A year on from its launch and Volvo’s widely acclaimed big new SUV is still turning heads and still winning awards.
The previous version of the XC90 had a strong following thanks to its durability, space, safety and comfort and it remained a big seller in its final year.
The all-new car isn’t just a step up, it’s a game-changer.
The XC90 has to be good because it’s up against the new Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q7, Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery Sport, plus the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
First impressions count and the XC90 is mightily imposing with a highly distinctive front end featuring Volvo’s bold new signature grille and those dramatic “Thor’s hammer” LED headlights.
While its clean side profile also sets it apart, its rear isn’t a million miles away from the old XC90.
It’s just as good inside – innovative too. There’s an enormous sense of space and light up front, combined with a commanding driving position.
The dashboard is refreshingly minimalist. Most of the car’s functions are controlled via the impressive 9-inch portrait-orientated tablet, or touchscreen infotainment system, dominating the centre console, which is responsive and intuitive.
Thankfully this means that Volvo’s irritating sat nav, complete with daisy wheel letter/number selection, has now been sent to car hell.
The XC90 is well equipped. Standard equipment across the range includes sat nav, cruise control, rain sensors, LEDs, climate control and leather interior trim. However, the enormous options list is worth scanning too because it includes some gems too, but go easy.
The quality of the materials, the build quality and the shades of colour used give the cabin a premium feel with a Scandi twist.
I tested the entry level XC90. Priced from £46,850, my D5 AWD Momentum came in Osmium Grey with Blond Leather no less. Optional extras including the 12.3-inch digital driver’s dashboard, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control and even heated washer nozzles pushed it over the £50,000-mark.
Under the bonnet is a powerful 2.0-litre 222bhp four-cylinder diesel engine which is capable of 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds, a top speed of 137mph and 149g/km of CO2 emissions.
Volvo claims it’s capable of 49.6mpg, though realistically I think you’re looking at closer to 35-40mpg in everyday driving.
A little noisy under initial acceleration, the XC90 soon settles down into a relaxed, refined cruiser. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is slick, the steering relaxed and well judged, while the ride is smooth and the all-wheel-drive grip superb.
There’s no getting away from the fact that it is a big, relatively tall car, so if it’s pushed on challenging country roads, there’s a fair amount of body lean, though it is well controlled.
Like all UK spec XC90s, my car was a seven-seater. Unfolding seats 6-7 is easy, though best left to children and ‘compact’ adults. Otherwise it’s very spacious in seats 3-5 on the second row (they slide, recline and fold flat individually), while the luggage capacity ranges from 451 litres to 1,951 litres, depending on how many seats are folded down.
Those looking to tow are well catered for because the XC90 can haul 2,700kg.
Needless to say, the car (claimed to be the safest Volvo ever) was awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests and it’s packed with the latest safety tech and driver aids.
Verdict: Safe, spacious, stylish and comfortable, Volvo’s distinctive, cutting-edge XC90 SUV is classier than ever.