2019 Volvo XC90

2019 Volvo XC90 Review: Who Needs A V6?

by Roger Biermann

It's hard to squeeze three rows of comfortable seating into even a large SUV, so the fact that the mid-size Volvo XC90 manages to be spacious and stylish with seven seats is impressive - and it provides a decent amount of cargo space to boot. Utilizing Volvo's Drive-E lineup of powertrains, four-cylinder engines abound, equipped with either a turbo in default form or a turbo and a supercharger in the case of the 316-horsepower strong T6 derivatives. But, its ride quality is a bit disappointing for an SUV with such a high price tag, especially in a class of SUV that technically contains the Porsche Cayenne in addition to more traditional rivals like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Still, with a long list of advanced safety features, a high-quality infotainment suite, and an upscale interior, the Volvo XC90 has plenty of appeal and should be near the top of your list if you're considering a luxury family-focused crossover.

Read in this review:

2019 Volvo XC90 Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 XC90?

The 2019 model Volvo XC90 sees few changes, with most of them being behind-the-scenes streamlining of optional features. The standard wheels see new designs introduced while Maple Brown, Pine Grey, and Luminous Grey have been dropped from the color palette. The optional packages have been reconfigured with the Convenience and Momentum Plus packages removed in favor of the Advanced and Multimedia Plus packages. Models with all-wheel-drive, which is standard on the trims equipped with the T6 engine, now come with heated front seats as standard, while the upper trims receive a Harman Kardon stereo system.

Pros and Cons

  • Upscale interior
  • Plenty of standard features
  • Superior passenger space despite third row of seats
  • Sharp steering and adequate handling
  • High cargo capacity
  • Clunky transmission
  • Weak standard engine
  • Unrefined T6 engine
  • Touchscreen can be finicky
  • Cramped third-row seating

XC90 Exterior

The XC90 is as attractive as ever, sporting Volvo's bold concave grille on the front fascia, framed by signature Thor's Hammer LED headlights, while the standard fog lights sit low on the front bumper. The body is very sleek, with smooth curves and subtle angles, and rides on 18-inch alloys on the base model (19-inch with the T6 engine), with 20- or 21-inch variants available. Dual exhausts bring up the rear, with the power liftgate framed by tall LED taillights and capped with an LED strip along the rear spoiler. The R-Design and Inscription trims each get unique exterior styling elements, such as dual integrated tailpipes and thematic grilles.

2019 Volvo XC90 Front View Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Front Angle View Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Rear Angle View Volvo
See All 2019 Volvo XC90 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

While not as large as a full-size SUV, the XC90 still looks impressive, sitting at 194.9 inches long with a 117.5-inch wheelbase. Without its mirrors, the SUV is quite wide at 79.1 inches, while it stands 69.9 inches tall with 9.4 inches off ground clearance. It's also a pretty hefty vehicle, weighing in at 4,394 lbs. However, this is still quite a bit lighter than rivals like the Audi Q7 or Mercedes-Benz GLE, which each log a few hundred pounds extra on the scale.

Exterior Colors

For the new year, Volvo has dropped Maple Brown, Pine Grey, and Luminous Grey from the paint palette, leaving ten choices remaining. The standard solid paint option is Ice White, while the metallic palette includes Magic Blue, Electric Silver, Crystal White, Bright Silver, Osmium Grey, Onyx Black, Denim Blue. Passion Red and Bursting Blue Metallic are exclusive to the R-Design trims, both looking particularly striking with the subtly aggressive bodywork of the trim.

  • Magic Blue Metallic
  • Crystal White Pearl Metallic
  • Bright Silver Metallic
  • Osmium Grey Metallic
  • Onyx Black Metallic
  • Denim Blue Metallic
  • Electric Silver Metallic
  • Bursting Blue Metallic
  • Ice White
  • Passion Red

XC90 Performance

The base 250-hp engine in the T5 models is adequate for sedate town driving, but don't expect it to make the hefty SUV feel athletic. With a maximum speed of 130 mph, this powertrain can get the XC90 halfway there in around 7.5 seconds. If you want to get there a bit faster, the T6 engine, with 316 hp and 295 lb-ft, does the same sprint 1.4 seconds faster, but it maxes out at the same top speed of 130 mph. The much heavier Audi Q7, equipped with its own supercharged engine, a V6, can get up to speed in 5.7 seconds. This is slightly faster than Volvo's T6 models, even though they are quite a bit lighter on their feet.

Still, the XC90 has adequate power, but no matter how hard you push its engines, the SUV will never feel sporty. Straight out of the factory, the mid-size crossover can safely tow up to 4,000 lbs in front-wheel-drive configuration, and 5,000 lbs in all-wheel-drive when equipped with the correct towing attachments.

2019 Volvo XC90 Front Angle View 1 Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Rear View Driving Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Wheel Volvo

Engine and Transmission

Equipped as standard on the first tier of Volvo XC90 is a T5 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, developing 250 hp and 258 lb-ft for your choice of either the front wheels, or all four wheels simultaneously. This powertrain isn't weak, per se, but when you take into account the weight of the vehicle and the potential for up to seven passengers, it can often leave the SUV breathless. Merging and passing on the highway is possible, but neither maneuver will be swift.

For a bit more kick, you will need to upgrade to the T6 motor, a turbo- and supercharged four-cylinder engine, which also displaces 2.0 liters but delivers a more impressive 316 hp and 295 lb-ft. This is less than some turbo- or supercharged V6 engines under the hood of rivals like the Audi Q7, but it is enough to make the hefty SUV feel a little more athletic. Passing becomes a lot easier, and getting around town feels a lot less arduous. However, the engine sounds unrefined and during the changeover between supercharging down low and turbocharging up high, there's sometimes a stutter in power delivery.

Both engines come mated to a eight-speed automatic transmission, which could do with a little refinement as it sometimes grasps for the correct gear, causing the XC90 to stutter as it deals with intermittent stops around town. Unlike the T5 engine, which allows for front-wheel-drive, the T6 can only be paired with an all-wheel drivetrain.

  • 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 mid-size SUV handles surprisingly well for a vehicle of its size and weight, even if it does come in a bit lighter than similarly sized rivals. The steering is light and sharp, which allows the crossover to respond more dexterously, although it gains heft at higher speeds to ensure the vehicle maintains stability on the highway. Negotiating busy in-town roads or packed parking lots is never a chore, despite the larger dimensions of the XC90.

The brakes are a bit on the sensitive side, providing disproportionate stopping power to the amount of input. But when you need extra power, you may find them lacking, as the brakes take slightly longer than average to bring the bulky SUV to a complete stop. But what they lack in brute force they make up for in finesse, as they never allow the crossover to lurch or wobble as it comes to a halt.

The XC90 handles quite well on the road, but never forget that it is a large and heavy vehicle, and not particularly sporty for an SUV. It can handle turns well enough at regular speeds, but even the impressive stability control system won't help you if you try them at higher velocities. Keep the Volvo's limits in mind, though, and you will find it a capable and pleasing drive. The crossover's subpar ride comfort does detract from this, though. While the smaller wheels on the T5 Momentum lessen road impacts, the upper trims are particularly susceptible to bumps in the road. Road noise intrudes into the cabin on anything but smooth surfaces. The overall ride quality can be improved by opting for the optional air suspension, but even this won't deliver the kind of ride we expect from a luxury SUV.

XC90 Gas Mileage

With only four-cylinder engines on offer, the Volvo SUV gets among the best fuel efficiency figures in the segment when going up against rivals powered by thirstier V6 and V8 engines. The base T5 engine is rated at 21/29/24 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles by the EPA. The twincharged T6 takes slightly larger sips, achieving 19/26/22 mpg. Both these engines fare well against rivals like the Audi Q7 and Merc GLE, which return 19/25/21 mpg and 17/23/20 mpg respectively in their most efficient guises. With an 18.8-gallon tank available, the Volvo can cover up to 451 miles between pit stops.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 21/29 mpg
* 2019 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum FWD

XC90 Interior

A plush interior presents passengers with an impressive amount of space, despite squeezing three rows of seats into a mid-size SUV. With a choice between leatherette or premium Nappa leather, comfort is guaranteed, while standard quad-zone climate control means everyone gets what they want. The infotainment suite is beautiful and comprehensive, although the controls could be simpler. All this comfort and practicality is wrapped in a very alluring package, with refined Swedish style ensuring your eyes are as spoiled as the rest of you. And while passenger space could be a little better, even the third row of seats remains quite functional without sacrificing on cargo space, which is rare in seven-seater SUVs.

2019 Volvo XC90 Gear Shifter Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Dashboard Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Steering Wheel Details Volvo
See All 2019 Volvo XC90 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Three rows of seats allow for up to seven passengers to be accommodated, although the third row should not be considered for anyone larger than a preadolescent. However, this is not a strike against the XC90, as many other seven-seater SUVs have third rows that are quite unusable. Headroom all-around can accommodate adults of most heights, but legroom is a little more restricted, although it is should still be enough for most passengers in the first two rows. Visibility is really good, even without the eight-way power front seats, thanks to the low hood line, but a slew of driver-assistance features bolster this further. Entering and exiting the vehicle is easy thanks to the wide door apertures and the relative height of the roof.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Synthetic leather upholstery is standard on the Momentum trim, available in either charcoal or Blond. The leatherette can be upgraded to genuine leather, but the upper trims come appointed in Nappa leather as standard. This plush, premium textile is offered in a variety of colors, including Charcoal, Blond, Amber, and Maroon Brown. The upholstery is complemented by inlay trimmings offered in Dark Flame Birch, Walnut, Carbon Fiber, or Aluminum, among others. Regardless of the materials you choose, you can rely on the solid build quality and refined style of the interior. Soft-touch surfaces abound, with upholstered door panels and roof linings.

XC90 Trunk and Cargo Space

Even with three rows of seats as standard, the Volvo supplies an excellent amount of cargo space, with 15.8 cubic feet, which increases to 41.8 cubic feet with the third row folded down. The similar seven-seater Audi Q7 provides 14.8 and 37.5 cubic feet, respectively. With all the rear seats folded down, the XC90 presents 85.7 cubic feet, putting the Volvo at the front of the segment for cargo capacity. Even with a complement of five passengers, there is plenty of space for multiple full-size suitcases. Grocery shopping can be accommodated without needing to fold down any of the seats.

Plenty of small-item storage is available throughout the cabin, with a standard glove compartment, large cupholders in the front, and average-sized ones for the second row. The door pockets are spacious and the third row has access to various storage cubbies.

2019 Volvo XC90 Rear Passenger Seats Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Trunk Space with Seat Folded Volvo
2019 Volvo XC90 Rear Angle View 1 Volvo

XC90 Infotainment and Features

Features

The SUV earns its reputation as a well-appointed luxury vehicle with a long list of standard features. Keyless entry and ignition, along with a hands-free power liftgate allow for easy access, even with arms full of groceries, while quad-zone climate control, eight-way power front seats with lumbar, and heated front seats on the all-wheel-drive models promote optimal levels of comfort. Adaptive cruise control and a near-autonomous driving assistant let you relax behind the wheel, while blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning work to keep you and your family safe. Available features include a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, and seat massagers.

Infotainment

A pristine nine-inch portrait-layout Sensus Connect touchscreen rests within the dashboard and comes equipped with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, while still accommodating Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio jack. Various Sensus Connect options are available, which includes access to apps such as Spotify, Yelp, and Pandora. The ten-speaker sound system channels music from your smart devices through wireless connections, although two USB ports are available for physical interaction. SiriusXM bolsters the standard AM/FM Radio. While not standard, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot can be added to the suite, and the sound system can be upgraded to a Harman Kardon or 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins audio system. Rear USB ports and two iPad holders are available, too.

XC90 Problems and Reliability

The SUV receives a subpar reliability rating of 76 out of 100 from J.D. Power and has received a few complaints over the years. The 2019 model was only subjected to a single recall; in the event of a crash, the post-collision SOS system might not emit a GPS location. The 2018 model was also recalled for faulty seatbelts. Volvo offers a 50,000-mile/48-month limited and powertrain warranty, while maintenance is covered for 36,000 miles/36 months.

XC90 Safety

The SUV receives a five-star rating for safety from the NHTSA, while the IIHS awards it an overall rating of Good and earns the organization's Top Safety Pick award - we'd expect nothing less from the Swedish safety experts.

Key Safety Features

All Volvo vehicles are eminently safe, and the XC90 is no exception, courtesy of the IntelliSafe systems on board. Standard features include ABS, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and seven airbags: dual front, driver knee, front side, and side curtain. Near-autonomous driving is also offered with Volvo's Pilot Assist suite, which is fitted from the base model.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Volvo XC90 a good SUV?

This is definitely one of the better mid-size luxury SUVs on the market. While the base turbocharged four-cylinder can run out of steam pulling the heavy crossover around town, the available twincharged inline-four puts the Volvo more on par with its V6-powered rivals. It will never be an athletic SUV, but it doesn't try to sell itself as one. The XC90 focuses on its strengths, which include a luxurious and well-appointed interior with plenty of convenience and comfort features to ensure that your ride is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Paired with these are a plethora of advanced safety features that normally only come equipped on the top-most trims of even luxury vehicles.

When combined with excellent town handling, sharp steering, and competitive fuel economy, it's not hard to see why the Volvo SUV is so appealing to those who desire a practical, but pleasurable, daily driver for the whole family. The spacious interior and ample cargo capacity make this the perfect car for taking the kids to soccer practice or carting the whole family off for a quick weekend away. There are certainly sportier SUVs out there, and even some that are more luxurious, but few crossovers on the market can blend together so many opposing priorities to create an SUV that can suit just about any need. The Volvo XC90 may not be perfect, but it comes pretty darn close, and for that reason, it is worth serious consideration when deciding on a new vehicle the whole family can enjoy.

What's the Price of the 2019 Volvo XC90?

Competitively priced for the luxury SUV segment, the base-model T5 Momentum asks for as little as $47,700 for a new purchase. The R-Design using the same engine will cost you $54,950, while adding all-wheel-drive to either trim will add $2,200 to the price tag. Moving up to the supercharged engine, the T6 Momentum starts at $56,300, with the R-Design adding $4,950. The top-tier T6 Inscription comes in a little more expensive at $62,350. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and a $995 destination fee.

2019 Volvo XC90 Models

Three feature sets paired with two engine options combine to deliver a total of five trims: the T5 Momentum, T5 R-Design, T6 Momentum, T6 R-Design, and T6 Inscription. The T5 variants get a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that delivers 250 hp and 258 lb-ft to the front wheels, with optional all-wheel-drive. Under the hood of the T6 models is a 2.0-liter twincharged inline-four engine that develops 316 hp and 295 lb-ft to all four wheels. Rowing the gears for every model is an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Standard features on Momentum trims include leatherette upholstery, eight-way power front seats with lumbar and memory functions, quad-zone climate control, and heated front seats when equipped with all-wheel-drive. The infotainment suite comprises a nine-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth paired with a ten-speaker sound system. A multitude of advanced safety features is offered, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking.

R-Design models receive several aesthetic enhancements, including larger 20-inch wheels, a unique front grille, front spoiler, and dual integrated tailpipes. It also sees the addition of sport front seats and a sport front wheel, along with the premium 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and a sports chassis.

The Inscription trim loses the unique R-Design elements, replacing them with an Inscription front grille, Deco exterior trim and side molding, along with color-coordinated door handles. Inside, the SUV gets ventilated front seats with power side bolsters.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
T5 Momentum
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$47,700
T5 R-Design
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$54,950
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
$61,250
T6 Inscription
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$62,350
See All 2019 Volvo XC90 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

As well-equipped as the Volvo XC90 is, there are still optional packages available to add that extra level of opulence. These options have been refined from the previous year in the form of Multimedia Package ($2,350) and the Advanced Package ($2,350). The former comprises a 12.3-inch driver information display, pro navigation, road-sign recognition, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. The latter package sees the inclusion of a headlight cleaner, a head-up display, parking assist, and a surround-view camera. Features such as heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and 4G LTE can be added as standalone options, too. The available air suspension is definitely recommended.

What Volvo XC90 Model Should I Buy?

Opting for one of the T6 models is a must, as the base turbo four-cylinder engine simply doesn't move the hefty SUV as easily as we'd prefer. That said, the entry-level T6 Momentum should present buyers with everything they need to enjoy the Volvo luxury SUV, with lush synthetic leather, plenty of comfort and convenience features, an upscale infotainment suite with smartphone integration, and all the advanced safety features you could need to ensure your family's security. And even then, the T6 Momentum shouldn't break your bank at $55,700. The smaller wheels should be paired with the optional air suspension to get the best ride quality.

Check out other Volvo XC90 Styles

2019 Volvo XC90 Comparisons

Audi Q7 Audi
Volvo XC60 Carbuzz

2019 Volvo XC90 vs Audi Q7

The base turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the Q7 is just as underwhelming as the one found under the hood of the XC90, but the German SUV does weigh in a bit heavier than its Swedish rival. The 329-hp supercharged V6, however, gives the Audi a decent amount of kick, making it the more athletic of the two options. It is also more luxurious inside, with superb levels of comfort and extremely well-thought-out design elements. Unfortunately, it sacrifices more cargo space than the XC90 to achieve this. The Q7 also doesn't come standard with quite as many advanced safety features as the XC90, and its lower starting price is slightly undermined by marginally worse fuel economy. While its engines may be a strong point, they aren't strong enough to compensate for everything else the XC90 does so well. The Swede is the better all-rounder here.

See Audi Q7 Review

2019 Volvo XC90 vs Volvo XC60

With the same choice of engines and trim levels, the XC60 is almost an identical twin to the XC90, albeit a slightly smaller version. If you don't need a third row of seats, then the smaller SUV should certainly garner some attention. Its smaller size and lower weight mean that it can better capitalize on the power of the engines, especially the twin-charged T6. The XC60 also comes with almost all the same features as its larger sibling, with similar customization options. Naturally, it costs less and boasts slightly better fuel economy. Still, as much as it shares the same advantages of the larger crossover, it has the same weaknesses, too. It's not a particularly exciting drive and the ride quality could be a bit better. But if you need a well-appointed and reliable SUV for a family of four to five, then the XC60 might be the smarter buy here.

See Volvo XC60 Review

Volvo XC90 Popular Comparisons

See All 35 Comparisons
$47,700 - $62,350
Price Range (MSRP)
Volvo XC90
Popular Tags Cars