2018 Volvo XC90

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MSRP: $46,900 - 104,900

2018 Volvo XC90 Review

The 2018 Volvo XC90 is a midpack SUV. It has one of the most exceptional interiors in its class, with lots of space and refined materials. The XC90 also provides plenty of standard tech and safety features, but it lacks the blistering engine power and exciting driving dynamics of many rivals.

Pros & Cons

  • Impeccable interior styling and premium materials
  • Exceptional passenger space and cargo room
  • Abundance of standard safety and tech features
  • Very fuel-efficient for class

 

  • Firm ride on uneven pavement
  • Mediocre acceleration with base engine
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating

 

New for 2018

  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert now standard

Is the Volvo XC90 a Good SUV?

The Volvo XC90 is a fine luxury midsize SUV in many ways. Its cabin is replete with first-class materials and features a futuristic, user-friendly infotainment system. The XC90 also offers more passenger and cargo room than most competitors. We named this Volvo a finalist for our 2018 Best Luxury 3-Row SUV for Families award because of its family-friendly features and abundant space for parents and little ones.

However, it’s not all positive. The XC90 has an underpowered base engine and a stiff ride. Additionally, it has a subpar predicted reliability rating.

Should I Buy the Volvo XC90?

The XC90's starting price is below average for this expensive class, allowing you to ride in the lap of luxury at a bargain. You get a lot of bang for your buck with the XC90’s ample passenger and cargo space along with heaps of standard advanced safety features. Still, there are several other worthy choices in the segment. For example, rivals like the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 deliver sports-car-like performance. Also, the Mercedes-Benz GLE hits many of the same strong points as the XC90, but it has an even nicer interior and much more available engine power.

Compare the XC90, Q7, and X5 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volvo XC90?

The Volvo XC90 gains a lot of standard equipment for the 2018 model year, including driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, if you want to save money and you're open to driving a used car, it may be worth considering an older XC90 from the same generation, which launched for 2016. You can find used 2016 and 2017 models with all those technologies, though they may be a little harder to find. For 2017, Volvo introduced the four-seat, six-figure Excellence trim (which comes with a rear beverage cooler, among other executive-level niceties). Most shoppers will be OK with any model year in the current generation.

To research other models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2016 and 2017 Volvo XC90. You can also read our review of the previous-generation 2015 Volvo XC90. If you decide that an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Volvo XC90 »

We Did the Research for You: 30 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Volvo XC90 review, we researched dozens of professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best buying decision possible. This Volvo XC90 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles for a decade, and our team has more than a combined 75 years of experience in the automotive industry. To maintain objectivity, we don't accept incentives or expensive gifts from car companies, and an outside team handles the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Volvo XC90 Cost?

For 2018, the Volvo XC90 starts at $46,900. That's a little less than the starting price of the average luxury midsize SUV. In addition to the five-seat base trim, the XC90 also comes with sportier styling (starting at $51,900), as a seven-seat SUV ($54,350), and as a plug-in hybrid ($64,950). The priciest trim is the $104,900 XC90 Excellence, which comes only with the plug-in hybrid powertrain.The hybrid models may also qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $5,002. For great savings at your local Volvo dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program.

Volvo XC90 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volvo XC90 or Audi Q7?

The Audi Q7 is one of the most well-rounded luxury midsize SUVs available. Like the XC90, the Q7 has a high-grade and opulent interior, which combines many cutting-edge features with spacious and comfortable seats. However, the Q7 is the one to go for. It has better all-around performance, with muscular engine choices and athletic handling that doesn’t diminish ride quality.

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

The Mercedes-Benz GLE goes toe-to-toe with the XC90. Both boast outstanding interior luxury and great crash test scores, but the GLE gets a higher predicted reliability rating. However, the XC90 is a better value than the GLE. The Mercedes starts at about $5,000 higher than the Volvo, but there aren't enough notable advantages to justify that steeper price tag.

Which Is Better: Volvo XC90 or BMW X5?

When it comes to agile handling, blistering acceleration, top-notch interior finishes, and solid predicted reliability, the BMW X5 delivers. Its overall performance is among the best in the class – but be prepared to spend more. The X5 comes with a steep price increase of about $10,000 over the XC90. Adding options raises the BMW's price even higher. For a better value, stick with the XC90. If you can spend the extra money for superior performance and one of the highest-ranked SUVs in the class, consider the X5 instead.

Compare the XC90, Q7, and GLE »

XC90 Interior

How Many People Does the XC90 Seat?

The XC90’s base T5 trim seats five people in two rows. Uplevel T6 and T8 trims have a third-row seat and can hold up to seven people, while the range-topping T8 Excellence only has room for four. The first two rows are roomy, granting more than enough space for even tall travelers to stretch out. The second-row seats slide and recline in the T6 and T8 trims, upping the comfort level further. The available third-row seats offer more legroom than you'll get in an Acura MDX or BMW X5, but Volvo cautions that it's best left for travelers up to 5.5-feet tall.

XC90 and Car Seats

In all XC90s, only the second row comes with child seat anchors. There are three clearly marked tether anchors for each second-row seat. Both outboard seats have a set of lower anchors that are easy to use but mounted deep in the seat cushions.

XC90 Interior Quality

The XC90 oozes European elegance. From its exquisite front seats to trimmings made of wood and metal, high-quality materials are plentiful. The styling and build quality feel refined, and the modern center stack adds to the cabin's sleek design.

XC90 Cargo Space

The XC90 has one of the largest cargo holds among luxury midsize SUVs. When you fold every seat down, you get 85.7 cubic feet of space, which is more than in a Mercedes-Benz GLE. Behind the second-row seats is a 41.8-cubic-foot cargo area, and even with the available third-row seat in use, you get an above-average 15.4 cubic feet of cargo room. Loading the back is a breeze, thanks to the standard hands-free tailgate (which opens with a wave of your foot) and the available air suspension system (which can lower the height of the cargo floor).

XC90 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The XC90 earns a gold star for its technology. This SUV comes standard with a wealth of interior features. A large, vertically positioned touch screen, Apple CarPlay, navigation, and 10 speakers are among the many features included in the base infotainment system. There's also a laundry list of standard safety features (listed in detail in the safety section below). More importantly, the technology works exceptionally well. Once you’re familiar with the infotainment system, you'll appreciate its intuitive, responsive touch screen. The interface can also display more than one menu, so you won't have to flip back and forth between CarPlay (for example) and climate settings.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

XC90 Performance

XC90 Engine: 3 to Pick From

If you are looking for a basic SUV for cruising the highway or running errands, the base T5 engine should suit you just fine. The T5's turbocharged four-cylinder is fuel-efficient and polished, though a bit sluggish. The T6 engine is more commanding with its off-the-line acceleration, and the better pick if your travels frequently include mountain passes or towing. This 316-horsepower engine is twin-charged, which means it has both a turbocharger and a supercharger for ultra-quick acceleration. For extra power and a bit of fuel savings, there's the T8 plug-in hybrid option. Its single electric motor and twin-charged four-cylinder have a combined output of 400 horsepower. All of the XC90's powertrains feature an eight-speed automatic transmission.

XC90 Gas Mileage: Outstanding for its Size

For a luxury midsize SUV, the base XC90 is quite thrifty. Its fuel economy rating of 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway is one of the highest in the class. This drops marginally (20/27 mpg city/highway) with the T6 engine. The plug-in hybrid T8 powertrain has a 62 mpg-equivalent rating and a 27 mpg combined city/highway rating with gasoline alone, which results in an average annual savings of about $550 in fuel costs compared to the base engine.

XC90 Ride and Handling: Composed but Not Cushy

Handling is a bit of a mixed bag for the XC90. On the plus side, this crossover SUV feels stable and composed, with easy steering and very little body roll. However, the ride quality isn't as smooth as you may want from a luxury SUV (though the XC90 is still relatively pleasant). For some test drivers, adding the available air suspension system alleviated much of the harshness. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is either available or included in every trim.

Read more about performance »

XC90 Reliability

Is the Volvo XC90 Reliable?

The 2018 XC90 has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power. A score of three is considered average for all new cars. The Mercedes-Benz GLE and the BMW X5 are among the dozen or so competitors that have a higher rating.

Volvo XC90 Warranty

The 2018 XC90 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile new car limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

XC90 Safety

XC90 Crash Test Results

The 2018 Volvo XC90 has a five-out-of-five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It gets top scores in every test administered, except for the rollover test, where it receives four stars. The 2018 XC90 also gets the highest marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In addition, IIHS notes that the XC90 offers Superior front crash prevention.

XC90 Safety Features

The XC90's list of standard and available safety features is impressive. Every model comes with a rearview camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road sign detection, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Also standard is Volvo’s City Safety (a system featuring forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection). Available safety features include a 360-degree surround-view camera, active headlights, a head-up display, front parking sensors, and active park assist.

Read more about safety »

Which Volvo XC90 Model Is Right for Me?

There's a lot to choose from when picking out your XC90. Simplify your search by first deciding on your preferred horsepower and people-hauling abilities. Your answer will direct you to either the T5 models – which have five seats and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine – or the T6 models, which seat seven, come with a more powerful twin-charged four-cylinder engine, and have standard all-wheel drive. Volvo also offers the all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid T8, which seat four or seven, depending on trim. XC90 trim levels include the base Momentum, the elegantly fashioned Inscription, the athletically styled R-Design, and the elite four-seat Excellence.

The available powertrains for each trim level vary, as do a few styling elements and other amenities. For its combination of power and versatility, we recommend the XC90 T6 Inscription. This all-wheel-drive model comes with a twin-charged four-cylinder engine that most will prefer over the base engine. Its interior upgrades include a third-row seat, air conditioning vents for the third row, quad-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats. Prices for this trim start at $59,540. Details on each trim follow.

Volvo XC90 Momentum

The base Momentum trim is available with the T5 engine ($46,900 with front-wheel drive or $49,100 with all-wheel drive), the T6 engine ($54,350), or the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain ($64,950). Standard safety features include Volvo’s City Safety (a system composed of forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection), lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road sign detection, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a rearview camera. Also included is leatherette upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a 9-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a 10-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, Bluetooth, a USB port, proximity keyless entry, a hands-free tailgate, and rear parking sensors.

Volvo XC90 R-Design

Like the Momentum trim, the R-Design trim is available with all three powertrains, with prices ranging between $51,900 and $68,550. R-Design gains unique body treatments and interior trimmings and has a sportier appearance. Other additions include a 12.3-inch driver's display, active headlights, high-pressure headlight washers, and illuminated sill plates.s.

Volvo XC90 Inscription

The seven-seat Inscription trim is available as a T6 model ($59,450) or a T8 model ($70,050). In addition to standard all-wheel drive and your choice of uplevel powertrain, the Inscription trim comes with heated and ventilated front seats, a third-row seat, a 12.3-inch driver's display, and elegant styling elements.

Volvo XC90 Excellence

The range-topping XC90 Excellence comes only as a plug-in hybrid with the T8 powertrain. Total capacity slims to four people, with two seats in the executive-style second row. All four seats feature perforated leather upholstery, heat, ventilation, and massage. A back-seat center console with a touch screen, a beverage cooler, and two crystal glasses are also added. Pricing starts at $104,900.

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

See 2018 Volvo XC90 specs and trims »

The Final Call

Families and commuters alike will swoon over the 2018 Volvo XC90’s spacious, pampering passenger areas, along with its ample cargo room and class-leading fuel economy ratings. The XC90 is also a standout when it comes to safety, with an impressive list of safety features that come standard, and available driver assistance features that grant semi-autonomous abilities. A few hiccups prevent this 3-row SUV from rising higher in our rankings, though: It has an uninspiring base engine and a harsher ride than you'd expect. Before you fork over forty grand or more for your new SUV, you may want to check out some of this Volvo's competitors.

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

  • "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
  • "This new 2016 Volvo XC90 really is a worthy successor to the name. Like the original, it advances the brand's design markedly, it introduces all-new technology to the industry, it drives and performs well, and it comes at just the right time for the brand. It's not wildly charismatic like some sporty crossovers and SUVs but rather like an old friend that's always there for you, even before you know you need them. If it's not equally as popular as the original - or more so - it'll be a shame." -- Motor Trend (2016)
  • "The new Volvo XC90 offers the features premium SUV buyers are likely to notice, wrapped in a nicely designed and proportioned body. Volvo has stayed true to its tradition of offering interiors that are just as comfortable on 10-hour trips as they are on the daily commute, and the new four-cylinder Drive-E engine has rendered the V6 and V8 units that used to power the old XC90 obsolete." -- Autoweek (2016)
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