Volvo does things a little differently from other premium brands in the automotive world. For this Swedish manufacturer, safety and kid-friendliness are just as important as luxury amenities and driving performance, and in no vehicle is this more apparent than the Volvo XC90, a midsize seven-passenger SUV.
Innovative safety features aside, the XC90 is merely adequate relative to the premium midsize SUV competition. Zestier performance is available elsewhere, as are more cavernous cargo holds and more modern electronics features. With more and more modern competitors measuring up to Volvo's high safety standards, the aging XC90 isn't the slam-dunk for families that Volvo products used to be. It remains capable, though, and arguably safer than ever thanks to some new tricks.
Current Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 is a seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV that comes in two different trim levels: 3.2 and sportier 3.2 R-Design. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the XC90 has a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated for 240 horsepower. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, a built-in child booster seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system that includes an iPod/USB audio interface. The 3.2 R-Design adds 19-inch alloys, a sport-tuned suspension/steering system, sporty exterior styling cues, a sport steering wheel and special leather upholstery. Major options include adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a rear entertainment system with dual screens, a DVD-based navigation system and a surround-sound audio system.
On the road, we've found that the XC90 drives just as you'd expect a safe, heavy Volvo SUV to drive. Acceleration from the inline-6 is just adequate. Those looking for more energetic performance should know that the previously available V8-powered models are considerably more satisfying to drive. Ride quality is smooth and the cabin stays quiet, while handling is competent but not particularly sporty. Equipped with AWD, the XC90 makes an excellent snow vehicle but isn't intended for serious off-road romps.
To its credit, the XC90 has a first-rate interior, good overall driving dynamics and excellent safety scores. The trouble is, most rivals offer these attributes as well as fresher designs. In addition to Volvo's own XC60, we'd suggest you also consider the Lexus RX and Volkswagen Touareg if a third row isn't required. If it is, then we'd suggest the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Buick Enclave and Ford Flex. The Volvo XC90 is certainly a nice luxury crossover, but it lacks an edge over the competition in both luxury and performance.
Read the most recent 2014 Volvo XC90 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volvo XC90 page.