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

  • Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S road test review hero front
    Car review
    22 June 2018
    Is AMG's rapid GLC 63 SUV the answer to your prayers, or to a question nobody’s asking?
  • Dacia Duster 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    It's still not as refined as other SUVs, but in terms of sheer value the second-generation Duster is very much in a class of its own
  • Ford Ka+ Active 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    This SUV-inspired makeover for Ford’s city-friendly small car will find its fans, but the Ka+ Active doesn’t set any new benchmarks for the class
  • Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    The Japanese hot hatch is all grown up in terms of character, technology and price, but is it still a fun-loving kid at heart? Let’s find out
  • 2018 Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 4
    First Drive
    21 June 2018
    Shogun Sport name returns to the UK, attached to a seven-seat 4x4 that, Mitsubishi hopes, deftly combines practicality, comfort and toughness