2019 Volvo XC90

By September 11, 2019

The 2019 Volvo XC90 offers Scandinavian style, high technology, superior safety, versatile practicality, and luxury equal to more expensive rivals. 

For 2019, the base all-wheel-drive XC90 gets heated seats and four-zone climate control. R-Design and Inscription models get a new Harman Kardon stereo, and the active safety system has been updated.

Base front-wheel-drive T5 models get a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with  250 horsepower, mated to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available.

The all-wheel-drive T6 model adds a supercharger to make 316 horsepower, a better match for the weight of this three-row crossover. This engine is also quiet and fuel-efficient. 

The T8 plug-in hybrid makes 400 horsepower, thanks to an additional 87-hp electric motor. Naturally it gets the best gas mileage at 58 MPGe, and 19 miles of electric-only driving on a full charge.

Base T5 FWD models manage 21 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined, and 1 less mile per gallon with AWD. The AWD T6 delivers 1 mpg less.

The XC90 boasts five stars overall in crash testing by the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS insurance industry, with top scores in every crash test. Every XC90 comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, road sign recognition, and rear collision mitigation.

Model Lineup

For less than $47,700 the base Momentum comes with a power tailgate, four-zone automatic climate control, power adjustable front seats, synthetic leather, a fully-digital gauge cluster, and a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

R-Design ($56,950) or Inscription models add sport or luxury features such as leather seats, wood or aluminum trim, larger wheels, and aluminum or black accents across the body. Optional packages include everything from a driver-assistance system to an excellent Bowers & Wilkins stereo to an air suspension and a panoramic moonroof.

The Excellence hits an astonishing $104,950, and includes a crystal gearshift, climate-controlled reclining rear seats and footrests, a refrigerator and crystal glasses for the champagne you’ll be drinking in the back. 

Exterior

When the XC90 first came out it was the best-looking SUV on the road, and it hasn’t changed much, and it’s still one of the best-looking SUVs on the road. Sharp LED headlights and tall taillights complement the tall nose. It’ll stand up in the parking lot next to any Range Rover thanks to its softly styled sheet metal, and LED daytime running lights.

Interior

The XC90 cabin is elegant and stylishly understated. The stitched leather, real wood, metal accents, and some of the plastics are beautiful. The infotainment screen dominates the dashboard with its iPad-like interface.

The front seats are supportive, easy to adjust, and comfortable for long stints behind the wheel. The second row is elevated a bit, so the passengers can better see out the windshield; it also slides, giving legroom to where it’s most needed. 

The third row has two seats and is best suited for small passengers.

Both the second and third rows fold flat into the floor to create 85.7 cubic feet of cargo space. With just the third row folded, there’s still a versatile 41.8 cubic feet; behind the third row there’s 15.8 cubic feet, about the size of a trunk in a mid-size sedan. 

Driving Impressions

The base engine is a Volvo workhorse, their 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. With a sharp 8-speed automatic it’s called the T5, with front- or all-wheel drive. Volvo calls the most popular version the T6; it uses the same turbocharged engine and bolts on a supercharger. So fitted, the engine makes 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and pulls much more strongly; the T6 comes only with all-wheel drive.

The T8 is a plug-in hybrid system that mates the supercharged-turbocharged engine with a 10.4-kwh lithium-ion battery to get 400 horsepower, as well as 19 miles of driving on just the battery. With 472 pound-feet of torque, the T8 is quick and more efficient. 

The XC90’s handling is impressive. Volvo engineers have turned a big SUV into something that feels natural and direct. The feedback through the steering is a bit light, and there’s some body lean, but for a vehicle like this that’s high praise. 

The ride is supple on the standard suspension, but far more supple when fitted with the available air suspension. 

Volvo’s Pilot Assist can steer on the highway and maintain speeds, but requires the driver to stay in touch with the steering wheel.

Final Word

The Volvo XC90 is an SUV gem, especially in T6 trim, which leaves drivers smiling with its power, its all-wheel-drive, and its versatile cargo space. It’s an unexpectedly luxurious vehicle, too.