• The XC90 led the charge for seven seat SUVs when it launched in 2003
  • The XC90 was a product of design chief Peter Horbury, before he left for Ford
  • The split tailgate makes a useful perch and reduces the size and weight of the top half
  • The XC90 looks dated compared to the latest Volvos
  • The XC90's interior is feeling very dated
  • The cabin is flexible and it is easy to fold the seats quickly
  • With the rear seats in place there is 615 litres of room
  • With the second and third row folded, space grows to 1837 litres
  • Volvo has rationalised the range to just a 2.4-litre D5 diesel
  • The D5 engine develops 197bhp for a 9.7sec 0-62mph time
  • The XC90 is now only offered with a six-speed Geartronic auto
  • The Volvo appeals for pragmatic reasons, but that's not enough these days

To get your head around the seven-seat interior of the Volvo XC90, you need to think MPV, not SUV. Open the split tailgate and you’ll find a flat cargo area with 615 litres of volume up to the second row of seats, or up to 1837 litres with them folded flat. 

Two sections lift up from the boot floor; the rearmost conceals a battery and a first aid kit and individual back rests for the third-row passengers seats fold out of the front half. Once these are locked in place, you pull one of the two loops to locate each seat bottom, the whole process taking less than 20 seconds. 

Matt Burt

Head of Content, Haymarket Automotive
The seats are really easy to fold

If passengers in the second row slide their seats right back, legroom for adult third-row passengers is minimal, but children will still be fine. Crucially, there’s still a usable 500mm of boot length left in this configuration.

The second row comprises three seats, all of which move fore and aft independently. The outer seats have Isofix mounts and the centre seat slides forward so that a child can sit almost between the front seats. 

There’s a bolster cushion and the rear centre console box can be removed. And optional roof-mounted headphone sockets are available for rear passengers. 

Up front, the dash architecture is similar to the V70’s and S80’s. All our testers found it easy to locate a good driving position, but the impressive comfort levels were let down by unsupportive seats during cornering.

One can’t escape how dated the XC90 feels nowadays. Its rivals have moved the game on in the luxury and comfort stakes, although the XC90’s hard-wearing look may still appeal to certain customers in this class looking for a 200,000-mile workhorse.

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