Used 2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90
List price range

Pros

  • Uncompromised safety features, lots of standard options, SUV ride height.

Cons

  • Disadvantageous engine and transmission combination, price could get high if you don't police yourself with the options list.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Volvo may be late to the SUV ball game, but the XC90 brings some special features to make it stand out in a crowded field. If safety is of primary concern, the XC90 has got you covered on numerous fronts.

vehicle overview

The luxury SUV segment is young and very popular, so it comes as no surprise that manufacturers have been eagerly introducing new models in the hopes of claiming their very own piece of the pie. Marques such as BMW and Lexus have already seen their overtures in this area pay off (with the X5 and RX 300, respectively). Next up is Volvo, which comes to market with its shiny new XC90 (this is Volvo's first SUV, but the manufacturer did have a practice run of sorts with the V70 XC, its ute-like all-wheel-drive wagon).

In terms of the vehicle's design, Volvo rather intriguingly states that the XC90 delivers "masculinity and flexibility the Scandinavian way." We're not sure what that means, but we do know that the XC90 is handsome enough to attract those who might have dismissed a Volvo as being too boring for their tastes. The vehicle is broad-shouldered and muscular, without being overly aggressive (Volvo clearly knows that while it's great to woo the young male demographic, it's also important have the vehicle be attractive to women, who constitute a big chunk of the SUV customer base). The XC90 boasts Volvo's trademark dark eggcrate grille in front; in back, it looks an awful lot like BMW's X5, save for its excessive taillights. Sitting tall and upright, the XC90 sports a truncated snout and a passenger compartment placed far forward.

The XC90's interior places its emphasis on versatility. The ute may be ordered as either a five- or seven-seater; in both variants, the second row (and third row on the seven-passenger model) folds down to create a flat floor. The middle seat in the second row can be outfitted with an integrated child booster cushion; in seven-seaters, the child seat slides forward so that it's situated between the two front seats, allowing for contact between parents and their tykes. Simple Scandinavian lines govern the aesthetic of the SUV's cabin. Instruments and controls are clearly laid out, easy to decipher and tilted upward to enhance readability.

Buyers get to choose between two engines: a twin-turbocharged inline 2.9-liter six-cylinder that produces 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, or a turbocharged inline 2.5-liter five-cylinder that produces 208 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Both engines meet ULEV standards, and, according to Volvo, offer class-leading fuel economy. The engines are wedded to a four-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Drivers have the option of using Geartronic as a true automatic or changing gears manually (without a clutch, of course).

Of course, a Volvo wouldn't be a Volvo without a slew of safety features. The XC90's Roll Stability Control uses a gyro-sensor to calculate its roll speed and angle; if it's determined that the ute is in danger of rolling over, a stability control system is activated. In the event that the vehicle does roll over, an inflatable curtain helps prevent the occupants' heads from striking the ute's sides; it also helps prevent ejection from the vehicle. Our favorite safety feature, however, has to do with the issue of not putting other drivers at risk by virtue of your being in a heavier, higher vehicle. The XC90 is equipped with a crossmember that's lower than that found on your typical SUV — it sits at the height of the beam in a car. In the event that the SUV collides with a car, this crossmember strikes the oncoming car's protective structure, activating its crumple zone as intended so the car's occupants can benefit from the maximum level of protection.

Volvo has a reputation for producing vehicles that deliver safety and practicality; challenging as it no doubt was to translate these values to an SUV format, the manufacturer appears to have succeeded in delivering a ute that lives up to the Volvo name. Around 50,000 XC90s will be offered for sale in the U.S.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Volvo XC90.

Very happy @ 200,000
in_a_hurry, 11/9/2011
I've read the recent reviews and it appears most folks are pretty miffed with their XC-90's. I couldn't be happier with mine. A couple car pool trips shy of 200,000 miles (I bought it new) and no major issues - never a tranny, motor, A/C or electrical problem. I get about 45,000 miles on tires - not great but a willing compromise knowing I'm driving a stout porker that's as safe as anything on the road. I have an honest, reliable mechanic who has taken care of a couple cars for me - a bonus. Other than scheduled maintenance items, there hasn't been much to repair on the car that would not be expected, given the mileage. Ball joints and motor mounts are the only things that come to mind
What Volvo is not telling you about this car.
marigold1, 3/9/2012
I would stay far away from buying another Volvo after everything my family has been through with our 2003 XC90. The engines are not built to work with the transmissions. We have replaced the transmission every 30,000 miles. It has now become a safety issue. It has broken down on me too many times to count. I have dumped almost $12,000 into it. Go look at the service center at your local Volvo dealership. The lot is full of cars needing repairs. We have replaced the transmission 3 times, radiator, shocks, struts, axles, arm bushings...even down to the door handles. Do not make the same mistake we did. It is not a reliable car and I consider it a safety risk to drive.
SLPAKP's Review
slpakp, 11/4/2003
I really love my new XC90...it is great fun to drive after moving from a Chrylser Town and County. Less room, but great handling. One complaint is the way the key/remote control lock is designed. The key attaches to one's keyring via a small metal connector that is not permanently attached to the remote control device. Twice, I have almost lost my key when my key ring and the metal connector have separated. Volvo should design a higher quality connector, one that is integral to the remote control device itself, not something that connects to it and then to your key ring.
My Favorite Car
Vicki, 4/3/2006
Almost the perfect vehicle! I'm in sales so I live in my car...consequently the interior is very important. I would love to have an electronic lumbar support adjustment. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this vehicle. Drives and performs like a dream! I will definitely buy another one when the time comes! I did not like the factory tires however and replaced those with ones that give better ride, handle and wear!
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Features & Specs

MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
208 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
208 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
14 city / 19 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
268 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 2003 Volvo XC90 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2003 Volvo XC90
Used 2003 Volvo XC90 Overview

The Used 2003 Volvo XC90 is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 2.5T AWD 4dr SUV (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 5A), 2.5T Fwd 4dr SUV (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 5A), and T6 AWD 4dr SUV (2.9L 6cyl Turbo 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Volvo XC90?

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