When it arrived back in 2002, Volvo’s first SUV proved a massive success; long waiting lists quickly formed thanks to this seven-seater 4x4’s versatility, discreet styling and keen pricing. More comfortable on the road than off it, the XC90 was one of a new generation of road-biased 4x4s that were good to drive and capable of providing ideal family transport. In the intervening years there’s been no shortage of rivals introduced, and while the XC90 is no class-leader any more, it can still make a great used buy – just beware of neglected cars and be aware that running costs tend to be high.
11/02: The XC90 reaches UK showrooms in D5 turbodiesel or T6 turbo petrol forms.
5/03: The XC90 Executive comes with standard rear-seat entertainment.
3/04: The D5 engine is now offered with a six-speed manual gearbox; previously it was an automatic only.
9/04: A 2.5T petrol engine joins the range.
1/05: 2.5T engine arrives; a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit with manual or automatic gearboxes.
9/05: An all-new D5 engine replaces previous unit.
7/06: A facelift brings an exterior refresh plus better trim materials, along with a 4.4-litre petrol V8. Also, a 3.2-litre engine replaces the previous T6 unit.
7/09: The R-Design brings a sportier look
7/10: A 2.0-litre D5 is introduced, with better economy.
1/11: A 197bhp 2.4 D5 joins the line-up.
- Fuel consumption can be very heavy, even where diesels are concerned – and especially if you’re towing.
- The Geartronic auto works well enough, but can prove weak, with cars used for towing especially vulnerable.
- Some early XC90s could suffer drive failure to the rear wheels, making the car front-wheel drive only.
- Check the state of the interior trim, as it doesn’t always wear very well. The leather trim gets scuffed, while the carpets can look tatty.
- If you’re looking at a D5, start the car from cold. If it struggles to fire up, it’s probably because of injector problems; repairs are costly.
- Check the exterior brightwork hasn’t gone cloudy; some chemicals used in car washes can attack the metal and replacement is the only cure.
- Electrical issues are common on early cars. Sometimes it’s just a question of securely attaching the battery connections.
- Great image
- Seven seats
- Looks great
- High safety levels
We don’t like
- Expensive to run
- Patchy reliability
- Cramped third row