Driving Review: Volvo XC90

This car will take your breath away

Every now and then a car is launched and it just takes your breath away. The Volvo XC90 is such a car. I knew it was going to be great, but I didn’t realise just how great!

The XC90 is all Volvo, in other words, there is no longer any hints of Ford creeping through (it used to be owned by Ford). It is Volvo through and through and we will see this going forward in all Volvo models.

“This is one of the most important days in our history. We are not just launching a car, but re-launching our brand. This day marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group.

It’s got the look

Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 stands out from the crowd, it is a very good looking SUV. But step inside and this is where things get really interesting. The cabin is just breathtaking. It is spacious, clean, sleek and luxurious. Volvo has used a strong connection to the Swedish lifestyle, which includes generous space, simplicity, focus on well being and light.

What I loved is the portrait style touch screen in the centre console. If you have ever used an iPad or any smartphone device you will feel at home as you swipe and click your way through the extensive levels. It may take some time to get used to as it is certainly comprehensive, but once you have the hang of it, it will be as simple as scrolling through your phone.

Volvo XC90

The XC90 comes standard with seven seats across the range. We have spoken about seven-seat SUVs lately, one being the Kia Sorento, but these seats are not only easy to access, but are more than comfortable enough once you are seated. They are designed for passengers up to 170cm tall…it’s as if it was designed just for me. I had more than enough legroom and headroom and didn’t get that claustrophobic feeling when all the doors were closed and other people were seated in front of me.

In the driver’s seat

Of course, with it being an SUV, you sit high on the road and so visibility is excellent. One thing Volvo has not done, which is unusual for most manufacturers at the moment, is focus on making this a ‘sporty’ SUV. Instead, Volvo has opted to focus on comfort and safety instead. And thank goodness. No one needs to be ploughing an SUV in to corners at a hellish speed, what for? But with that said, the XC90 is composed in corners and feels well planted. The steering is light and easy, but be aware of the Lane Keeping Assist as this will try and correct even the slightest move in the wrong direction. It can be rather unnerving to begin with, but after a while you get used to it.

Volvo XC90

All Volvo XC90s are powered by a 2,0-litre petrol or diesel engine. At the launch in Franschhoek in the Western Cape this past week,  we got to drive the D5 turbodiesel and the T6 turbopetrol. We will see the D4 and T5 models arrive later this year and then the hybrid T8 will make its entrance toward the end of the year.

The D5 with its twin turbo produces 165 kW of power and 470 N.m of torque. The T6 which is super and turbocharged produces 235 kW and 400 N.m of torque. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

How safe is it?

This is where Volvo never falls short. In fact, Volvo has a goal that says that no person should be killed or injured in a Volvo by 2020 and the XC90 is on the way to reaching this goal. Volvo claims its the safest car yet. If this isn’t enough to impress you, I don’t know what is!

Volvo XC90

Let’s just name a few of the standard features on the Volvo XC90 to get the point across; Collision Mitigation Support, Head-up display for Forward Collision Warning system, Lane Departure warning, Park Assist, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent control, Rain sensor, EBL, Flashing Brake light and Hazard Warning. There are then the optional extras such as adaptive cruise control, Lane Keeping Aid, Rear parking camera and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. The list is endless.

If you are still not convinced, read on. It includes two world first safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and auto brake at intersection capability.

In a run-off road scenario, the all-new Volvo XC90 detects what is happening and the front safety belts are tightened to keep the occupants in position. To help prevent spine injuries, energy-absorbing functionality between the seat and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can arise when the car encounters a hard landing in the terrain.

The XC90 is the first car in the world with technology that features automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car. This is a common scenario at busy city crossings as well as on highways, where the speed limits are higher.

Should you buy one?

If you are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to income then the Volvo XC90 should be at top of your list. It is the ideal family car…comfort, space and most importantly safety!

Volvo XC90


XC90 D4 Geartronic FWD Momentum: R 804 000
XC90 T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum: R 827 400
XC90 D4 Geartronic FWD Inscription: R 844 600
XC90 D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum: R 853 200
XC90 T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum: R 867 000
XC90 T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription: R 868 000
XC90 T5 Geartronic AWD R-Design: R 888 700
XC90 D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription: R 893 900
XC90 T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription: R 907 600
XC90 D5 Geartronic AWD R-Design: R 914 600
XC90 T6 Geartronic AWD R-Design: R 928 300
XC90 T8 Twin Engine Geartronic AWD Momentum: R 1 005 100 XC90 T8 Twin Engine Geartronic AWD Inscription: R 1 042 000 XC90 T8 Twin Engine Geartronic AWD R-Design: R 1 066 400