Volvo XC90 VS Range Rover
- Stylish inside and out
- Powerful four-cylinder engine
- Spacious cabin
- Cabin storage could be better
- Quiet exhaust note doesn't match brutish looks
- Touchscreen takes getting used to
- New tech is cool
- Supreme road feeling
- Luxurious interior
- Engine power so-so
- Cost of options
Does the Volvo XC90 R-Design T6 have what it takes to match other large seven-seat prestige SUVs... or is it even better?
This Volvo XC90 is where it all began for Volvo way back in 2014. Okay, let me rephrase that, it wasn't the beginning of Volvo – that was in 1927. This second-generation XC90 was a kind of new beginning for Volvo because it brought with it the styling and technology rules for the brand's future models. But how does it hold up now?
See, when the new XC90 arrived in Australia in 2015 it wowed us with its large portrait display, advanced safety equipment and 'Hammer of Thor' headlights. Since then, safety and tech has come along way - has the XC90 been left behind?
And while on the topic of reality checks: what's this large seven-seat SUV like to live with – how did it cope with our nightmare car park test?
We tested the XC90 R-Design T6. What the heck does that mean? Well the T6 refers to the engine – it's a four-cylinder petrol – and R-Design is the highest trim level.
A four cylinder… in a giant SUV? Yep, we'll get to that.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Range Rover. Straight away, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Despite a growing model line-up that now includes the Evoque, Velar and the Range Rover Sport, just about everyone on Earth pictures the brand's big bruiser whenever they hear the name.
A true motoring icon, it might have started life as a posh farmer's tool, but it is now a fixture on suburban driveways everywhere. Big and bold, it's now far more stylish than the utilitarian original, yet still manages to be super-impressive off-road. I know this because I once drove one up a river. Not across, but up. Against the current, in water almost a metre deep.
For 2018, the Range Rover's interior has scored an upgrade and, as ever, a minor tweak in the specifications. But it's still a car that has few genuine rivals.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
The XC90 may have been the first of Volvo's new breed of cars, but it remains exceptional in its styling, refinement, technology and safety. The R-Design trim level makes it the burger with almost the lot in that it still gives you room to option more and doesn't assume you want, say a sunroof, when you might not.
The T6 engine is excellent – powerful, with plenty of torque. All that's missing is a beefy soundtrack to go with this brute of an SUV. A cool alternative to a large SUV from BMW, Benz and Audi.
Would the XC90 R-Design T6 be on your prestige SUV shopping list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Range Rover is a car everyone knows - it's amazingly capable off-road, actually seats five full-size humans and casts a (huge) stylish shadow like no other. Now well into its sleeker fourth generation, it's ageing well and still holds its position as king of luxury SUVs, despite pretenders piling in from all corners.
I wasn't expecting to like the Range Rover. I knew I would respect it, but like? It turns out it's super-quiet, relaxed and, if you spend a few more bucks, has all the gadgets you need to manouevre it about and enjoy the ride, long or short.
Is the Range Rover still top of the pile? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Can you believe the current Volvo XC90 came into the world in 2014 and still looks this good? Signature elements are the giant grille with its oversized badge, the 'Hammer of Thor' headlights, the unmistakable Volvo tail-lights and the tall profile with enormous windows. Yup, the XC90 is still a futuristic, stylish and elegant-looking brute.
The R-Design trim level enhances the look by adding a gloss-black grille, body-coloured side skirts and bumpers, silver wing mirror caps, aluminium roof rails, a roof-top spoiler, fog lights in the front spoiler, dual tail pipes and the 20-inch alloys you can see in the images.
The modern, minimalist design cabin has also aged well – although the portrait-orientated screen now feels a bit small. I remember writing about how outrageously large it was when it was launched – and then I sat in a Tesla with its mega touchscreen, taking displays to a whole new level.
The R-Design spec makes its presence known in the cabin, too, with the R-Design steering wheel, R-Design Sport pedals and R-Design carpet; it also adds carbon-fibre door inlays and a leather illuminated gearshift knob.
The R-Design trim level also gives buyers two seat trim choices – Nappa leather/Nubuck or Nappa perforated leather. Both are no-cost options and our test car featured the perforated hide.
How big is the XC90? Let's take a look at this seven-seater SUV's dimensions. The XC90 is just less than 5.0m long, more than 2.0m wide (with mirrors) and nearly 1.8m tall.
One of the extraordinary things about Land Rover and sister company Jaguar is the sheer consistency of the design teams over the past decade or so. The Range Rover is a hefty machine, and while it looks big, it does not look as overbearing as a car five metres long and over 180cm tall could.
No, it's not a lithe CX-9 approach, but it maintains the muscular Rangie look with the blacked-out pillars and floating roof and the now-signature laid-back grille and lights. And on our black car, the blacked-out gills on the front doors looked terrific - sometime the lighter-coloured versions look a bit cheap.
Inside is swathed in leather with wood or, if you prefer, metallic finishes. Everything looks and feels substantial. The new 10-inch screen looks a lot more modern than the older version, and it sits atop a redesigned centre console with the new HVAC controls. The old dials on the steering wheel have also been replaced with touch-sensitive dials with digital displays. It's a nice mix of traditional shapes with advanced tech.
It's a giant box on wheels, how could be it be impractical? Actually, there are ways it could be more practical, but first the good points.
There's plenty of room. This is one of the few seven-seat SUVs where even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with space to spare, and then behind that position in the third row with just enough room for my legs. Headroom in the second row is excellent, but the third row is getting tight although my head still isn't touching the roof.
The doors to the second row are large providing a tall and wide opening for easy entry and exit. The third row is a bit tricky to get into, but I haven't met a single seven-seat SUV where entry into the third-row is a breeze.
Even though the XC90 does well to slide and fold its second row (40/20/40 split) forward, I still ended up crawling in on my hands and knees. Older kids will be able to leap in, so put them back there.
The boot is enormous and with the optional air suspension the XC90 can lower itself like an elephant getting down on its knees to make it easier for you to load stuff into the back. Yup, with all seats up you have 314 litres of boot space; with the third row folded flat you'll have a cargo capacity of 1019 litres, and with all of the seats folded (no not the front ones), there's 1868 litres. Those are measured in ISO litres which are different to the VDA litres used by many other car makers.
Storage throughout the cabin is good but could be better. There are two cupholders in the third row, two in the second and another two up front, and while the storage boxes in the armrests in the third row are an excellent idea, the second row just has small door pockets and seat-back cargo nets. It would be good to see drawers under the seats or even a fold out tray from the centre console.
Storage in the front isn't great either – that long sliding panel next to the shifter (you can see it in the images) houses the cupholders, the glove box is also on the smaller side and so is the storage area under that armrest – but it does contain two USB ports. There's one 12-volt power outlet in the second row, another in the boot and a cigarette lighter (or another 12-volt) in the front.
There's four zone climate control – and directional air vents in all three rows.
From the get-go, it's huge inside. There is lounging-room aplenty in the first and second rows, and rear seat occupants score their own set of climate controls.
Storage is everywhere, with two deep bins in the front and two front cupholders that slide away to reveal a space big enough for a beagle (okay, slight exaggeration). The rear also features two cupholders and each door will hold a bottle.
Boot space starts at a massive 639 litres and expands to 1943 litres with the rear seats down. There's a ton of space in the boot for things or a hefty dog.
Price and features
The Volvo XC90 R-Design T6 lists for $104,900, plus on-road costs. The trim level below, with the T6 engine, is the Inscription which lists for $102,900, and the entry-model is the Momentum for $96,900.
So, while nearly $105K might seem like a lot (especially once you add the on-road costs) you can feel comfortable knowing it's actually mighty fine value for money considering the amount of equipment you're given in return.
Coming standard is the 9.0-inch portrait touchscreen and the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a head-up display and sat nav, there's a 10-speaker 330W stereo, Bluetooth and internet connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android auto, digital radio, 360-degree parking camera, gear shifting paddles, power and heated front seats, four-zone climate control, a pop-out booster child seat in the second row, bending LED headlights, fog lights and a proximity key.
That's along with all the R-Design gear which we covered in the section above and the extensive safety equipment list which we'll cover below.
Our test car was fitted with the $8000 'Premium Package' which brings sunblinds for the rear doors, a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, air suspension, plus tailored dashboard and door trims. The 'Bursting Blue' metallic paint our car wore is a $1900 option.
Worried you're paying too much? Fear not, because relative to most other prestige seven-seat SUVs the XC90 R-Design T6 is at the more affordable end of the pricing spectrum.
Audi's Q7 3.0TDI Quattro lists for $106,900, Mercedes-Benz's GLS 350d is $118,729, while the Land Rover Discovery TD6 HSE manages to undercut it at $103,000.
It's interesting to note that while the XC90 T6 has a petrol engine, those rivals are diesels. Audi doesn't make a petrol Q7, Land Rover does make petrol Discoveries but only sell diesel ones in Australia, and as for a Benz GLS petrol there's only one - the GLS 500 and that lists for $165,129, which is $60K higher than our Volvo XC90.
The Vogue TDV6 starts at a fairly hefty $190,000. You might think that's a lot of money for a seven-seat SUV - and you'd be right.
You do alright for your money, though. The list contains 20-inch alloys, climate control, keyless entry and start, a comprehensive safety package, twin-view front screen, dynamic dampers, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, digital dash, electric heated front seats, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, acoustic heated windscreen, heated rear seats, partial leather seats, head-up display, active air suspension, heated steering wheel, powered gesture-activated tailgate and a full-size spare.
The new 'InControl' system now pairs with an all-new 10-inch touchscreen, and it looks terrific. The system is finally making some inroads (sorry) into the German competitors' in-car multimedia dominance.
Obviously it has sat nav, but it also has DAB, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a TV tuner, app connectivity (iffy, if I'm honest), and various off-road based stuff. The 13-speaker stereo is a belter, but, frustratingly, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. JLR keeps saying "watch this space", and after Mazda recently proved me wrong, it's a claim I'll take a little more seriously.
The car I had for the week also had the 'Pixel Laser' LED lights ($6490), 22-inch gloss black wheels ($5110), sliding panoramic roof ($4420), adaptive cruise ($3600!), black exterior pack ($2730), 'Vision Assist Pack' (foglights, interior ambient lighting and around-view cameras; $2040), Park Pack (rear cross-traffic alert, and side parking sensors; $1280), laminated windows ($830), 'Drive Pack' (blind-spot monitor; $820), wade sensing ($600), ebony headlining ($680), and few extra bits taking us to a grand total of $222,440.
Engine & trans
You may have noticed in the images that our test car wears a tiny blue square on its tailgate. This is the badge of Volvo's Polestar performance tuning division. All R-Design XC90s come with the 'Polestar Optimisation' package which increases the T6's power output from 235kW to 246kW and its torque from 400Nm to 440Nm.
The Polestar Optimisation package also recalibrates the XC90's throttle response and increases the shifting speed of the eight-speed automatic.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h according to Volvo is 6.4 seconds which is a tenth of a second quicker than an 'un-Polestar-optimised' T6 - say in the Inscription T6 or Momentum T6.
The XC90 R-Design T6 is all-wheel drive and for the five of you out there who will ask, including my father in-law – it's a Haldex 'Generation 5' system.
My bet is the same people will also want to know its braked towing capacity: 2400kg.
Being a Range Rover, it's obviously all-wheel drive with a centre differential for the rough stuff. The TDV6 designation tells us it has a 3.0-litre turbodiesel good for 190kW and 600Nm to shift its substantial frame, weighing in at 2249kg. The dash from 0-100km/h comes up in a surprisingly spritely eight seconds dead, and towing capacity is a muscular 3500kg for a braked trailer.
Volvo says the T6 four-cylinder turbo- and supercharged petrol engine with its eight-speed auto should use 8.5L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads – this goes for the Polestar Optimised T6, too.
We measured our test car's fuel economy at the petrol pump and calculated that after 246km of mainly suburban and city running we were using 14.3L/100km. The trip computer reported a slightly higher figure of 14.5L/100km.
Land Rover's official combined cycle figure for the Vogue is listed at 6.9L/100km, but in my week with the car doing largely suburban running about, with some highway mixed in, we didn't event get close, returning 12.3L/100km.
Even so, the huge 86-litre tank will ensure you won't have to visit the servo too often.
At 5.0m long, 2.0m wide and nearly 1.8m tall the XC90 R-Design T6 is big, but in comparison to other large SUVs it's one of the easiest to drive.
The images in this review were taken at the top of an eight-storey carpark: it's a good place to take photos of my review cars and at the same time test pilot them through probably the worst-designed car park you'll encounter.
Narrow ramps and tight turns are not really ideal conditions for a large SUV but the great visibility through the XC90's big windows, the excellent field of vision offered by the wing mirrors, the light steering and smooth throttle response made climbing to the summit pretty simple.
The flat, broad bonnet helps with being able to see exactly how much room you have between the concrete pylon and an insurance claim, too. Other large SUVs with curvaceous lines and noses that dip away from sight will have you sitting up like a meerkat trying to see how much room you have.
A four-cylinder petrol engine may seem small for such a large SUV but the T6 is outstanding – it's efficient and impressively powerful. Not once did I feel like it was lacking in grunt, but there were many times I wished the exhaust note sounded beefier.
Our car had the optional air suspension which for the most part turned out a composed and comfortable ride, although being fitted with fairly low profile tyres on large wheels (Continental ContiSport Contact5 275/45 R20) meant when the road surface turned bad the ride suffered.
And these aren't even the largest wheels. The R-Design T6 comes with no-cost option 22-inch wheels – they look good, but you'd be wise to try them before you buy.
The touchscreen will take some getting used to – I kept discovering more hidden 'pages' and functions the more I swiped around it.
A serenely quiet cabin, comfortable seats with uber-stylish surrounds, a commanding driving position and not being in just another German SUV made the experience even more special.
A Range Rover drives like no other car. It feels big, but with that upright driving position, it's oddly relaxing. Despite needing a little extra attention to keep the car in the lane, the view out over the flat bonnet is pretty unique.
The air suspension provides a plush ride, but can occasionally get itself into a bit of a heaving-sea movement - as it did along a particular road near where I live. The rest of the time it completely insulates you from the road.
Of course, if I'd had the bravery to tackle some serious off-roading, the air suspension can lift the car from its low-riding city stance to 22cm, meaning you can wade through 90cm of water, which is around half the car's height. The people down the road weren't keen on me testing it in their pool. Spoilsports.
You can't easily escape the fact it's exactly five metres long - it squeezes into parking spaces, and the big mirrors help, too. At least the height is rather more commonplace than it was a decade or so ago, so you're less likely to bang into low ceilings.
If this was Family Feud and the question was: 'Name a type of car that's safe? I'd bet the answer would be 'Volvo' every time. I'd also wonder if Volvo had paid for the question to be asked on the show.
Anyway, the reputation is justified and the brand continues to pioneer life-saving technology and equip its cars with the latest safety gear.
What's just as noble is how Volvo applies the full range of safety systems to all grades of XC90 – so even the base grade Momentum T6 comes with the same safety features as the R-Design T6.
This includes AEB which Volvo says is active from four km/h and can brake effectively to avoid a collision with a pedestrian at up to 45km/h. At speeds higher than 45km/h but below 70km/h the collision is mitigated.
According to Volvo the system will also detect cyclists and if one swerves into the path of the car, the XC 90 can reduced its speed by up to 50km/h. As for other cars, the XC90 can brake to avoid a collision if the speed difference between the cars is less than 30km/h.
The XC90 is also equipped with adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert with AEB that works while reversing.
A run-off mitigation feature also brakes and uses evasive steering to pull the car back into its lane if the vehicle accidentally starts to veer off the road.
The XC90 is fitted with front airbags, side airbags, driver knee airbag, plus second and third row inflatable curtains.
For child and baby seats you'll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether points across the second row – there aren't any in the third row.
The XC90 R-Design T6 has a space saver spare located under the boot floor.
Chinese company Geely own Volvo, but the XC90s that are sold in Australia are made in Sweden.
The Vogue sports six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, rollover-stability control, hill-descent control, forward-collision warning, forward AEB, corner-braking control and trailer-sway control.
The Rangie scored a five star ANCAP safety rating in 2013.
The XC90 is covered by Volvo's three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12months – whichever comes first.
There are two service programs offered for the XC90. There's the 'SmartCare' plan which costs $2225 for three years/45,000km; $3500 for four years/60,000km and $4230 for five years/75,000km. Then there's the 'SmartCare Plus' plan which costs $3050 for three years/45,000km; $5350 for four years/60,000km and $6540 for five years/75,000km.
It would be good to see Volvo offer capped price servicing, which doesn't need to be purchased as an additional piece of coverage.
Range Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist for the duration, which is now starting to look a bit skinny. The website assures me that not only does it cover the usual stuff, but you'll also be rescued if you're on four-wheel-drive only tracks, too.
You can cap your service prices with a service plan of up to five years/130,000km, and servicing is required every 12 months or 26,000km.