Volvo's large seven seat SUV tested in Ireland
Pros: Comfort and refinement, seven seat cabin, superb equipment levels
Cons: Not a true off roader, rivals are more engaging to drive
Volvo has introduced new XC40 and XC60 models to its range for 2018, but the XC90 maintains its position as the Swedish brand’s largest and most luxurious SUV. The new XC90 has a reputation for being practical, luxurious and well-equipped, and it carries on from the success of the first generation model that was first launched in 2002. It has strong competition to ward off including the latest Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover’s Discovery, so we recently took it for a drive on Irish roads to see how it fares against its rivals.
What is it like?
The latest XC90 arrived on the scene in 2014, but in that time, little has changed in terms of styling. It is definitely one of the most recognisable SUVs on the market right now and it has lots of road presence, with a large front grille, flowing side lines and vibrant Thors Hammer-style LED headlights. The XC90 that we’re driving is a high specification R Design model with 20-inch alloy wheels and silver roof rails for off-road looks, while the optional Crystal White paint scheme certainly demands attention.
The cabin feels incredibly spacious when you step inside, with acres of room to accommodate five adults comfortably, and there is an additional two seats stowed in the rear for when seven seats are needed. The centre console is neatly-designed with a large 12.3-inch touch screen in the middle, but it isn’t very intuitive to use. There is 451 litres of space in the boot which is average for the class, but this increases hugely when the rear seats are dropped forward. This test car has Volvo’s optional Xenium Pack, which adds extras such as a 360 surround view parking camera, park assist pilot and a sliding panoramic sunroof.
There are three engines options to choose from in Ireland; a 190hp 2.0-litre D4 diesel, a 235hp D5 2.0-litre diesel and a rapidly-quick 2.0-litre T8 petrol electric hybrid. All feature Volvo’s automatic transmission as standard, but we drove the entry 190hp 2.0-litre D4 with front wheel drive. It copes with the XC90’s bulk very well and delivers strong low down grunt, covering 0-100km/h in a respectable 9.2 seconds. Running costs are relatively low too and we managed 45mpg during our test with the D4, with annual motor tax listed at €280.
The XC90 corners well for such a sizeable car, but there is a lot of body roll on tight turns and it isn’t as fun to drive as the BMW X5. It is very comfortable on the move with an accommodating suspension setup for bumpier roads, and there is also an optional air suspension setup at extra cost. You may consider the optional all-wheel-drive system, however the XC90 isn’t particularly strong off-road compared to the all-terrain-conquering Land Rover Discovery. It’s loaded with lots of safety technology as standard, including semi-autonomous lane and steering assist systems. It even has an adaptive cruise control system that operates at low speeds in stop start traffic, which we loved during rush hour on the M50 motorway.
Prices for the new XC90 start from circa €65,000 for the base specification Momentum model. In base trim, you get rear park assist, 19-inch alloy wheels, an electric tailgate, an eight-inch TFT driver’s display, leather upholstery with an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat and satellite navigation. Prices for the mid-range R-Design model start from over €70,000 and it has larger 20-inch five spoke alloy wheels, larger infotainment displays, sportier styling outside and a full leather steering wheel.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Volvo XC90 is a very well-equipped, spacious and premium seven-seat SUV. It is also quite distinctive thanks to its sleek Scandinavian design, and family buyers will love its class-leading safety technology and the two diesel engines options that are well-suited to Irish roads. Despite its off-roading looks however, the XC90 isn’t as capable off the beaten track as you would think, and some of its rivals offer a more engaging drive. That said, it’s hard to find fault in the XC90 and it delivers the in the areas that will matter most to everyday Irish drivers.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volvo XC90 D4 R-Design
Prices from: €65,700
Price as tested: €75,387
Annual Road Tax: €280
Engine: 1969cc four-cylinder diesel
Top Speed: 204km/h
0-100km/h: 9.2 seconds
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 451 litres