2011 Volvo XC90 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale and stylish interior
  • supportive front seats
  • smooth ride.
  • Third-row seating cuts into second-row room
  • weak base engine.
List Price Range
$7,876 - $10,951

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

Vehicle overview

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.

2011 Volvo XC90 models

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.

2011 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.


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.


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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2011 Volvo XC90.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2011 XC90 R-Design
3.2 R-Design 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)
Am I the first to review the 2011 model? I have had one four days now and I absolutely love it. I can not find anything to criticize about the car. You pay for what you get and I feel every option was worth the price. The Volvo drives rock steady on the road and I feel the engine is adequate. I had some concerns about the 6 cylinder but it does the job. So far in mixed driving I am averaging 20MPG. I think with highway driving that will increase. Bluetooth is now built in and works superbly. The radio/telephone controls are mixed together and are a little overwhelming at first but work as designed. The seats are very comfortable and love the R-Design color scheme. Love this car!
Very Happy So Far
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.
Traded-in 2013 XC60 for 2011 XC90
D. A. Prescott,10/04/2016
3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A)
I have become a forever-Volvo owner, and through time remain loyal due to the security, driving experience, and knowledge of safely protecting those I love. Recently, after purchasing a 2013 XC60 in 2014, after owning this car for 1 year (and enjoying the advanced electronic features), I happily 'traded-down' for a 2011 XC90 ! Comparatively the XC60's driving experience confirmed the car was driving me, momentum not balanced and did not hug the road in the manner to which I've become accustomed. My 2011 XC90 (2nd in the family, and my 6th Volvo) had much better visibility, truly hugged the road with confidence of an automatic all-wheel drive the way it should - with fierce grip yet a smooth driving experience. I do not believe the XC60 has 'matured' enough in engineering the actual driving experience (rather they concentrated on features) that the XC90 has claimed. It is not a speed-demon by any means, however it accelerates at higher speeds beautifully (turbo), and my driving confidence in any weather or road condition (having driven through Adirondack blizzards with other all-wheel cars crawling or stopping) knowing I and my loved ones are safe and comfortable.
Magic Blue R-Design for the Road
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.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover19.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2011 Volvo XC90

Used 2011 Volvo XC90 Overview

The Used 2011 Volvo XC90 is offered in the following submodels: XC90 SUV. Available styles include 3.2 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A), 3.2 R-Design 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 6A), and V8 4dr SUV AWD (4.4L 8cyl 6A). Pre-owned Volvo XC90 models are available with a 3.2 L-liter gas engine or a 4.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 311 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2011 Volvo XC90 comes with front wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2011 Volvo XC90 comes with a 5 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Volvo XC90?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 Volvo XC90 trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 is priced between $7,876 and$10,951 with odometer readings between 109371 and158635 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2011 Volvo XC90s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Volvo XC90 for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2011 XC90s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,876 and mileage as low as 109371 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Volvo XC90.

Can't find a used 2011 Volvo XC90s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volvo XC90 for sale - 7 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $25,543.

Find a used Volvo for sale - 2 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $25,064.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volvo XC90 for sale - 11 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $9,102.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volvo for sale - 5 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $14,336.

Should I lease or buy a 2011 Volvo XC90?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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