If you’re looking for information on a newer Volvo XC90, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Volvo XC90 Review
The 2018 Volvo XC90 is the jewel in this Swedish marque’s crown. Accepting that tastes differ, it could still be argued that its design is handsome yet simple and elegant, looking as if it will wear the years well. It also camouflages the fact that this one of the most spacious in the midsize luxury SUV class, with up to three rows of seating. An equal amount of thought, style and ingenuity can also be found inside the cabin.
This is the third year of the XC90’s second generation, and it continues to offer a high degree of safety equipment and driver assistance features. The XC90 has to be on any serious buyer’s short list.
What’s New for 2018?
The base level of standard equipment (which, on inspection, is not really basic at all) has expanded to include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration. Also back on the menu is the combination of the lowest Momentum trim with the T8 plug-in hybrid drivetrain. See the 2018 Volvo XC90 models for sale near you
What We Like
Handsome exterior design; thoughtful interior design; top-notch safety equipment
What We Don’t
Stop/start engine feature a little too intrusive; smallest engine not the best choice
The engine in T5 models is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit turbocharged to produce 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission that sends drive to the front wheels by default. All-wheel drive is optional.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption in front-drive form at 22 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the numbers are 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.
The T6 has the same transmission, yet with all-wheel drive as standard. It also uses a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, but this one is supercharged as well as turbocharged. The result is 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Despite that extra power, fuel consumption is pretty good at 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.
Adding an electric motor to the engine and all-wheel-drive setup of the T6 produces the T8 AWD plug-in hybrid version. The whole system develops 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. The EPA states an all-electric range of 19 miles and an average mile-per-gallon equivalent of 62 MPGe. In standard hybrid mode, combined consumption is 27 mpg. Charging the lithium-ion battery pack from a 240-volt outlet takes 2.5 hours; using a 120-volt outlet takes almost three times as long.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Volvo XC90 comes in T5, T6 and T8 versions. The T5 accommodates five occupants, and the T6 and T8 can take seven — except for the super-luxurious T8 Excellence trim level that seats four.
The T5 comes in Momentum and R-Design trims. The T6 is available in Momentum, R-Design or Inscription. And the T8 comes in Momentum, R-Design, Inscription or Excellence trims.
T5 Momentum ($47,895) — Comes well-equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, LED lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium vinyl upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, hands-free liftgate, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, drive mode selection, rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, navigation, keyless entry/ignition, Bluetooth phone and audio, 9-in touchscreen (set vertically) and a 10-speaker audio system with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, USB port and an auxiliary input. A suite of advanced protection features (see the Safety section below) are also part of the stock package.
T5 R-Design ($53,295) brings a sportier steering wheel with gearshift paddles, plus 20-in alloys, sport seats, leather upholstery, automatic high beams and various cosmetic touches.
T6 Momentum ($55,045) brings its own specific drivetrain, then adds 19-in wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery and quad-zone automatic climate control.
T6 R-Design ($59,045) builds on the Momentum in much the same way as the T5 version.
T6 Inscription ($60,145) has even nicer leather upholstery to accompany its own set of plusher cosmetic additions. Comfort comes more to the fore as heated/ventilated front seats provide adjustable bolstering, as well as sunshades for the rear section of the cabin.
T8 Momentum ($65,945) includes the plug-in hybrid drivetrain, but otherwise echoes the Momentum versions of the T5 and T6. It’s a similar formula for the T8 R-Design ($69,945).
T8 Inscription ($71,045) contributes adaptive LED headlights and daytime running lights, a crystal gear shift knob and extendable under-thigh support for the front seats.
T8 Excellence ($105,895) is limousine quality. Virtually everything is standard, including all the advanced safety features. Rear accommodation consists of two reclining captain’s chairs with heating, ventilating and massaging functions, folding trays, heated/cooled cup holders (with a pair of crystal glasses), rear touchscreen, refrigerator, more leather, more sound insulation and 21-in alloy wheels.
Among the many options are a built-in children’s booster seat (for the second row), head-up display, adaptive air suspension, 22-in wheels, automated parking, a heated steering wheel and a Bowers & Wilkins 19-speaker audio system.
Those versions with seating for seven have a third row that can split and fold in 50/50 fashion. Behind these seats is a generous 15.8 cu ft. of cargo space. Fold down the second and third rows for a maximum of 85.7 cu ft. No rivals can offer anything better.
The words Volvo and safety go together like parks and recreation. As well as the mandatory anti-lock brakes, airbags and traction control, the XC90 comes standard with a forward-collision system featuring automatic braking and detection of pedestrians and cyclists, plus adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Run-Off Road Protection is also standard. Should the XC90 suddenly leave the pavement, the system tightens seat belts and uses shock-absorbing seat cushions to reduce the risk of spinal injuries. Optional safety features are lane departure intervention and a 360-degree camera system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the XC90 five out of five stars overall. In front and side impacts, it earned five stars; it took four stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made it a Top Safety Pick Plus after awarding the vehicle its highest score of Good in all the major categories.
Behind the Wheel
Inside this tranquil cabin are cool surfaces of aluminum trim and matte-finish wood accents. Even with three rows of seating, there’s still plenty of passenger space. The seats themselves are typically sumptuous and typically Volvo, some of the most comfortable in the business. And the controls are all laid out in a tidy manner; Volvo doesn’t go in for clutter.
The handling is similarly tidy, with stability and composure shining through even when tackling corners. But here’s the usual piece of advice about not going for a big wheel/lower-profile tire combination: comfort levels will be far better with smaller wheels and more forgiving tire sidewalls.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Acura MDX — One of the few premium rivals that can also seat seven. Has a tempting equipment-to-expenditure ratio.
2018 Audi Q7 — In generational terms, even younger than the XC90. Packed with technology, space and cool designs.
2018 BMW X5 — The driver’s choice, but not too firm. Comes with diesel and plug-in hybrid options.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class — A plug-in hybrid is available. Seating for five. Classy enough to wear its famed badge, though.
2018 Lexus RX — Well-built and a big seller. The looks might deter some buyers. The unremarkable driving experience might put off others. A hybrid version is available. Seats five.
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport — Has much of its bigger sibling’s plushness in a more accessible package. Seats five.
If possible, consider the T6 Momentum. The difference in fuel consumption isn’t too drastic, and the price might still provide some leeway to add more safety equipment.