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Car Review

Volvo XC90 review

£37,125 - £81,870
Published: 04 Apr 2023


What is it like on the inside?

Volvo did something unusual with the XC90. They declared it would never have a bigger engine than a 2.0-litre four cylinder, and that it would be mounted crossways in the engine bay. Now, this may sound like a strange way to start talking about the interior, but what Volvo’s decision means is that the engine bay can be small. And a small engine bay means more room in the cabin.

Go to the far end of the XC90 and you’ll see what we mean. In most seven-seaters the rear pair press up against the tailgate. Here, there’s a 302-litre boot in that gap. And those rearmost seats aren’t small. Volvo says adults up to 170cm tall will fit. We say you can squeeze a beefy six-footer in for short hops as shoulder room is good too. Start folding seats and boot space grows to 680 litres, then 1,856 litres. It’s a cavern.

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But the plug-in must lose space, right?

It does. Due to its battery pack, the T8 hybrid has a slightly higher boot floor, reducing capacity by 40 litres. The three individual middle row chairs, when not folded flat, all slide and tilt individually, providing plentiful legroom.

But it’s not just the space on offer, it’s the operation of the seats, the ease with which they can be folded with a single hand, the quality of the movement, the thoughtfulness evident throughout.

Especially around the driving environment. We’ve already spoken about driver comfort. Visibility is similarly impressive, and Volvo was one of the first to adopt a portrait touchscreen. It’s not as large and glamorous as Tesla’s, but it works well and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone connectivity.

Not that you’ll need them, necessarily: an update for 2023 means the Google-based infotainment system now integrates Maps and a voice assistant, so you can shout your destination into the sat nav and control the air con verbally too. Which is a great way around the lack of physical heating controls… until you’re uttering ‘Hey Google’ for the 19th time because you’re too cold by half a degree.

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How much luxury do I need?

The cabin of the XC90 is a lovely place to spend time, so be brave. Don’t make it overly black inside, tempting though that might be if you have children. Instead bask in the pale woods and light fabrics that Volvo does so well.

To which end we’d steer you down the mid-spec Plus route with its luxury touches, rather than the all-out Ultimate. It just suits the XC90 better.

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