The Volvo XC90 is rounder, sexier and sleeker than the square-box-on-wheels Volvos of yester-year; however, there’s still no mistaking it’s a Volvo and it’s certainly not the best-looking SUV around. Nor is it the best drive in its class, but what it may lack in good looks and drivability, it makes up for in comfort – it’s business-class travel all the way in a XC90 with an interior so comfortable, you’ll feel like moving in.
This is one classy cabin – from the luxurious (and very comfortable) leather seats, a well-laid-out dash, air-conditioning with controls in the rear to help keep passengers in the back chilled out, a 6-stack Dolby CD player with 8 speakers, a GSM phone and separate auto headsets in the rear, an allocated grocery holder and protection net to keep any stray tinned baked beans at bay and, in the executive model, there’s even a fridge built into the front seat arm rest. Cool. And talk about room. The XC90 is certainly the car of choice when travelling with the in-laws, seating 7 along 3 rows and including a 40/20/40 middle-row split in the rear to fit your skis or surfboard. Needless to say, the boot is big!
Now for the drive. I found this a big car to drive, hard to maneuver and even harder to park. The car just felt heavy and cumbersome to me. I wouldn’t recommend it for zipping around the city, and certainly not with fuel economy of 11.8 litres per 100 km; it’s not exactly the most economical car for taking on errands. And although I loved being a head above the rest in traffic and the front visibility was excellent, I found it extremely difficult to see behind me when trying to reverse.
I wasn’t overly impressed with its pick-up when well-loaded either. However, on the plus side, the steering was easy and the brakes were firm and responsive and I did feel safe. Very safe.
Volvos are of course well known for their safety factor and the Volvo XC90 doesn’t let the team down with the inclusion of ABS and EBD, dual-stage driver/passenger airbags, inflatable curtain airbags, SIPS airbags, whiplash protection system in the front seats, Roll Stability Control, BLIS (aka Blind spot Information System) and – in the executive version – a first aid kit.