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The Top Gear car review: Volvo XC90
For:Hard to fault across the board: clean-sheet new XC90 is almost perfect
Against:Why isn’t air suspension and the all-singing safety kit standard, Volvo?
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The new XC90 is here. And it’s good
Sweden’s seven-seat SUV is reborn, and it’s surprisingly revolutionary. Paul Horrell reports
In image terms the Volvo XC90 is one of the lighter, fluffier, more politically correct SUVs. As such, while a small section of the public is...
The days of Volvo as an angular Scandinavian quirk are long gone. It’s now this thing called a global brand; America is its biggest market and...
What we say:
So well-targeted as a big family wagon: lovely to sit in, safe, very versatile and not too costly to own
What is it?
Volvo’s legendarily safe, spacious and useful seven-seat SUV, given a nut-and-bolt re-boot. One major principle remains: the engine is transversely mounted, and so a huge proportion of its length can be given over to the interior. More than ever this time, because they didn’t leave space for a V8 option. Pretty well every part is fresh, even the redesigned Volvo badge.
The all-new platform, engines and dash interface are Volvo’s own work, so if you like them don’t go thinking you can find them cheaper on another brand – this company acts independently these days, albeit under hands-off ownership of a large Chinese conglomerate.
Sensibly, this family SUV majors on comfort. The handling’s not bad, but the main thing is relaxed well-being. Steering is feel-less but there’s not too much roll or understeer, and as it’s 4WD it has secure traction on wet roads. Caveat: so far we’ve tested only the ones with optional adaptive air suspension. The dash displays on most models are entirely virtual, and there’s an optional HUD too.
The turbo-and-supercharged petrol has good performance but only four cylinders, so why not just get the diesel? Unless that is you need the amazing tax-avoiding ‘twin-engine’ plug-in hybrid, with 320bhp for the front wheels and electric drive at the back for another 80-odd. Safety aids help make driving even more relaxing.
On the inside
The Scandinavian-modern design is visually beautiful, and its execution quality pretty high too. The other wow factor comes from the all-new infotainment system which resides in a responsive tablet that takes up most of the centre dash. Its graphics are stylish, resolution high and menus remarkably intuitive. You can swipe, pinch and zoom with smooth ease.
For family travel, there’s little argument with the three row seat design: the first two rows have five seats that all recline and slide. The third row is more than OK for teens, and behind that is the size of boot you’d find on a mid-size hatch. Extend it by folding one to five of the back seats.
Basic kit is pretty strong, and includes 8-speed auto, 4WD, LED active bending lights, full navigation and connectivity, leather, park assist (needed in a car that’s nearly 5m long), auto-brake with detection of vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists. The new engines serve up decent official economy and CO2 numbers, and the T8 Twin engine is a startlingly low 59g/km and 113mpg, though that depends on you plugging it into the mains frequently. Currently the used values are predicted above BMW and Mercedes rivals.
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