Since it went on sale for the 2015 model year, the Volvo XC90 has been one of the highlights of the 3-row luxury SUV segment. Offering an attractive Scandinavian design language, great safety features, and a range of unique turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engines, the 2020 Volvo XC90 does things its own way, but still manages to give luxury competitors from Europe and the USA quite a run for their money.
What’s New for 2020?
The XC90 gets a very mild mid-lifecycle refresh for 2020. This consists mainly of slight tweaks to the grille design and bumpers along with new wheel designs and new color options. Inside is more of the same, with a few new interior trim options, the highlight of which is a new wool blend option available on top-of-the-line Inscription models. The 8-in digital gauge cluster display previously found on the base Momentum trim is replaced by the 12.3-in display found elsewhere throughout the lineup. Momentum and Inscription trims are now available with second-row captain’s chairs, giving the XC90 an available 6-passenger configuration. The XC90’s extremely rare limousine-spec "Excellence" trim goes away for 2020. See the 2020 Volvo XC90 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Handsome, simplistic exterior design
- Uniquely Scandinavian interior design
- Available wool seating surfaces, top-notch safety equipment, available subscription program
What We Don’t
- Smallest engine option leaves something to be desired
- Exclusively 4-cylinder powertrain options may leave some luxury buyers yearning for the oomph of a V6 or a V8
- Heavy reliance on touchscreen controls, is it really a worthy competitor to the Germans?
As Volvo is working to establish new ways to get behind the wheel of one of its products, the company is offering a subscription service for the XC90 that includes insurance and maintenance in one monthly fee. A subscription to an XC90 Momentum, the only trim offered through this program at the moment, starts at $800 per month.
The XC90 is offered with three different powertrains, all of which use a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder as their base. T5 models are available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive guise and put out 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. With FWD, the T5 returns 21 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving; AWD T5s return 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.23 mpg combined.
The T6, which comes standard with AWD, adds a supercharger to the equation for a total output of 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy comes in at 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
At the top of the pile is the plug-in hybrid T8, which is also AWD only and uses both a supercharger and hybrid componentry for a total output of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. A small rechargeable battery allows the T8 to travel up to 17 miles on electric power alone. Factoring in the battery and electric motors, the T8 returns 58 MPGe, or 25 mpg combined if you drive it without charging the battery.
All XC90s make use of an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 XC90 is offered in three trim levels: Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription. The Momentum and R-Design are available with any of the three available powertrains, while the Inscription is limited to the T6 and T8. One of the new additions for 2020 is that second-row captain’s chair are now offered on Momentum and Inscription trims.
The base Momentum trim ($49,345) starts off pretty well equipped, with 18-in alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, quad-zone automatic climate control, premium leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, heated front seats (AWD versions), a hands-free lift gate, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, a garage door opener, a compass in the self-dimming rearview mirror, dark birch wood trim, different selectable drive modes, a rearview camera, navigation, keyless entry/ignition, a 12-volt outlet in the cargo area, Bluetooth phone and audio, a 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 variety of active safety features (see the Safety section below) are also included as standard. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel, the Harmon Kardon Audio system, and a few more driver assistance features can be added via packages.
The R-Design ($57,095) places a priority on style, and adds 20-in five-spoke wheels with black accents, a unique grille, slightly revised bumpers, silver mirror caps. Inside sees the addition of sport seats with electronically adjustable thigh bolsters, standard leather upholstery, paddle shifters, sun shades for the rear side doors, navigation, Harman Kardon audio and various cosmetic touches.
Top-of-the-line Inscription models ($64,095) gain 20-in 10-spoke silver wheels, ventilated Nappa leather upholstery or the aforementioned wool, which is new for 2020, and a variety of other upscale trim pieces like a crystal gearshift knob. An available luxury package adds massaging seats, a nubuck headliner, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. If you opt for the T8 powertrain, the Inscription gains adaptive LED headlights and daytime running lights, crystal-topped gear shift and extendable under-thigh support for the front seats.
Volvo is known for placing a high priority on safety and as such, integrates a variety of thoughtful safety features into each of its vehicles, although many of these are standard fare for any modern vehicle here in 2019. Among safety features offered as standard on the XC90 are a forward-collision warning system featuring automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, plus adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Lane-keeping assist and a 360-degree camera system are optional.
The XC90 also comes standard with what Volvo refers to as "Run-Off Road Protection." Should the XC90 suddenly leave the pavement, the system tightens the seat belts and uses shock-absorbing seat cushions to reduce the risk of spinal injuries.
The XC90 earns a coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the third-party Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for its exceptional crash test performance, where it was awarded top marks in all major categories.
Behind the Wheel
The XC90’s interior is tranquil and minimalist, thanks in large part to its calming Scandinavian design language. The seats are comfortable and modern-looking, while the dashboard is dominated by a 9-in center touchscreen; buttons and other visual clutter are kept to a minimum. The cabin is spacious and luxurious, which is what you’d expect from a luxury SUV costing between $50,000 and $85,000.
Autotrader was able to drive XC90s with both the T6 and T8 powertrains underhood. While neither one will make you think the XC90 is packing a big V8, the driving experience offered by either is on par with what most buyers want out of a luxury SUV. Handling is dialed in and visibility is good from the XC90’s tall greenhouse.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Acura MDX — A big seller, but in need of a redesign. Seats seven. Sport Hybrid trim is intriguing, but the Volvo feels more special.
2020 Audi Q7 — Packed with technology, space and cool designs. German luxury without being in-your-face. Seats seven.
2020 BMW X5 — Redesigned for 2020. Still the driver’s choice. Three powertrain options, including a 523 hp twin-turbo V8. Seats up to seven thanks to a newly-available third row for 2020.
Like much of the competition, the 2020 Volvo XC90 is an upscale family SUV offering loads of cargo space, or room for seven passengers when you need it. While it’s now been on sale for six model years without a major redesign, the XC90 remains highly competitive in its segment, thanks in large part to its unique Scandinavian design, efficient powertrains, and thoughtful safety features. While buyers looking for big power who don’t mind the idea of a hybrid can look toward the PHEV T8 model, we think most buyers will find that the T6 powertrain suits them just fine, as it comes with a more reasonable sticker price while still making good power. As far as trim level goes, the Momentum offers a good array of standard features, while the R-Design adds more style and some upscale appointments. Find a Volvo XC90 for sale