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What is the Volvo XC90?

The XC90 sits at the top of Volvo’s car range and is the flagship SUV that heralded a new era of cars from the hitherto sensible Swedish brand better known for the safety of its cars.

Where before there were boxy estate cars beloved of antiques dealers and Home Counties sorts, the new generation of Volvos now have a healthy kick of Scandinavian style but retain the practicality that made Volvo famous.

The new Volvo XC90 launched in 2014 as a seven-seat, full-sized SUV to compete with the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery. Read on for our full guide to the XC90 range.

At-a-glance 2019 Volvo XC90 specs

  • Top speed: 134-140mph
  • 0-62mph: 5.8-7.9sec
  • Fuel economy: 26.2-83.1mpg
  • Emissions: 56-192g/km
  • Boot space: 775-1951 litres

Which versions of the Volvo XC90 are available?

There is only one bodystyle of Volvo XC90 available - the five-door SUV with three rows of seating for up to seven passengers. The third row pops down for a 775-litre loadbay when equipped as a five-seater, shrinking to 397 litres when in full taxi-spec seven-seat guise.

Brits can choose between a D5 diesel engine with 235hp and a pair of petrols - the 250hp T5 and 310hp T6. At the top of the range is the clever-clogs T8, with its plug-in hybrid system and a combined power output of 303hp. It’s both extremely quick and - on paper - extremely efficient, especially if you do mostly short hops where you can charge the battery fully so you can drive the XC90 as an EV.

In line with other Volvos, you can spec your XC90 as a Momentum or Momentum Pro, an R-Design or R-Design Pro, or Inscription or Inscription Pro trim level, each peg up the ladder bringing more and more luxury equipment. Even the most basic Volvo XC90 is well equipped though (as it should be for a premium SUV costing north of £50k).

Volvo XC90 styling and engineering

The XC90 is the car that kicked off the modern Volvo revolution and to these eyes it’s a design that’s lasted well, blending the broad-shouldered stance of 1990s Volvos with a slick new, understated chic. It’s especially clever because the XC90 is in fact a very large car, yet hides its bulk well.

Volvo XC90 rear

All large Volvos share the same hardware underneath the skin and all XC90s sold in the UK have all-wheel drive, hence the AWD badge.

It is not possible to buy a manual Volvo XC90; all come with the brand’s eight-speed automatic transmission, in keeping with its lofty premium positioning.

Is the Volvo XC90 good to drive?

Yes it is. The moment you step into the XC90’s cabin you’ll enter an oasis of cool Swedish calm. This is a very relaxing ambience in here, with an impressively uncluttered dashboard thanks tot he large portrait-oriented Sensus touchscreen that controls nearly all the functionality.

Volvo has long had a reputation for comfortable seats and the pampering pews in the XC90 continue that tradition. They’re in keeping with a hushed and quiet milieu - this is an SUV to waft around in.

Even on quite large wheel sizes, the XC90 rides comfortably and only when you extend the downsized 2.0-litre engines do you occasionally regret the fact that the Volvo does without the V6s and V8s that rival models muster. Do people spending upwards of £50k care about engine noise? Probably not, judging by how many Volvo XC90s we see on the roads…

How much does the Volvo XC90 cost?

The Volvo XC90 is not a cheap car, particularly in range-topping T8 specification – at which you'll be looking at paying upwards of £70k. They hold their value, though, with low levels of depreciation for most models.

Volvo normally offers finance packages meaing this expensive seven-seater can cost less than £500 a month on a lease deal on its Personal Contract Hire scheme. Be sure to shop around for different deals as the XC90 enters its twilight years.

See what drivers of the Volvo XC90 have to say about their crossover in our disarmingly honest owners’ reviews.

Volvo XC90 Model History

Current generation Volvo XC90 model history

December 2014 – Orders open for the XC90, with 1,927 First Edition models available with high specification. The rest of the range consists of 320hp T6 petrol, 225hp D5 diesel and 400hp T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. Trims made up of Momentum and Inscription.

July 2015 – The XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid joins the range, powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor. Combined power and torque of 400hp and 640Nm of torque make it the fastest XC90, but CO2 emissions of just 59g/km make it appealing to company users.

November 2015 – Volvo adds R-Design trim level to the XC90 range with 20-inch alloys, sportier look, leather sports seats and standard 12.3-inch digital instrument panel.

November 2015 – Polestar Performance Optimisation made available for the D5 and T6 engines in the XC90, with power and torque boosts. D5 increases to 233hp and 500Nm, while the T6 boosted the 334hp and 440Nm. Accelerator and gearbox responses sharpened up for quicker responses too.

January 2016 – Volvo adds Apple CarPlay capability to all XC90 models.

August 2018 – 2.0-litre 250hp T5 petrol engine joins the XC90 line-up, making it the entry-level car. Comes with eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive. It’s available on all trim levels.

First-generation Volvo XC90 (2002-2014)

Volvo XC90 Mk1

The first-generation Volvo XC90 launched back in 2002, as the Swedish brand wrestled with how to modernise its estate car experience for the new millennium.

It sold like hot cakes, as people lapped up the seven-seat practicality, top-notch safety and premium Swedish cabin. We never rated it that much to drive and called it ‘dull’ but there was something wholesome and attractive about the whole package which caught the imagination of the car buying public.

The Mk1 Volvo XC90 was offered with D3, D4 and D5 engines which bore the brunt of sales in the UK before the diesel emissions scandal kicked in.

There were no hybrids in this generation but low-volume petrols included the five-cylinder 2.5, a 3.2 straight six and the very rare-groove V8 model powered by a Yamaha engine.

Browse used Mk1 XC90s for sale and find out what owners think of them in their own words.