Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

Miles per pound (mpp) Miles per pound (mpp)

Petrol engines 5.6 - 7.2 mpp
Diesel engines 6.9 - 8.9 mpp
Plug-in hybrid petrol engines 15.9 - 24.1 mpp
Low figures relate to the least economical version; high to the most economical. Based on WLTP combined fuel economy for versions of this car made since September 2017 only, and typical current fuel or electricity costs.
Based on "Weighted" mpg; figures depend on the proportion of miles driven in pure electric mode and may vary widely

Fuel economy

Petrol engines 26.2 - 33.6 mpg
Diesel engines 34.0 - 44.1 mpg
Plug-in hybrid petrol engines 74.3 - 113.0 mpg
  • Diesel offers best real-world fuel economy
  • T8 plug-in most efficient when plugged in
  • T5 and T6 petrols can be thirsty

No car of this size will be truly cheap to run, but some versions of the XC90 will have manageable fuel costs – namely the B5 diesel and the T8 plug-in hybrid.

The headline figures come courtesy of the T8 Twin Engine hybrid, which – according to Volvo – is capable of between 85.5 and 100.8mpg on the latest WLTP combined cycle.

That’s not exactly an accurate estimate during real-world driving, though in certain circumstances it’s possible you’d get close if the batteries were fully charged and you were very careful with your right foot. The main way to achieve this is by running on electric power alone, and then recharging whenever possible so the petrol engine never kicks in. In theory, it’s doable (the WLTP test makes sure of that) but only if you drive a few miles between destinations – say home and work – and can charge the car at both ends.

We saw an indicated battery range of 21 miles on a full charge, which is less than the Range Rover Sport PHEV’s 28 miles, but the Volvo has two advantages – the Hold function which retains battery charge actually works, plus, you have the option to charge the battery with the engine.

Once we selected the latter, we saw an indicated 27mpg on the motorway – which is typical of a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine in a car of this size. Once we’d come off the motorway onto country roads, this crept up to the low 30s.  On a day of mostly motorway driving, we saw an indicated range of approximately 460 miles with the 70-litre fuel tank brimmed and a full battery charge.

Non-plug-in economy figures

For fuel economy that's less likely to fluctuate (once you run out of battery in the PHEV you'll be in the 20s for fuel economy), you'll want the B5 diesel, capable of returning a claimed 37.6 and 42.7mpg depending on the size of the alloy wheels. 

Finally, the B5 and B6 petrol return between 28.2mpg and 32.4mpg, with the less powerful motor proving to be ever so slightly more economical. 

Green credentials

The T8 plug-in hybrid is the one to pick if you’re a company car driver since its CO2 emissions are an impressive 63-76g/km, which means Benefit-in-Kind tax is ludicrously low for a car of this sheer size.

The B5 diesel is next, producing 171-195g/km, while the B5 petrol is notably higher at 199-221g/km. The worst offender is the B6 petrol, however, producing between 210g/km and 228g/km. 

These figures can vary slightly depending on the size of the alloy wheels. The bigger they are, the higher the CO2 output by a few grams per kilometre.

Reliability

  • Eight recalls for the XC90 so far
  • Check the recall work has been carried out
  • It does feel solid and dependable, though

Volvo is famous for building hugely resilient cars which stand the test of time brilliantly, and while the XC90 looks and feels suitably solid and well-built, it’s not perfect.

In fact, it’s been the subject of eight recalls in its life so far, including ones for software updates, the seatbelts, airbags and steering systems.

The good news is that if you’re buying a used model, recall work should have been carried out by the manufacturer. Check the paperwork that this has been done. And if it’s a new car, these problems should have been ironed out, and your warranty will cover you for most issues.

Ongoing running costs

Road tax (12 months) £0 - £475
See tax rates for all versions
Insurance group 33 - 45
How much is it to insure?