It’s been three years since Volvo’s flagship SUV arrived in the U.S. and who knew that it would signal a major rebirth for the brand. Its bolder styling, elegant and sophisticated interior and unique engine options made it stand out. Three years later and the XC90 still manages to hold its own in the crowded midsize SUV segment. Why does everyone need an X5, Q7 or Cayenne when Volvo builds something this excellent?
Well yes there are few things that the XC90 could improve on, but its overall package is what matters. But if you must know, here you go. For starters the turbocharged and supercharged 2.0L four-cylinder in the XC60 T6 could be a be a little smoother and some of its sounds do sound a bit awkward at times, but that’s why you opt for the Bowers & Wilkins sound system. On paper the XC90 T6 packs 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque, but with a bunch of kids and their gear stuffed in the back, the XC90 feels like it could use a few more horses. You could opt for the more powerful 400-hp T8 plug-in hybrid, but be prepared to drain the bank account. At the cheaper end, there’s the XC90 T5 with its 250-hp turbocharged 2.0L.
The XC90 T6 does offer five different driving modes that alter the throttle and settings for the eight-speed automatic transmission. Dynamic mode is your go to choice if you want a sportier experience. If you’re wondering how fuel efficient the XC90 is, the XC90 T6 is rated at 20/27 mpg.
When the road gets a little less than perfect, the suspension tries its best to quiet the bumps, but some do manage to throw the ride off a bit. But on the flip side, the XC90 has very little body roll, which is great given the fact that it has 9.3-inches of ground clearance and there’s adequate feedback from the electric power steering system.
But beyond that, there’s much more to love than hate with the 2018 Volvo XC90. Its styling is both muscular and elegant. It looks strong going down the road, but with a sophisticated touch. Inside the XC90’s interior is spacious, its seats coddle you and if you opt for the real walnut wood trim, the interior feels more modern and spa-like than you’d expect in a family SUV. The XC90 does offer three rows of seats, but like in most three-row SUVs, the third-row is best left for the children.
The driver and front passenger have the best seats in the house, with the available massaging seats that are perfect after a long day at the office. The modern dashboard is also dominated by a 12.3-inch digital display in front of the driver and a 9-inch vertical touchscreen that controls most of the functions. The infotainment system can be a bit slow at times and although putting all of the controls in the touchscreen makes the dash look cleaner, it can be a bit distracting.
It wouldn’t be a Volvo review if we didn’t mention safety and just like the rest of the Volvo lineup, the XC90 is packed with safety features. The long list of features includes parking sensors, a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic braking. The new Pilot Assist feature essentially turns the XC90 into a semi-autonomous vehicle. The system has the ability to steer, brake and accelerate within a chosen lane on the highway and requires very little feedback from the driver. Keep a few fingers on the steering wheel at all times, turn the massaging seats on and just relax while the XC90 drives down the road.
Pricing for the 2018 Volvo XC90 starts at $46,900 and goes all the way up to $104,900 if you choose the Excellence trim level. Volvo hasn’t announced its new subscription based Care by Volvo program for the XC90, but it will happen eventually, since all Volvos will soon be offered with it.
So there you have it, the 2018 Volvo XC90 continues to lead the pack in the crowded luxury SUV segment. It’s not as sporty as a Cayenne, but you can’t fit seven passengers in Porsche’s SUV. The X5 does have a three row option, but it doesn’t look as sophisticated and modern as the Volvo.