2020 Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90 Review: Supercharged Style

by Morgan Carter

Not many midsize SUVs can comfortably fit three rows of seating, but the Volvo XC90 makes a valiant effort, and it does so with impeccable style. If that weren't enough, it also presents buyers with impressive cargo space. However, despite two available engines, with the twin-charged four-cylinder developing 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the XC90 doesn't have quite as much power as rivals that utilize a V6 engine. On top of that, the Volvo doesn't deliver the kind of ride quality we'd expect from a vehicle in this price bracket, especially with other premium competitors like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. That aside, the XC90 comes with a long list of standard and available features, which, combined with the stylish and plush interior, make for a compelling case in the luxury SUV market.

Read in this review:

2020 Volvo XC90 Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 XC90?

The Volvo XC90 sees only minor changes for the new year, with every model getting a new grille and front bumper, as well as restyled 19-inch alloy wheels. Trim-specific changes include integrated roof rails and tailpipes for the Momentum, and gloss-black grille, mirror-cap, and window trim accents for the R-Design. A few features have also made their way into the standard offering. The Momentum now comes with a 12.3-inch driver information display and road sign recognition, while the R-Design adds full Nappa leather contour seats and front parking assist. Numerous color changes have been made, both inside and out, with three paint colors dropped from the palette, four new colors added, and extra upholstery hues offered for the Momentum and Inscription trims.

Pros and Cons

  • Premium Swedish style
  • Long list of standard features
  • Impressive passenger space, even with three rows of seats
  • Competitive cargo capacity
  • Precise steering and decent handling
  • Lackluster standard powertrain
  • Available T6 powertrain is unrefined
  • Cramped third row of seats

2020 Volvo XC90 Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
T5 Momentum
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$48,350
T5 R-Design
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$56,100
T6 Momentum
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$56,300
T6 R-Design
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$62,000
T6 Inscription
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$62,600

XC90 Exterior

The XC90 was already a handsome SUV, and the updates for 2020 see it remain stylish moving into the next stage of its life cycle. The standard grille is a high-gloss concave rectangle sporting the Volvo badge. The R-Design gets a gloss-black variant while the Inscription's grille is bespoke with matte silver and chrome finish. Astride the grille is a pair of signature Thor's Hammer LED headlights, while a set of foglights rest within the lower bumper. Every model now comes standard with 19-inch wheels, which were previously reserved for the T6 models, but 20- or 21-inch wheels are also available. The dual tailpipes are now integrated into the body. As in previous years, the R-Design and Inscription each get their own unique styling elements that accentuate their specific characters as the sportier and more luxurious trims, respectively.

2020 Volvo XC90 Front View Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Rear Angle View Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Front Angle View Volvo
See All 2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

While it may seat seven, the XC90 is not a full-size SUV, measuring 195 inches long and resting on a 117.5-inch wheelbase. With the side mirrors folded in, the SUV is pretty girthy at 79.1 inches, and it stands tall in any guise at 69.9 inches. And while the three-row SUV might weigh in on the heavy side, starting at 4,366 pounds and topping out at 4,641 lbs, it's still lighter than other premium rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLE or Audi Q7.

  • Length 194.9 in
  • Wheelbase 117.5 in
  • Height 69.9 in
  • Max Width 79.1 in
  • Front Width 65.7 in
  • Rear Width 65.8 in

Exterior Colors

The color palette for the XC90 has undergone a few changes for 2020, with several paints dropped in favor of new ones. Colors available across the range include the standard Ice White, as well as several $645 metallic options, such as Osmium Grey, Denim Blue, Thunder Grey, Bright Silver, Crystal White, and Onyx Black. The R-Design gets exclusive access to Bursting Blue Metallic for $645, while the Inscription offers Pine Grey, Birch Light, and Pebble Grey for the same surcharge.

  • Ice White
  • Crystal White Metallic
  • Bright Silver Metallic
  • Osmium Grey Metallic
  • Onyx Black Metallic
  • Denim Blue Metallic
  • Thunder Grey Metallic
  • Bursting Blue Metallic
  • Birch Light Metallic
  • Pebble Grey Metallic
  • Pine Grey Metallic

XC90 Performance

While by no means impressive, the standard T5 powertrain is more than adequate for getting the midsize SUV around town, albeit not quickly. With just a turbocharger equipped to the four-cylinder, the XC90 has enough power to get up to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds from a standstill, according to independent testers. The available T6 powertrain is a must if you want to get around in a hurry. Adding a supercharger to the standard turbocharger, the four-cylinder maxes out at 316 hp and 295 lb-ft, improving the 0-60 mph sprint time to 6.1 seconds. Against V6-powered rivals like the Audi Q7, the Volvo struggles to keep up, competing with a 0-60 mph sprint time of 5.7 seconds. Despite the XC90's decent acceleration figures, the SUV is limited to a top speed of 112 mph, in accordance with Volvo's Vision 2020 mandate.

The T5 engine can be paired with either a front-wheel or all-wheel drivetrain, but the T6 can only be paired with the all-wheel drivetrain. The weaker engine allows the XC90 to tow up to 4,000 lbs when properly equipped, while the stronger T6 can manage 5,000 lbs.

2020 Volvo XC90 Front Angle View 1 Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Rear View Driving Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Gear Shifter Volvo

Engine and Transmission

Two engines are available to the Volvo XC90. Both are 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, one paired with a turbocharger, and one with twin charging.

The standard T5 powertrain pairs the inline-four with just a turbocharger to develop 250 hp and 258 lb-ft. This power can be directed towards the front wheels or all four wheels, depending on your choice of drivetrain. And while this set-up isn't technically weak, it is lackluster. The SUV gets around, but it takes some effort to get anywhere in a hurry. On the highway, merging and passing are possible, but both maneuvers require some patience and planning when the lanes are busy.

Buyers who want a bit more kick from their SUV will want the higher-spec T6 powertrain. By adding a supercharger into the mix, the four-cylinder engine is able to develop 316 hp and 295 lb-ft, but only the all-wheel drivetrain is offered in this configuration. With the extra power, the XC90 is able to get around a lot quicker and highway maneuvers become a lot easier. Unfortunately, the T6 feels less refined than the T5, making quite a bit of noise when pushed to perform.

Regardless of the engine you opt for, the only choice of transmission is an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Like the T6 engine, it could do with some refinement. It sometimes struggles to find the right gear with the engine stopping and starting around town.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Volvo may not be the most athletic vehicle on the road, but it handles quite well for its size and weight. Steering is light and precise, as you'd expect from a town-oriented SUV, which allows for dextrous maneuvers on the busy streets. However, put the pedal to the metal, and the steering gains some heft to help keep the XC90 stable at higher speeds.

The brakes do an adequate job when traveling at regular speeds, but despite being a bit sensitive, they lack stopping power when it's really needed. Still, the Volvo remains grounded, never lurching or stuttering as it comes to a stop.

Overall, the SUV is well-behaved for its size and weight. However, you won't want to try daredevil driving at high speed. That's not to say the XC90 can't be playful, just keep its limits in mind. The subpar ride quality detracts a bit from the otherwise premium feel of the Volvo, with the larger wheels on the upper trims delivering a particularly choppy driving experience over rougher surfaces. The available rear air suspension helps a bit in this regard, but the Volvo XC90 still can't compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz or Audi.

XC90 Gas Mileage

Four-cylinder engines are definitely the way to go for better fuel economy, even when equipped with a turbocharger. Thus, it's no surprise that the XC90 is among the most efficient SUVs in its segment, despite relying on premium gasoline. The standard T5 powertrain gets an EPA-estimated 21/30/25 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, while the twin-charged T6 is a little greedier, getting only 18/26/21 mpg. Still, this compares well against other premium rivals like the Audi Q7, which gets 19/23/21 mpg in its most efficient guise. The Volvo comes equipped with an 18.8-gallon tank, allowing it to cover up to 470 miles before needing to refuel.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 21/30 mpg
* 2020 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum FWD 7 Passenger

XC90 Interior

Volvo has become increasingly renowned for its well-appointed and -built vehicles over the years, and the XC90 SUV is no exception. Despite hosting three rows of seats, the cabin is quite spacious, with room to spare for a fair amount of cargo. Leatherette, genuine leather, or premium wool can cover the seats, depending on preference, and heating comes standard on the upper trims. The infotainment comes with everything you could need, from smartphone integration to a host of listening options, and the upper trims get even more premium sound systems. With comfort fore of thought, all the controls are laid out ergonomically, and even the base Momentum offers eight-way power front seats.

2020 Volvo XC90 Dashboard Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Infotainment System Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Steering Wheel Details Volvo
See All 2020 Volvo XC90 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Three-row SUVs often make hollow promises when it comes to passenger space, but the XC90 isn't the biggest fibber in this regard. True, the third row of seats isn't really suitable for anything but smaller children, but the first two rows offer more than enough head- and legroom for even larger adults. For extra luxury, the second-row bench can be traded out for captain's chairs on the T6 Momentum and Inscription trims, reducing overall capacity to six. Getting in and out is pretty easy thanks to the high roof and wide-opening doors. The six-seater configuration makes accessing the rear seats even easier. Visibility is pretty good unless the car is packed full of passengers and cargo, but the host of driver-assistance features help to shore up any weak points.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Front Head Room 38.9 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.5 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Regardless of the trim you opt for, the XC90 is extremely well-built and only top-quality materials are used. The entry-level Momentum is the only model to come with leatherette upholstery, available in either Charcoal or Blond, but this can be upgraded to leather in the same hues for $1,400. When equipped with the T6 powertrain, the Momentum gets leather upholstery right from the get-go, and it gets the additional choices of Maroon Brown or Slate in terms of color. From the R-Design upwards, perforated Nappa leather becomes the standard. However, the R-Design only offers the standard Charcoal and Blond hues. The top-of-the-range Inscription gets the same palette in its six-seater version, but when outfitted with seven seats, it also gets access to Slate, Amber, and Maroon Brown. In addition, those who prefer to veer away from animal hide can have their seats upholstered in a tailored wool blend available in Slate or Midnight Zinc. The Momentum and R-Design come with metal inlays such as aluminum or carbon fiber, while the Inscription gets genuine wood inlays.

XC90 Trunk and Cargo Space

Considering it comes standard with three rows of seats, the Volvo XC90 still offers hard-to-beat cargo capacity. With all the seats in place, there is 15.8 cubic feet of trunk space, but if you fold down the seats to reduce capacity to five, there is 41.8 cubic feet of space on offer. You won't need to fold down the third row for most daily errands around town, but if you want to take the family away for the weekend, you can easily fit five people with all their luggage. For particularly large and heavy loads, up to 85.7 cubic feet can be freed up by folding down all the rear seats. Overall, this compares very well with premium rivals like the Audi Q7, with its 14.2 - 70 cubic feet of standard trunk space.

Around the cabin, there are plenty of places to store your smaller items. There are large cupholders up front, with slightly smaller ones in the second row. There is also a standard glove compartment and quite spacious door pockets. Passengers in the rear-most seats don't get door pockets but there are a number of smaller cubbies for stowing the kids' toys.

2020 Volvo XC90 Front Seats Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Rear Passenger Seats Volvo
2020 Volvo XC90 Trunk Space with Seat Folded Volvo

XC90 Infotainment and Features

Features

Even the entry-level Momentum trims come extremely well equipped, with keyless entry and ignition, quad-zone climate control, and cruise control all coming standard. The upholstery starts out as leatherette but can be upgraded to genuine leather or premium Nappa leather, and the standard eight-way power seats are upgraded to ten-way power seats on the top-tier Inscription. Heating is added on the T6 models with available heated rear seats, too. Adaptive cruise control is available, along with near-autonomous driving in the form of Pilot Assist. The driver-assistance suite is comprehensive right from the get-go, with blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and forward collision avoidance all coming standard. The rear parking sensors are supplemented with front parking sensors on the upper trims. Optional add-ons include a surround-view camera, a head-up display, and front-seat massagers.

Infotainment

The infotainment suite centers around a nine-inch Sensus Connect touchscreen, which comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and navigation. Listening options include SiriusXM, HD Radio, or an MP3 player via the auxiliary audio jack, all channeled through the standard ten-speaker sound system. The upper trims get a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, instead, and a 19-speaker premium Bowers and Wilkins set-up is available, too. There is a pair of USB ports up front for charging devices, and the rear seats get their own USB ports. For more old-school charging, a couple of 12-volt power outlets are available around the cabin.

XC90 Problems and Reliability

Despite its long list of features and high safety ratings, the SUV didn't score so well on dependability, according to J.D. Power. The organization only rated the XC90 at 76 out of 100 in 2019, and we don't expect it to fare much better in 2020. Still, there aren't very many complaints against the vehicle, and it has only been recalled twice in recent history. Once in 2019 for an error in the post-collision GPS SOS system, and again in 2020 for a problem with the automatic emergency braking not working. Volvo also doesn't offer a particularly standout warranty on the SUV, with the limited and powertrain plans only covered for the standard 50,000 miles/48 months. However, there is 36,000 miles/36 months of complimentary maintenance.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

XC90 Safety

In typical Swedish fashion, the XC90 scores brilliantly in all safety tests. The NHTSA awards the SUV a near-perfect rating of five stars, with only the rollover crash test scoring four stars. Similarly, the IIHS rates the XC90 as Good in every category except headlights, and the SUV received the authority's Top Safety Pick award in 2019.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating

Key Safety Features

The sheer number of standard safety features on any Volvo is staggering, and the XC90 doesn't stray from this tried and true methodology. Every model comes equipped with ABS, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, and seven airbags: front, driver knee, front side impact, and overhead curtain. An array of advanced driver-assistance features come standard, too, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and parking sensors. Volvo Pilot near-autonomous driving is also available.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Volvo XC90 a good SUV?

The simple answer is yes. However, it behooves us to point out exactly why the Volvo XC90 deserves to be on your shortlist when shopping for a luxury midsize SUV.

The base engine won't impress you, sadly, but the available T6 powertrain certainly gets the job done with aplomb. However, the SUV will never be athletic, and it doesn't deliver the ride quality we have come to expect from this segment. But, look past these minor failings, and the Volvo certainly has a lot going for it. The cabin is quite spacious, both for passengers and cargo, and it is extremely well-appointed. Loads of features come standard, especially in terms of the driver-assistance suite.

Add to this the XC90's impressive handling and competitive mileage figures, and it's not hard to see the appeal of the Volvo SUV. Very few crossovers are as practical and enjoyable for daily driving. While it may be possible to find sportier or more luxurious vehicles on the market, you'd be hard-pressed to find one that combines both aspects so well. This is certainly a car you should take for a drive before coming to a final decision. You won't regret it.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Volvo XC90?

The Volvo XC90 bears a premium price tag even in its most basic guise. The Momentum and R-Design trims are at their cheapest when equipped with the T5 powertrain and the front-wheel drivetrain, with the former starting at $48,350 and the latter at $56,100. Both can be had with the all-wheel drivetrain, too, at an additional cost of $2,500. The T6 powertrain can only be paired with the all-wheel drivetrain and expands the line-up by one trim level. The T6 Momentum costs $56,300 in the seven-seat configuration and $56,800 with six seats. The T6 R-Design is only available with seven seats for $62,000. The Inscription is also available in two configurations, with the seven-seater costing $62,600 and the six-seat $500 more. These prices don't include tax, registration, licensing, incentives, or Volvo's $995 handling fee.

2020 Volvo XC90 Models

Three trim levels comprise the Volvo XC90 range, although the choice of two engines sees a total of five configurations offered. The standard T5 engine, developing 250 hp and 258 lb-ft, paired with either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, is available on the Momentum and R-Design trims. The T6 twin-charged engine ups the power output to 316 hp and 295 lb-ft, but it only comes with all-wheel-drive. Once again, the Momentum and R-Design trims are available, but the Inscription joins the fray at this level.

As the most basic trim, the Momentum comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, foglights, a panoramic sunroof, and a power tailgate. The interior is upholstered in leatherette, with eight-way power front seats, quad-zone climate control, and keyless entry and ignition. The all-wheel-drive version gets heated front seats as standard. A 12.3-inch driver-information display is standard for the new year and complements the standard safety suite, comprising blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, and forward collision avoidance. The infotainment suite consists of a nine-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, HD Radio, and a ten-speaker sound system.

The R-Design makes several changes to the exterior of the SUV to set it apart from the base Momentum. For starters, it gets larger 20-inch alloy wheels, as well as a gloss-black R-Design grille, and high gloss-black decor side windows. In terms of features, it upgrades the upholstery to perforated Nappa leather and gives the seats sports padding. The standard Pilot Assist gets Navi functionality, and the rear park assist is supplemented with front park assist. The sound system is also upgraded to a 14-speaker Harman Kardon set-up.

The top-tier Inscription does away with the R-Designs bespoke styling in favor of an Inscription grille with bright decor side windows. The sport seats are traded out for comfort seats, and the front seats get heating and ventilation as standard. The interior of the cabin gets genuine Walnut wood inlays as opposed to the metal inlays found in the R-Design.

See All 2020 Volvo XC90 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Despite the SUV's impressive array of standard features across its three trim levels, the XC90 can still be improved upon by adding some of the available package options or standalone add-ons. The Multimedia Package ($1,850) brings the base Momentum more in-line with the upper trims by adding Sensus navigation to the touchscreen and upgrading to the 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Each model also gets access to a heating package for $750. On the Momentum and R-Design, this adds heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. On the Inscription, the rear seats are heated instead. This forms part of the offering in the Advanced Package ($2,450), which further adds a headlight cleaner, additional parking assist, a surround-view camera, and a head-up display. The Luxury Package ($3,100) for the Inscription includes the heating package as well as Nubuck headliner and massage functions for the front seats.

🚗What Volvo XC90 Model Should I Buy?

While every model in the XC90 range comes well-equipped, you'll want to look to the T6 trims for the much-needed hike in power. Aside from this, every other upgrade is purely optional, as even the base Momentum trim offers most of the features buyers are looking for. The standard safety suite is only missing the front parking sensors available on the upper trims, and the infotainment suite can be upgraded with the Harman Kardon sound system present on the R-Design or Inscription. The leatherette upholstery isn't quite as plush as the Nappa leather, but it's plenty comfortable while still keeping the overall price of your purchase below $60k.

Check out other Volvo XC90 Styles

2020 Volvo XC90 Comparisons

Audi Q7 Audi
Volvo XC60 Volvo
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volvo XC90250 hp21/30 mpg$48,350
Audi Q7 335 hpTBC$54,800
Volvo XC60 250 hp22/29 mpg$40,150

2020 Volvo XC90 vs Audi Q7

In a battle between the German and Swedish luxury SUVs, it's a pretty hard call to make. Much like the XC90, the Audi Q7 offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the standard powertrain. And, again, much like the Volvo's, this engine is lackluster. However, rather than trying to supercharge the inline-four, Audi opted to skip straight to a turbocharged V6 paired with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, developing 335 hp and an impressive 369 lb-ft. This makes the Q7 far more athletic than its rival, sprinting to 60 mph in less than six seconds. It's also the more luxurious of the two SUVs, which is saying something, considering how well-appointed the XC90 is. However, the Audi has less maximum cargo capacity, and its standard list of features is a bit sparse compared to Volvo's generosity. If you want fun and speed above all else, the Q7 certainly looks appealing, but more practical shoppers might prefer the XC90.

See Audi Q7 Review

2020 Volvo XC90 vs Volvo XC60

The smaller sibling to the XC90, the Volvo XC60 is almost identical to its big bro. It's offered in the same trim levels with the same list of features. It also gets access to the same powertrains, either the T5 or T6 four-cylinder engines. However, the XC60 is smaller and lighter, so it can do more with the available power. This does mean it makes some sacrifices, though. It can't seat more than five, no matter how hard you try, and its maximum cargo capacity is more than 20 cubic feet below the XC90s. Still, unless you need the extra row of seats and enough space to pack the entire family's luggage as well as the dog, the smaller SUV should suffice for town living. It's also quite a bit cheaper than the XC90 and it gets better gas mileage figures, to boot.

See Volvo XC60 Review

Volvo XC90 Popular Comparisons

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2020 Volvo XC90 Video Review

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