Ever since Volvo first introduced its XC90 SUV in the early 2000s, this model has been a worthy flagship for the Swedish brand.
Known for its outstanding safety and spaciousness, it was transformed in 2015 to become a stylish and classy model that would pave the way for Volvo models, and it continues to do so.
Four years after its original debut, the second-generation XC90 has been enhanced with a number of new mild-hybrid powertrains, while the car has also received styling changes in the form of a revised grille, new lower bumper and all gloss black trim on the R-Design variants.
Standard equipment levels have also been enhanced, while new alloy wheels and colour options round off this updated model.
As was the case before, the XC90 is offered with a number of petrol and diesel engines, along with a powerful T8 plug-in hybrid, which has also been enhanced.
But the key difference on this updated model is a new mild-hybrid powertrain, which is the version we’re testing here. It combines a 231bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine with a 48-volt battery, which recovers energy when the model is decelerating.
Ride and handling
While a mild-hybrid might be an unusual concept to many, once you’re behind the wheel it feels hardly any regular combustion engine. It’s worth remembering that all diesel XC90s now use this tech.
It’s one of the most refined models on sale, with incredible long-distance comfort – there really are few better models for munching up the miles than this.
The steering can be eerily light at first, but if you’re driving around town or in a tight car park, you soon realise just how useful it can be. The visibility is also superb, with large windows all-round giving you a good view of the road, while a series of cameras are perfect for negotiating tight parking spaces.
The mild-hybrid powertrain also helps to cut fuel consumption by 15 per cent, while the XC90’s CO2 emissions of 154g/km are impressive on a car of this size.
Interior and equipment
As was the case before, the XC90’s interior is a true delight. It’s classy and modern, yet seamlessly combines this with incredible build quality – equally a match to anything from Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi. The large portrait touchscreen itself dominates the cabin and is one of the most responsive ones around, though it controls too many functions – climate control, for example, would be much better on a traditional rotary knob.
Its huge boot and genuine spaciousness for seven adults and their luggage also makes the XC90 one of the most versatile premium SUVs on sale today.
Standard equipment is extensive, with the entry-level Momentum versions coming with LED headlights, an electric tailgate, a reversing camera as well as access to a whole host of connected services. The trim levels offered include the sporty-looking R-Design versions, as well as the more luxurious Inscription models.
Prices for the XC90 start from £52,335, with the B5 versions only costing an additional £1,500. That’s for a Momentum grade model, though prices will keep rising all the way up to £71,945 for the plug-in hybrid T8 version. At that price it can begin to look expensive but opting for the lower trim levels make the XC90 competitively priced next to rivals.
The XC90 has always been a solid all-rounder and Volvo has only enhanced this with this stylish facelifted model. Mild-hybrid technology has improved the formula, too, and any fuel savings will no doubt be very welcome once you arrive at any petrol station.
This may be a very subtle refresh, but it only shows just how excellent the XC90 was when it debuted four years ago, as it’s a car that remains right near the top of the large premium SUV class.