Volvo had long held the key in its locker to launch a serious contender in the SUV sector long before the XC90 arrived in 2003. It has always had an obsession with safety and practicality, and a fearsome reputation for building solid estate cars.

Despite Volvo’s clear potential for the sector, companies like BMW and Mercedes-Benz took the initiative with the X5 and ML ranges. Unashamedly lifestyle orientated but refined and practical, they left Volvo with slumping sales – particularly in North America – while they won huge numbers of new customers with their sexy SUVs.

As Volvo watched developments, it must have known it would have to come back hard. And hit back hard it did with the XC90, a car that, according to Volvo, combined car-like dynamics, MPV practicality, and tough off-road capability under one roof, plus the safety values that are synonymous with the brand. 

The XC90 has been around now for a long time, but its sales are still steady and its customer base is hardcore and loyal.

Recent revisions to the XC90 in 2011 included exterior styling changes, a more luxurious interior, greater interior options and new variants including a more sports-orientated R-Design model designed to keep interest in the XC90 ticking over while the long-overdue replacement model’s development continues.

Are any changes enough to keep interest in the XC90 high enough while its rivals continue to modernise and innovate?

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Luxury SUVs

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK