It had been a while since we’d driven the Volvo XC90, our former car of the year from 2015. At the time we recognised its versatility, the ease in which it did everything and its outstanding value in its class.
And it’s still well priced, the range costing between $100k and circa $120k, once options are factored in. It’s arguably better value now, given the competitors seem to have increased in price. If you want a genuinely practical seven seater, it’s still our pick in the luxury class, despite its age. The likes of the Merc GLS and BMW X7 are gargantuan in both size and price, while the GLE and X5 with the optional seven seats are not as roomy and cost more, as do the Q7 and Discovery. You could always opt for the like-priced Hyundai Palisade, but really?
The XC90 had a minor facelift last year, a new grille added and bits like a wireless charge pad tacked on inside. That robs it of a storage spot but the Volvo has other useful bins and hidey holes to shove your stuff in. The seats here are a bit different with their wool blend trim in school uniform grey a no-cost option. They don’t quite possess the soft, woolly comfort you might assume they’d have. It is more sustainable than killing cows, however, the wool being blended with recycled drink bottles to make the environmentally friendly upholstery. So it’s one for those of you who prefer a cauliflower steak to a t-bone.
We took this T6 Inscription (base price of $105,900, but $118,010 with options) down country for an Easter getaway. The 2.0-litre petrol four gets both a blower and a turbo to muster 235kW and 400Nm. It’s a forthcoming engine, the outputs delivered easily, though it’s not the most economical distance machine. Consumption registered around 8.5L/100km on the way south, but into the high nines on the way back north. Guess the uphill climb takes a toll.
We used the Eco drive mode to eke out the mileage, the transmission set to ‘coast’ when you’re off the throttle and as this had the optional air suspension ($4500), the ride height lowers to improve air resistance. Down below 40km/h, the Off Road mode raises the XC90 to help it tip toe over minor obstructions you might come across in the wilds. Black isn’t a great colour for traversing gravel roads, it should be said. Neither are the standard fit 21s, the ride getting the jitters over the corrugations. Smaller wheels and bigger tyres would suit country folk better.
Back on piste, we could actually tolerate the XC90’s Pilot Assist function on the highway, guiding you around moderate bends yet it doesn’t fight for control of the steering. It’s actually a help rather than the usual hindrance. The active cruise is smooth when braking and works at a crawling pace when someone (without Pilot Assist) has caused the motorway to grind to a painful halt with home just in sight.
Seating wise, our three halflings fitted comfortably across the middle row. It’s a wide car with three individual rear seats so they’re not too close for comfort. Okay, there was still the usual squabbling that would have been solved by plonking one in the spacious rear seats. A pity we required all of the boot space. The XC90 has a wide, deep hold, the ultimate volume unhampered by the inclusion of the rear seats. It’s a well packaged SUV, the transverse engine layout allowing for more interior room as even when the rear seats are up, there’s space left over in behind for everyone’s day trip bags. The access back there isn’t too bad for the kids, though the folding mechanism of the second row is a tad tricky to operate and so sometimes it gets stuck in a forward position when you reset it.
The infotainment system remains one of the smarter operators. It doesn’t take long to reacquaint yourself with it, being intuitive. There’s quick plug and play for Apple phones, and easy media playback too.
If you’re after something more economical, the diesel D5 is still available, and with Volvo’s three-year, unlimited kay servicing deal included, there are no added maintenance costs with the oiler, nor a price premium. And there are mild hybrid options waiting in the wings, with 48v assistance for the engines to reduce fuel consumption further. Yes, there’s still life in the XC90 yet.
|Model||Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription|
|Engine||1969cc, IL4, T/DI, 235kW/400Nm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed auto, on-demand AWD|