing, its only a matter of time. I am very surprised the Luxury Car manufacturer has not taken a more proactive position on this and dealers are very difficult to work with.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful


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Vehicle: 2008 Volvo XC90 3.2 Special Edition 4dr SUV AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

The xc90 is an excellent suv for people looking for design, build quality and durability. It has a special scandinavian character that puts it far ahead of other suvs. volvos are famous for thier safety,practicality and longevity. Built like a tank, with one of the most sophisticted premium audio system installed in cars.If you are looking for muscles and performance, this suv is not for you.


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Vehicle: 2008 Volvo XC90 V8 4dr SUV AWD (4.4L 8cyl 6A)

At 33k, the car overheated and stranded us. Picked it up from the dealer after two days, happened again. Twice on the hook in a week. That follows 3 days in the shop for a steering angle sensor, and another day for a headlight. The 4.4 is great, the ride is quiet, the interior is designed for adults. But we've driven 800,000 miles in Acuras and Infinities and never been left on the side of the road. It's happened twice in our low mileage XC90 in a week. Plus, no rearward vision and primitive electronics. We're going back to MDX

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great car needs better tires

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Vehicle: 2008 Volvo XC90 V8 4dr SUV AWD (4.4L 8cyl 6A)

20,000 trouble free miles in the V-8, average 19.7 mpg in mixed driving. Love the premium leather, the drive train, the ride and quality and the looks. But Volvo shouldn't build a all wheel drive car with the 19" Pirelli Scorpians. They are useless, not to say dangerous, in even light snow, got real noisy after 15,000 miles and were ready for scrap after 20k. I've replaced the with Conti HDC's, which are stock on Mercedes. My only other complaint is the turning radius that resembles a super tanker (supposedly to accommodate the width of the V-8); we call ours the "Queen Mary".

Talk About The 2008 XC90

2008 Volvo XC90 Discussions See all Started By

I turned in my V70 in December and leased a new XC90...

I haved decided on purchasing a v8 xc90 2008. A dealer gave me the following lease offer through Costco....

we have a similar deal on our xc90 2008. our lease expired on november 09 and we are extending it up to 6 month (may 2010). we tried leasing the xc60, but the best we got is 479/mo for 60mo / 10000 mi...

Gas Mileage


  • 13
  • cty
  • 19
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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