The all-new Volvo XC90 is a mighty, yet manageable, motor. In entry-level Momentum trim – and when I say ‘entry-level’ I mean the Volvo definition of ‘entry-level’ at £50,000 including options – it is a car for all reasons and all seasons. As luck would have it, the car’s arrival coincided with a DriveWrite break, so a few days away with the family unit ensued.
Let’s Talk Luggage
Why do the ladies of my family need to take so much with them for such a short time? Now, before some feminist group comes around and fire-bombs my toolbox, I want to be absolutely clear about this. I want it known that I do not mean this in any sort of disparaging or sexist way: it comes from a loving, inclusive and non-judgemental perspective. But why?
When questioned, responses range from, “The weather in this country changes from day to day and you just don’t know what to take” to “You’re supposed to be the Master Packer, get on with it”. I’m pleased to report then that the Volvo XC90 was up to the task.
Suitcases. Bedding. Cold bags. The million-and-one small carriers that appear out of the blue containing shoes and beach apparel and miscellaneous hair products and buckets and spades. It all went in the huge boot (with the third row seats down) that offers a capacity of 1102 litres. With all seven seats in situ there’s still 451 litres which would be good enough for a ‘normal’ family. Any lesser vehicle and the trip would have required two cars.
The 5½ year old absolutely loved sitting in the third row ‘terrorist’ class seats were she could chant ‘Are we nearly there yet’ with impunity. At a pinch, you could get a couple of adults in the surprisingly comfy rumble seats that fold flat into the floor, but really they are for children. Here’s a handy tip though: do not specify the fab blond leather upholstery if children are involved. Leather, yes certainly; blond leather, no. That’s all I’m saying.
There’s easily space for five adults in the roomy cabin. It’s a Volvo, so it goes without saying that the XC90 is very comfortable. Two adults had ample space thanks to genuine legroom in the second row despite the presence of a child safety seat.
The driver sits atop this lofty eminence and rules the road. Visibility is clear all around and the stand-out feature has got to be the 360°Surround View parking camera (see image). How brilliant is this? The XC90 is one of the biggest SUVs on the road yet it can be reversed into the tightest of spaces with ease. An outstanding and valuable must-have feature that’s part of the large 12.3” portrait format central screen. This has touch controls for most items, augmented by steering wheel buttons. Navigation directions are offered clearly both on the console screen and in the driver’s eye on the dashboard. It didn’t put a wheel wrong on a long convoluted journey.
Add to this the usual collection of Swedish safety features – see the specification below – and this has to be one of the safest cars on the road. As you’d expect from a Volvo, the XC90 comes with an extensive list of safety equipment. It was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP, as well as an impressive ninety-seven percent score for adult occupant protection. There are airbags along the length of the cabin, all-round cameras and automatic emergency braking.
I like that these important driver aids are unobtrusive. Try changing lanes without indicating and the steering wheel gives you a gentle nudge as a reminder to watch your step and not to try anything stupid like that again in future.
The only exception is the collision mitigation warning. If the car believes for a moment that you are too close to the vehicle in front, it starts displaying a series of red lights in the heads-up position. Ignore this at your peril because if you get too close (in the opinion of the car) a klaxon goes off with enough volume to awaken Sleeping Beauty.
There’s a lot of additional kit available if you work your way up through the trim levels and option list but, in my view, a lot of what is available is superfluous unless you really like spending money. I don’t see the point of Multicolour Theatre Lighting for example. In Momentum trim plus the parking camera, the superbly designed standard cabin ergonomics and the soft furnishings, this car is a great place to be on a long, laden trip without spending (comparatively) a fortune.
As previously acknowledged, this car can swallow all your holiday needs. Hannibal crossing the Alps had less gear than us on this journey. I was nearly thwarted by a last-minute fishing net on a long pole but I eventually got it in.
A four-cylinder diesel is the mainstay of the engine range with 222bhp and 362lb ft of torque. There is a four-cylinder petrol, the T6, which seems a bit superfluous in this car and is said to be a tad noisy and thirsty. Finally, there’s the option of the ultra-clean T8 plug-in hybrid, the quickest and most expensive version, which I hope to try soon.
All the Volvo XC90 variants come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. If I’m honest, I found, at times when I needed to be quick off the mark for overtaking and the like, the gearbox felt a bit hesitant on the uptake. Otherwise, it was smooth-shifting all the way with the added all-weather security of four-wheel drive as standard.The diesel offers strong low down pull and has a reasonably broad power band. Unladen, the car sprints to the magic 62mph in 7.4 seconds, although the XC90 is so big you don’t really notice. Fully, and I mean fully, laden the four-pot motor struggled a little under certain circumstances. Obviously engines are being down-sized and turbo’d for green (CO² 149g/km) and political reasons but something has been lost in the process. Listen to me going on, harking back to those rose-tinted olden days of big, powerful engines. Ah well.
Volvo reckon that just shy of 50mpg is on the cards. I’m not so sure about that but we did get the mid-thirties which isn’t bad considering we had the metaphorical kitchen sink on board. From the front, the XC90 is imposing, with a large grille and redesigned Volvo badge, plus classy LED headlamps. You can get big wheels if you must but I would stick to the standard offerings for maximum ride comfort. On the road, the XC90 makes for a comfortable car to cruise in. It grips well in corners, but it’s no sports car, so it leans a fair bit and the steering is overly light, but then I always say that. That’s the compromise. It isn’t a sports car so just sit back and enjoy the relaxed and hushed drive.
Without exception the family gave this premium SUV the double thumbs up. Although you can bling up the Volvo XC90 from the option list I don’t see the point. £50,325 for the Momentum specified as listed below is enough. If performance is uppermost in your mind then you’ll want the hybrid but for most users the diesel will be the popular choice. A fine all-rounder. Geoff Maxted