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Volvo XC90

This Swedish import may have been around for two decades, but its new model boasts the latest gizmos and bags of space, says Ed Coles

Volvo XC90

Volvo X90

Overall Rating: 90%

Manufacturer: Volvo

Price as reviewed: £73,970

I was surprised when I learned that the Volvo XC90 has been on our roads for 18 years. The overall silhouette hasn’t changed dramatically in two decades, but it is an entirely different matter when it comes to propelling the Swedish beast.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription Pro AWD twin engine automatic. The second generation XC90 has been given a facelift and the powertrain has been updated.

Staying true to its original form, the XC90 has mellowed a little at the edges and appears more refined, with a hint of sportiness. I’ll be the first to admit the white exterior isn’t ideal for the country pursuits enthusiast, but the 21in black and diamond cut wheels do set it off nicely, and other colours are available.

Bold elegance

The XC90 is big with a bold elegance about it and the trim level is rather elegant too. The XC90 comes in five variants: Recharge (plug-in hybrid), R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro.

Crouching down with trusty feed bag to hand, the first thing I notice is the rather generous 223mm of ground clearance at our disposal. The fancy adjustable air suspension adds another 40mm if it is needed for off-piste rural exploits.

Most of the workhorse bits are shielded by industry-standard plastic, but there are a few glimpses of the newfangled drive train and trick independent suspension, which looks like it can handle some tricky situations. Let’s hope the 21in road-going tyres can too.

We can really appreciate the size of the XC90 when we open the auto-opening, auto-closing boot. There are two reasonably sized extra seats if needed and a massive amount of space for luggage, four-legged companions or sporting kit.

In five-seat mode, the boot space is 967 litres or, to use a sensible unit of measurement, about 15-plus bags of wheat. We could double that with the rear seats folded down, but the maximum payload is only 660kg.

Volvo XC90

In five-seat mode, it has 967 litres of boot space

This XC90 also comes with a removable netted dog guard, which I can confirm successfully confined a lively cocker spaniel.

The first clue to the dual engine part of the XC90 is the second flap at the front. This is the charging point for the electric motor battery. The T8 twin engine XC90 comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and is powered by a two-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that stables 303 tiny horses. This supplies power to the front wheels. An 87-horsepower electric motor provides drive to the rear wheels.

The battery can be charged using the petrol engine or by cable. Volvo supplies a standard charging cable with a three-pin plug, which fully charges the battery in four to six hours. There is an optional fast-charging cable for use at charging stations, which takes three hours to fully charge.

Party piece

The Swedish giant has an understated and expansive, yet refined, interior. Minimalist luxury would best describe it — there is a definite high-end feel. While adjusting the black leather seat to the ‘vertically challenged’ position, I inadvertently find the Inscription Pro’s first party piece as the central screen bursts into life with seat settings.

Being the top-spec Volvo XC90, it’s probably easier to say what the Inscription Pro doesn’t have. All of the expected technical gadgetry is present and correct, from satnav to DAB radio, reversing cameras and a host of app-based entertainment and information.

The main extras with the spec are the fancy seats, mobile connectivity with Apple CarPlay and the Android equivalent, fancy, bendy LED lights, the bigger wheels, an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, head-up display and fancy adjustable suspension. It is all operated from the central touchscreen.

Volvo XC90

The SC90 is powered by a two-litre, four cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor

Setting the standard

Before we start driving the XC90, there are a few settings to choose from. Pure is the electric-only mode, Hybrid is the default mode using the electric and petrol engines for optimum performance and economy, and Power uses both power supplies.

There are five settings for the chassis — Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off-road and Individual — and a couple of charging settings, either holding the charge in the battery for later use or using the engine to partially charge.

Pulling away silently takes a bit of getting used to, but before long the familiar engine sound kicks in to charge and propel us. For a two-and-a-half ton beast, it deals with country lanes in a comfy and almost sporty manner. Cruising the open road is effortless.

With Off-road mode selected, it’s time to check some feeders. Negotiating the wood with its slippery, rutted track is easy for the XC90. There is a little slipping and sliding from the big road tyres, but the onboard witchcraft soon puts her straight. It feels rather nimble through the wood, but I am taking care not to spoil the white exterior.

All in all, the XC90 seems to deal with varied terrain quite well for a family SUV.


Now, the inscription pro is high-end and jam-packed with gadgets and gizmos. Its understated luxury and newfangled technology comes at a price.

That price is £73,970, on the road. I know that’s a load of money, but when compared with its rivals with the same kit, that’s actually not too bad.

The Volvo XC90 ticks many Shooting Times boxes for me, a proper all-rounder with good eco credentials.

From driving around town to getting away on a country sporting break, the XC90 is more than capable and it does it with understated Swedish style.

Need to know

  • Manufacturer Volvo
  • Model XC90 T8 Inscription Pro
  • Max power Petrol engine 303bhp, 400Nm of torque; electric motor 87hp, 240Nm of torque.
  • Top speed 112mph
  • 0-60mph (secs) 5.5
  • Emissions (g/km) CO2 63-76
  • Fuel economy combined 83.1-100.9mpg
  • Towing weight, braked 2,400kg
  • Towing weight, unbraked 750kg