The new Volvo XC90 SUV is Volvo's biggest car, and therefore is set to benefit most from the addition of a plug in hybrid system, improving fuel economy while maintaining the performance expected of a big luxury SUV. This Volvo XC90 review will find out whether this big seven seater hits the spot for family buyers.
You can operate the Volvo XC90 SUV in electric-only mode, which will give you a range of up to 30 miles in optimum conditions, without the petrol engine firing up at all. You can toggle between driving modes to give an electric bias, hybrid power with regenerative braking to charge the battery as you go along, or a more performance-focused drive. Running around town will make the most of the electric range, but your battery will drain more quickly on higher speed motorway trips.
The XC90 is fitted with the same 11.6kWh battery pack that can be seen across the Recharge range including its smaller V60 and V90 siblings. This keeps the extra weight to a minimum but also offers useable range and a manageable charging speed. Ideally, it would have a bigger capacity to give a better range, but then the battery would have started to intrude into the cabin or boot space in the rear. As it stands, the battery is neatly hidden away under the floor.
If you plug the Volvo XC90 into a standard three-pin domestic socket, it will take around six hours to charge, and a 3.6kWh rapid charger will do it in around three. Purchasing a home charger may help keep you in the habit of charging it up quickly to make the most of the electric range, but Volvo's capacity to charge is limited so that it will take at least three hours regardless of what charger you use. You might find that plugging in overnight will suffice. If you don't want the hassle of charging, the Volvo XC90 also comes in mild-hybrid versions that don't need to be plugged in.
The Volvo XC90 R Design trim sits in group 44, and the luxury Inscription model is in group 43. The highest group is 50, so these cars are not cheap to insure, however with a premium car such as the XC90, this is not surprising.
Volvo claims that the XC90 T8 will deliver up to 101 miles per gallon, but this is in perfect conditions, and in the real world you are unlikely to see anything close to that. This also hinges on keeping the battery fully charged on a regular basis, otherwise, you will struggle to see 30mpg from this heavy SUV with its jointly turbocharged and supercharged engine.
The XC90 costs over £40,000 new, so it attracts the government's £335 levy for the first five years, after which it will cost £145 per year to tax.
If you are a company driver, the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge can save you a fortune in tax over a standard petrol or diesel equivalent, at 16%. This is higher than some of Volvo's smaller cars due mainly to the price, but represents a significant saving nonetheless.
The XC90 SUV features a three year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard. There is the added benefit of a separate warranty on the battery pack of eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The XC90 has reasonable service intervals, of 1 year or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. This is mainly on the petrol engine, as the electric motor has very few moving parts and needs fewer services.
The XC90 comes with a 2.0 litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine delivering 303bhp, which on its own is rather impressive. It also comes with an extra kick in the shape of an 87bhp electric motor sitting on the rear axle, giving the XC90 a total power output of 390bhp, which is more than enough to get it hustling along at an impressive pace. The XC90 SUV will reach 60mph in less than six seconds. Acceleration is impressive but if you're keen to make the most of the fuel economy, use the accelerator lightly to avoid using the engine too much because the relatively small 2.0 litre engine would have to work hard.
The Volvo XC90 is only available with an eight speed automatic gearbox. It can sometimes struggle to pick the right gear if you want to press on, but otherwise it helps you cruise along without any drama.
Despite the power, the XC90 is not built as a performance car. It offers a relaxed driving experience with am emphasis on passenger and driver comfort. The XC90 is all wheel drive as standard, keeping it firmly planted on the road and in corners. It handles well, especially on the optional air suspension, inspiring confidence in corners and offering a supple ride, even on more undulating roads. The steering of the Volvo XC90 is light but fairly responsive, belying its sheer size, and the brakes are also very good.
The Volvo XC90 is a classy looking vehicle. It is big and imposing but somehow manages to hide its size through its svelte lines and big wheels. R Design versions have some added sporty touches to give it a slightly more athletic look. The bigger alloy wheels look nicer and fill the wheel arches, but the trade-off is a slightly harsher ride. It all depends on your priorities.
The boot lid is huge with a low access lip, ensuring easy access into the rear for large items, and revealing a cavernous load area, particularly if you fold down the rear seats. However, the XC90 is a lot taller than the Volvo V90, so if you regularly carry large items then the V90 may be easier to load.
The fully automatic LED headlights and big taillights look good and add to the high quality, luxury image of the Volvo XC90.
The interior of the Volvo XC90 is luxurious and comfortable, with cosseting seats and a lofty driving position offering a commanding view of the road from the driver's seat. There is plenty of room for the driver and six passengers, with an extra two seats in the third row which are accessible via the rear doors. R Design models also come with sports seats to allow an extra bit of support in corners.
The XC90 Volvo has made it clear that this is the flagship of the range, and it feels very special when you climb aboard. The interior embodies Scandinavian minimalism and exudes luxury, with surprisingly few buttons for such a well-equipped car. Everything is in easy reach of the driver's seat and ergonomics are good. Much of the car is operated via the infotainment system with its large portrait touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, which offers plenty of features including a decent sat-nav system. The infotainment technology works well and it's easy to review things such as the ventilation settings, but it can be a little hesitant if you try and operate it too quickly.
As with the rest of the range, safety is a recurring theme in the Volvo XC90 - any Volvo review mentions this. Volvo achieved the maximum five stars in the XC90's Euro NCAP crash test review, with an impressive 97% rating for adult occupants and 87% for children. There are few safer places to be than inside a Volvo, which aims to make the safest vehicles on the road.
In the XC90 Volvo has installed the usual brace of safety features including airbags, collision mitigation, anti-whiplash systems and radar technology. Along with its sheer size, you can be assured that you and your family are safe aboard the XC90.
The Volvo XC90 SUV is a premium car at a premium price. The Inscription model starts from £65,540 and the R Design model costs £68,490. If you select just a few optional extras, expect to be looking at a price starting with a 7 very quickly. The plugin hybrid aspect does add a lot to the price due to the cost of the extra technology, but there are benefits in fuel economy and tax that help offset this. If the price is just too much to swallow, the XC90 SUV also comes in mild-hybrid versions which have some of the benefits at a lower cost. The mild-hybrid is not included in this review but more information is available on the Volvo website.
You may find that Volvo's subscription service gets you in the driver's seat of a Volvo XC90 at an affordable price, or there may even be low APR or 0% APR finance deals available. Volvo Financial Services is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority so whichever route you choose, you'll be well covered.