2011 Volvo XC90 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 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 3.2 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 240 hp @ 6200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Volvo XC90

  • The 2011 Volvo XC90 is still a competent luxury crossover SUV, but newer choices might prove more appealing.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Upscale and stylish interior; supportive front seats; smooth ride.

  • Cons

    Third-row seating cuts into second-row room; weak base engine.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, the Volvo XC90 gets 5 horsepower more for its inline-6 engine as well as a few more standard features, including Bluetooth and satellite radio. All models now feature the R-Design's wristwatch-style instrument faces.

Full 2011 Volvo XC90 Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the Volvo XC90 gets 5 horsepower more for its inline-6 engine as well as a few more standard features, including Bluetooth and satellite radio. All models now feature the R-Design's wristwatch-style instrument faces.


Back in 2003, the crossover SUV represented a new thing. Based on unit-body platforms shared with cars instead of body-on-frame structures shared with trucks, this new breed of SUV gave people what they really wanted from a utility vehicle, like more passenger room and less cargo capacity, not to mention all-wheel drive calibrated for slippery suburban roads instead of rocky mountain trails. The 2011 Volvo XC90 led this adaptation of the SUV to the real world back in 2003 and it hasn't changed much in the nine years since. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as Volvo got it so right in the first place that the XC90 remains a good choice in this segment if you're looking for a full-size vehicle.

But now that Volvo has the highly regarded XC60 compact crossover in the family, the senior XC90 finds itself in a bit of a pickle. Yes, it offers the advantage of a third-row seat, giving it a seven-to-five-passenger capacity advantage, but that third row compromises the second row's legroom. And although the XC90 can be had with V8 power, it's still not as strong a performer as the smaller XC60 with its available turbocharged inline-6. And that brings us to the XC90 base model's normally aspirated 3.2-liter inline-6, which simply doesn't have enough oats to feed this heavy draft horse.

That said, the 2011 Volvo XC90 has a first-rate interior, good driving dynamics and excellent safety scores. The trouble is, some rivals offer these attributes as well as a few advantages. In addition to Volvo's own XC60, we'd suggest you also consider the Lexus RX and 2011 Volkswagen Touareg if a third row isn't required. If it is, then we'd suggest the 2011 Acura MDX, 2011 BMW X5, 2011 Buick Enclave and 2011 Ford Flex. The 2011 Volvo XC90 is certainly a nice luxury crossover, but it lacks an edge over the completion in both luxury and performance.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Volvo XC90 is a seven-passenger, premium midsize crossover SUV that comes in three trim levels: 3.2, 3.2 R-Design and V8.

The 3.2 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, a sunroof, leather upholstery, power front seats with driver memory settings, wood interior trim, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The 3.2 R-Design adds 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and steering system and a variety of R-Design upgrades, including sporty exterior styling cues, a sport steering wheel and special leather upholstery.

The XC90 V8 loses the R-Design accoutrements but gains exclusive 18-inch wheels, the V8 engine, all-wheel drive, color-keyed fender lips and body-side moldings, heated front seats, headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers, a special air filtration system and unique interior wood inlays.

Every XC90 is eligible for the Multimedia package, which includes a premium surround-sound audio system, a rearview camera, a navigation system with real-time traffic and -- on V8 models only -- bi-xenon headlamps. The Climate package is available on six-cylinder models, and adds heated front seats, headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers and an air filtration system. The 3.2 R-Design can be had with the Dynamic package, which adds 20-inch wheels as well as adaptive bi-xenon headlamps.

The V8-only Luxury package adds 19-inch wheels, upgraded leather upholstery, massage and ventilation functions for the front seats, heated rear seats, leather door panels and center console cover and a wood-trimmed steering wheel. Stand-alone options include adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a blind-spot warning system and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

The 3.2 and 3.2 R-Design come with a 3.2-liter inline-6 engine rated for 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The XC90 V8 gets a 4.4-liter V8 good for 311 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. XC90 3.2 models come standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available as an option. The AWD system is standard on the XC90 V8.

In performance testing, Edmunds recorded a 7.4-second sprint from zero to 60 mph in an XC90 V8. That's respectable, but the 3.2 models are considerably less sprightly. Fuel economy ratings are about average, ranging from 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for the 3.2 front-wheel-drive model to 14/21/16 mpg for the V8.


Standard safety features on the 2011 Volvo XC90 include antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash front seats. The optional blind-spot warning system uses indicator lights to alert the driver to nearby vehicles.

The Volvo XC90 has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash testing procedures. However, its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to the new tests) were a perfect five stars for all occupants. Likewise, the XC90 earned ratings of "Good," the highest possible, in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The XC90's cabin was penned as Volvo was transitioning to its current sleek design aesthetic, and it has stood the test of time remarkably well. Virtually all materials are of high quality and controls are stylish yet intuitive. 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 it comes at the expense of second-row legroom. Cargo capacity is just 8.8 cubic feet behind the third row, but it expands to an ample 93 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down.

Driving Impressions

The 2011 Volvo XC90's base-model 3.2-liter inline-6 struggles noisily to get this heavy vehicle up to speed; it's just not up to the task of propelling nearly 5,000 pounds. The performance and refinement of the V8 represent a significant improvement with a minimal penalty in fuel economy. Both XC90 models ride quietly and smoothly on the highway, but they're hardly sporty. The 3.2 R-Design feels more buttoned-down thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and steering, but it's saddled with the inferior engine.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Just right suv for family

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Vehicle: 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

We had a minivan for a decade, so it's time to change to something different. Looked for a 7 seats SUV and XC90 was our choice. I write this review after 6 months of driving. Its designe is old but still looks good. The engine is just adequate for 4700lbs vehicle, but not refined. The gas mileage is bad and its idling is rough. Volvo needs to improve its engine badly. The ride is ok for SUV but the seats are very comfy. I feel very secure with the XC90. It's not a fancy nor fast SUV but more like driving solid built vehicle.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Magic blue r-design for the

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Vehicle: 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 R-Design 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

I traded my 2011 XC70 for this 2011 XC90 in March 2011 for a road trip from Alaska to Texas on to California and back to Alaska. I put 13,000 miles on this baby in 30 days. I have never had a vehicle cradle me on a long rip like this one. I drove many 600-800 mile days and had not one ache or pain at the end of the day. The OEM Perrelli tires sucked, and I put Continental AWD Contacts on and it is luxury personified. The NAV is clunky, but I got used to it as the days went on. I have to leave the NAV on or the backup camera would never get used as it takes too long to rise up. It is sad I gave up newer technology in the XC70, but ergonomically the XC90 is much better for a tall guys.

Beige leatherseats

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Vehicle: 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 R-Design 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

Reporting XC90 interior leather seats. I am very satisfied with the performance of this vehicle. I am surprised about quality of interior seats. I drive the XC90 every day back/forth to the train station; 10 miles p/day. Leather seats are beige and middle section of leather seats look extremely worn and veined, wearing business attire. Leather in the middle section of the seats looks smoother compared to surrounding areas of seats and scares easily. This flaw will impact resale value. Had to replace the frame of the passenger seat once because it cracked with my weight of 145 pounds. Used to own a XC70 for five years and its beige leather seats looked like new.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Very happy so far

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Vehicle: 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

I purchased my 2011 XC90 in July 2010. I had a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor that was totaled and I wanted something even safer. (Endeavor held up well) I have been very pleased with the comfort, the added accessories and the overall drive of the XC90. When I initially read the reviews before purchasing it, I saw many complaints over the gas mileage. I have not found any difference between the gas mileage of my Endeavor and the XC90. I am happy with the gas mileage. The comfortable (heated) seats, the sophisticated look and other added features I didn't have in my Endeavor, make me very happy.

Needs a model refresh...

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

I bought one of these solely based on its price when compared to the competitors. With the included 5 years of service, it cant be beat. This one came with every option, BLIS, Xenon, DVD's, Navigation, etc. The Navigation is something I would skip if I had to do this again. I have other cars with easier to use systems. I serves our needs at a "just-good-enough" rating. Its the only car I own that still has a "key". (no proximity token with push button start)

2 of 7 people found this review helpful

A volvo that turns heads??

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 R-Design 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)

I've just owned the XC90 R-Design for a bit over a week, so I can not speak to its durability or reliability, but I can say that this is one of the best looking, most comfortable, spacious, versatile and well designed SUV's/crossovers on the market. I looked at EVERYTHING in the segment before deciding on the Volvo for offering what is, in my opinion, the most attractive package at a price that can't be touched by BMW, MB, Lexus, Acura. I am a loyal BMW owner and have been extremely pleasantly surprised by Volvo's offering. While the XC90 is an aging design, the R-Design breathes new life into it.

Talk About The 2011 XC90

2011 Volvo XC90 Discussions See all Started By

[I presume the 2011 XC90 has no city safety, at all.]...

I am shopping around an XC90 2011 FWD v6 with BLIS and climate package. Invoice price is 37,318 ( = 35,908 + 658 + 752). I got a quote of $36,000 plus TTL. The above price includes destination and all...

Volvo XC90 2011 3.2L I-6 cyl...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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