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Big, bold and beautiful, the Volvo XC90 is packed with first class technology and offers incredible road-holding under the most testing conditions possible. The comfort levels are superb and its powerful performance will certainly impress the fussiest of critics. A plug-in version is available and brings with it plenty of financial savings.

Volvo XC90 Recharge side
Volvo XC90 Recharge rear
Volvo XC90 Recharge interior

The good

Fantastic performer and richly equipped

The bad

Not cheap (but worth every penny)

Tech Specs

Price from
Combined Fuel up to
39.7mpg (188.1 PHEV)
0-62 from
5.4 seconds
max speed up to
co2 from
28g/km (PHEV)


Test Drive

Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid (2024)

The go-anywhere, all-conquering Volvo XC90 SUV has been around since 2002 and has always been a huge favourite amongst adventurous families who don’t want tricky terrain or the challenging elements getting in the way.

It may only be in its second generation, but there have been numerous facelifts along the way and the most recent one took place for MY24 vehicles. They gain a larger battery pack, up from 11.6kWh to 18.8kWh which increases the EV-only range to about 44 miles. In addition, the highly-impressive and intuitive Google Android-based infotainment system is new to the vehicle.

Buyers can choose between petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains with an all-electric EX90 penned for arrival this year.

Volvo keeps its flagship seven-seater model’s line-up simple with a choice between trims called Core, Plus and Ultimate and prices starting from £62,140 and rising to £83,130.

We opted for the Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 AWD Plus model for our test drive, priced at £76,530, with the only optional extra being metallic paint that bumped up the final cost to £77,325.

The XC90 is a full-sized, five-door SUV that certainly boasts a very strong road presence with distinctive lighting featuring the signature Thor Hammer daytime running lights and upright taillights. It has a blacked out grille housing the Volvo emblem, privacy glass and 20-inch alloys.

The interior is pure quality through and through with upmarket tailored wool blend upholstery, high-end fixtures and fittings and a clutter-free appearance.

The main focal point is the nine-inch portrait infotainment screen that is the entry point to the Google Android-based infotainment system with Google Maps, Google Assistant voice control, access to apps via the Google Play Store, along with four years of data allowance.

In addition, there is a pitch perfect 13-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, full smartphone connectivity with four USB ports and a wireless charging pad, four-zone climate control, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, plus a 12.3-inch driver display screen behind the steering wheel.

Powering our XC90 Recharge PHEV model was a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an 18.8kWh battery producing a combined 455hp (310hp petrol engine and 145hp electric motor) plus 709Nm of torque. That translates into some interesting performance stats with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 112mph while delivering 188.1 to 235.1mpg and 30g/km of carbon emissions.

The car has an EV-only driving range of 44 miles and it would need to be regularly charged and make full use of those electric miles in order to get anywhere near those efficiency figures. But the handling is certainly impressive considering the vehicle weighs in at 2.2 tonnes.

Despite its sharp turn of pace, the XC90 is a car that certainly prioritises comfort with a cushioned ride and excellent insulation to block out any noise intrusion. The seats are supportive, powered, heated and also offer a massage function for added luxury on longer journeys.

The acceleration out the starting blocks is rapid yet controlled and this vehicle is a very capable motorway cruiser eating up the miles for fun. But it also impresses on more testing country lanes with lots of twists and turns. The road holding is confident and there is minimal body movement through tighter bends.

Drive modes called Hybrid, Pure, Power, Constant AWD and Off-Road alter the reactions and handling of the vehicle which starts up in Hybrid mode by default.

It does feel quite large when manoeuvring through busy town centre traffic, but the excellent all-round visibility is a bonus, as are the range of sensors, cameras and parking aids when squeezing into a tight space.

With its seven-seat practicality, the XC90 is ideal for any active family and the boot, accessed via a powered tailgate, can swallow 316 litres of kit with all seven seats in use. Drop the back two seats flat to the boot floor and that capacity increases to 967 litres or a whopping 1,816 litres with just the front seats upright. A pull-up partition is handy to stop items rolling round in the boot and there is all manner of storage compartments inside the car, including a deep central cubby, seat back nets, a glovebox, door bins and cup holders.

When it comes to charging the 18.8kWh battery, a 0-100 per cent boost takes five hours and, with its all-wheel drive capabilities, the XC90 can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 2.4 tonnes.

All in all, the Volvo XC90 is an outstanding all-rounder for anyone looking for an upmarket family SUV that’s packed with tech and very rewarding to drive. Factor in the wealth of safety tech too and this is the complete package … for a price, of course.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 B5 AWD Inscription (2021)

If you’re in the market for a high-end seven seater that’s packed to bursting technology and as safe as houses, then few large SUVs can compete with the mighty Volvo XC90.

It looks imposing from any angle, it drives beautifully, it’s a truly practical car and it’s also competitively priced which gives this model plenty of all-round appeal.

And in fairness, it needs to be good with the likes of the Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery and BMW X5 listed as its closest rivals.

The XC90 looks really striking with its bold upright design, distinctive Thor-hammer signature lights, panoramic sunroof, tinted rear windows and 19-inch alloy wheels. The latest generation model also features some design upgrades including a new grille and lower front bumper, integrated tail pipes and redesigned air intakes.

Move inside and the interior is top quality through and through with upmarket soft Nappa leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, powered seats with memory settings, lots of soft touch surfaces, four-zone climate control and tiny Swedish flags stitched into the seats as a gentle reminder to the car’s birthplace.

Most of the on-board technology is accessed via the now familiar nine-inch Sensus portrait infotainment touchscreen with full navigation, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a pitch perfect Bowers and Wilkins sound system and a wireless charging pad.

Our test car, costing £59,115 (£66,890 with options fitted), was powered by a 2.0-litre, 235hp, diesel engine matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It could sprint to 62mph from a standstill in 7.6 seconds, maxed out at 112mph and, according to official figures, could deliver a combined 37.1-41.5mpg with carbon emissions of 178g/km.

Comfort levels within the car are sublime and the XC90 is just perfect for long motorway journeys where it seems to glide along effortlessly eating up the miles.

It also handles impressively on fast moving country lanes where the road holding is confident and assured with minimal body sway provided tight bends are given a degree of respect. Special mention to the highly effective suspension system that cushions the ride and irons out bumps and dips along the way.

In busy city centres, the elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility and the XC90 is deceptively nimble for its size coping well with lots of twists and turns. The Park Assist Pilot will guide you into the tightest of parking spaces and is part of an optional Lounge pack costing £2,250.

There are different drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Off-Road that alter the manner in which the car responds and there is the added reassurance of 4WD to keep you going during more challenging driving conditions.

The XC90 also features the rather clever Pilot Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control driver assist technology that automatically keeps the vehicle within its lane markings while helping with the steering, accelerating and braking at a desired set speed of up to 80mph.

Obviously, practicality is an area where the XC90 needs to excel and it does just that. The second row of seats can easily accommodate three adults and there are two extra individual seats folded flat to the boot floor that can be used when needed – but these are only really suitable for children.

Storage options are good too with a boot capacity of 314 litres – increasing to 1,868 litres with the second row of seats dropped flat. Even with all seven seats in use, the boot has ample room for some overnight luggage.

And as one would expect from Volvo, the XC90 boasts a wealth of safety kit such as City Safety with Steering Support which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection along with front collision warning and fully automatic emergency braking and steering assistance. There is Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Protection, automatic LED headlights with high beam assist and a whole lot more besides.

All in all, this latest XC90 is a fabulous all-rounder that is definitely worthy of its status as the flagship model in the Volvo line-up.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 B5 diesel AWD Momentum Pro – first drive (2019)

Volvo’s flagship seven-seat XC90 range has had an exciting makeover with new styling upgrades and extra colour choices, but the big news is the introduction of mild hybrid technology to the diesel model.

The 2020 XC90 range, which is on sale now and priced from £52,235 to £71,945, also sees extended electric driving range for the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid versions – increasing from 21.7 miles to 28.6 miles – which is plenty of scope for an average daily commute.

But the main news is the introduction of Volvo’s new mild hybrid engine technology which is being debuted in the XC90 and called B5. It combines a 2.0-litre 235hp diesel engine with a 48-volt battery, a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and an integrated starter generator.

Basically, when the car is braking or decelerating, energy is captured by the KERS system and is stored as electricity in the battery. This is then used to supplement the engine’s performance when accelerating and to power the likes of the audio system and lights. This system will be introduced to petrol-driven models of the XC90 a little later on.

So, what does all this clever mild hybrid technology mean for day-to-day drivers? Well it improves fuel efficiency by up to 15 per cent in real world driving and also produces lower NOx emissions than the outgoing D5 XC90 it replaces, so it saves money and is better for the planet.

The B5 model is also equipped with an updated automatic gearbox, which improves fuel economy as well as delivering sharper acceleration. And as another first, the B5 breaks new ground by using a brake-by-wire system.

The XC90 is on sale in trim levels called Momentum, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro with the B5 mild hybrid engine technology available in all versions.

We tested the Momentum Pro model costing £56,085 (£59,360 with options). This car could sprint from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds and topped out at 137mph, while delivering a combined 37.7-44.1mpg (WLTP) and carbon emissions of 154g/km.

Apart from the additional technology beneath the bonnet, the new XC90 boasts some smart styling upgrades too with a new grille and lower front bumper, redesigned air intakes, new alloy wheels, plus integrated roof rails and dual integrated tailpipes as standard. And customers can choose from some additional colour choices including Thunder Grey, Pebble Grey and Birch Light.

As is the Volvo way, the XC90 has an impressive list of kit fitted as standard, including the Sensus nine-inch multi-media touchscreen, a navigation system, head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera, heated steering wheel, two-zone climate control and heated front seats.

Full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is not a standard fit, but can be added to any XC90 as a £300 retailer fitted accessory or as an upgraded premium sound pack. This was an £850 option on our test car and introduced a pitch perfect Harmon Kardon system to the mix.

Out on the road, the XC90 B5 handled beautifully and to be perfectly honest, the new mild hybrid technology was not noticeable in any way, which is a credit to the engineers as it has slipped seamlessly into the smooth running of the car.

The acceleration was crisp and sharp with ample power on tap for quick bursts of speed when overtaking. The cabin was beautifully hushed against any engine, road surface or wind noise and the car’s highly efficient suspension system does a comprehensive job of smoothing out any uneven surfaces along the way.

The driver can toggle through drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Individual, Dynamic and Off Road that alter the way the car reacts and its always worth remembering that the XC90 has all-wheel drive to keep you moving in more adverse weather and driving conditions.

Comfort levels are sublime with soft Nappa leather upholstery giving the cabin a truly premium feel. And being a fully scaled SUV, the XC90 can accommodate seven occupants and features a wealth of storage options. The boot capacity ranges from 314 litres with all seven seats in use to a whopping 1,868 litres with rows two and three folded flat and there are lots of convenient storage compartments to hide away goodies throughout the car.

Volvo has a well-established and renowned reputation for developing very safe cars and the XC90 is further proof of that know-how. It secured a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and boasts a whole host of driver assistance aids and safety equipment to protect occupants and help prevent accidents happening in the first place.

The company is currently riding on the crest of wave and despite the general downturn in car sales, it is bucking that trend and recorded outstanding global sales figures last year of 600,000-plus units – more than 50,000 of which were in the UK.

And in the first six months of 2019 alone, more than 30,000 UK sales have been clocked up, so it looks like being another bumper year for the Swedish giant.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

It’s a tricky recipe blending seven-seat versatility, dynamic driving capabilities and eye-catching design cues especially when vying for sales in the fiercely competitive SUV sector, but Volvo has found the perfect formula with its latest XC90 model.

It’s the car at the head of the Swedish marque’s line-up and has always been a very capable all-rounder. But the latest generation model raised the bar even further with a choice of engines and transmissions along with three generously-equipped trim levels called Momentum, R-Design and Inscription.

Although most customers will opt for the more economical diesel-powered version, we tested the punchy 2.0-litre 320hp petrol-powered XC90 in Inscription trim. The car is priced from £60,855, but a number of optional extras bumped up the cost to £69,880. Now that is a hefty price to pay and well into BMW, Mercedes and Audi territory, but Volvo is confident it can compete against the German premium brands amongst others.

And it has every right to feel positive as the XC90 is guaranteed to turn heads thanks to its athletic, muscular design. It features a floating grille, roof rails, 19-inch alloys, Thor hammer-effect LED lights at the front with 3D-effect tail lights, tinted windows and plenty more besides.

The interior oozes premium styling and is packed with all the mod cons. There is a fresh, clutter-free layout with a beautiful combination of fine leather upholstery and Scandinavian wood trim. The little touches are there too such as the tiny Swedish flag sewn into the top of the driver’s seat which acts as a gentle reminder to Volvo’s history.

When it comes to on-board technology, the XC90 is packed with all the latest infotainment and connectivity systems available. Creature comforts include the likes of a 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins music system that delivers pitch perfect sound quality, Sensus Navigation with full European mapping and Sensus Connect which allows access to a range of apps and internet browsing, a nine-inch tablet-sized touchscreen, plus smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The fact that another optional extra was a CD player costing £100 may give a little indication to the people buying the XC90 these days.

The heated leather seats offer ample power adjustment and an optional extra on the test car was a Winter Pack costing £525 that added a heated steering wheel, headlight cleaning system, heated front screen and heated washer nozzles.

With its powerful petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the XC90 can sprint from 0-62mph in a rapid 6.5 seconds and tops out at 143mph. On the economy front, it can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 34.9mpg with carbon emissions of 184g/km.

Despite its larger-than-life dimensions – the XC90 measures just shy of five metres in length – the car is beautifully agile and easy to manoeuvre around tight city centre streets. The elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility, although when the third row of seat are upright the headrests do block the view through the rear screen quite a lot.

Another optional extra which is really useful in busy town centres is the Xenium pack costing £1,750. As well as adding a sunroof and 360-degree parking camera, it introduces the Park Assist Pilot system which will let you know if a parking space is suitable (it needs to be 1.2 times the size of the car) and then you do as you’re told and engage the correct gear, accelerate and brake while the vehicle steers itself perfectly into position.

But it’s out on the faster lanes and motorways that the XC90 really comes alive. The acceleration through the gears is smooth and responsive as it eats up the Tarmac. The road-holding is ultra-grippy and there is minimal body lean even when pushed hard into long bends. It feels beautifully refined with barely a sound from the engine filtering through to the cabin and the highly efficient suspension irons out many of the uneven surfaces along the way. Drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Off Road, Dynamic and Individual alter the car’s handling with the dynamic setting really sharpening things up.

Comfort levels are excellent and a couple of adults can actually fit quite easily in the pair of rear seats if necessary, but in reality, they will normally be a place for youngsters to travel.

Being a family SUV, the XC90 needs to be practical and it certainly ticks all the boxes on that count with a boot capacity ranging from 314 litres to a whopping 1,868 litres with seat rows two and three folded flat. The powered tailgate is a plus-factor when approaching the car laden down with shopping bags and there are a number of convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the car to safely keep bits and bobs safely tucked away from view.

As is the norm with Volvos, the all-wheel-drive XC90 is packed with safety features and driver aids. In fact, at launch back in 2015 Volvo described the XC90 as “the safest Volvo they had ever made”. All XC90 models are fitted with City Safety which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking including at junctions which is a world first in a car.

There is also Pilot Assist with Adaptive Cruise Control which offers semi-autonomous driving taking care of the steering up to 80mph. The car accelerates, brakes and steers to keep the car within its lane markings and at the desired speed.

All in all, the XC90 is a fantastic all-rounder and is a worthy flagship model at the top of the company’s growing XC line-up. If a smaller version is on the wish-list then check out the all-new XC40.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Momentum

Simply mention the Volvo name and it instantly conjures up images of cars that are safe, reliable and richly equipped with all the latest gizmos, but the latest twin engine version of the new XC90 SUV has been greeted with excited anticipation – especially from young executives with a glut of company cars to choose from.

That’s because the T8 Twin engine model of this very practical and upmarket seven-seater brings with it some remarkable financial savings. If for example, you are a company car owner who pays 40 per cent tax you could be looking at savings that run into thousands of pounds because the Benefit in Kind rating for the XC90 T8 is five per cent. That translates into a payment of just over £1,200 per year compared to standard SUVs that carry a hefty £6.5k annual bill.

In addition, companies opting for the entry-level Momentum trim priced from £60,455 (excluding the Government’s plug-in car grant) will see up to £11,470 corporation tax relief.

And the money-saving appeal continues when it comes to running costs too because the T8 is a plug-in vehicle powered by a 320bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine plus a rear mounted 87bhp electric motor and can run up to 27 miles in electric-only mode on a full charge. In fact, the official combined economy figure is a whopping 134.5mpg, but few drivers will ever see anywhere close to that sort of efficiency in the real world and if driven over lengthy distances in a more powerful driving mode, the fuel gauge will drop quite dramatically. That’s why buyers must carefully weigh up their needs and if motorway miles make up most of the working week then the D5 diesel powered model would be far more practical.

The stylish XC90 is beautifully designed with sweeping lines and an athletic stance. Eye-catching features include a large distinctive floating grille which houses the Volvo badge, a panoramic sunroof, tinted windows, a powered tailgate, smart alloys, Thor hammer-effect LED headlights with active high beam and 3D-effect tail lights.

Move inside the cabin and the car radiates premium quality at every turn. The super-comfy leather seats can be heated as can the steering wheel and there are some neat design features such as linear walnut inlays, multi-colour theatre lighting, rear footwell and side step illumination and plenty more besides.

The on-board technology is sophisticated, plentiful and, unlike on some rival models, very easy to operate. Many of the functions are controlled via a nine-inch tablet-like touchscreen, which despite being a tad prone to fingerprint smudges, is a simple and very practical way to navigate the car’s on-board systems.

Techno treats include a head-up display, excellent sound system, powered seats, Sensus Navigation with full European mapping, Sensus Connect to access a range of web apps and browse the internet, Volvo On Call with app which is available for smartphones, smartwatch or iPad and allows you to control various functions remotely and also acts as an emergency and tracking service, voice control and even Park Assist Pilot for automatic parallel and bay parking.

And when it comes to driving dynamics, handling and performance the T8 ticks all the right boxes. It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in just 5.6 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. Carbon emissions are 49g/km.

There are numerous driving modes to choose from such as ‘AWD’ which offers extra grip; ‘Save’ which preserves the battery charge for later; ‘Pure’ for eco driving; ‘Hybrid’ for everyday use; ‘Power’ for sporty handling and ‘Off-Road’ for the rougher stuff.

Depending on the mode chosen, the instrumentation panel alters to offer relevant driver feedback. So if the XC90 is being driven in Hybrid mode it will display charge and power output details, but in Power mode the more traditional rev counter is restored.

It has to be said, the latest XC90 is a magnificent piece of kit that drives beautifully and offers outstanding comfort levels – even the two rear seats are practically sized and can easily be accessed. The acceleration through the eight-speed automatic transmission is both smooth and responsive and there is a constant supply of power on tap at all times.

Despite its size, there is next-to-no body roll into tight bends and the cabin environment is well insulated against any engine, road surface or wind noise.

And of course, being a Volvo, it is packed with all the safety features you can think of and at £60,850 including a number of options and the Government grant; the XC90 T8 is quite the all-round package.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 D5 AWD R-Design

Volvo’s latest generation luxury SUV XC90 model has been greeted with the highest praise wherever it goes and now the Swedish manufacturer has just released a new, sportier addition to the already impressive line-up … and it’s guaranteed to turn heads.

That’s because the stunning R-Design model radiates a truly dynamic and athletic appearance with a number of distinguishing features, such as integrated dual tailpipes, silver roof rails and mirror covers, 22-inch R-Design alloy wheels, a front spoiler, silk metal window trim and specially-designed grille.

Step inside and once again the sporty characteristics of the car are instantly clear to see and explore. These include R-Design sports seats in Nappa soft leather, a premium Bowers and Wilkins sound system, aluminium pedals, a nine-inch colour touchscreen that works like a tablet to control the car’s settings, temperature, navigation and multi-media, R-Design carbon fibre inlays and plenty more besides.

In addition the car supplied for my test drive boasted a Winter Pack with Head-Up Display, priced at £1,025, which added the windscreen display to help keep a watchful eye on speed etc. It also introduced heated front seats and heated washer nozzles.

Another pack on the XC90 was an Intellisafe Pro Pack to add adaptive cruise control with distance alert, queue assist, lane keeping aid, blind spot information with cross traffic alert and rear collision mitigation. This cost an extra £1,500.

Finally, the Xenium Pack priced at £2,000, introduced a powered panoramic sunroof, parking camera with 360-degree surround view and park assist pilot.

Admittedly, these optional packs along with some other add-ons bumped up the asking price from £49,285 to £63,330 which is clearly a lot of cash to splash out on a new car. But the XC90 is competing in the high-end premium market where all the rivals come with lots of zeros after the pound sign.

So the XC90 R-Design certainly looks the business and is packed to bursting with class-leading technology, but what about performance and driving dynamics? Well, once again the car is a complete winner on all counts.

Despite its larger-than-life dimensions, the vehicle is beautifully nimble and easy to manoeuvre and that means it makes light work of meandering through busy city centre traffic with cars coming at you from all directions.

The all-round visibility is excellent and the comfort levels exceptionally high. In addition, the XC90 is a true seven-seater. There are two individual rear seats that fold flat to the boot floor, but they are easily accessed and the occupants actually have room for their legs (unlike on some rival models).

The cabin is bright and cheery thanks to the light that floods through the large windows and the panoramic sunroof. And on cold, frosty mornings the XC90 is a very welcome sight indeed. That’s because the front and rear seats heat up instantly and the any ice soon disappears from the screen. And of course, the reassurance of all-wheel-drive is priceless when there’s a sprinkling of snow on the ground.

The 2.0-litre, 225bhp diesel engine delivers all the power you need as the car accelerates smoothly and responsively through the eight-speed automatic gearbox and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles along with a choice of driving modes if you want to take a little more control over matters. Dynamic mode is guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

The road-holding is outstanding and the suspension irons out the bumps and dips along the way, while the cabin remains nicely hushed apart from a little wind sound from the large door mirrors.

The XC90 is certainly no slouch and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 137mph. According to official figures it can achieve combined fuel economy of 48.7mpg with carbon emissions of 152g/km.

But for me, it’s not just the performance, comfort, technology and practicality that make the XC90 such a great car – it’s the simple things that Volvo does incredibly well. Features such as the Active High Beam headlights which means you can leave the main beam on and the car automatically dips it when necessary. Then there is the windscreen wash that comes directly from the wipers so there are fewer smears across the screen, the simple-to-use touchscreen, the powered tailgate, the easily programmable sat nav – I could go on and on.

To sum up, the XC90 is a superb all-rounder. It looks fabulous, drives beautifully, is packed with techno treats and as one would expect from Volvo, it’s as safe as houses too.

Test drive

Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Momentum

There’s no denying the success of Volvo’s outstanding XC90 SUV, but the latest generation model really ups the ante and is proving to be a worthy rival to the premium marques.

The XC90 first graced our roads back in 2002 and since then has gained a loyal following, but even die-hard fans would have to admit it had become a little dated and jaded round the edges.

There are no such issues with the new seven-seater version though thanks to a truly distinctive exterior that features rugged sporty looks that combine beautifully with the upmarket and generously equipped interior which is packed with state-of-the-art technology even on the entry-level Momentum model supplied for the two-week test drive.

The five-door car looks stunning from any approach thanks to its athletic and elegant streamlining, chunky floating grille, roof rails, 3D-effect tail lights, a powered tailgate and tinted windows. It was also supplied in a bright Ice White shade which sort of lost its glossy glow after 750 miles of wet, windy and wintry driving conditions!

The upmarket interior is spacious and boasts the finest materials to help create a luxurious environment for all occupants. There are heated leather seats that can be electrically adjusted with three memory settings to find the perfect driving position, a heated steering wheel to beat off the winter chill, a head-up display and 4-Zone electronic climate control including a cooled glovebox.

There is a pitch perfect 19-speaker sound system that connects effortlessly with a smartphone and a nine-inch colour touchscreen that is very similar to a tablet to control music, temperature, sat nav, settings and much more besides. It is thanks to this touchscreen that the car seems so clutter-free but still maintains such a rich variety of on-board technology.

The XC90 is extremely practical and family orientated with three rows of theatre-style seating. The two individual rear seats remain folded flat to the boot floor until needed and can quickly and easily be utilised. In addition, Volvo has incorporated thinner seat backs, which means there is extra leg room for passengers who can all travel in comfort.

And when it comes to performance, the vehicle is an absolute delight to drive. It sprints from 0-62mph in a rapid 7.8 seconds and redlines at 137mph. According to official figures, it can deliver combined fuel economy of 49.6mpg (I was seeing an average of 36.9mpg at the end of the fortnight test) and carbon emissions of 149g/km.

But for me, it’s the manner in which the XC90 performs that really exceeded all expectations.  The steering was beautifully precise, the road-holding very assured and there was always ample power on tap to overtake at short notice. In and around town the elevated driving position and excellent all-round visibility was of great benefit and the car is actually deceptively agile for its size.

Then out on the faster country lanes and motorways, the acceleration and handling was flawless.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox was both smooth and responsive and the 2.0-litre 225bhp diesel-driven engine delivered all the power and bite needed along the way. If I were being picky, then I would have liked the option of steering wheel-mounted paddles to take a little extra control now and again, but that aside, the car was a true gem.

Obviously, the Volvo name is immediately associated with safety and the all-wheel-drive XC90 is packed to bursting with technology to help prevent accidents and protect both occupants and pedestrians. Systems included adaptive cruise control, queue assist, lane keeping aid, blind spot information with cross traffic alert, rear collision mitigation and much more besides.

Another factor that is worthy of note are the exceptional headlights. When driving along poorly lit lanes the automatic high beam dips and adjusts in a fraction of a second leaving the driver to concentrate on the road ahead. This works perfectly with the active bending headlights to illuminate the verges and any obstructions on dark nights.

Admittedly the asking price of £45,750 (£51,275 with options) is not exactly cheap, but the XC90 is up against the likes of the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Range Rover which all come with hefty price-tags of their own.

All in all, the latest XC90 is a fantastic car and is clear proof that Volvo is ready, willing and certainly very capable of competing against the premium big guns from the German marques and indeed, those from closer to home.

Test drive

Volvo XC90 (2015) – first drive

It may have been a very long time coming, but the all-new Volvo XC90 SUV has certainly been well worth the wait.

I must confess to being a die-hard fan of the XC90 since it first made an appearance back in 2002, so it was with a mixed sense of trepidation and excitement that I awaited the new arrival.

I was treated to a glimpse of the car at last year’s Paris Motor Show which quashed my fears slightly, but to be honest it’s always difficult to form a rock-solid opinion until you get behind the steering wheel and drive a car. And thankfully the latest XC90 lives up to all the hype.

It is priced from £45,750 to £63,705 and has a completely fresh design with much more streamlining and attention to detail.

There is a host of state-of-the-art on-board technology with an extremely modern feel and there is also the introduction of the company’s latest highly-efficient four cylinder Drive-E petrol and diesel engines to choose from.

At launch, all UK models will have all-wheel-drive, seven seats and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

There are two trim levels to choose from – Momentum and Inscription – which both have very distinctive styling traits making them instantly recognisable. A third trim level called R-Design will be introduced at the end of the year.

In a world where price-tags are often cranked up by a whole array of expensive optional extras, the Volvo XC90 is richly-equipped as standard. That said; there are six additional add-on options such as a Winter or Family Pack that can be introduced if required.

Obviously it goes without saying first impressions are vitally important and the XC90 doesn’t disappoint in the slightest with its elegant sporty and sculpted streamlining, a floating grille with stand-out Volvo emblem, smart alloys, roof rails and tinted windows.

Another stand-out feature is the fantastic light clusters that feature Thor hammer-effect LED lights at the front and 3D taillights – making the car easily recognisable from either end.

Step inside the car and the interior is pure class incorporating natural materials such as the finest soft leathers, crystal glass and Scandinavian wood. There is even a small Swedish flag sewn into the driver’s seat as a gentle reminder of the car’s heritage.

The instrumentation is all-new in its design and layout with a tablet-styled touchscreen that is very easy to operate. It’s fast and efficient with all features just one touch away. And there are techno treats galore to be explored such as the 19-speaker sound system, air vents that automatically close to prevent pollen coming in, a head-up display offering speed, navigation, phone and road sign information. To be honest the list of creature comforts seems endless.

And as one would expect, safety specifications are thoroughly comprehensive. In fact, Volvo claims the XC90 is the “safest Volvo they have ever made”. As well as the more instantly-recognisable systems, an Intellisafe Pro Pack costing an extra £1,500 introduces adaptive cruise control with distance alert, queue assist, lane keeping aid, blind spot information with cross-traffic alert and rear collision mitigation.

Volvo expects the D5 diesel model to account for about 75 per cent of sales so that was our first test car in Inscription trim level priced at £61,380, which included more than £11k worth of optional extras and packs. This particular model can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed of 137mph. According to official figures it can achieve fuel economy of 49.6mpg on a combined run with carbon emissions of 149g/km.

The XC90 looks amazing from any approach with a stylish and very modern stance. It seems less aggressive than the outgoing XC90 but still maintains its powerful footing.

The interior features theatre-style seating which along with the introduction of thinner seat backs means there is ample room for two adults to sit comfortably in the third row.

And when extra carrying space is needed rows two and three can quickly be folded flat to the floor.

All of the car’s instrumentation has been simplified to offer a clutter-free interior with as much on-board technology as you could wish for.

In fact, it’s only when you get behind the wheel of the new XC90 that you realise just how dated its predecessor had become.

And when it comes to performance, the vehicle is an absolute dream to drive. The 2.0-litre diesel-powered engine delivers ample power and acceleration and the gearbox is beautifully smooth and responsive.

The road-holding is excellent and the vehicle feels more sure-footed than previous models meaning tight bends can be attacked and conquered with ease.

There is a little engine noise if pushed particularly hard, but other than that the car was a delight to drive.

Next up was the T6 petrol model in Momentum trim priced at £49,205 (£53,430 with options fitted).

This model can reach 62mph from a standing start in 6.5 seconds and tops out at 143mph. It can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 36.7mpg with carbon emissions of 179g/km.

Once again the test car was an absolute pleasure to drive. It seemed a little edgier than its diesel counterpart and the engine noise was slightly quieter, but for those qualities there is a price to pay on the economy front.

However at the end of the day, buyers will have their own specific criteria and requirements when choosing a particular model, but one thing is guaranteed – the pure joy the all-new XC90 will bring.

All in all, the latest XC90 is a fantastic piece of kit that oozes quality, style and sophistication. It certainly propels Volvo into the premium market and will easily compete with the likes of Land Rover, Audi and BMW for sales.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Geartronic Executive

It’s out with the old and in with the new at Volvo. For not only is the Swedish giant introducing a range of eco-friendly engines to its line-up, but the ever-popular XC90 is being given a whole new look.

With its bold, beefy design and go-anywhere capabilities, the XC90 originally made its debut back in 2002 but it is due to be replaced by a much more streamlined and sleeker model that was unveiled at the recent Paris Motor Show.

So it seemed like a perfect opportunity to take to the open road in the model that has attracted so many fans in the motoring world throughout the years and has sold more than 636,000 units in its 12-year history.

My test car featured the instantly-recognisable upright XC90 design ethic with the vertical taillight clusters, roof rails, 19-inch alloys, split-tailgate, sunroof, dark tinted windows and larger-than-life character.

Once inside, it’s difficult not to be wowed by the rich level of technology that greets you.

There is a somewhat simplified layout with all dials, controls and instrumentation perfectly positioned for ease of use.

The test car costing £45,715 (plus £5,345 optional extras) was the Executive specification and that meant sublime luxury at every turn with the finest leather and materials helping to create a sophisticated and elegant cabin environment. There were walnut trim inlays, ventilated soft leather seats with a massage function, a premium audio system which is compatible with all modern media devices and integrated sat nav.

Additional creature comforts included a soft-touch dashboard, dual-zone air con, cruise control, a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, parking sensors and lots more besides.

One of the added extras was the Polestar Performance Optimisation – this collaboration between Volvo’s Racing Team (Polestar) and Volvo Car Corporation’s powertrain department has resulted in an upgrade in engine power to 210bhp without affecting the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

In fact, despite its larger-than-life dimensions, the XC90 can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in an impressive 10.3 seconds and tops out at 127mph.

The acceleration is both smooth and controlled through the six-speed automatic transmission with a constant supply of power on tap.

Another bonus is the excellent all-round visibility thanks to the high seated driving position.

Admittedly, there is a little noise from the 2.4-litre diesel-powered engine, but it’s only really noticeable if the car is pushed quite hard.

That aside though, comfort levels are superb and a trio of back seat passengers can stretch out in true style with plenty of leg, head and elbow space.

The boot can easily accommodate four or five large suitcases and split-folding rear seats means the capacity can be increased even further to 1,837 litres.

As one would expect, the XC90 comes fitted with a comprehensive array of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability and traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, blind spot monitoring system and numerous airbags.

Volvo describes its XC90 as masculine in design but not macho and despite its muscular and robust characteristics, it certainly has a softer side too. It will be very interesting to see how the new generation model lives up to such high expectations. Watch this space!

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 D5 R-Design Premium

Mention the words luxury SUV and the Volvo XC90 always springs to mind with its incredible performance credentials matched only by the level of luxurious creature comforts at your disposal.

Since it was introduced in 2002 as the Swedish giant’s first venture into SUV territory, the XC90 has gathered a very loyal fan base and continues to do so at a regular pace.

First impressions are vital and this vehicle delivers on all counts with a perfect blend of rugged, I-mean-business design combined with smart alloys, tinted windows, a power sunroof and plenty more besides.

The driver benefits from a very high seated position which means excellent all-round visibility and the levels of comfort within the cabin are incredibly high with heated premium leather seats, a fantastic audio system compatible with all the modern music devices, dual-zone climate control and much more besides.

The cabin is extremely spacious for all occupants and rear seat passengers have ample leg, head and elbow space to travel in comfort for long journeys.

The boot is generously sized and houses the extra two places that can quickly transform the vehicle from a five to seven-seater. Elsewhere, there are plenty of alternative storage spaces for all your bits and bobs.

The ride is very smooth and during my week-long test drive the XC90 was put through its paces during some extremely windy conditions, but came through unscathed. In fact, despite gusts of more than 70mph, the sturdy Volvo held its ground with ease. It’s these sort of performance stats that are testament to the vehicle’s build quality.

Despite its size the XC90 proved fairly agile and was quite easy to manoeuvre in and around built up city centre traffic and that excellent all-round visibility, combined with parking sensors and a rear parking camera made squeezing into tight spaces a complete breeze.

But, for me, it was out on the faster roads that the XC90 really came alive with its 2.4-litre diesel-powered engine delivering plenty of acceleration as it eased its way smoothly through the automatic transmission.

And don’t forget it boasts admirable off-roading capabilities too.

The test model could reach from 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds, had a top speed of 127mph and combined fuel economy of 34mpg.

The on-the-road price was £41,560, although optional extras increased the asking price to £44,965.

As one might expect, Volvo has fitted an array of very comprehensive safety features to the XC90 such as anti-lock brakes, numerous airbags, dynamic stability and traction control, roll stability control and lots, lots more.

And it’s this abundance of quality features that helps to make the XC90 stand out from the crowd as one of the greatest vehicles around in the premium SUV market.

Test Drive

Volvo XC90 D5 SE Sport

I was once lucky enough to take a Volvo XC90 around a man-made assault course in Sweden cut out of ice and it was on that day that I became a big fan of this powerful vehicle.

Admittedly, there were no such challenges during my week-long test drive this time, but I was still just as impressed.

This refined sports utility vehicle really is a class leader and has made such an impression that even sales in the US have soared in recent years.

You see, the XC90 provides the perfect blend of saloon-style creature comforts with the power and off-roading capabilities of a rugged 4×4 to deliver the ideal all-rounder.

Sadly, not many XC90 buyers will dare to take their pride and joy off-road and risk getting it dirty, but if you are brave enough, you won’t be disappointed – that’s a promise.

The model supplied for my test drive was the D5 SE Sport which was crammed to the roof with first class specifications and state-of-the-art technology.

Features included soft leather seats, a very efficient air con system which even has individual settings for the third row occupants, a brilliant sound system and comprehensive sat nav.

There are even dark tinted windows to add to that sense of mystery within and as one would expect from Volvo, the safety spec is exceptional too.

The drive itself was exhilarating with deceptively agile handling in and around town where parking and manoeuvrability were made all the easier thanks to the excellent all-round visibility and high seated driving position.

Then out on the more open road, the XC90 bursts into life with awesome power and finesse. The 2.4-litre engine delivered-plenty of oomph and the six-speed automatic transmission was very smooth and efficient too.

To be honest, this is the sort of vehicle where you want to turn off the sat nav and take the long route because the only disappointment really is reaching your destination too soon and it’s not often that’s the case.

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