Volvo XC90 Review 2024

Volvo XC90 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The XC90 is everything a SUV driver could wish for, with impeccable refinement, the latest technology and a smooth drive.

+Incredibly refined and quiet on the move, high quality cabin with room for seven, well equipped as standard.

-Gargantuan size can make parking a challenge, T8 hybrid isn't that efficient once the battery is depleted.

New prices start from £46,250
Insurance Groups are between 37–44
On average it achieves 59% of the official MPG figure

The Volvo XC90 is a seven-seat luxury SUV that majors on style, sophistication, practicality and safety. Its swish styling marks it out against its conservative-looking rivals, and arguably gives it more character. Generous space and clever seating make it one of the most versatile cars in the class, and it’s also very well equipped. Being a Volvo, the XC90 is also one of the safest cars in the class. Granted, some rival premium SUVs are better to drive and better on interior quality, but the differences aren’t huge in either area. A brilliant all-rounder that’s worthy of anyone’s consideration. Read on for our full review of the Volvo XC90.

Today, luxury 4x4s are immensely popular, and you could argue that the original Volvo XC90 was one of the trailblazers of the class. There weren’t many cars of the time that could carry seven people - and lots of their stuff - in comfort, luxury and style. That made it very popular with large, well-to-do families.

These days, however, prestige seven-seat SUVs are absolutely everywhere, so it takes something really special to stand out from the crowd. And yet, the latest XC90 still manages to offer a little something different to the countless others with which it competes.

The XC90's main rivals include the Audi Q7, BMW's X5 and the pricier but larger X7, Mercedes-Benz's GLE and the pricer but larger GLS, and the Land Rover Discovery

Arguably, the car’s biggest selling point is its style. Inside and out, this thing looks great. The design is clean, modern and simple, with some thoughtful flourishes thrown in for good measure. Not only does this swish styling make the XC90 look and feel very distinct from its competitors, it also helps make the car every bit as desirable as any of its premium-badged rivals.

Another super-important area for any big SUV is practicality, and again, this is an area in which the big Volvo has most of its rivals beaten. It has seven seats as standard across the board, more space than most rivals and a huge boot. The rest of the cabin, meanwhile, is stuffed with luxury equipment and lavishly appointed, if not quite as lavishly as its very best rivals.

On the road, the XC90 is a very easy-going car, concentrating on wafting its occupants along in comfort, rather than trying to provide any excitement, and it’s all the better for it. When the road turns twisty, though, there’s enough control to keep things feeling stable and assured, so it delivers a good balance of abilities.

An automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive and hill descent control are all provided as standard across the board, but this is very much a road-focused SUV that’s designed to tackle school runs, rather than green lanes. A range of petrol and diesel engines is available, but the most desirable version for many will be the T8 plug-in hybrid variant thanks to its hugely impressive mix of performance and economy.

It goes without saying that the XC90 is among the strongest cars in its class for safety. That’s thanks not only to the Swedish firm’s peerless know-how in this area, but also the vast amount of safety equipment squeezed into the car. And let’s face it, safety has to be one of the top priorities in any car designed to ferry lots of people around.

So, the Volvo XC90 is a really good all-rounder that’s worthy of anyone’s consideration. Class-leading on style, character, safety and practicality, and there-or-thereabouts in every other area.

Ask Honest John

What's the best car for a tall elderly driver?

"With the ULEZ zone due to expand I need to change my diesel Toyota Corolla Verso for something compliant. The problem is I am 6ft 10 inches tall and have arthritis in my spine which makes getting in and out of a car difficult. I have looked at a lot of cars but find on the likes of a Honda CR-V and Honda Jazz there is not enough head room on the door aperture so I have to put my head in first and then shuffle onto the seat. I tried a Skoda Superb but the seat is too low for easy entry. Looking at mobility cars, it would seem that a Mercedes Vito or Sprinter are the only vehicles with suitable access but are too big for everyday use. Any thoughts on an alternative? I would prefer a petrol automatic as I don’t do many miles and it is usually in traffic."
Given the need for a high seating position for easy access and lots of headroom we would suggest an SUV would suit your needs best. We would recommend looking at the Skoda Kodiaq, BMW X5, Volvo XC90 or the Kia Sportage, all of which are available with petrol engines and automatic transmissions.
Answered by David Ross

What is 'w' button for on Volvo XC90?

"What does the W switch at the gear stick on a 2010 Volvo XC90 do?"
Winter mode - it's designed to reduce wheelspin in snowy or slippery conditions by starting in a higher gear with lower revs.
Answered by Dan Powell

Which safe, reliable cars do you recommend?

"What’s the safest, most reliable car that will work with two adults, three tall kids and a large dog? Given where prices are at the moment I’d like an option for something newish up to £50,000, we’d keep for 8 years, and something more like £20,000, which we’d keep for a couple of years until used prices become more sensible and the supply chain issues for new ones becomes better. "
I would recommend a Volvo XC90 on your £50,000 budget. It's one of the safest cars on sale, has plenty of room for three tall kids in the back and a boot that will have your dog thinking it's died and gone to puppy heaven. You can have it as a petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid. Your budget is enough to get you a 2020 model with around 10,000 miles on the clock. On a £20,000 budget, I would go for a Toyota RAV4 hybrid. You'll get a 2018 car with 70,000 miles on the clock – Toyota's legendary reliability means you shouldn't be put off by the mileage and it's interior should have worn the miles well. It's not quite as roomy as the Volvo, but it's not far off. Like the Volvo, it has a five-star rating for safety from NCAP, although the Toyota was tested under 2013's less rigorous conditions. Plus, the hybrid is excellent on fuel and should make the car an attractive purchase when you sell it on in a couple of years.
Answered by Russell Campbell

How do I prepare my Volvo XC90 for driving in Europe?

"I am trying to get my 2017 Volvo XC90 through the German Tüv (MoT). I am spending most of my time in Germany and wish to register my car in the country. However, given my Volvo is a modern vehicle with adaptive led lights I assumed this would be simple but it isn't. Can you tell me how to solve these problems: 1. Whilst the digital imperial readouts can be switched to metric on the touch screen there is no option to make this the default. 2. The LED front lights can be switched from RHD to LHD on the touchscreen but not permanently (seems to be a holiday mode). I am told even in the mode the pattern is wrong for the continent. 3. Rear fog light is on the right and it needs to be on the left."
1. Volvo say a software package for this change is currently under review by its technical department in Sweden. Until this software package is released, a Volvo retailer would need to make the change manually. However, this would have to be done within the country the car is ultimately going to be based in (Germany). 2. There are indeed different lights for RHD and LHD Volvo XC90s. This means you need new LEDs and software for the switch to be permanent. 3. It should be possible to change this with a wiring change – rather than replacing the actual lights – although again, any modifications would need to be carried out by a Volvo dealer in Germany.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Volvo XC90 cost?