Review: Volvo XC90 (2015)

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Incredibly refined and quiet on the move. High quality cabin with room for seven. Well equipped as standard. D5 is smooth yet punchy with good economy. T8 has tax advantages.

Gargantuan size can make parking a challenge. Petrol engine is pricier than the diesel. T8 hybrid only does 35-40mpg in normal driving.

Volvo XC90 (2015): At A Glance

The second generation Volvo XC90 has a very hard act to follow. The original car went on sale in 2002 and yet, despite its age, remained popular right up until its replacement arrived. Gladly the 2015 XC90 is everything the demanding SUV driver could wish for, with impeccable refinement, the latest technology and a drive that perfectly suits the worst roads Britain has to offer.

The range isn’t particularly broad, with just three trim levels – but even the entry-level, diesel-powered Momentum is capable and luxurious. The cabin is vast and opulently appointed, with wonderful materials and impeccable attention to detail, while the drive and ride quality are excellent.

There are three engine options – a 225PS D5 diesel, a 320PS T6 petrol and a ‘Twin-Engine’ T8 plug-in hybrid. The diesel is all most buyers will need though – it’s quiet, powerful and reasonably efficient with official fuel economy of 47.3mpg. All cars have all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission as standard.

Moving up to a higher trim level and ticking options boxes can seriously ramp up the price, but the quality of the XC90 really shines through. On a rough road the near-silent cabin and phenomenal ride quality make the expense seem worth it. Almost regardless of the surface, the XC90’s cabin stays serene and the handling remains tight and precise.

This is improved even further by the optional but pricey air suspension, which can be raised and lowered for easier boot loading or better ground clearance. Other options include an iPad-style touchscreen system that is beautifully clear and simple to use.

All models come with seven seats. Unfolding the rearmost pair of seats is simple and they offer plenty of space for children, while the middle row is more than capable of carrying adults. The boot is a good size too and has a flat load deck.

The new Volvo XC90 takes all the family-friendliness of its predecessor and adds in a good dose of modern luxury, plus it is tremendously refined and excellent on the road. It isn't cheap, but the impressive quality means it doesn't feel overpriced. For a family buyer who prioritises safety, comfort and luxury there is probably no better SUV on the market. 

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What does a Volvo XC90 (2015) cost?

List Price from £53,635
Buy new from £47,479
Contract hire from £428.44 per month

Volvo XC90 (2015): What's It Like Inside?

Length 1776–4950 mm
Width 2140 mm
Height 1775–1776 mm
Wheelbase 2984 mm

Full specifications

From behind the wheel it’s obvious the Volvo XC90 has been very well thought through. The dashboard design and centre stack are beautifully finished and neatly laid out, with well-placed controls and pretty, intricate details that really give the car a luxury ambience. Material quality is excellent – the XC90 really feels like a high-end car.  

The highlight is the standard-fit Sensus infotainment system, with its a large, iPad like screen. It controls all major functions from air conditioning to navigation and is slick, smooth and intuitive, working just like a tablet. You can swipe between screens and menus, pinch to zoom in and easily get from one function to another. 

It can be controlled by a very quick-to-react voice command system too, so, for example, you can tell the car you’re cold and it will turn up the heat hands-free. The system can be enhanced with an expensive but tremendously impressive Bowers and Wilkins audio system, or with less pricey packs like a crystal-clear 360 degree reversing camera.

All Volvo XC90 models come with seven seats as standard and the rear pair are very easy to unfold. Access and leg room is a bit tight for adults, but children or young teens will be at home. The middle row is spacious enough for more or less anyone to get comfortable, not least because the seats can be adjusted, reclined and slid back and forth.

With the back two seats folded down the boot has an ample capacity of 775 litres, expandable to more than 1800 litres with everything folded flat. The load area is a good shape, but it does have a high load lip, though cars with air suspension have a button to drop the ride height to aid with loading – handy for dogs to jump up or for trips to Ikea.

Buyers can choose from numerous leather finishes and colours, plus there are several material choices for the various inlays including brushed aluminium and real wood. Other options include convenience features like a heated steering wheel, along with pricier bundles of convenient extras like parking aids. It’s quite easy to seriously bump up the price with these – but even standard cars have almost everything a driver needs.

Standard Equipment:

Momentum is the entry trim level and comes with hill start assist, hill descent control, cruise control, electric parking brake with hill-hold, LED headlights, automatic wipers, automatic lights, power tailgate, 19-inch alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, 8-inch TFT instrument cluster, 9-inch Sensus infotainment with European navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB and AUX connections, leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, two Isofix mounting points, City Safety, run-off road protection, lane departure warning plus keyless entry and start.

Inscription trim adds a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster, power passenger seat, extra leather upholstery details, Nappa soft leather seats and 20-inch alloy wheels.

R-Design adds, over Momentum, sports seats and perforated leather details.

T8 models come with four-zone climate control, crystal gearknob and a power panoramic sunroof.

Child seats that fit a Volvo XC90 (2015)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Volvo XC90 (2015) like to drive?

The Volvo XC90 is available with three engines, all of which are linked to automatic transmissions and all-wheel drive as standard. The basic engine is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder D5 diesel, but it is all most XC90 buyers will need. Peak power is 225PS and peak torque is 470Nm, so it’s perfectly at home on the motorway or on a back road.

A 2.0-litre T6 petrol engine is available which uses both a supercharger and turbocharger to produce 320PS and 400Nm of torque. It’s certainly potent, but it is more expensive than the D5 to buy and run, with emissions of 179g/km an official economy of 35.3mpg, versus 149g/km and 48.7mpg for the diesel.

There is also a T8 ‘Twin-Engine’ option, which uses the T6 petrol engine but linked to an electric motor. This produces a huge 640Nm of torque and 400PS, but has official economy of 134.5mpg and emissions of 49g/km. That means it is congestion charge exempt and falls into the lowest company car tax bracket.

However, unless you drive short distances and keep the battery topped up from the mains, the T8's 320PS 2.0-litre engine cannot match those figures in the real world. You can expect around 38.0mpg, which is slightly better than the diesel's Real MPG average of around 34.0mpg, but not sufficiently better to justify the additional cost.

Whichever engine is under the bonnet, the XC90 is tremendously refined. The cabin is almost silent regardless of what is happening outside. It’s comfortable with supportive seats and fantastic ride quality that is made better still by optional air suspension. This is expensive, but even on 21-inch alloy wheels it keeps the cabin serene. (The cabin is anything but serene on 21-inch wheels without air suspension.)

Over a rough, undulating road the XC90 is sublime, soaking up every imperfection effortlessly, yet remaining stable and composed through corners. It never feels bulky, heavy or unwieldy but, should things go wrong, it is packed with the latest safety equipment to keep occupants safe and minimise injuries.

Gadgets include adaptive cruise control and a system that detects when the car is leaving the road and prepares the cabin for any impact. The XC90 can detect when the driver is moving into the path of another vehicle at a junction and give a warning or apply the brakes. There are also familiar systems like blind spot warning and an optional 360 degree reversing camera.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
B5 - 7.6 s 155 g/km
D5 46–50 mpg 7.4–7.8 s 149 g/km
T5 35–36 mpg 7.9 s 184–189 g/km
T6 34–37 mpg 6.1–6.5 s 179–184 g/km
T8 - 5.3–5.8 s 49–64 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volvo XC90 (2015)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

20–47 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volvo XC90 (2015)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best seven-seat SUV for tall teenagers?

I've got three kids, two pretty tall teenagers and one in a child seat. We use the rear seats a lot on short journeys and occasionally for journeys over an hour and a half. What should I get if I want an SUV for under £45k?
My money would go on a Skoda Kodiaq or Hyundai Santa Fe. Alternatively, if you'd prefer a more premium choice, a pre-registered Volvo XC90 is within reach and would be a lovely family car.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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