2012 Volvo XC90 Review

2012 Volvo XC90 Road Test and Review…

Sure it’s a little long in the tooth, but the 2012 Volvo XC90 remains a genuine contender in the luxury SUV market.

At around ten years old in its current shape, the big Volvo wagon won’t win the day at the beauty pageant, but it’ll more than make up for those shortcomings with drive-ability, functionality and economy.

For anyone with children, it’s almost impossible to top the XC90.

With numerous seat configurations, the famous built in booster seat and more safety features than you can poke a stick at, the Volvo just fits; whether the kids are 4 or 14.

With an enormous 1837 litres of space with all the seats folded flat, you’ll carry anything.

With three rows of seats in use you’ll carry 7 passengers in real comfort.

And with two rows operational & the rear seats pushed all the way back, you’ll have leg room that would make a long wheel base Bentley owner jealous.

The finish right throughout the cabin is first class, although like the exterior, some of the design features are beginning to show their age.

All the usual connectivity is available, anchored by a screen that makes a grand entrance every time you turn the key (no push button start available), rising from within the centre of the dash.

Although the first time around it looks great, it can quickly become frustrating, particularly when I’d already finished my reversing manoeuvre by the time the screen was up & displaying the view from the rear camera.

The mass of buttons on the central panel above the gear-shift is very busy, but intuitive in the way the controls are positioned and you quickly become comfortable with it.

The SAT NAV is easy to use, even if displayed on that slow rising screen with fairly ordinary resolution.

It would pay the Volvo boffins well to jump into a current Hyundai to see how things are done in 2012.

On the road the Volvo has excellent manners, a supple ride that soaks up the worst a secondary Australian road can throw at, and in the corners it remains composed and predictable when pushed.

It’s not the type of car that encourages you to push though, and even though it does feel considerably smaller than it is (apart from when attempting a three point turn – it does have a rather large turning circle).

The ‘unfussed’ manner in which it goes about it’s business is naturally mirrored by the driving style you’ll automatically adopt perched high up in a leather clad wonderland.

The 5-cylinder diesel is clattery at low revs, but willing, and has plenty of low down pull by way of 420Nm of torque.

The considerable turbo lag however takes some getting used to.

Push the accelerator, wait a second or two, and you’ll finally be away. To be honest, it’s possibly the Volvo XC90’s worst point.

One of the Volvo’s best points would have to be fuel economy.

Mated to a beautifully smooth changing 6-speed auto box, I averaged just 9.2litres per 100km, which for 2125kg vehicle in both city & highway environments, is just brilliant.

At $73,490 plus on roads the Volvo is far from cheap, however when stacked up against its most obvious rivals, the M-Class Mercedes Benz, BMW’s X5 and Audi’s Q7, the value becomes obvious, particularly when you option up the others to match the Volvo’s spec.

The Volvo XC90 we tested was fitted with the optional rear seat entertainment package, once again a boon for families and a huge hit with my ankle biter, it really did put the cream on what was a very pleasant experience with the Volvo.

Sure there are more modern SUV’s, some are a better drive, some provide a little more luxury and some look a whole lot better, but the XC90 is more than just the sum of its parts.

If you are after a genuine 7 seat SUV that will pamper and look after your family in a safe and economical way, while still being enjoyable to drive, you simply have to give the Volvo XC90 an opportunity to work its charms on you.


Engine: 2.4 litre turbo diesel producing 147kW and 420Nm

Transmission: Six-Speed Automatic

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: Three years

Origin: Sweden

Price: From $73,490

For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Volvo Mk.1 XC90.

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