Matt Prior lends the XC90 to some Autocar colleagues with extreme practical requirements. Does it continue to excel?
Matt Prior
20 April 2016

I can see that the XC90 is going to become one of ‘those’ cars. “Matt, we’re going to drive to the Geneva show…” began a colleague looking for a car into which he could squeeze three people and lots of camera kit. “Here are the Volvo keys,” I said. 

So they went, and they liked. They liked that it has lots of storage cubbies and large door pockets, ideal for snacks and drinks. They liked the satellite navigation, as do I (although I haven’t yet found how to cancel a destination, only pause it). They liked its refinement and how easy it is to drive, too, although one preferred the steering’s extra heft in Dynamic mode rather than the standard Comfort setting in which I always leave it.

But there were also things they didn’t like. The load bay cover is a fiddle, they said. And it is. If you don’t set some tabs at the rear just so, the cover will comically slide open as you turn your back on it. Normally I ignore it, but normally I don’t carry £10,000 worth of camera kit in the boot. And there is, apparently, a shortage of USB sockets, should you want to charge several devices at the same time. The sole USB port, though, meant our videographer could edit show clips while broadcasting sound through the excellent hi-fi.

Apparently the reversing camera isn’t as good as a Nissan X-Trail’s. You can’t have a split-screen view of the 360deg ‘overhead’ camera and a rear camera at the same time, only one or the other, and it takes crucial moments to swap between the two. Given the XC’s girth, I think that’s a fair point. I’ve just been using the rear-view, more or less forgetting the 360deg view exists. Given the high resolution and size of the screen, presumably it wouldn’t be too hard to show both.

Economy dipped below 30mpg while they were away, too, but whether that was due to their speed or the weight of jambon-fromage sandwiches I’m not yet sure. I’ll see if I can coax it back up again.

The key is simplicity

The back cover of the key has come adrift after it was dropped on the floor. That adds to the frustration of the buttons being too small and difficult to locate on the side. Use it as a ‘keyless go’ unit and it’s fine, but that misunderstands how families use a car, such as needing to unlock it from afar. It just needs to be better built and more straightforward. 

Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum

Price £45,750; Price as tested £51,770; Economy 29.8mpg; Faults Electronic niggles; Expenses None

Read our first Volvo XC90 long-term test report here

Our Verdict

Volvo XC90
The new Volvo XC90 costs from £45,750

It has big boots to fill and talented rivals to face. Is it up to the task?

Join the debate


20 April 2016
I wonder if an Audi Q7 will have the smaller details that frustrate ironed out?

20 April 2016
Never mind how to cancel a destination how about locating it in a safe position like in the BMW X or Q7. Volvo know what the best position is as they used to locate it high up but the accountants overruled the designer, sickening on a £50,000 car

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

20 April 2016
I do like these but coming back out of a traditional estate car apparently means a large drop in economy despite modern tech promising otherwise.

22 April 2016
Well, SUVs easily weigh 300kg more compared to the same-size estate and have a roughly 20% worse CWa drag coefficient...

22 April 2016
Well, SUVs easily weigh 300kg more compared to the same-size estate and have a roughly 20% worse CWa drag coefficient...

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