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2020 Volvo XC90 Review

The 2020 Volvo XC90 has a lovely and spacious interior, lots of standard safety features, and good fuel economy, but it ranks in the middle third of the luxury midsize SUV class because of its poor predicted reliability rating and just-adequate powertrains.

Pros & Cons

  • First-rate cabin materials
  • Spacious seating and cargo areas
  • Many standard tech and safety features
  • Good fuel economy
  • Poor predicted reliability rating
  • Tepid performance from base engine
  • Jittery ride when equipped with larger wheels

New for 2020

  • Refreshed exterior styling
  • Six-seat configuration now available
  • Excellence four-seat model discontinued




Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 7.1
Interior: 7.5
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Volvo XC90 a Good SUV?

The XC90 has a few drawbacks, but overall it’s a good luxury SUV. This three-row Volvo has surefooted handling, a composed ride, and great fuel economy, especially in its T8 hybrid configuration. The XC90 boasts an outstanding interior with luxe materials, roomy first- and second-row seats, and a cavernous cargo area. It also comes loaded with standard tech and safety features like adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, blind spot assist, and a 9-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay. The biggest issues holding back the XC90 are its underpowered base engine and awful predicted reliability rating.

Should I Buy the Volvo XC90?

The 2020 XC90 is definitely worth consideration. It offers an excellent mix of style, technology, fuel efficiency, and everyday practicality at a price that undercuts many top competitors. That said, there other luxury midsize SUVs, like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7, that you should test-drive first. Both place high in our rankings, and both have better predicted reliability ratings.

Compare the XC90, X5, and Q7 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volvo XC90?

Volvo launched this generation of the XC90 for the 2016 model year in both five-seat and seven-seat layouts. There have been a few key updates since. The 2017 XC90 added a lavish four-seat Excellence trim. The 2018 XC90 gained several standard features that were previously optional, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. For 2019, Volvo made the seven-passenger layout standard.

For 2020, the XC90 gets refreshed exterior styling, a new grille, and an optional six-seat configuration with captain’s chairs. The four-seat layout has been discontinued.

All in all, you can save money by shopping for earlier models within this generation while still finding the same engine and powertrain options as in the later models. Also, many of the features that are standard in 2018 and later XC90s, were available in 2016 and 2017 models, so you can find some older XC90s with this tech.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 XC90, 2018 XC90, and 2019 XC90 reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 XC90 »

We Did the Research for You: 27 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 27 Volvo XC90 reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible. This 2020 Volvo XC90 review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Volvo XC90 Cost?

The 2020 Volvo XC90 has a base MSRP of $48,350. That’s lower than average for a luxury midsize SUV. However, the XC90 is the priciest SUV in the Volvo family. By comparison, the compact Volvo XC60 SUV starts at $40,150, and the subcompact Volvo XC40 retails for as little as $33,700.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volvo dealer.

Volvo XC90 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volvo XC90 or Mercedes-Benz GLE?

The redesigned Mercedes GLE is an exceptional luxury SUV. It can seat up to seven passengers, and it boasts a handsome interior with high-end materials, much like the XC90. Unlike the Volvo, however, the GLE provides an impressive lineup of brawny engine options, sharp handling, and a silky smooth ride quality. It also rates higher for predicted reliability. The Mercedes is a bit pricier (it starts at around $54,000), but it’s the better pick.

Which Is Better: Volvo XC90 or Acura MDX?

The Acura MDX and the XC90 rank in the middle of the luxury midsize SUV class largely because of their low predicted reliability ratings. Otherwise, these are good SUVs. The MDX has a lower starting price by about $4,000, and its V6 engine is punchier than the XC90’s standard four-cylinder. The XC90, however, has a much nicer interior, a simpler infotainment system, and a larger cargo area. Pick the one that best suits your needs.

Which Is Better: Volvo XC90 or Volvo XC60?

The Volvo XC60 and XC90 have much in common. Both of these Swedish SUVs have lovely interiors, cozy seats, the same infotainment system, plus similar engines and fuel economy. The differences are a bit more subtle. The XC60 is a luxury compact SUV with five seats, a 63-cubic-foot cargo area, and fewer standard safety features than the XC90. It also starts at a much lower price: $40,150. The XC90 starts at $48,350, and it has seven seats and a large 85-cubic-foot cargo area. Stick with the XC90 if you have a growing family and need the extra space. Otherwise, go for the XC60 to save money while finding similar luxury and refinement.

Compare the XC90, GLE, and MDX »

XC90 Interior

How Many People Does the XC90 Seat?

The 2020 Volvo XC90 has seven seats. An optional six-seat layout trades the second-row bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs, which also make it easier to access the third row.

Overall, the XC90’s cabin feels large, and there’s generous head- and legroom for occupants in the first and second rows. These seats are also exceptionally comfortable and supportive. The third row is snug on legroom, so it’s best saved for smaller children and teens. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard. Available features include genuine leather, heated second-row seats, and heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats.

XC90 and Child Car Seats

The XC90 has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for its second row.

XC90 Interior Quality

The XC90 sports one of the nicest interiors in its class, and that’s no small feat next to rivals like the Range Rover Velar and Porsche Cayenne. The cabin is elegantly styled yet minimalist. Most surfaces are dressed with high-end materials, including leather, aluminum, soft-touch plastic, and matte-finish wood accents.

XC90 Cargo Space

The XC90 has 15.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats, 41.8 cubic feet with these seats folded, and 85.7 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded. That’s far more cargo room than every other luxury midsize SUV. A hands-free power liftgate comes standard.

XC90 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Every XC90 is equipped with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. This includes a 9-inch touch screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a 10-speaker stereo, and satellite radio. The tabletlike screen looks sleek and responds quickly to inputs. It can also be controlled using a knob and a few buttons, located directly underneath the screen. It’s a good system, but not the best in this segment.

Available features include a Wi-Fi hot spot, an upgraded navigation system, a head-up display, a Harman Kardon sound system, and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

Read more about interior »

XC90 Performance

XC90 Engine: A Trio of Turbos

The 2020 Volvo XC90 is available with three engine options: T5, T6, and T8. The entry-level T5 setup includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available. This engine hauls the XC90 around town with decent pep, but it sounds coarse under hard acceleration and offers meager passing power. The other powertrains are better-suited for the XC90, and they come standard with all-wheel drive.

The T6 setup features a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 316 horsepower. This twin-charged engine scoots the XC90 up to speed confidently, and it feels more refined in everyday driving. The T8 setup bundles that twin-charged engine with a pair of electric motors to create a 400-horsepower hybrid. The T8’s extra muscle is noticeable when pulling away from a stop, thanks to the immediate torque from the electric motors.

Every XC90 is outfitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It usually changes gears quickly and smoothly, but on occasion it’s hesitant to downshift. Opt for an R-Design model if you want to manually change gears; it’s the only XC90 equipped with paddle shifters.

XC90 Gas Mileage: Fuel Sipper

The 2020 Volvo XC90 T5 get an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. That’s great by luxury midsize SUV standards. Ratings for T5 AWD models dip slightly to 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The twin-charged T6 AWD gets a respectable 18/26 mpg city/highway.

The most fuel-efficient model is the XC90 T8. This plug-in hybrid gets 27 mpg in mixed city and highway driving, and it has an all-electric range of 18 miles. The EPA rates the T8’s efficiency at 55 MPGe. For more information about these ratings, check out What Is MPGe?

XC90 Ride and Handling: Surefooted and Secure

The XC90 offers predictable handling that most shoppers will appreciate. Its steering is quick and lightly weighted. The brakes provide strong stopping power, and the brake pedal has a nice, linear feel. The XC90 feels stable around turns, and it rides comfortably over uneven road surfaces, especially when equipped with the optional air suspension system.

You’ll want to think twice before selecting an optional wheel size. The XC90’s ride quality falls dramatically when outfitted with the available 21- or 22-inch wheels, which are wrapped in hard, thin tires.

XC90 Towing Capacity

The front-wheel-drive XC90 T5 can tow up to 4,000 pounds, when properly equipped. The all-wheel-drive T5, T6, and T8 models have a max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. These are decent ratings by class standards.

Read more about performance »

XC90 Reliability

Is the Volvo XC90 Reliable?

The 2020 Volvo XC90 has an awful predicted reliability rating of two out of five from J.D. Power. Two is the lowest rating that J.D. Power hands out.

Volvo XC90 Warranty

Volvo covers the XC90 with a four-year/50,000-mile new car limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

XC90 Safety

XC90 Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 XC90 a five out of five-star overall crash test rating. The XC90 also received five stars in the front and side impact crash tests, as well as four stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet crash tested the 2020 XC90.

XC90 Safety Features

The XC90 is loaded with advanced safety features. These include a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, a driver drowsiness monitor, and road sign recognition. Some of those features make up the Pilot Assist semiautonomous driving system.

Optional driver assistance features include adaptive pivoting headlights, front parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, and hands-free park assist.

Read more about safety »

XC90 Dimensions and Weight

The Volvo XC90 is 16.3 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,375 to 4,993 pounds, depending on drivetrain configuration.

Where Is the 2020 Volvo XC90 Built?

Volvo builds the 2020 XC90 in Sweden.

Which Volvo XC90 Model Is Right for Me?

Volvo takes a mix-and-match approach to its XC90 models. First you choose a trim level – Momentum, R-Design, or Inscription – which dictates the vehicle’s standard and available features. Then you pick an engine: the 250-horsepower T5, the 316-horsepower T6, or the 400-horsepower T8 plug-in hybrid.

We think the XC90 T6 Momentum model is the best pick for most shoppers. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, the punchier T6 engine, and a long list of standard equipment.

Volvo XC90 Momentum

The Volvo XC90 starts at $48,350 for the base model T5 Momentum with front-wheel drive. Add $2,500 if you want all-wheel drive. The T6 Momentum costs $56,300, and the T8 Momentum starts at $67,000. These two models come standard with all-wheel drive.

Standard features include seven seats, synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, a hands-free liftgate, a 9-inch touch screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a satellite radio, 10 speakers, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Standard safety features include a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning with brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, road sign recognition, a driver drowsiness monitor, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The T6 and T8 models gain genuine leather upholstery, as well as a Multimedia package, which includes a more-advanced navigation system. It’s an $1,850 option with the T5.

Other options include a six-seat configuration and 20- or 22-inch wheels. You can also add heated front seats and a heated steering wheel ($750), a 14-speaker Harman Kardon stereo ($800), and an Advanced pack ($2,450) that includes adaptive headlights, a head-up display, hands-free park assist, and a 360-degree parking camera system.

Volvo XC90 R-Design

The XC90 R-Design has a sportier appearance inside and out, thanks to its restyled front bumper, 20-inch wheels, rectangular exhaust pipes, and heavily bolstered front seats. Additional standard features include leather upholstery, the Harman Kardon stereo, an upgraded navigation system, front parking sensors, and transmission shift paddles.

Prices start at $56,100 for the T5 R-Design model; all-wheel drive is a $2,500 upgrade. The T6 R-Design costs $62,000, and the T8 model has an MSRP of $72,700. This trim is available with many of the same options as the Momentum trim, plus a 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo ($3,200) and an air suspension system ($1,800).

Volvo XC90 Inscription

The XC90 Inscription is offered in the T6 ($62,600) and T8 ($73,300) configurations, and it adds heated and ventilated front seats. The Inscription model is available with many of the same options as the two lower trim levels. Available only for the Inscription trim is the Luxury package ($3,100), which adds massaging front seats and heated second-row seats.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volvo dealer. 

See 2020 Volvo XC90 specs and trims »

The Final Call

There’s a lot to like about the 2020 Volvo XC90. It has a top-notch interior with up to seven seats, a heap of standard tech and safety features, composed handling, and great gas mileage. It also offers a huge amount of cargo space. On the other hand, there are some not-so-likeable aspects to the XC90, like its bottom-of-the-barrel predicted reliability rating and mediocre performance from its base engine. Volvo's luxury midsize SUV is worth checking out, just be sure to give its higher-rated competitors a look as well.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Overall, the 2020 Volvo XC90 brings a lot to the table, not the least of which is Volvo’s reputation for making safe, practical vehicles and one of the best semi-autonomous driving systems out there. Its few sticking points include a reliance on the touch screen for many functions and, for some buyers, the lack of a V6 option." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The … Volvo XC90 is the jewel in this Swedish marque's crown. … [It] continues to offer a high degree of safety equipment and driver assistance features. The XC90 has to be on any serious buyer's short list." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "All of this adds up to a respectable and desirable crossover, but there are a few drawbacks. Our main issue: the XC90's powertrains. While Volvo's turbocharged (T5) and turbo-and-supercharged (T6) four-cylinder engines work fine in the brand's smaller vehicles, they seem less ideally suited for the big XC90. Performance and fuel economy suffer as a result. The T8 hybrid fares better, but it's pricey. And we've found all XC90s can have a rather rough ride over bumpy roads when fitted with the bigger optional wheels. That's not something you expect, or want, in an SUV of this caliber. The XC90's flaws aren't fatal, though. There is a lot to like about this upscale crossover, and if it ends up on your short list, we recommend a test drive." -- Edmunds (2018)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 16, 2020

Falling Sales: Among luxury midsize SUVs, XC90 sales currently rank in the middle of the segment. However, demand has dropped 9.5 percent so far this year relative to the same period in 2019. The class sales-leading Lexus RX is outselling the XC90 by about 3 to 1. 

Research more buying advice »
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2020 Volvo XC90

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