XC90 D5 SE Geartronic
it aint broke... Yes, we can all
finish the phrase that so neatly sums
up Volvos range-topping SUV,
the XC90. Its been around since
2002 but every year has seen it get
OF THE PRIME REASONS TO buy an XC90 is its comfortable seven-seat specification.
Another its all-wheel drive safety. And Volvo has saved you the trouble of worrying
about which engine and transmission combo they fit the XC90 range
with just the one drivetrain: a 197bhp D5 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel
mated to a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.
But 'reasons to' don't stop there because the more you look the more you'll
find to confirm why now would be a very good time to start what could become
the habit of a lifetime.
The XC90's design team have done an admirable job of making a big SUV look handsomely
tough yet not in the least aggressive none of this macho posturing for
Volvo. But it is nevertheless a pretty large SUV: from the tip of its fluently-shaped
nose to the tip of its practical split-tailgate it measures almost sixteen feet
long; mirror-to-mirror, it's close to seven feet wide.
aboard and you (and your passengers up to six of them) will appreciate
every single inch of those dimensions because there's room to stretch out in
Climb aboard and you
(and your passengers
up to six of them) will
appreciate every inch of
those sixteen feet
because theres room to
stretch out in all
The cabin majors on quality and materials: classy brushed aluminium trim highlights,
smart white-on-black 'Chronograph' dials with satin chrome bezels, a logically-populated
control panel linking the fascia to the central tunnel plus lashings of soft
leather covering all seven seats combine to create a tasteful and welcoming
Driver-friendly aids include the usual power windows and heated powerfold mirrors,
dual-zone electronic climate control, cruise control, auto-dimming rear view
mirror, rear park assist, etc, along with a pop-up SatNav display screen that,
if you know where you're going, can be retracted back into the dash top
if not, it's ideally-sited for both the driver and front passenger to see. A
remote handset lets your passenger operate the navigation should you prefer;
or you can do it yourself using the switches on the steering wheel.
A bit different (and rather unexpected as many Volvos now come with electronic
switch-operated parking brakes) is the American-style, foot-operated parking
brake to apply it you press down the smaller pedal to the left of the
main brake pedal; to release, you pull a small handle on the fascia to the right
of the steering wheel. You'll hear a rather loud 'thump' when it disengages.
Not a problem; it's logical and easy enough to use, and you adapt quicker than
And it goes without saying that there's a surfeit of safety kit to keep you
and yours safe including a full complement of airbags, front seat anti-whiplash
head restraints, side impact protection, Volvo's Blind Spot Information System
(warns you if another vehicle enters your blind spot) and water repellent front
side glass; plus there's dynamic stability and traction control and permanent
four-wheel drive to make the XC90 a genuine 'can do' all-weather wagon.
In normal driving conditions, as much as 95% of drive power goes to the front
pair of wheels; the instant slip is detected, anything between 5% and 65% is
shunted back to the rear wheels. It works perfectly and you need never give
it a thought.
Global warming or scaremongering whatever you believe, the fact is that
we're now getting a lot of devilishly stormy weather. Thankfully the XC90 takes
it all in its stride you could say that even hurricanes hardly hassle
you in an XC90. If you do have to brave it out then Volvo's range-topping SUV
is a very safe place to be.
drivers are also guaranteed a commanding driving position courtesy of a first-class
8-way multi-adjustable powered seat (made better by adjustable lumbar support
and a 3-setting seat and door mirror position memory) from where they not only
enjoy excellent visibility but a feel-good chunky three-spoke leather steering
wheel. Multi-functional? Of course.
Thankfully the XC90
takes bad weather
conditions in its stride
you could say that
hurricanes hardly hassle
you in an XC90.
But if you do have to
brave it out then Volvos
is a very safe place
It's a given that Volvo seats are super-comfortable. No disappointment with
the XC's; they're spot-on, providing support in all the right places
so much so that I must confess to sneaking off after lunch for forty winks in
my private Volvo 'sanctuary'.
Unless you want to travel down the MPV road, seven seat estate-cum-SUVs are
few and far between. So whether you're carting around six others or just bulky
items and you like to do it in comfort and luxury, the XC90 should be in your
Peeps first: even passengers travelling in the third row will still feel like
they're travelling first class these two large individual pop-up-from-the-floor
seats are as usable as they are easy to conjure up by pulling the obvious release.
And they have their own dedicated storage bins and cupholders; AirCon too. Teenagers
will be particularly happy sitting back here for some reason kids seem
to love sitting at the end of the 'bus'.
Between the rearmost pair and the front pair are three individual (split 40:20:40)
equally comfortable seats offering plenty of room in all directions each
of these these can be slid forwards or back independently to vary the legroom
to best suit passengers' personal requirements. For smaller, still-growing family
members, a booster cushion is built into the second row's centre seat.
For load-lugging duties the XC90 offers three options: with all seven seats
in play there's still 249 litres for baggage; with five seats in use there's
a generous 615 litres that will easily swallow a mass of luggage or lifestyle
gear; and with both the second and third row seats folded there's an antique
dealer-friendly 1,837 litres combined with a flat load bay floor.
front passenger seat can also be folded forward for extra-long loads. Not expected,
but a bonus for tribal camping expeditions (or towing a dingy, or just taking
a trailer to the local tip), is the XC90's ability to tow a braked 2,250kg.
the XC90's functionality is a split tailgate. The larger upper section opens
tall for easy access; the lower section folds down to make a sturdy ledge (and
handy seat for outdoor jaunts!) that makes loading a doddle.
Fire-up the five-barrelled
D5 and you really
wouldnt notice that it
the black pumps.
And with 309lb ft of
torque on call,
it always feels powerful
and ready to respond
to your right foot...
Another plus point: the smartly trimmed load bay not only looks as though it
will cope with regular family use but is packed with practical features including
a really useful flip-up boot separator, bag holder, roller luggage blind, and
extra storage under the boot floor.
Fire-up the five-barrelled D5 and you really wouldn't notice that it drinks
from the black pumps. With 309lb ft of torque on call between 2,000 and 2,750rpm,
it always feels powerful and ready to respond to your right foot. Use the revs
in the lower gears and you will hear the engine at work but it's a pleasing
Thanks to the Geartronic's manual mode you always have full control of the six
ratios without ever needing to call on kickdown most experienced auto
drivers prefer to drop down manually rather than use kickdown as then it's you,
not the 'box, who decides at what point to shift back up again. Left to its
own devices, the Geartronic delivers well-judged changes and if you need to
make brisk progress, just flick the selector into Sport.
Full auto or max-control manual to the rev-limit, the six-speeder auto 'box
serves up smooth up/down changes, even during full-speed-ahead Sport shifts.
For the record, the XC90 reaches 60mph from standstill in under 10 seconds and
its top speed is 127mph. Engine noise at motorway speeds is a muted but reassuring
Official fuel consumption figures are 25.7, 41.5 and 34mpg, respectively for
urban, extra-urban and combined a week's real-world driving by MotorBar's
road testers saw an overall test average of 34.2mpg.
While the XC90 makes no claim as to out-and-out off-roading skills, its electronic
all-wheel drive and 218mm of ground clearance do let it go places that would
be off-limits to an ordinary estate car or MPV. And the ride is clearly biased
towards comfort combined with the especially comfortable seats, the ride
ensures you exit the vehicle feeling as relaxed (if not more so) than you did
when you took your seat at the start of your journey).
Dynamically, the steering feels fine and nicely matched to the XC90's driving
characteristics and, despite being a high-rider, Volvo's SUV doesn't feel tall
and handles tidily. Pulling up, even with a full load, is never a problem
large disc brakes on all four wheels provide excellent stopping power.
Genuine seven-seaters in this class are as rare as hen's teeth. And when you
factor in the Volvo's quality, assured longevity, practicality, all-weather
safety and ease of use (not just for the driver but for the whole family too),
it's easy to see why the XC90 will be celebrating many more birthdays.
XC90 D5 SE Geartronic | £38,875
Top speed: 127mph | 0-60mph: 9.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 34.2mpg
Power: 197bhp | Torque: 309lb ft | CO2 219g/km