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2011 Volvo XC90 Review

If you want comfortable seats, a luxury interior, an understated exterior and a reputation for safety, the 2011 Volvo XC90 is a good pick for you. However, most of its competitors offer a better combination of performance, interior tech and fuel economy.

Pros & Cons

  • Great safety ratings and safety features
  • Comfortable seats in first two rows
  • Unrefined performance for the class
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Underpowered base engine




Critics' Rating: 7.6
Performance: 7.2
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.8
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Volvo XC90 Overview

The 2011 Volvo XC90 upholds Volvo’s reputation for safety with excellent crash test scores. Testers noted that the XC90’s interior is well-made and the seats in its first two rows are particularly roomy, though its third row is cramped and its cargo capacity is just average. Standard features are fairly sparse for the class, including an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, an eight-way power driver’s seat and leather-trimmed seats, while options when it was new include a wood steering wheel, a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system and blind spot monitoring.

However, taking everything into consideration, the Volvo XC90 is just mediocre when compared with most of its rivals. Its fuel economy is poor, its base engine is underpowered and its performance is unrefined. Volvo has a reputation for safety, but many rivals offer more standard safety features, like a rearview camera, and the XC90 doesn’t have Volvo’s innovative City Safety system that can slow the SUV to a stop if it detects an obstacle in low-speed driving. Most competitors offer more high-tech safety features, like lane departure prevention and drowsiness warnings, as well as similarly strong safety scores, so the XC90 doesn’t stand out in that category like it used to. Even if you’re a Volvo loyalist, the XC90 isn’t a great choice, and many of its competitors as well as Volvo stable mates offer more well-rounded packages.

See the full list of 2011 Volvo XC90 specs »

Other Cars to Consider

Though the highly-ranked 2011 Lexus RX doesn’t offer three rows of seats, it’s better than the Volvo XC90 in nearly every way and was named our 2011 Best Luxury Midsize Crossover for the Money. The RX is much more fuel-efficient, its interior is both classy and well-made and it offers a smooth, comfortable ride. Plus, the RX’s safety ratings are nearly as good as the XC90’s.

If you need all three rows of seats, the 2011 Acura MDX is a better alternative to the Volvo XC90. Testers loved its sporty handling and powerful base engine. Plus, its interior is more high-tech and upscale, and it has better fuel economy. The Acura MDX’s safety scores aren’t quite as good as the Volvo XC90’s, but otherwise, the MDX outshines the XC90.

Compare the XC90 to the RX and MDX »

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