Volvo XC90 review
The Volvo XC90 is a great-value alternative to newer 4x4s like the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class
The Volvo XC90 has been around since 2002 and in that time it has racked up plenty of sales, thanks to its comfortable ride, spacious cabin and enviable reputation for safety. It's coming towards the end of its life now, though, and is beginning to feel a little long in the tooth compared to more modern rivals like the Land Rover Discovery and BMW X5. Volvo has cut the engine range back to just one offering – a five-cylinder 2.4-litre turbocharged diesel and only an automatic gearbox. That said, many dealers and supermarkets are now offering great deals, with thousands knocked off the list price. An-all new XC90 will be revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, before going on sale at the beginning of 2014 with a starting price of around £30,000.
Our choice: XC90 D5 AWD Executive
Considering the age of the Volvo XC90, the styling has held up surprisingly well. It's the kind of understated but clean design we've come to expect from Volvo. It can't match more modern competitors for outright style, though, and you realise once you step inside the cabin that the XC90 is lagging behind in this respect, too. Standard kit isn't bad - ES models get 17-inch alloys but higher-spec Executive and R-Design trims get bold 19-inch wheels. The latter also gets quad exhaust pipes - a nice but unecessary addition to a premium SUV.
The Volvo XC90 was originally available with a range of engines, but now buyers are only offered the firm's 2.4-litre D5 diesel engine, with 197bhp and 420Nm of torque. The healthy torque figure helps to make the car feel far quicker than its 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds suggests. Handling isn't helped by the fact the XC90 is geared for comfort, with soft and supple suspension that's great for soaking up rutted roads but not for high-speed cornering. Refinement is very good, though, with wind and road noise kept out of the cabin even at high speeds.
Safety is what Volvo does best, so it's no surprise to see the XC90 awarded the full five stars by Euro NCAP for crash safety. However, it's worth noting that this took place in 2003, and Euro NCAP's testing standards have been raised considerably since then. Driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags the length of the cabin are all included as standard. Volvo's warranty isn't as lengthy or in-depth as many out there but that's not to say Volvos are unreliable cars. That said, the XC90 placed a disappointing 86th in the latest Driver Power results - with 50 per cent of owners reporting faults in the last three years.
All Volvo XC90 models come with seven seats, but it's worth mentioning that the rearmost seats are so small that they're best reserved for children. With all the seats in place, a 249-litre boot is large enough for a few bags of shopping, but fold the third row flat and space increases to 615 litres. One criticism many drivers have noted is the unusually large turning circle, which when coupled with the XC90's bulky dimesnions can make parking and three-point turns a long, drawn-out affair. However, the XC90 placed a decent 9th for practicality in our 2012 Driver Power survey.
The single engine choice isn't a particularly frugal one. The 2.4-litre five-cylinder diesel, mated to a four-wheel-drive system and a six-speed automatic gearbox isn't very efficient. Volvo puts the claimed mpg figure at 34 with CO2 emissions of 219g/km, which means hefty road tax and fuel bills. A three-year, fixed-price servicing deal offers good value, but the XC90 will still cost a lot to run.