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Is the Volvo XC90 the ultimate 7 Seat SUV?

The Volvo XC90 is the manufacturers’ self-proclaimed ‘Luxury SUV’ and proves to be major competition to the likes of the Audi Q7, BMW X5 or Land Rover Discovery. It’s got a 5* Safety rating, a ton of features as standard, and a striking design. But should you consider it as your next lease vehicle? Let’s find out…

What we drove

Colour: Bursting Blue Metallic
Interior: Charcoal
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic AWD
Model Line: R-Design Pro
Wheels: 20” 5-Spoke Alloys
Engine: Four-cylinder turbo charged mild hybrid diesel
0-60: 7.4 seconds
Power: 235 bhp
Emissions: 156 g/km
Price: OTR from £53,085

When picking your XC90, you’d got the choice of petrol, diesel or plug in hybrid engines. All are All-Wheel drive and all have an 8-speed automatic gearbox. We drove a B5 diesel, which is a 1969cc engine that produces 235 horsepower and goes from 0-60 in 7.4 seconds.


There’s really soft perforated leather/like effect material on the inside of the door and soft touch materials on the dash. The upholstery was a Charcoal Nappa Leather/Nubuck combination and the dash had the metal mesh inlays, which given the choice I would switch out for the Carbon Fibre. It also had the sports leather steering wheel complete with ‘R-Design’ badging and silver sports paddles.

The star of the show on this car is the powered panoramic glass sunroof that comes as part of the Xenium Pack alongside a 360 degree parking camera and Volvos Park AssistPilot – which is essentially automatic parallel and 90 degree parking.  


This car gets a 9 inch portrait touchscreen as well as a 12” digital drivers display. Use the steering wheel to control the drivers display, and view trip, speed, Sat Nav and a few other options. Whilst the display is nice and clear, it’s nowhere near as customisable as systems in similar BMWs or Mercedes.

The centre touchscreen is slightly angled which makes it much easier to view and access whilst driving. This car comes with Smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as upgraded premium Harmon Kardon surround sound.

This car was packed with a load of optional extras and it really made it stand out from some of the other Volvos we’ve driven. First off was the Winter Pack, which got us a heated steering wheel, heated windscreen, a headlight cleaning system and heated washer nozzles.

It also had Intellisafe Surround, which is a safety feature that compromises of Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake and Rear Collision Mitigation. Even with this addition, the XC90 comes with so much safety kit as standard. Here are just a few of the features:

  • Oncoming lane, and run-off road mitigation
  • Speed limiter
  • Driver alert control and lane keeping aid
  • Slippery Road and Hazard Light Alerts

This car also had Active Bending Headlights with Adaptive Shadow Technology and Front LED Foglights with Cornering Function.

Comfort and Space

Let’s talk seats. The XC90 has 7 of them, and unlike the 3rd row in the BMW X5, I actually feel like you could do a decent amount of time in the back seats in this car before it became too uncomfortable. I mean, we’re not talking an extended road trip, but I reckon 30 minutes to an hour would be completely doable (you just have to be a bit of a contortionist to get in and out).

In terms of comfort for the driver; this car had electronic memory seats that were a little bit on the firmer side. If it’s comfort seats you’re after as well as a slightly softer ride, I’d recommend going for the Inscription or Inscription Pro model variant.

Optional extras such as the 4-zone climate control, air con for the 3rd row back seats and power folding headrests make for a really enjoyable experience for all passengers. There’s even little mesh sunshades to protect from glare. A centre armrest offers cup holders, and as a car built with the family in mind, you can also get an integrated booster seat and power child locks for the rear doors.

With all of the 7 seats in use boot capacity in the XC90 is 356 litres, put down the 2 extra and it goes up to 1007 litres, and then with all of 5 seats down it’s a massive 1856 litres which is more than the Land Rover Discovery but less than that of the Audi Q7.

The Drive

I was more than happy with this cars’ performance; it’s a BIG heavy car, but it carries its weight well and shifts when it needs to. The brakes are responsive, just make sure you anticipate to leave enough from for the car in front of you as this car needs room. You can choose between a 4 driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Off-Road.

Visibility is very good for the most part, and for a car of such size it’s surprising easy to manoeuvre. The only real significant blind spot is that caused by the height of the 2nd row seat headrests which effectively block out the far rear window and would make backing around corners a bit more of a struggle if I didn’t have that 360 camera.

Model Lines

Momentum Pro (in addition to the standar spec)

  • Heated washer nozzles and steering wheel
  • Front seat cushion extensions
  • Front LED foglights with cornering function
  • Head-Up display
  • Ambient lighting
  • Multi-directional lumbar support
  • Nappa leather upholstery
  • Active Bending Headlights with Adaptive Shadow Technology

R-Design (in addition to the standard spec)

R-Design is the sportier variant, and has a lot of the features on the Momentum Pro as well as High gloss black styling on the bumper, door mirrors, window surrounds and grille. It also gets contour sports seats, 20” 5-spoke alloy, sports pedals and steering wheel and dark tinted windows.

One up from R-Design, R-Design Pro also gets:

  • Heated steering wheelHeated washer nozzles
  • 22" 5 Double Spoke Alloy Wheels
  • Head-Up Display in Windscreen
  • Active Four-C Chassis - Four Corner Adaptive Dampers with Electronic Air Suspension
  • Active Bending Headlights with Adaptive Shadow Technology
  • Front LED Foglights with Cornering Function

Inscription models are the 'luxury' variant and in addition to Momentum models get:

  • 20” 10-spoke alloys
  • Integrated sun curtains
  • Crystal gear lever
  • Matte silver grille with chrome detailing and chrome lower side mouldings
  • Multi-directional lumbar support

In addition to 'Inscription', Inscription Pro models get:

  • Perforated Nappa leather upholstery
  • Heated steering wheel and washer nozzles
  • Matt Silver Front Grille with Chrome Detailing
  • Headlight cleaning system
  • Front Seat Backrest Massage
  • 21" 8 Multi Spoke Alloy Wheels
  • Head-Up Display
  • Active Four-C Chassis - Four Corner Adaptive Dampers with Electronic Air Suspension

If you go for the super powered T8 Twin Engine, you’ll also get:

  • 4-Zone Electronic Climate Control and Cooled Glovebox
  • 3rd Row Air Conditioning
  • Auxiliary Fuel-Fired Heater with Pre-Conditioning Functions
  • Lithium-Ion Battery 11.6 kWh
  • Electric Rear Axle Drive
  • 87hp / 240Nm Electric Motor

How does this car compare to the Volvo XC60 Inscription? Read our review on the smaller SUV here.

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Posted on 12th March 2020 at 12:16 PM

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