Road test: Volvo XC90

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by James Luckhurst

A luxury SUV that is roomy, cosseting and drives brilliantly

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Road test: Volvo XC90

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What is it?

The XC90 is a very impressive new range-topping SUV from the Swedish car maker with impeccable safety credentials and a quality reputation, and unarguably the best car Volvo has ever made.

How safe is it?

Very. It’s a Volvo, and that means it’s made by the manufacturer that has always put safety right at the top of its priority list. What’s more, the Volvo XC90 has been awarded five stars and achieved top ratings in its 2015 Euro NCAP tests.

Who should buy one?

A well-heeled family driver keen on protecting all the offspring in one of the safest cars on the road. A busy executive looking for comfort and efficiency while clocking the miles.

Road test by Maxine Ashford published 21 August 2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Road test: Volvo XC90
Volvo has excelled with the new XC90. The car is all-round thoroughly impressive. It is a strong performer, civilised and refined, with impeccable manners and an engaging feel behind the wheel.
It is available with petrol or diesel engines, and there is also a hybrid, but the pick of the range is the new 2.1 litre, four-cylinder diesel unit that is expected to prove the most popular version.

The engine has plenty of punch, with a benchmark 0-62 mph acceleration time of just below eight seconds. The car is capable of almost double the British legal limit, so it is by no means working hard for cruising at a permitted motorway pace. As a result it feels relaxed and is pleasantly quiet for a long trip.

Show the XC90 a winding country lane, and it rewards you with behaviour that is dynamically accomplished and contrives to flatter you as a driver. For a big and quite bulky car it is surprisingly good fun drive. It has a surefootedness, poise and body control that is really enjoyable. The steering is pert and informative, and you can press on without any concern about lurchy cornering unsettling your passengers. The handling is very well sorted, and gives the car commendable composure for a sprint on a winding B-road.

Ride quality is very good on the car’s standard suspension, so it doesn’t really seem worth bothering with the expense of optional air suspension at an extra £2,150. That is really only worth considering if you want to go for the optional bigger 21-inch wheels that look impressive in filling the wheel arches, but also firm up the ride. Air suspension is very cushioning, and the ultimate luxury, but with standard wheels and suspension the car feels nicely damped and perfectly acceptable.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Road test: Volvo XC90

This is a big car and a cleverly packaged one. The cabin is very roomy, with generous legroom, elbow space and headroom all round. There are seats for seven adults, with the rear two rows easily foldable to extend the carrying capacity when you want to transport cargo instead of people. Volvo has made the rear seats thinner to free up extra space, but they’re still very supportive and comfortable, and those at the very back are not just for small children as in some seven-seaters.

The boot room is pretty reasonable, at 397 litres with all seven seats in use, then varying between 775 and 1,102 litres in five-seat mode – the centre seating row is fore-and-aft adjustable to let you increase legroom at the very back. There is a maximum of 1,951 litres of load-space as a two-seater.

The car is well-endowed with stowage places, including a pair of little cubby-boxes either side of the boot. These amusingly have a spider’s web design complete with cartoon spider etched inside their lids.

SAFETY
Road test: Volvo XC90

Volvo has always had a strong reputation for safety, and this car bristles with high-tech safety kit. It has autonomous emergency braking to reduce the car’s speed if you fail to react quickly enough to a danger it has detected ahead. There is also an automatic protection system that activates in the event of you accidentally driving off the road, in which case all the relevant safety systems are armed to guard against the risk of serious injury.

The Volvo XC90 has been awarded five stars and achieved top ratings in its 2015 Euro NCAP tests. The XC90 with standard City Safety technology stood out as the first car from any manufacturer to score full points in Euro NCAP Autonomous Emergency Braking Car to Car rear-end tests (AEB City & AEB Interurban).

EQUIPMENT
Road test: Volvo XC90

The big Volvo isn’t cheap, but you get a lot of kit for the money. All versions, from the base-level Momentum upwards, come equipped with keyless entry and start, satellite navigation, an electrically adjustable driving seat, electric tailgate, LED headlights that turn into the bends and dip automatically in response to an oncoming vehicle and a cabin air-cleansing system. The satnav is combined with a nine-inch tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system.

COSTS

Road test: Volvo XC90

Prices start from £45,750, so it is in the luxury class. It has good economy for its size and performance, and service intervals every 18,000 miles. The D5 achieves an official combined figure of 48.7mpg to 49.6mpg, depending on the size of alloy wheels fitted. On paper, the T8 hybrid achieves 134.5mpg but you’d be lucky to match that. It’s also expensive to buy, with prices from £59,955.

WE SAY

A luxury SUV that is roomy, cosseting and drives brilliantly

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £50,185
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds
Economy: 48.7mpg combined
Insurance: Group 34
Tax: Band G (£180 first year)

Figures for the Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Inscription Auto