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2019 Volvo XC90 Review

Oct 13, 2018
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Despite a top-notch interior and loads of standard safety features, the 2019 Volvo XC90 is relegated to the bottom half of the very competitive luxury midsize SUV class. Its performance trails that of many rivals, and it has a below-average predicted reliability rating.

Is the Volvo XC90 a Good SUV?

Don’t let the lower ranking fool you, the XC90 is a fine SUV. It gets top marks among luxury midsize SUVs for its stylish, upscale cabin and ample space for passenger and cargo. Its third row is somewhat cramped, but that’s the case for most 3-row SUVs of this size. The XC90’s performance is best described as uninspiring, especially with the base engine, which feels underpowered for most situations. Although two available engines deliver more muscle, the driving experience is hampered by an unrefined transmission. The XC90 also eschews handling excitement for stable and poised, if somewhat blasé, handling.

Should I Buy the Volvo XC90?

2019 XC90 prioritizes quality, value, and practicality. This Volvo’s base price is below average for the class, but it boasts one of the nicest interiors and commendable space for passengers and cargo. A healthy list of standard features doesn’t hurt its bang-for-your-buck appeal, either. Still, there are lots of better choices in this class. The Audi Q7 is one of the most well-rounded examples, combining luxury and interior space with high-end performance. The Mercedes-Benz GLE has great safety and predicted reliability ratings, along with a comfortable cabin and tons of features.

Should I Buy a New or Used Volvo XC90?

For 2019, the Volvo XC90 gains standard seven-passenger seating. Prior to this model year, you could get the XC90 in two- or three-row configurations. Automatic emergency braking became standard 2019, and a Harman Kardon was added to the options list. If these new features don’t matter that much to you, consider shopping for an otherwise identical 2018 XC90. You’ll also likely save thousands of dollars in the process. A 2018 model is a better choice than a 2017 XC90, though. For 2018, the XC90 gained lots of features standard, including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

We analyzed 34 Volvo XC90 reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2019 XC90 is the right new car for you. This 2019 Volvo XC90 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2019 model years.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Volvo XC90 Cost?

The 2019 Volvo XC90 starts at $47,200, which is below average for the luxury midsize SUV class. Prices start as high as $61,750 for Inscription versions. You’ll pay far more for the XC90 Plug-in Hybrid, with prices ranging from $66,300 to about $105,000 for the four-seat Excellence model.

Volvo XC90 Versus the Competition

The Audi Q7 is one of the class leaders for overall performance. It has the sporty handling of a smaller vehicle, and both of its engine options deliver sufficient power. The Audi’s standard all-wheel drive provides better road grip and driver confidence. Both of these SUVs have luxurious cabins and a ton of standard and available features, but the XC90 offers a little more in the way of cargo space and third-row passenger room. Still, that’s not enough to recommend the Volvo over the Audi.

The XC90 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE offer many of the same strengths, but there are some key differences. If you’re attracted to the XC90 for its three-row capacity, cross this Benz off your list because it only seats five. However, the GLE makes the most of its space, offering ample room for passengers and nearly as much cargo space as the XC90. We named the GLE our 2018 Best Luxury 2-Row SUV for Families because of its combination of space, family-friendly features, and positive reviews from critics. Both of these SUVs have impeccable cabins with top-notch stylings. Although each SUV has a muted based engine and more powerful options, the XC90’s handling is a little more well-rounded. Since these SUVs are so similar, your choice will come down to personal preference.

XC90 Interior

The Volvo XC90 SUV seats seven people across three rows. Prior to the 2019 model year, you could get the XC90 in five- or seven-passenger configurations. The whole cabin feels open and airy with loads of comfort and support. The first two rows of seats might be some of the best in the class, but the third row is best left to children or smaller adult passengers. The range-topping XC90 Excellence is a four-seat model that’s designed to be used as a chauffeured SUV. All four seats feature heating, ventilation, and massaging functions, while the expansive back seats have footrests and tray tables. The rear center console features a beverage cooler, two crystal glasses, and a dedicated touch screen to control many of the car’s functions.

The Volvo XC90 has two complete sets of second-row LATCH connections, along with a tether anchor for the middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the system a rating of Acceptable for ease of use, noting that the lower anchors are set too deep in the seat. The middle-seat tether anchor could also be confused for other hardware on the back of the seat.

The XC90 impresses with its sleek cabin and top-notch interior materials. Most surfaces are covered in leather, and real wood trim pieces further distinguish the XC90’s interior as one of the nicest in this segment.

The XC90 has more cargo room than nearly every other SUV in the luxury midsize SUV class. There’s 15.8 cubic feet of space behind the last row of seats, and 41.8 cubic feet with the third row folded down. With both the second and third rows folded, the XC90 offers an excellent 85.7 cubic feet of space. A hands-free liftgate is standard.

The XC90’s standard 9-inch touch screen sits vertically on the dashboard, and it’s more reminiscent of a tablet than an infotainment screen. This screen controls most of the car’s cabin functions, including adjusting the temperature, and there’s a small row of physical buttons and knobs below the touch screen that allow you to quickly adjust the audio system.

Volvo’s Sensus interface is very responsive, but it requires a little getting used to. You’ll need to go through multiple menus to access some functions. Highlights of the long standard features list include satellite radio, navigation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Audiophiles will want to check out either of the premium stereos available from Harman Kardon or Bowers & Wilkins.

XC90 Performance

You’ll have your choice of three engines with the 2019 Volvo XC90. First up is the T5 model, which comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 250 horsepower. That’s not a lot of power for an SUV of this size, and you’ll probably find its acceleration mediocre at best. This is the only model that has standard front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is optional. The other two powertrains come standard with AWD.

The T6 comes with a twin-charged (turbocharged and supercharged) four-cylinder engine that makes 316 horsepower. It’s much better suited to daily driving since it can accelerate quickly from a stop and get up to cruising speeds with no issue. Lastly, the XC90 T8 has a plug-in hybrid powertrain that pairs the inline-four twin-charged engine with an electric motor to produce a combined 400 horsepower. The electric assistance helps propel the T8 off the line with authority, though some critics lament the unrefined transitions between the electric and gasoline engines.

All XC90 models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s OK, but it sometimes hesitates to downshift, struggles to find the right gear, and occasionally shifts harshly.

The 2019 XC90 with its standard engine and front-wheel drive gets an EPA-rated 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are pretty good for the class. Mileage drops to 19/26 mpg city/highway with the midrange twin-charged engine. The XC90 Plug-in Hybrid gets 58 MPGe combined city/highway. It can go 17 miles on electric-only power.

The 2018 Audi Q7 gets 19/25 mpg city/highway with both of its engine options, while the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE can only manage up to 18/23 mpg. The XC90 plug-in is more efficient than the GLE550e plug-in and its 43 MPGe combined. The GLE hybrid has an electric-only range of just 8 miles.

The XC90 doesn’t masquerade as a sporty SUV, or even as a fun one. Its focus is on blending a comfortable ride with confident handling. You can easily maneuver through tight turns or take swooping corners with poise. There’s not much feedback from the road, but the XC90 stays planted around turns with minimal body roll.

XC90 Reliability

At the time of this writing, the 2019 Volvo XC90 does not have a predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power. The similar 2018 XC90 has a below-average score of 2.5 out of five.

Volvo covers the XC90 with a four-year/50,000-mile new car limited warranty. Those terms are similar to what you’ll find on most luxury vehicles.

XC90 Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2019 XC90 a five-star overall crash test rating. The XC90 gets five out five stars in the frontal and side crash tests, and four stars in the rollover test.

The XC90 is a leader in its segment when it comes to standard and optional advanced safety features.

Every XC90 comes with a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, following distance indicator, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, driver attention monitoring, and speed limit recognition. You also get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, oncoming collision mitigation, and pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection. Some of those features make up the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving function.

Which Volvo XC90 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Volvo XC90 offers three powertrain options and four trim levels, though not every combination is possible. First, pick from the 250-horsepower turbocharged T5, the 316-horsepower turbo- and supercharged T6, or the plug-in hybrid T8. We recommend the T6 Momentum, which has standard all-wheel drive and a nice mixture of price, performance, and standard features.

The 2019 Volvo XC90 starts at $47,200 for the base T5 Momentum with front-wheel drive (add $2,200 for AWD). The T6 Momentum is $55,700, and the T8 Momentum costs $66,300.

Standard features include leatherette upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a panoramic moonroof, four-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, a hands-free liftgate, and a slew of safety features. The standard 9-inch touch-screen infotainment system features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a 10-speaker sound system, and satellite radio.

The XC90 R-Design has a sportier appearance, with interior and exterior styling upgrades. Prices start at $54,450 for the T5, $60,650 for the T6, and $71,250 for the T8. The R-Design also adds features like a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, adaptive headlights, paddle shifters, and Nappa leather upholstery.

The XC90 Excellence is a four-seat executive-style model that only comes with the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain. Starting at around $105,000, the Excellence model features a rear beverage cooler, second-row massaging seats, foot rests and tray tables, two crystal glasses, and a touch screen in the rear center console.

Check out Car Dealer Now for great savings at your local Volvo dealer.

Bottom Line

The 2019 Volvo XC90 sticks out among luxury SUVs for its nearly unrivaled interior quality. Tons of cargo and passenger space make it a great choice for families, and good fuel economy means the XC90 is a capable commuting partner as well. However, many class rivals fare better in performance or offer more user-friendly features.

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