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Volvo XC90 T6 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Blackburn road tests and reviews the Volvo XC90 T6 Momentum with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Volvo has moved the XC90 away from a soft-lined look to a squarer finish with a Tardis-like interior packed with high-tech life-savers.

If you bought the previous model XC90 and are thinking of upgrading to the all-new model, brace yourself for a shock. The cheapest ticket to Volvo's family-sized SUV is now about $90,000, $20,000 more than the previous model.

It's a bold move for a brand that has been stranded in the whitewash while its luxury rivals ride a wave of rapidly rising sales. At a time when Mercedes-Benz sales are up by more than a third year-to-date, the Swedish brand — now in Chinese hands — has seen a 20 per cent drop in sales.

The extra bulk translates into a more spacious cabin

The good news is that a healthy injection of funds has created a Volvo that is more than capable of mixing it with the big boys at the top end of the SUV segment.

Design

Volvo has spent a considerable amount of time shedding its dowdy, "brick on wheels" image, with sleeker, softer lined sedans, hatches and wagons, but the XC90 is — dare we say it — a bit boxy. It's no 240 wagon, but it is definitely more square-jawed and big bummed than the model it replaces.

For those on the inside looking out that is good news. The extra bulk translates into a more spacious cabin, while clever packaging means the third row is now easier to access and more liveable for kids. And there's more good news. The cabin is one of the most attractive in the business. Elegant and understated, but with modern and intuitive technology, it is a welcoming mix of quality leather, tasteful woodgrain highlights and high-definition graphics.

The centre screen looks and works like an iPad, with pinch and swipe features to navigate the various menus. In front of the driver, there is a digital display in lieu of the normal speedo and tacho, with the ability to display navigation instructions.

The middle row slides and tilts, while the third row has air-vents, cupholders and covered storage bins. There's an integrated booster seat in the middle row.

About town

Volvo prides itself on safety firsts and the XC90 maintains the tradition. Prang this and you're a prime candidate for the next season of Australia's worst drivers.

The XC90 senses if you're about to turn into the path of oncoming traffic and slams on the brakes. It also keeps an eye out for cyclists and pedestrians and can stop on its own at lower speeds.

For shopping trips, there's a power tailgate, although if you want the back to open with a swipe of your foot you'll have to pay an extra $975. Front and rear sensors, auto parking and a reversing camera make parking easier, once again at extra cost.

Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear collision warnings add $1275, while a "bird's-eye view" camera is another $1750. A grocery bag holder? That's $200.

The XC90's turning circle is about on par with other large SUVs, while the T6 engine is reasonably quiet around town and has stop-start tech to save fuel.

On the road

The XC90 weighs in at almost two tonnes and its high centre of gravity means you can feel the weight shift through tighter corners.

It feels composed and predictable on the open road, though, with light but accurate steering. The cabin is well insulated from road noise, but the suspension can thump and jar over bigger bumps.

The XC90 is an impressive effort and well equipped to go up against the German heavyweights

Again, there is a vast array of driver aids to keep you on the tarmac — and protect you if you leave it. The XC90 can sense if it has left the road and will prime the safety gear for impact. But again, you have to pay for the best of the occupant protection gear. Adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance cost another $2600.

Performance

A 2.0-litre four-cylinder hardly seems equipped for shifting two tonnes of metal but the turbocharged and supercharged engine feels pretty lively under acceleration. It gets a bit raucous in the upper reaches of the rev range but at cruising speed it feels quiet and refined.

The well-matched eight-speed automatic transmission helps to create smooth and rapid progress. The official fuel thirst is 8.5L/100km, impressive for a petrol engine in a big car. Around town, or driven enthusiastically, that figure is more likely to hover in the mid-teens.

Pricing Guides

$62,888
Based on 19 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$57,589
Highest Price
$69,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.2 Executive 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $45,870 – 53,350 2015 Volvo XC90 2015 3.2 Executive Pricing and Specs
3.2 R-Design 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $37,950 – 44,660 2015 Volvo XC90 2015 3.2 R-Design Pricing and Specs
D5 2.0 Inscription 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $59,990 – 69,990 2015 Volvo XC90 2015 D5 2.0 Inscription Pricing and Specs
D5 2.0 Momentum 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $57,589 – 65,770 2015 Volvo XC90 2015 D5 2.0 Momentum Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7

“The XC90 is an impressive effort and well equipped to go up against the German heavyweights in its class. Whether the badge can command such a hefty premium — particularly with previous owners — remains to be seen.Auto braking with pedestrian and cyclist avoidance, lane departure warning, trailer stability assist, hill descent and hill start assist, internet connectivity, satnav with voice control, power tailgate, integrated booster seat in second row, third row seats.CD player, head-up display, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise, heated seats, metallic paint, hands-free tailgate opening.Basic capped price servicing is $1950 over three years. Upgrade for $3250 includes consumables including wipers, software updates, brake pads and wheel alignment. Five-year packages cost $3550 or $7175. Warranty period is nothing special, 3 years/unlimited km.”

What it's got