Volvo XC90 Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.26/5 Average
1,132 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

Volvo does things a little differently from other premium brands in the automotive world. For this Swedish manufacturer, safety and kid-friendliness are just as important as luxury amenities and driving performance, and in no vehicle is this more apparent than the Volvo XC90, a midsize seven-passenger SUV.

Innovative safety features aside, the XC90 is merely adequate relative to the premium midsize SUV competition. Zestier performance is available elsewhere, as are more cavernous cargo holds and more modern electronics features. With more and more modern competitors measuring up to Volvo's high safety standards, the aging XC90 isn't the slam-dunk for families that Volvo products used to be. It remains capable, though, and arguably safer than ever thanks to some new tricks.

Current Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 is a seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV that comes in two different trim levels: 3.2 and sportier 3.2 R-Design. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the XC90 has a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated for 240 horsepower. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Standard equipment highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, a built-in child booster seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system that includes an iPod/USB audio interface. The 3.2 R-Design adds 19-inch alloys, a sport-tuned suspension/steering system, sporty exterior styling cues, a sport steering wheel and special leather upholstery. Major options include adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a rear entertainment system with dual screens, a DVD-based navigation system and a surround-sound audio system.

On the road, we've found that the XC90 drives just as you'd expect a safe, heavy Volvo SUV to drive. Acceleration from the inline-6 is just adequate. Those looking for more energetic performance should know that the previously available V8-powered models are considerably more satisfying to drive. Ride quality is smooth and the cabin stays quiet, while handling is competent but not particularly sporty. Equipped with AWD, the XC90 makes an excellent snow vehicle but isn't intended for serious off-road romps.

To its credit, the XC90 has a first-rate interior, good overall driving dynamics and excellent safety scores. The trouble is, most rivals offer these attributes as well as fresher designs. In addition to Volvo's own XC60, we'd suggest you also consider the Lexus RX and Volkswagen Touareg if a third row isn't required. If it is, then we'd suggest the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Buick Enclave and Ford Flex. The Volvo XC90 is certainly a nice luxury crossover, but it lacks an edge over the competition in both luxury and performance.

Used Volvo XC90 Models
The XC90 debuted for the 2003 model year with models that corresponded to engine size. The original base engine was a 208-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder (known as the 2.5T) coupled to a five-speed automatic, which was replaced by the current 3.2 six-cylinder for '07. Used XC90 shoppers will also come across T6 models (sold from 2003-'05), which had a 268-hp, twin-turbocharged 2.8-liter inline-6 paired to a four-speed auto. Although acceleration was adequate with either of these turbo engines, their power delivery wasn't well suited for duty in a heavy SUV. However, if you test-drive either a T6 or 2.5T and find its performance to your liking, there's no reason not to buy it.

A 4.4-liter V8 joined the fray for '05. It was rated at 311 hp. For 2007 and '08, there was a surprisingly fun V8 Sport model, which added unique exterior trim, a firmly tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, quicker steering, heavily bolstered front seats, blue gauges and a sporty steering wheel. This was essentially replaced by the R-Design models for '09, which featured most of the Sport's mechanical enhancements, but could be had with the 3.2 engine as well. The V8 R-Design was dropped for 2010, while the following year would be the last for any V8 version of the XC90.

It should be noted that non-V8-powered XC90s were available in both five- and seven-passenger seating configurations until 2010, when the third row became standard. Other changes were restricted to the odd feature added here or there until '07, when the XC90 got slightly revised exterior styling. New standard features included an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio, while Volvo's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) was added to the options list. The V8's Executive package was added for 2009, and with items like massaging and ventilated front seats, a so-equipped XC90 would be quite a used car find.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 1,132.00
  • Volvo T-6 Rocks! - 2005 Volvo XC90
    By -

    I purchased the 2005 XC-90 for my wifes birthday. Have been very pleased with Volvo Customer Service and local dealerships for warranty maintenance and questions. Gas mileage is best on the highway, but our Volvo is very reliable and dependable, despite fuel consumption. By far the safest SUV I have found for my most important passengers - my wife and daughter.

  • Volvo XC90 - 2003 Volvo XC90
    By -

    Fun to drive - smooth ride, comfortable seats.Navigation system is a pain - remote control programming - the Toyota has a navigation system with a keyboard to key in the addresses - much easier to use than the remote. Speeds of over 70mph on the highway cause a noisy wind humming- very annoying.Gas mileage is poor. Rear seats are for a VERY SMALL children. Other than that, we love it!

  • Smart Girl, kids & 5 BIG poodles - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    This SUV gets style points and gets me where I need to go with my portfolio of manuscripts, two kids and three standard poodles! I love the feel, look and drive.

  • Wish I had test driven other models - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    I am somewhat pleased with my XC90. I love the body style, the handling, the ease of controls and I have had absolutley no maintenance issues so far. I didnt realize how much I would miss the driver arm rests and I am surprised at how noisy and bumpy the ride is for the price of this car. My first choice was the Lexus Gx but was way out of my price range. The gas mileage on the XC90 is not that great either. I did find out however that it is okay to use regular unleaded in it. I put mid-grade in mine and performs well. If I had it to do over I would have liked to have looked at the new 330. I am reluctant to buy new models but have a friend who loves her.

  • No gimics. Great Versatility and safety. - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    I have an XC90 T6 5 passenger. It is easy to drive around town, and is especially enjoyable on long trips with the family. The comfort of the front and rear seats and excellent electronic climate control make a long trip easy to tackle. Volvo did a nice job of notching out the back of the front seats to allow for additional knee space as well as providing a space under the seats to slip your feet. The cargo space and the versatility of the folding seats in the XC90 are exceptional. Having driven all of the other luxury SUV models on the market, the XC90 offers the best comfort, easiest drive, and without question the widest array of safety features.

  • Bulldog review - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    I love the car. We bought it for the safty features. We needed the extra room for a 3 child and did not want a mini van. It is a very classy vehicle inside and out.

  • A great vehicle but lots of repairs - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    I came on this website because i have a bad dealership working on my XC90 T6 and want to inform other buyers. I have had it in the shop 4 times and the same problems keep recurring. The last problem was the seat which moves 1/4- 1/3 of on inch upon stopping and the dealership admits problem but wont replace the seat. I have a BMW 528 and E320 and bought Volvo for its reliability. Brakes have drag against the drum until mod was performed. Squeeking in front left strut upon turning. Interior molding has come loose or has been broken under normal wear. Car is costly but I expected better quality from Volvo. I say one thing - Buyer beware!

  • XC90 - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    I love this car so far.

  • I love my XC90 - 2004 Volvo XC90
    By -

    This is my third Volvo and my favorite. I love the space and everything about it. The white paint and excellent leather still look new. This is nicest vehicle I have owned and I have a few SUVs, even a 2006 Pathfinder, that was not near as nice. I understand two different vehicles, but the Volvo definitely fits me.

  • Volvo #2 - 2005 Volvo XC90
    By -

    After driving a cross-country that had worn a path to the Volvo service center, I took a chance on another Volvo. I am so glad that I did, as the XC 90 is a beautiful car that is comfortable and fun to drive. It is well-suited to my small frame, and is extremely comfortable for the kids in the back. The power is not as impressive as some of the V8s that I tested, but its more than enough to put me ahead at the traffic lights! I do wish they were more creative with spaces for cell phones, sunglasses, etc. The location of the cruise control button drives me bonkers, as it sits right where my finger hits it when I hold the wheel. All in all I just love the secure feeling of a Volvo.

Volvo XC90 Reviews By Year:
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