Why don't more people drive Volvos? 

This is a question people are googling (we checked), because like us, they don’t understand why ever not. 

Volvo have over the years transitioned from a safety-savvy and cautious producer of wagons to a (yes still safety conscious) producer of some seriously good-looking cars. And the XC90 is no exception.

Luxury and increased efficiency are key when it comes to the new Volvo XC90, which is available as a mild or plug-in hybrid. Offering up to 7 seats, the XC90 has space for all, while advanced safety features help keep passengers and other road users safe. Supreme comfort levels and an effortless drive make it a stiff competition to the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7, and (at a push) the BMW X7, while competitive monthly lease deals often also make it much more affordable.

We can think of very few reasons why, budget dependant, you wouldn't want to drive one of these. But there are a few, so let's look and the pros and cons of the Volvo XC90 in this Carparison review... 

Volvo XC90 R-Design front seats


With an OTR price starting at around £56,000, the XC90 is one of the most expensive cars in the Volvo line-up – however, it’s certainly not the most expensive premium SUV out there. Any one of our leasing experts will tell you that the XC90 is one of the most affordable premium SUVs to lease, as, to put it bluntly, you aren’t paying as high a premium for the badge. 

However, when it comes to leasing, it’s the affordable monthly payments that matter. These fluctuate, so rather than giving you an estimate, you can look at our current XC90 lease deals here.

Just for comparison, here are the ballpark OTR starting prices for some of the most popular 7-seat SUVs:

  • Volvo XC90 - £56,000 for Mild Hybrid, £65,000 for Plug-In
  • Audi Q7 – from £58,000
  • GLE (7-seater option) - from £65,000
  • BMW X7 (a more luxury variant, as a BMW X5 is also available with a third row of seats) – from £77,000
  • BMW X5 - from £60,000
  • Hyundai Santa Fe - from £39,000
  • Land Rover Discovery - from £53,000
  • Skoda Kodiaq – from £29,000 (5-seater options start at around £26,000)

*Prices are correct at the time of publication.

Volvo XC90 R-Design Cabin

Hybrid Technology 

The XC90 is available as a Mild Hybrid or Plug-In Hybrid.

The mild-hybrid can be diesel or petrol (model dependent) and comes in the following formats:

  • B5 AWD Petrol – 32.1mpg and 250hp
  • B5 AWD Diesel – 40.9mpg and 235hp
  • B6 AWD Petrol – 30.4mpg and 300hp

The Plug-Hybrid or ‘Recharge' model as it is rereferred to, is the car that we’re driving. It's called the XC90 T8 Plug-In Hybrid and it combines a petrol engine with a battery-powered electric motor. This generates 390 horsepower, a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds, around 30 miles of electric range and a combined fuel consumption of 94.3mpg.

Model Lines

The XC90 comes in five variants*. 

There’s the entry-level Momentum, followed by the 'luxurious' Inscription, and 'sporty' R-Design.

Directly above these two are the Inscription Pro and R-Design Pro, which make them the well…more sporty and more luxurious. Momentum is only available on the mild-hybrid models, while the T8 comes in the Inscription, R-Design, or their ‘Pro’ superiors.

*Edit: For new XC90s MY 2022 onwards: There is an additional line that comes below the Inscription called the ‘Inscription Expression’.

Volvo XC90 on the road


A selection of driving modes allows you to choose between Pure Electric, Hybrid, Sport, and Off-Road modes. All of the XC90 variants get all-wheel drive as standard, should you need to make use of it and pure electric mode allows you to drive the car solely using the electric range. This means that short commutes can be travelled without producing any tailpipe emissions.

Despite its size, the XC90 is an incredibly easy car to drive. The 8-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and the steering responsive. The car also feels agile enough until you hit a tight turn or enclosed parking space, at which point the true length of the car makes itself known.

Put your foot down and there’s a brief pause as the XC90 prepares to launch its hefty weight forward. In the smaller XC40 hybrid, this acceleration feels rapid, however, due to the sheer size of the XC90, it’s a little less blow your socks off. Still impressive though.

Woman driving Volvo XC90

Design and Interior 

The XC90 has style aplenty, both inside and out.

Chunky LED headlights, silver roof rails and 19 inch-diamond cut alloys come as standard on all XC90 models, while R-Design models like this one get a plethora of flashy added features. This includes high-gloss black exterior trims, gloss black roof rails, bigger alloys and tinted rear side windows. All in all, it makes for a distinctively robust and eye-catching design.

Inside, leather seats (heated in the front, of course), are plush, wide and comfortable. This particular model had a beautiful Blonde/Charcoal Nappa leather interior which acted as a striking contrast to the black painted exterior and dark and glossy dashboard.

The whole cabin is minimalist by nature. No extra faff or a clumsy, overcrowded dash. This is all about flowing lines, contrast stitching and simple design. As you might expect, it also feels remarkably sturdy with a solid centre console and soft-touch finishes galore.

Volvo XC90 7-seater room


The vertical touchscreen is responsive if a little lacklustre, especially when you compare it to the MBUX infotainment system in the Mercedes-Benz GLE or the iDrive system in the BMW X5. It’s also a bit of a nightmare for showing fingerprints. From this touchscreen, you control all the standard systems such as media, but it also controls the climate control and (model-dependent) your heated steering wheel and seats, etc.

Volvo XC90 touchscreen

Drivers benefit from a huge 12-inch digital driver's display which showcases all speed, driver alerts, electric range and sat-nav directions when following route guidance.

Not forgetting that this is the brand's self-proclaimed ‘luxury SUV’, the XC90 of course have lots of nice little home comforts. This includes four-zone climate control (on the T8 Recharge), 360 camera and air quality system to detect pollen and other contaminants in the air. 

In terms of safety features, as you can expect the XC90 excels. Features such as Oncoming Lane Mitigation offer automatic steering assistance to help avoid drifting across lanes into any oncoming traffic, as well as helping to steer back to avoid situations where you’d run off the road. It’s worth noting that these are all speed and situation-dependent and drivers must remain responsible for controlling the car. If we’re honest, there are too many safety features to list. Though a brochure of each model and its features is available on any lease deal advertised on the Carparison website.

XC90 Digital screen

Space and Practicality 

The XC90 is a pretty cavernous car, there’s no doubt about it. Its length and height lend itself to those who need a car with a decent amount of headroom not just in the front seats but the back as well.

Not only is the XC90 helpful for those who need more legroom, but those who need more room for legs in general! As the only 7-seat option in the Volvo line-up, it has strong competition from other premium 7-seater SUVs. The Land Rover Discovery is arguably the roomiest of them all and the Audi Q7 more premium – but both are bigger on the road and a bit more cumbersome to navigate around the city or smaller roads should you need to. They also both have a bigger turning circle. 

Volvo XC90 boot

The third row of seats is helpful, no doubt about it. Seat comfort has certainly not been sacrificed the further back into the car you go, however, the act of actually getting in and out of seats six and seven is a bit of a tricky one. It’s also probably best suited for children or shorter journeys. That being said, even with those seats up there’s still a little bit of boot space on offer, certainly enough for a few shopping bags, a suitcase, or one (very small) dog.

Boot space with the third row down is over 1000 litres and the wide opening, non-existent load lip and hands-free tailgate make for remarkably hassle-free access to this space.

Volvo XC90 7-seats boot space

Final Verdict

If you’ll be doing longer journeys more regularly, it’s worth that remembering that on petrol alone, the XC90 can be pretty thirsty. However, you have the benefit of being able to build those electric miles back up with regenerative braking. You can also choose to hold the miles until you need them, rather than using them up straight away.

Volvo XC90 parked in countryside park

Comfort levels are up there with some of the best and I thought the drive was wonderful. Others might perhaps have tried to push the XC90’s performance a bit more to see what the T8 was really capable of, but I just didn’t feel the need. I wanted to simply cruise in this car and enjoy it, sitting back and lapping it up. The XC90 hugs the road and provides a pretty much seamless experience for passengers and whoever is behind the wheel. This, combined with an exterior that easily matches the good looks of its competitors makes it a very interesting proposition indeed.

So, if I was asked to sum up our test drive in three words, it would be the following:

Would. Do. Again.

If you’d like to experience the XC90 every day, just search our latest Volvo XC90 lease deals to find a deal that’s perfect for you.

Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.