From £35,525
Engine and styling refresh achieves little in updating an ageing SUV that’s practical, but at the same time noisy and crude.

Our Verdict

The Volvo XC90 is a big seven seat SUV in desperate need of modernisation, despite still having some strengths

  • First Drive

    Volvo XC90 2.4 D5

    Engine and styling refresh achieves little in updating an ageing SUV that’s practical, but at the same time noisy and crude.
  • First Drive

    Volvo XC90 D5 SE Sport

    Sport spec makes for a more involving drive - and sleeker look - but without making the XC90 uncomfortable.

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Comments
8

7 March 2011

...and with new XC90s available from brokers at £27.5K Volvo are selling more of them in the UK than ever before. It is compared to the Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes ML and BMW X5 yet sells for the price of a Freelander, Merc C-class and X1. At current prices nothing does all that this old thing can.

7 March 2011

Pressed the return key too soon. I meant to add that it could be argued that the XC90 is an indication of how slowly this part of the market has developed: it is surprising how competitive a 2002 design remains.

In particular no other manufacturer has managed to match the packaging efficiency of this design in this segment, and let's not doubt that many SUVs are bought by those looking for space but find big MPVs just too dull.

8 March 2011

Some years ago I took one of these out on a Volvo 4wd organised event. Went in to a field, the instructor had me doing doughnuts with all the various traction devices on/off which was great fun, we travelled down a stream where the water was over the headlamps in places, up and down very steep slopes - definitely not for the faint-hearted - this car was a marvel. I'd just bought a V70, it had me wishing I'd spent a little more cash...

Then reality hit - my car's never off-road, why on earth would I want to buy one of these? And if I did want to go off-road - would I want to take near £40k of my own money thru that lot?

Admittedly these things are so much fun, but utterly pointless unless you're a farmer. (and a rich one at that!)

Pye

8 March 2011

I remember seriously thinking about buying one of these 5 years ago, the dealer was very accommodating with a decent overnight test drive and it was in my price range and I liked the car. What stopped me was the dated looks and underpowered engine. I just kept thinking that they must be launching a new model soon and I didn't want to get stuck with the old duffer. You then see what's possible when they launch the XC60 and I still feel the same. However I've seen new ones on offer for just over £30K and it's hard to argue with the value these things offer - they even appear to hold their value quite well so Volvo must be doing something right.

8 March 2011

We nearly went for one last year, the leasing deals were - and are - amazing. My wife had wanted one for years and when we were finally in a position to get one she was really disappointed on the test drive. It was an auto, which she doesn't like, but it was slow and noisy. I'd driven one about 7 years ago so knew what to expect.

The car itself was lovely inside and the space was terrific but you felt like were plodding along and fuel consumption even at modest speeds was poor. We get an easy 40+ mpg on a run up the M6 to Scotland in our CR-V and, without anything to back it up, it felt like the Volvo might get 30! Shame.


jer

8 March 2011

Makes me think what a mfer needs to do to keep a car up to date without spending a fortune on a new platform. In this case the design is contemporary the interior is excellent the failings are refinment and on the road. Surely an update in these areas would be enough to garner good reivews.

This is the same engine as in the V60 that was in manual form competitive, more characterful than a 4cyl. It's an iron block, reviewers are taking a dim view on refinement of these comapred to the quieter better balanced aluminium alternatives. Nevertheless double time budget on the nvh and old fashioned sound proofing. There should be plenty of scope to to tune noise paths to the cabin with a small engine in this big body. Hydraulic engine mounts, balance shafts, perhaps review the injectors and stiffness of all componements. 10% improvement makes a big difference.

Tune the chassis in the UK. Pay some bucks for Lotus to tune an adaptive chassis suitable for a large 4wd such as this. I'm no engineer but this tech seems more off the shelf now. Key is to get the right people to tune it.

Update the auto software - done.

Fit some off the shelf energy efficient alternator, promise a battery pack supported hybrid in the future.

Voila another 5 years use.

8 March 2011

Update the auto software - done.

Or buy the manual version (the only one of the large SUVs, I believe, that offers this)

8 March 2011

[quote ballyblack]Or buy the manual version (the only one of the large SUVs, I believe, that offers this)[/quote]

Not any more I'm afraid, Geartronic only on the facelifted version - no one bought it and the residuals were terrible. Big 4x4's need to be diesel autos to sell in the UK.

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