2016 Volvo XC90

Starting MSRP: $43,950 - $68,100

Estimated MPG: 22 city / 26 hwy

2016 Volvo XC90 Review

Arguably the most technologically advanced SUV ever built, the all-new 2016 Volvo XC90 provides attractive styling, excellent fuel economy, noteworthy performance and comfortable seating for up to seven passengers.

By Chris Brewer
Last Updated 03/20/2017

Offering up to three rows of seating, the redesigned 2016 Volvo XC90 is a four-door five- or seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV. The XC90 comes with front- or all-wheel drive and is available in three trim levels: the base Momentum, the enthusiast-friendly R-Design and the top-of-the-line Inscription. Engine choices include a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 2.0-liter that's both supercharged and turbocharged. Both are governed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. A hybrid power plant is also available. The XC90 is also available as a plug-in hybrid, and this variant adds an electric motor to the turbocharged 2.0-liter.

Exterior

Exterior
10

The 2016 Volvo XC90 wears a beautifully sculpted design that is at once classic and futuristic. Subtle styling elements drawn from Volvo’s past lay the foundation for the manufacturer’s new modular chassis technology.

The XC90 is easily recognizable as a Volvo by its front fascia, and its grille and lights combine to give the SUV a look that is uniquely Scandinavian. The SUV strikes a broad-shouldered stance, and Volvo has also updated its iconic “iron mark” logo to align with the XC90’s bold grille.

Our test vehicle was an example of the manufacturer’s R-Design trim. Created for driving enthusiasts, this performance-oriented version of the XC90 adds assertive design elements. Our review vehicle was clad with a set of optional 22-inch alloy wheels.

Interior

Interior
9

Volvo asserts that the XC90’s interior is “the most luxurious ever created for a Volvo,” and the cabin's elegant design and impeccable fit and finish lend credence to this claim. The driver-centric cockpit is the result of the brand’s “designed around you” strategy, which puts an emphasis on creating a comfortable and ergonomic environment for both the driver and front passenger. The 10-way power-adjustable front seats are incredibly comfortable, although the sport seats found in our R-Line were a little snug for some of our passengers.

The XC90 can be configured with two rows that seat five adults, and it's also available with third-row seating for seven-passenger capacity. The second-row seats are comfortable, complete with their own climate-control interface. The third row will accommodate two adults during short trips, but its dimensions are best suited for smaller children. Additionally, getting in and out of the third row requires a coordinated approach as there is not much room for ingress and egress. Once you are seated in the third row, the second-row seats fold back into place and lock you in. Passengers uncomfortable with tight spaces might find the limited space and inability to easily exit stressful.

Cargo capacity for two-row vehicles is impressive at 41.8 cubic feet. Three-row variants are limited to 15.8 cubic feet when all the seats are in place, which is about average for the segment. The 85.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space that is available when both back rows are collapsed is impressive, and we were able to transport a boxed 70-inch television laid flat in the back.

Performance

Performance
9

The 2016 Volvo XC90 is available with three 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. The turbocharged T5 creates 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The T6 is both supercharged and turbocharged, producing 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The T8 plug-in hybrid adds an electric motor to the T6’s engine and provides 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. The T8 also boasts an electric-only range of 14 miles. Regardless of engine choice, the XC90 utilizes a silky-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

The T5 is available with front- or all-wheel drive, while T6 and T8 models are exclusively all-wheel drive vehicles. Fuel economy in the T5 model with front-wheel drive is rated at 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. T5 trims with all-wheel drive offer 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, and T6 models earn 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The plug-in hybrid XC90 T8 gets 25 mpg combined, or the equivalent of 53 mpg when running solely on electric power.

Driving the XC90 is a joy. The engineers at Volvo have created an SUV that handles, brakes and accelerates more like a full-size luxury sports sedan than a seven-seat SUV. The base T5 engine is a great choice for families needing a nice blend of fuel economy and performance, but enthusiasts will want to opt for the supercharged T6 or the torque-heavy T8 hybrid. Thanks to the XC90’s highly configurable drive modes, the SUV can be dialed in to favor economy, comfort or sport.

Our T6 R-Design included an optional air suspension system that raised and lowered the vehicle depending on the driving situation. The Off-Road setting raises the vehicle by a couple of inches. Choosing the Dynamic option lowers the vehicle for better control around sharp corners.

Thanks to Volvo’s incredibly advanced system, the XC90 felt like three vehicles in one: a fuel-efficient comfort cruiser, a planted sports sedan with plenty of power and a capable trail machine.

Technology

Technology
10

The 2016 Volvo XC90 is truly one of the most technologically advanced SUVs ever built. A 12.3-inch digital instrument display replaces the traditional gauge cluster, and a 9-inch touch screen governs the Volvo’s incredible infotainment system. The base XC90 arrives with navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

All models feature keyless entry with hands-free power tailgate opening, cruise control, a rearview camera, lane departure warning and automatic windshield wipers.

Volvo’s infotainment system is among the most advanced we've ever encountered. In many ways, the 9-inch touch screen behaves like a tablet computer. A built-in Wi-Fi hot spot enhances connectivity, and operating the XC90’s audio and navigation settings feels like taking a step into the future.

Our review vehicle also included an amazing sounding Bowers & Wilkins audio system, Apple CarPlay, a head-up display and a Vision package with a 360-degree surround-view camera and blind spot monitoring.

Safety

Safety
10

Volvo is well known as a leader in vehicle safety, and the all-new XC90 takes the manufacturer’s reputation to yet another level. A full battery of air bags and passive restraints protect occupants in an accident.

All XC90s come with a rearview camera, rear park assist, lane departure warning, road sign information and electronic stability control. Volvo’s City Safety collision avoidance technology helps prevent collisions with vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. The XC90 automatically brakes if it enters the path of an oncoming vehicle at an intersection.

The XC90 earned a top rating of Good in all crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a top rating of Superior in crash avoidance and mitigation. The IIHS awarded the XC90 with its Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
9

The 2016 Volvo XC90 T5 starts at $44,945 including a $995 destination fee. The base XC90 arrives with a list of standard features that is generous even for a luxury SUV. The entry-level XC90’s price point is about the same as offerings from Acura, Infiniti and Lincoln, but undercuts the majority of the segment significantly and represents excellent value. The top-trim T8 Inscription starts at $68,100.

Our review vehicle, the XC90 T6 R-Design in Bursting Blue Metallic, featured an exclusive R-Design steering wheel and unique upholstery. Our SUV also came with massive 22-inch wheels ($1,000), a Bowers & Wilkins audio system ($2,650), a climate package ($800), a Convenience package ($1,800) and a Vision package ($1,800). Options on our review vehicle included the air suspension system ($1,800), a head-up display ($900) and Apple CarPlay ($300), bringing our test vehicle's price to a grand total of $67,205. Considering the high level of equipment and drivability, even our well-appointed review vehicle qualifies as good value for the segment.

Overall

Overall
10

Even in a segment full of impressive vehicles, Volvo’s all-new XC90 truly stands out. With sophisticated standard safety features and a trio of versatile and fuel-efficient powertrains, Volvo’s three-row SUV is easy to love. Throw in its highly advanced interior and we can easily recommend this 2016 North American Truck of the Year winner to anyone shopping for a luxury crossover.