$16,240 - $19,313

2013 Volvo XC90 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Volvo XC90 was new.


Performance: 7.0

Reviewers say the 2013 XC90 is a comfortable cruiser, but buyers shouldn’t expect blazing acceleration or sharp handling. Critics note that the XC90 takes corners poorly, lacks steering feel and is far less sporty than some rivals like the Porsche Cayenne or Infiniti FX.

  • "All in all, the 2013 Volvo XC90 feels more nimble than you'd expect a tall seven-passenger vehicle to be, and continues to drive quite well despite its advancing years." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2013 Volvo XC90 delivers surprisingly strong on-road performance." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Volvo XC90 is pleasant to drive. It isn't particularly bulky or even hard to park, nor mundane in a people-mover, family wagon fashion. ..." -- New Car Test Drive (2011)

Acceleration and Power

All 2013 Volvo XC90s have a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower. The engine is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission and comes with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available on all trims. Both front- and all-wheel drive XC90s get an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway.

Most reviewers feel the XC90 has underwhelming engine power compared to the rest of the class. While one critic thinks the XC90 has plenty of power for daily driving, the majority of test drivers think its acceleration is lackluster. One reviewer even suggests that Volvo should add a turbocharged engine to the options list. Some critics note that the transmission lags on downshifts, but is smooth otherwise.

  • "Its ‘straight 6’ engine is down on power compared to similar V6 motors in other premium-midsize SUVs. The transmission is generally smooth, but some testers complain of slow downshifts." -- Consumer Guide
  • The 3.2-liter six-cylinder delivers only adequate acceleration; one of Volvo's turbocharged engines would certainly be welcome at least as an option." -- Edmunds
  • "With a 2 1/2-ton curb weight and the standard 240-horsepower, 3.2-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine, the XC90 can feel slightly underpowered." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine is up to all the demands of daily driving and delivers a good value, in our view." -- New Car Test Drive (2011)

Handling and Braking

Critics say the Volvo XC90’s suspension is tuned more for a smooth ride than corner carving. While the base XC90’s handling should suit most drivers, one test driver prefers the R-Design’s sportier suspension, which gives it a firmer ride. There’s mixed opinion on the XC90’s steering. One reviewer likes its responsive steering, sharp cornering and strong brakes, while another says it feels disconnected from the road.

  • "Lifeless steering and marked body lean are problematic, and this Volvo is susceptible to highway-speed crosswind wander." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It takes corners with confidence and returns good feedback from the steering wheel and brake pedal." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The standard comfort-oriented suspension should be just fine for most folks, though we have to admit we prefer the more confident handling offered by the R-Design's sport-tuned suspension." -- Edmunds

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