The XC90 is Volvo's range-topping seven-passenger crossover. Although it is one of the oldest designs on the road today, its handsome lines and often-updated technology continue to make it a popular offering in a segment that favors on-road manners over off-road prowess.
Outside, the XC90's basic shape has changed little since its introduction in 2003 but it has gone through a series of minor upgrades. The latest round of changes added color-coordinated trim, sill moldings and wheel arches, while standard LED daytime running lights and tail lamps created a fresh-tech look.
The XC90's cabin is designed with a focus on luxury but it undeniably shows its age. Consisting of four analog gauges, the instrument cluster looks dated compared to the modern digital units found in the rest of the Volvo lineup.
The crossover packs a third row of occasional-use seats designed largely for children. With seven passengers aboard, the crossover offers 8.8 cubic feet of trunk space, a figure that goes up to 43.3 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and 85.1 cubic feet with the second row stowed out of the way. The quick fold passenger seat (standard on most models) extends cargo capacity to a generous 93.2 cubic feet.
All XC90s regardless of trim level come standard with a dash-mounted seven-inch color touch screen that runs Volvo's Sensus infotainment system. Sensus groups the car's connectivity, entertainment and navigation (if equipped) functions into a single easy-to-use unit that can also be controlled with buttons on the center stack and a voice command feature.
Under The Hood
All XC90s regardless of trim level are powered by Volvo's naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter straight-six engine. Linked to a six-speed automatic transmission, the mill sends 240 horsepower and 236 horsepower to the front wheels, though all-wheel drive is available at an extra cost.
Both front- and all-wheel drive variants return 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
The base XC90 3.2 comes standard power-adjustable mirrors, a power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, rear park-assist, silver roof rails, 12 cup holders, three twelve-volt power outlets, a multi-function steering wheel, a cabin pollen filter, a dual-zone electronic climate control system, power-adjustable front seats, an eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio and leather upholstery.
Upgrading to the Premier Plus trim adds Homelink garage door opener, Xenon headlights, a compass in the rear-view mirror, a quick-fold passenger seat, a grocery bag holder, wood trim on the dash and on the shift knob,
Platinum buyers gain a premium 12-speaker stereo system and navigation.
Unlike other members of the Volvo lineup, the XC90 does not benefit from a bump in power when the R-Design trim level is ordered. However, it stands out from other XC90s with a unique grille, skid and scuff plates, a revised steering, a sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The base XC90 R-Design packs all of the standard features found in the base 3.2 model but it gains Xenon headlights, a Homelink garage door opener, an aluminum shift knob, a compass in the rear view mirror a quick-fold passenger seat, a sport steering wheel, a model-specific instrument cluster and a grocery bag holder.
The XC90 R-Design Platinum blends sport and luxury by offering buyers a premium audio system and navigation.
In addition to the aforementioned all-wheel drive system, the list of option includes a wide palette of metallic paint colors, Sovereign Hide soft leather (available on 3.2 models only), a Blind Spot Information System and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.
The Climate Package bundles heated front seats and Volvo's Interior Air Quality System.
Volvo fits each XC90 with a Roll Stability Control (RSC) system to ensure that a rollover doesn't happen in the first place. RSC detects wheel slip, understeer, oversteer or roll motion through the use of two gyroscopic sensors and intervenes with reduced engine power and selective braking to help the driver maintain control.
The XC90 also has a number of other safety features, including Volvo's WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) and IC (Inflatable Curtain) airbag. The Inflatable Curtain has been extended so it also protects passengers in the third row of seats. All seven seats are equipped with three-point inertia-reel seat belts, belt pre-tensioners and head restraints, and the car also includes dual front and side impact airbags.
The XC90 is pitted against the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz ML350, the Land Rover LR4 and the Audi Q7.