In-depth reviews

Volvo XC90 review

Recent tech and style updates have kept the luxurious Volvo XC90 SUV at the forefront of its field

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£55,050 to £77,075
  • Quality interior
  • Safety and luxury kit
  • Comfortable ride
  • Busy touchscreen
  • Noisy petrol engines
  • Hybrid efficiency

If you're looking to buy a large SUV, then the Volvo XC90 is one of the best cars for sale in the class. Its big, seven-seat interior means it can be used as effective family transport, but the quality on offer means it's more like a luxury car than a family holdall.

The Volvo XC90 boasts a distinctive exterior and plenty of equipment, as well as advanced fuel efficiency and safety technologies, and the XC90 is also a great performer on the road. With seven comfy, adult-sized seats as standard plus a big boot, it's a strong candidate for family car buyers.

We love the Volvo XC90’s unique blend of technology, efficiency, style and safety – that’s why we named it Auto Express Car of the Year in 2015, while recent updates mean we'd still recommend putting it on your shortlist if you're looking to buy a large SUV.

About the Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 is a luxury SUV that rivals models such as the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport. It’s been around since the early noughties, but the launch of the second-generation car in 2015 marked a step-change in desirability, with the emphasis on coolly minimalist Swedish design to help it stand out from rivals. 

Updates to both the style, technology and powertrains have kept the XC90 at the top of its game, with the latest concave grille design, a new hybrid diesel engine and upgraded Sensus infotainment system all part of a 2019 round of upgrades.

If you’re looking at the XC90 as a full seven-seater, its most direct rivals would be the Land Rover Discovery and Audi Q7, which also have a fully useable extra row. You can specify seven-seats in a number of other rivals such as the BMW X5Mercedes GLELexus RX and Range Rover Sport, but the limited extra accommodation in the rear of these means the extra seats are much more of the ‘occasional’ variety.

The Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are also contenders in the seven-seat SUV segment, and offer much greater value with a surprising amount of luxury and quality thrown in, although they lack the perceived prestige of a European badge.

Volvo has revised the trim-level structure for its large, luxury SUV: the previous Momentum, R-Design and R-Design Pro equipment lines are no longer available and have been replaced by Core, Plus and Ultimate specifications. You shouldn't feel too short-changed opting for the Core trim, as standard kit includes 19-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, an automatic tailgate, a heating function for the steering wheel and front and rear seats, a wireless smartphone charging pad and integrated sat-nav. 

Volvo was one of the first big SUV makers to embrace ‘downsizing’ powertrains in pursuit of increased efficiency, and all the XC90 engines are 2.0-litre units. The D5 PowerPulse diesel was replaced by a newly-badged B5, the name signifying the addition of a mild-hybrid system to the diesel engine. A little confusingly, the ‘B’ badge is applied to both petrol and diesel models, so there is also a B5 petrol version. 

The old T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid remains as the flagship of the range, both in terms of efficiency as well as price, but it’s been renamed the XC90 Recharge. Every version of the XC90 features permanent four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox with manual mode. Hill descent and hill start control are both fitted, although the Volvo is more suited to tarmac use than hard off-roading.

Used and nearly new

Spacious, comfortable and classy, it isn't hard to see why the Volvo XC90 was such a big hit when it was launched in 2002. The Scandinavian seven-seater had all the qualities to fit in with family life, and excelled on longer journeys where its spacious interior and superb refinement made for a relaxing drive.

Older examples are showing their age now, while running costs might be an issue for some. Second-generation models offer a touch of premium luxury and excellent standard safety kit but, as ever, be sure to do your homework on the history of your potential purchase - taking extra time to ensure your used buy is rock solid could help prevent spending out on repairs further down the line

Volvo XC90 front

Volvo XC90 Mk2: 2014-date

Volvo did a great job with its second generation XC90, dialling up the luxury, refinement and safety credentials of its large SUV. Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models are available, although you'll have to look out for a model from late 2015 onwards to secure a sporty R Design version - the Mk2 XC90 was initially launched with just Momentum and top-of-the-range Inscription trim levels.

There have been numerous manufacturer recalls for the latest XC90, so be sure to check all the necessary maintenance work has been carried out before any purchase. Read our full Mk2 Volvo XC90 buyer’s guide here…

Volvo xc90

Volvo XC90 Mk1: 2002-2014

If you're after a big, comfortable, seven-seat SUV then the Mk1 XC90 is hard to beat. Admittedly, time has caught up with Volvo's family 4x4, but despite dated styling and reasonably high running costs, it still offers good practicality and will easily accommodate a large family and luggage.

Facelifted models were introduced in 2006 and 2012, adding improved cabin materials, new engines and a revised infotainment system. Read our full Mk1 Volvo XC90 buyer’s guide here…

For an alternative review of the Volvo XC90, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 B5D [235] Momentum 5dr AWD Geartronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £55,050

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 T8 [455] RC PHEV Inscription Expr 5dr AWD Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £66,325

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 T8 [455] RC PHEV Inscription Expr 5dr AWD Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £66,325

More on XC90

Show me:
Top 10 best luxury SUVs 2022
Best luxury SUVs - header image
Best cars & vans
28 Jan 2022

Top 10 best luxury SUVs 2022

We list the best big, posh SUVs currently on the UK market. Which one comes out on top?
Top 10 best large SUVs on sale 2022
Best large SUVs - header image
Large SUVs
20 Jan 2022

Top 10 best large SUVs on sale 2022

Need a practical family car? Look no further than the best large SUVs on sale today
New 2022 Volvo XC90 replacement could be called Embla
Volvo XC90 - front (watermarked)
Volvo XC90
18 Jan 2022

New 2022 Volvo XC90 replacement could be called Embla

Embla will break with Volvo's numerical naming system for SUV that will signal the start of a new era for Swedish marque
Top 10 best hybrid SUVs to buy 2022
Best hybrid SUVs - header image
Hybrid cars
7 Jan 2022

Top 10 best hybrid SUVs to buy 2022

From mild to plug-in hybrid, we reveal the best hybrid SUVs you can buy
Volvo announces autonomous Ride Pilot system for all-new XC90
Volvo XC90 driving
Volvo XC90
6 Jan 2022

Volvo announces autonomous Ride Pilot system for all-new XC90

This year's electric XC90 flagship will be equipped with unsupervised autonomous driving tech
Top 10 best 7-seater cars to buy 2022
Best 7-seater cars
7-seater cars
6 Jan 2022

Top 10 best 7-seater cars to buy 2022

We pick the best seven-seat cars that provide the best practicality across a wide range of price points
Genesis GV80 vs Volvo XC90: 2021 group test review
Genesis GV80 vs Volvo XC90 - front
Genesis GV80
13 Nov 2021

Genesis GV80 vs Volvo XC90: 2021 group test review

The Genesis GV80 is looking to makes waves in the luxury SUV segment - standing in its way is the Volvo XC90
Used Volvo XC90 (MK2, 2014-date) review
Used Volvo XC90 Mk2
Volvo XC90
23 Nov 2020

Used Volvo XC90 (MK2, 2014-date) review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Volvo XC90 covering the XC90 Mk2 (2014-date)
Lexus RX vs Volvo XC90
Lexus RX vs Volvo XC90 - header
Lexus RX
30 Dec 2019

Lexus RX vs Volvo XC90

Revamped versions of the Lexus RX and Volvo XC90 fight for honours in our seven-seat hybrid SUV test
New 2019 Volvo XC90 facelift: UK prices and specs revealed
Volvo XC90 facelift - front road
Volvo XC90
2 Sep 2019

New 2019 Volvo XC90 facelift: UK prices and specs revealed

Mild hybrid versions of Volvo's XC90 arrive with subtle makeover for 2019, on sale now
Mercedes GLE vs Volvo XC90
Mercedes GLE vs Volvo XC90 - head-to-head
Mercedes GLE
29 Aug 2019

Mercedes GLE vs Volvo XC90

Who needs an MPV when large premium SUVs can carry seven? We pit the refreshed Mercedes GLE against the updated Volvo XC90
New Volvo XC90 B5 2019 review
Volvo XC90 - front
Volvo XC90 SUV
1 Aug 2019

New Volvo XC90 B5 2019 review

The new Volvo XC90 B5 replaces the outgoing D5 diesel, but is the new mild-hybrid powertrain any good? We took it for a drive to find out...
New Volvo XC90 Armoured arrives for £450k
Volvo XC90 Armoured - front
Volvo XC90
26 Jun 2019

New Volvo XC90 Armoured arrives for £450k

The new 4.49-tonne Volvo XC90 Armoured will be joined by light-armoured versions of the XC60 and XC90 in 2020
Volvo unveils driverless-ready production car
Volvo XC90 self driving car
Volvo XC90 SUV
12 Jun 2019

Volvo unveils driverless-ready production car

Volvo will build and sell the XC90-based vehicle, which is equipped with a number of autonomous driving systems, to Uber
Lexus RX L vs Volvo XC90
Lexus RX L vs Volvo XC90 - header
Lexus RX
4 Oct 2018

Lexus RX L vs Volvo XC90

Hybrid Lexus and Volvo SUVs fit in with the latest trends. But is new seven-seat RX L a match for plug-in XC90?
Volvo S90, V90 and XC90 lineups gain T5 petrol engine
Volvo V90 - front
Volvo XC90
7 Aug 2018

Volvo S90, V90 and XC90 lineups gain T5 petrol engine

The Swedish brand's family of '90' models get a new 247bhp 2.0-litre petrol with familiar T5 branding
No driver or passenger fatalities recorded in Volvo XC90
Best 4x4s and SUVs - Volvo XC90
Volvo XC90 SUV
16 Apr 2018

No driver or passenger fatalities recorded in Volvo XC90

Analysis of official figures finds no driver or passenger fatalities have been recorded in Volvo's XC90 since records began in 2004
Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8
Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8 - header
Audi Q7
7 Feb 2018

Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8

The Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 slug it out to be our luxury plug-in hybrid SUV champ
Volvo's ‘Drive Me’ self-driving car programme delayed
Volvo XC90 SUV
15 Dec 2017

Volvo's ‘Drive Me’ self-driving car programme delayed

A handful of families are trialling level 2 autonomous Volvo XC90s but the planned roll-out of level 4 cars is now set for 2021
Land Rover Discovery vs Audi Q7 vs Volvo XC90
Land Rover Discovery vs Audi Q7 vs Volvo XC90 - header
Land Rover Discovery
16 Apr 2017

Land Rover Discovery vs Audi Q7 vs Volvo XC90

The new Land Rover Discovery takes on the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 for luxury SUV honours
Uber resumes self-driving car tests after Arizona crash
Volvo Uber autonomous car - front side
Volvo XC90
28 Mar 2017

Uber resumes self-driving car tests after Arizona crash

Temporary setback for Uber's self-driving testing programme after headline-grabbing Volvo XC90 roll
Long-term test review: Volvo XC90
Volvo XC90 long-term test - final report header
Volvo XC90 SUV
24 Jan 2017

Long-term test review: Volvo XC90

Final report: if you or your employer has the cash, the Volvo XC90 SUV is truly brilliant
Volvo launches concierge app for on-demand fuel and washing
Volvo concierge app
Volvo
18 Nov 2016

Volvo launches concierge app for on-demand fuel and washing

Trials of new concierge smartphone app for on-demand servicing will begin in the United States later this month