Caught in the classifieds: 2016 Volvo XC90
When Volvo’s XC90 made its initial debut back in 2002, the SUV segment was still relatively new. The first-gen BMW X5 was just a few years old, and most people were still driving around in saloons and hatchbacks. The XC90, along with the X5, was one of the original SUVs which kick-started the trend of people dumping their regular cars for large 4x4s.
As good as the first-gen XC90 was, it never sold in the same brash numbers as the BMW X5 did. So, when Hong-Kong based Geely bought Volvo in 2010, they decided to switch things up a bit. Taking Volvo
down a completely different design direction, we saw a whole range of stylish Volvos over the next few years, a trend which culminated with the
second-generation XC90 in 2015. In this week’s “Caught In The Classifieds” section, we’re highlighting an XC90 Inscription (flagship trim level)
with just 75,000 miles on the clock, costing a shade over £25,000.
Design-wise, this has to be one of the coolest-looking SUVs currently on the market. Apart from BMW’s latest X7, nothing can hold a candle to the XC90. It’s so refreshing and sharp, it’s almost silly comparing it to contemporary SUVs. Line it up next to a Q7 or a Mercedes GLS, and the XC90 looks light-years ahead in design.
The front end is simply stunning. The ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights look amazing on the new V90, but they suit the XC90’s bigger body even better. They completely transform the way the XC90 looks. The first-gen wasn’t particularly good-looking. It was an incredible car, probably the best all-around vehicle money could buy, but it didn’t have any real character or presence. This new one has both in abundance.
The side profile is equally good. The front overhang is short but the rear one is long, giving it a sleek, elongated side silhouette. The Inscription model gets bespoke 21-inch wheels, which when combined with this lovely deep, dark blue colour, makes the XC90 stand out. The rear isn’t as impressive as the front, in the sense that it’s an evolution on the first-gen XC90. It’s still a great piece of design, it’s immediately recognizable as a Volvo, but it slightly lets the front end down.
Inside, the XC90 is awash with premium materials and plush fabrics. Traditionally, build quality has always been Volvo’s strong suit, but they’ve always struggled with creating luxurious cabins. With the new XC90, they’ve completely knocked it out of the park I’m afraid. This is now a genuine rival to the likes of the Audi Q7 and Mercedes’ GLS. As soon as you step inside, it’s immediately apparent this is a luxury SUV first and foremost. It feels expensive, even though it’s one of the ‘cheaper’ options in its segment.
I love the minimalistic design approach Volvo has taken to constructing a great user experience. The centre console is devoid of any buttons, and the dashboard only has a few knobs and dials for the volume control and the A/C. Everything else is controlled through that large vertical infotainment display like the one you’d find on a Tesla.
Speaking of infotainment, I have to say Volvo has done a great job of improving their infotainment system. It’s quick and intuitive, and the screen itself is virtually lag-free and instantaneous. It’s less cluttered than Mercedes’ MBUX, but it’s not as quick, and it’s still slightly behind the best system in the game, BMW’s iDrive.
Elsewhere, the XC90 is just a giant people-carrier with genuine room for seven adults (although the rear ones are a bit tight for taller people), and all the luggage room you could ever ask for. Obviously, with all seven seats in place, luggage space is somewhat limited, but drop the third row down and you’ve got a whopping 1183 litres to play with.
Engine and Performance
As far as engines go, you’ve basically got a choice between two diesels and three petrols, one of which is a hybrid. This particular example is the D5, the more potent of the two diesels, representing the sweet spot in the entire XC90 range. The 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder is good for 225 bhp and 347 lb-ft of torque, delivered at just 1,750 rpm. It’ll sprint to 62 mph in 7.8 seconds and top out at 137 mph, both of which are astonishing figures for a 2.1-ton vehicle.
The base D4 XC90 is a front-wheel-drive proposition, but all D5 variants are all-wheel-drive. Power is sent all four wheels through Aisin’s excellent 8-speed Geartronic automatic, which is extremely smooth and refined. On the road, the XC90 handles exactly like you’d expect it to. It rolls around a bit and it generally doesn’t like being hustled around, but it’s composed and predictable no matter what you do or how much you provoke it.
It’s not as sporty as BMW’s X7, it’s far softer than that, but it doesn’t drive like a boat out in the middle of the ocean. The suspension is soft and plush, completely absorbing most road imperfections and isolating you from the outside world. Honestly, if you’re not pleased with the way the XC90 drives, you’re probably better off getting an estate car or a saloon. For a large seven-seater, the XC90 drives as well as any other SUV on the market (excluding BMW’s M variants and Mercedes’ AMG).
Model: Volvo XC90
I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about this new XC90 that renders it extremely likeable. I’d buy it for the looks alone, but it also doesn’t hurt that it’s got a wonderful cabin and it drives rather brilliantly too. When you consider the fact that a brand-new XC90 will set you back upwards of £54,000, and the new X7 starts from £72,000, a second-hand XC90 suddenly looks like the bargain of the century. We currently have a wide selection of used Volvo XC90 cars for sale on the DesperateSeller.co.uk website at great prices. So, be sure to take a look!
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 9.5 out of 10