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Volvo XC90 Review & Prices

The Volvo XC90 is a stylish SUV with a lovely cabin that’s packed full of technology, but the infotainment system is starting to feel dated now

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RRP £62,140 - £83,130 Avg. Carwow saving £9,002 off RRP
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wowscore
8/10
Reviewed by Darren Cassey after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Spacious second row
  • Big boot even in seven-seat mode
  • Packed full of safety tech

What's not so good

  • Infotainment feeling dated now
  • Bit of wind noise at motorway speeds
  • Suspension could be more comfortable

Find out more about the Volvo XC90

Is the Volvo XC90 a good car?

If you’re after a luxurious seven-seat SUV that’s stylish inside and out, packed with safety technology and very practical then it’s well worth checking out the Volvo XC90. It’s a bit like putting pockets on a Christian Dior dress, because it manages to be ultra stylish as well as practical.

Volvo gave the XC90 a subtle update for 2023 in the hope of keeping competitive with the likes of the Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5 and the Audi Q7. However, even the most committed Volvo nerds might struggle to notice what’s new. On the outside it’s basically the same car that was introduced in 2015, while inside there are some new wool seats on hybrid models and a wireless charging pad in the centre console.

The lack of visual tweaking is not necessarily a bad thing, because the Volvo XC90 betters its alternatives for looks, thanks to details such as Volvo’s signature ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights and the tall rear lights. It manages to be minimalist and classy without being boring.

It’s a similar story inside, where you'll find a comfortable driving position and a clean design with the portrait-orientated infotainment screen in the middle. This is starting to show its age now and isn’t as slick to use as the X5’s system, while the digital dials are a bit bland and don’t show much information.

Annoyingly, while you do get Apple CarPlay, there’s no Android Auto option. Google Maps and Google Assistant are included as standard though.

It’s practical up front with lots of storage space, big cup holders and spacious door bins, but the glovebox has a shelf that eats into what would otherwise be quite a roomy space.

The Volvo XC90 is a fine luxury SUV that’s as practical as it is stylish

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

In the second row of seats there’s plenty of knee and head room, and you get three separate seats that all slide and recline. The person in the middle has a narrower seat and a raised floor to straddle, but the large footwells make this less troublesome than it might be if you've got three passengers in the back.

Those in the third row – hybrid models are all seven-seaters, but petrol and diesel models have a five-seat option – are pretty well catered for, with vents, cup holders and some storage, while the low floor means it’s surprisingly comfortable. Adults will be okay for shorter trips but kids should be happy enough on longer journeys.

However, even with seven seats in place, the boot has a good amount of space, which is enough for a few carry-on suitcases, though hybrid models have a bit less room. With the third-row folded it's similar to the BMW X5 but down on what you get in the Audi Q7. Fold the middle row of seats down too and you’re left with a huge space that’s just screaming out for a no-holds-barred Ikea trip.

Under the bonnet you have the option of a 235hp diesel, 250hp and 300hp petrols, or the 455hp T8 plug-in hybrid model. All models have all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while the hybrid has an electric range of about 45 miles, so running costs will be low if you can keep it charged.

Select the electric-only driving mode and the XC90 is quiet and relaxing to drive around town, but its suspension is not as comfortable as you might expect from a luxury SUV. Models with the air suspension are better than those with the standard set-up, but neither is as pillowy soft as a Q7.

Motorway driving is where the XC90 feels most comfortable, though there is a little wind whistle from the large wing mirrors. And it’s surprisingly fun on a winding road, even with the heavier hybrid, though don’t expect anything as sporty as a Porsche Cayenne.

The XC90 might not have changed much with its 2023 update, but Volvo is clearly working with the idea that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. If the Volvo XC90 sounds like it could be your next car, check out the latest deals on new examples or browse used stock from a network of trusted dealers. Need to sell your car? Well, carwow can help with that, too.

How much is the Volvo XC90?

The Volvo XC90 has a RRP range of £62,140 to £83,130. However, with Carwow you can save on average £9,002. Prices start at £53,139 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £579. The price of a used Volvo XC90 on Carwow starts at £23,000.

Our most popular versions of the Volvo XC90 are:

Model version Carwow price from
2.0 B5P [250] Core 5dr AWD Geartronic £53,139 Compare offers

Prices start at just over £60,000 for the Volvo XC90 and its petrol and diesel engines, but you’ll have to pay a bit more if you want the plug-in hybrid.

There are also three trim levels, with the Core models getting Google services built-in, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring assistance. Stepping up to Plus brings some fancy interior illumination, an improved Harman Kardon sound system and a powered driver’s seat with memory function. Finally, Ultimate models get a panoramic roof, head-up display and a four-zone climate system.

This makes it similarly priced to the Audi Q7, which is a bit more comfortable, but gets less safety kit as standard. The more practical and off-road friendly Land Rover Discovery is generally a bit more affordable, while the BMW X5 is a bit pricier.

Performance and drive comfort

The Volvo XC90 is relaxing to drive around town, especially in electric mode, but it’s not the most comfortable luxury SUV

In town

Despite its size the Volvo XC90 is actually pretty easy and relaxing to drive around town, particularly if you pop it into ‘Pure’ mode. Providing there’s enough battery, this locks the car into its electric-only setting – a full charge gets you up to 45 miles – which makes it very smooth, refined and cheap to run. You can basically use it as an EV for shorter trips.

The suspension is a bit firmer than you get on the Audi Q7. Get your Volvo with air suspension and it’s more comfortable than the standard setup, but still a bit jigglier than the German prestige SUVs. Find some uneven bumps in the road and you start to get a rocking sensation from the Volvo and it can get rather unsettled in a way that just wouldn’t bother the Audi.

Its raised driving position and large windows offer good visibility and the blind spots caused by the door pillars are less significant than in some equally large SUVs, while its light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre.

Sometimes regenerative braking in electrified models can make the brakes quite grabby as you come to a stop. That’s not the case in the XC90, which has silky smooth brakes that are easy to judge as you press the pedal.

On the motorway

The Volvo XC90 is happy sitting at motorway speeds, but there is a bit more noise from the outside world than you might expect. One of the key culprits is the wing mirrors, which whistle at higher speeds. This is the trade off for them being so big and useful, unfortunately.

Again, it’s the Audi Q7 that’s the more refined SUV for longer journeys, but there’s not a huge amount in it – the Volvo is still reasonably quiet and relaxing for longer trips.

The plug-in hybrid engine we tested is rapid. When accelerating up to 70mph from about 30mph there’s a moment’s hesitation as the petrol engine, electric motor and gearbox sync up with your intentions, but once it’s on the move it really shifts.

On a twisty road

Hustling down a winding country road is not the natural habitat of a big, luxury SUV, and while this is certainly true of the XC90, it’s actually surprisingly capable on a twisty run.

We’d even go so far as to say it feels a bit more agile than an equivalent hybrid from Audi or Mercedes, and you don’t really notice the extra weight of the batteries compared with the non-hybrid engine options.

Select the ‘Power’ drive mode in the menus and the car will give you the maximum from the petrol engine and electric motor, which will see you make jolly quick progress. It’s not as razor-sharp as a Porsche Cayenne, for example, but then you can’t get one of those with seven seats.

Regardless, if you really start to push in corners you will feel the front end start to wash out wide as the tyres fight in vain to keep that heft in check. Like most comfort-focused SUVs the XC90 is much more rewarding to drive when you take it easy and enjoy the scenery.

Space and practicality

There’s plenty of space in the cabin and the boot is usefully capacious, but the lack of a fully flat floor with all seats folded could be annoying

It’s easy to get comfortable in the XC90 with plenty of adjustability in the steering wheel and seat, which has a slim design to maximise knee and legroom for the people sitting behind you. As a result, your passengers have plenty of space to stretch out in the middle row and there’s ample headroom for six-footers, even with the optional panoramic glass roof fitted.

There are lots of spacious cubby holes dotted around the XC90’s interior, from a small slot beside the steering wheel that’s perfect for a smartphone to the vast door bins that’ll each hold a 1.5-litre bottle with room to spare.

There’s plenty of room under the central armrest to tuck away a few phones and a pair of useful USB ports to charge them, while the new wireless charging pad is a useful upgrade. The glovebox is just as spacious as anything you’ll find in an Audi Q7 or Land Rover Discovery and the central cupholders are big enough to hold even the biggest bladder-busting cup of service-station coffee.

Space in the back seats

Space in the middle row is really good, with lots of knee and head room. There are three individual chairs that all slide forwards and backwards, as well as reclining individually. It really helps those in the back feel more comfortable and can create a bit more boot space if required.

Carrying three abreast is a little tighter than in a Discovery but the Volvo XC90 can hardly be called cramped. There’s a slight lump in the floor which cuts into foot space for your middle passenger but large footwells mean you shouldn’t be fighting for foot room.

Predictably, space in the third row of seats is a little less generous. Climbing in isn’t too difficult – the middle seats fold forward and slide easily. However, despite this, it’s not too cramped in the back and younger children should be pretty happy, with adults likely only complaining on longer trips. Thankfully, the seats themselves are raised slightly so your legs won’t be forced up around your ears and you can slide the middle row forwards to gain a little extra legroom.

The rear door bins are very nearly as big as those up front and there’s a central armrest with two further cupholders. Even the rearmost seats are treated to a cupholder and small phone-sized pocket each while a recessed central tray will stop any extra bits and bobs disappearing under the seats in front.

When it comes to fitting a child seat in the back it can be fiddly to access the ISOFIX anchor points. Once you’re locked in, though, there’s loads of space for even the bulkiest of seats.

Boot space

The Volvo XC90 has 302 litres of boot space with all seven seats in place. That’s bigger than the 258 litres offered by the Land Rover Discovery and about the same size as a Ford Focus hatchback, which can only carry five people. In this configuration, you’ll be able to fit a stroller and a few soft bags or a set of golf clubs with room to spare.

Fold the rearmost seats down using levers beside the headrests and you can carry 680 litres beneath the tonneau cover – in contrast, an Audi Q7 can swallow 740 litres. This’ll be more than big enough to carry five people’s luggage but it’s still slightly too small to carry a bike without removing its wheels.

For more context, the BMW X5 has 650 litres in this setup, while the Mercedes GLE has 630 litres as standard, but you can push the rear seats forward to make up to 825 litres if you need the extra room.

If you want to carry even more, you’ll have to fold the middle row down, turning the Volvo XC90 into a vast van-like two-seater with a 1,951-litre load bay to the roof. Unfortunately, there aren’t any handy latches in the boot to fold the seats down so you’ll have to open the back doors to reach the catches beside the headrests. The resulting boot floor appears flat but there's a gap between the seats that longer items catch on.

It should also be noted that opting for the plug-in hybrid version reduces boot space by about 40 litres because of the batteries. That means you get 260 litres with seven seats in place and 640 litres in five-seat mode.

The boot floor lifts up to become a handy divider and there’s a generous amount of underfloor storage, too. With seven seats in place, there’s nowhere to neatly store the load cover, however, so you’ll have to let it rattle around in the back or leave it at home.

There’s a 12V socket in the boot so rear-seat passengers can charge their phones and a number of handy shopping hooks to help stop your groceries from breaking free and rolling around.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The XC90’s interior looks fantastic, but the infotainment system feels rather dated now

The Volvo XC90 has a stylish, minimalist interior. The heating and ventilation functions are controlled through the smart-looking 9.0-inch portrait infotainment screen so there’s no need for a myriad of switches and knobs on the centre console, though it’s not the slickest nor most intuitive system to use. A single rotary dial that controls the stereo volume and a few buttons for the heated windscreens are all the physical controls you’ll have to fiddle with.

This central touchscreen also houses the controls for the Volvo’s heating and ventilation. This is usually a source of huge frustration, but at least you get a set of large, clear controls at the lower edge of the screen so you can quickly tweak the cabin temperature or heated seats without having to sift through any confusing menus.

Every Volvo XC90 also comes with a second digital display in place of conventional dials. This 12.0-inch screen is bright, easy to read and the graphics are clear but it’s not quite as sharp, nor as customisable, as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system. It just feels a bit bland and lacking in information.

The brushed-metal trim and soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and doors feel suitably upmarket but a few hard plastics around the gear selector are a little less sturdy than those in an Audi Q7.

At least they let you use your own music-streaming apps through the Volvo XC90’s built-in stereo, but you only get Apple CarPlay connectivity, no Android Auto. If you’re seriously into your tunes, Plus and Ultimate models get a premium Harman Kardon sound system. You can tweak its settings to mimic the acoustic properties of a recording studio, an events stage or even the Gothenburg Concert Hall. Lovely.

MPG, emissions and tax

You can get the Volvo XC90 with one diesel and two petrol engines, or as a fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid.

The B5 diesel is the best all-rounder, but it’s tough to recommend with diesel prices so high. The official figures show that it’ll return around 42mpg, which you should be able to match with careful use of the accelerator. All-told the B5 is powerful enough to cruise happily at speed but it isn’t as quiet as the more powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel you can get in the Audi Q7.

The 2.0-litre B5 and B6 petrol engines feel more sprightly on the move than the diesel and they grumble less when you accelerate hard. They aren’t quite as economical, though – especially at motorway speeds. You can expect both to return an MPG figure in the high twenties in normal driving conditions.

The plug-in hybrid T8 costs significantly more than the diesel and petrol models but it offers a more tempting blend of performance and economy. It uses both a 2.0-litre petrol engine – boosted by a turbo and a supercharger – and an electric motor fed by a 14.9kWh battery to deliver an impressive 455hp. While the official economy figure is 235mpg, achieving that relies on keeping the batteries topped up – on a long trip without the chance to charge we were seeing 30mpg.

Even better, the T8 moves silently when running on electricity alone, making it the most relaxing XC90 to drive at low speeds. It’ll cover up to 45 miles on electricity, which is the majority of people’s commutes covered. However, you’ll need charging at home or at work (or both) to make life as simple as possible.

All models come with four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. As a result, the XC90 is quite happy to tackle a spot of light off-roading but it’ll get quickly left behind by a Land Rover Discovery when the going gets tough.

Safety and security

One of the key selling points of any Volvo is its safety assistance technology. As of 2023, the XC90 gets the firm’s latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems platform full of sensors, radars and cameras that can ‘see’ the world around it.

Pilot Assist will be the most commonly used aspect of this. It’s essentially an advanced cruise control that can keep you in your line and adjust your speed based on the traffic around you. It can also pull away from a standstill in stop-start traffic, making light work of heavy congestion.

Other systems can detect road users, brake automatically and help to either avoid a collision or mitigate the outcome of one. A 360-degree parking camera makes it easier to pull up in a tight spot by giving a bird’s-eye-view of the car’s surroundings.

Unsurprisingly, the XC90 scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP’s safety testing back in 2015. Although the rating has expired as tests have become more stringent, its incredible 97% adult occupant protection score is worthy of note, while the 94% safety assist rating is tough to beat.

Reliability and problems

From new you get a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty (whichever comes first). Extended warranties of either four years/60,000 miles or four years/80,000 miles are available as an upgrade. On top of this there’s three years of cover for paint defects and rust, and eight years/100,000 miles of cover for any defects in the battery pack of hybrid models.

Reliability has been pretty good over the years, with the XC90 typically getting a fairly average score in ownership and reliability surveys. Volvo as a whole has a similarly decent reputation, so although the cars aren’t bullet-proof they’re generally dependable and shouldn’t have you on first name terms with the local recovery firm.

Buy or lease the Volvo XC90 at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £62,140 - £83,130 Avg. Carwow saving £9,002 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£53,139
Monthly
£579*
Used
£23,000
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers Compare used deals
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