That the Land Rover Defender I was running has only recently returned to its maker means the swap from one long-term test car to another has been rather more protracted than usual, with each continually reminding me of its respective merits.
Chief among the Volvo XC90’s is that it’s a car keen to keep you comfortable for lengthy amounts of time. Its first-rate seats are thoroughly comfortable and matched by a steering column with more adjustment than you’d need.
The fuel range is easily over 500 miles, too. Funny what a difference that makes. When the fuel gauge on the Land Rover (no more than 300 miles between fills) reached halfway, it’d begin playing on my mind that, on the kinds of journey I usually do, I might have to plan to refuel. In the XC90 I can just drive, letting my need for tea and Jaffa Cakes dictate when I stop.
Not that the Volvo isn’t without foibles, but there’s nothing that’ll continually annoy me, I think. Usually I’m not a fan of an electric tailgate and I’d prefer a manual one here, but the XC90’s closes so quickly that actually I don’t mind it, especially as you can open or close it from the key fob, or via a button on the dashboard.
Ah, yes, the key fob. It’s a neat-looking thing, no question, and no, technically you don’t need it at all, because the XC90 has keyless go. But, and maybe it’s habit, I prefer to lock and unlock a car via a button, and the Volvo’s tiny ones are perched stupidly down the side of the fob, rather than clearly and plainly in the middle. It looks classier, but they’re impossible to make out in the dark. And should you accidentally press the button on the opposite side of the ‘unlock’ button, it sets the alarm off because it’s the emergency button - an emergency button that you’d have no chance of finding quickly in, y’know, an emergency.
Elsewhere, the Volvo is well versed for emergencies. I’ve turned down the sensitivity of the City Braking system and the Lane Keep Assist is now off entirely, because both irritate me. But there are other, handier security features I’m fond of.
The Volvo will sense if someone is about to run into the back of it and ease off its brakes and tighten the belts to mitigate whiplash. Those same sensors look sideways if you’re backing out of a parking space and tell you if anything is coming (for those despicable people who park nose first in parking bays).
Parking either way round reminds you that the Volvo is comfortably sized to seat seven (I haven’t used the rear pair of chairs yet). Its length is rarely a problem, but it’s an extremely wide car, at 2008mm, and, although the mirrors are large and there are 360deg cameras, in multi-storey car parks you rarely forget its girth. A Defender, by comparison, is narrower than a Ford Fiesta. But you can’t have everything, and it’s a price that such luxury and interior spaciousness demand.