Volvo XC90 VS Nissan Patrol
- 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
- Effortless performance
- Superb ride
- Great value
- Steering feel (lack of)
- No AEB
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|
Everyone has a guilty pleasure. A sneaky drive-thru burger, Katy Perry on your iPod, or watching The Golden Girls while dressed as SpongeBob. Okay, so maybe not everyone has that last one.
The urban tank that's currently dominating your screen is mine. It occupies enough real estate to support a medium-density sub-division, weighs a sprightly 2.7 tonnes, and is powered by a 5.6-litre V8 that slurps premium unleaded at an ecologically obscene rate.
But it’s soooooo good.
The eight-seat Y62 Nissan Patrol Ti is so clearly built for the ‘Murican market (where it’s called the Armada) it’s a safe bet the human hairpiece has one in the presidential fleet.
A week behind the wheel should have had us sneering, but all we could do was smile.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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 Nissan Patrol Ti is stress-relief on wheels, designed to help you navigate urban family life in quiet and calm comfort. It’s not perfect, using up a reasonable chunk of the planet’s resources in its construction, consuming more than its fair share of precious gasoline, and assaulting many people’s view of what constitutes good automotive taste. But next time you’re sobbing through a YouTube compilation of military homecoming videos, consider the Patrol. Maybe it’s time to set that guilty pleasure free?
Is this Patrol too big and beefy, or right-sized for your family needs? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
Roy and HG dubbed rugby league legend (and political enigma) Glenn Lazarus ‘The brick with eyes’, and it’s not a bad take on the current Patrol’s mammoth presence.
At more than 5.1-metres long, just under two-metres wide, and close to two-metres tall, this is a substantial beast. You’ve never seen 18-inch rims look so small.
Subtle bulges around the wheel arches and along the bonnet go some way to softening the large regions of only subtly contoured sheet metal. The front and rear bumpers are neatly integrated into the flow of the body, and the flashy, three-part chrome grille boldly announces the big Nissan’s arrival.
The profile is bread-box geometric, with more bright metal finish on the window surrounds, door handles, front guard vents and proudly positioned V8 badges. At the back, the Patrol’s upright stance is clear, with more chrome above the licence plate, and oddly intricate LED tail-lights that look like aftermarket specials from Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district.
Vast expanses of high-quality leather cover the faces of the classy and oh-so-comfortable seats, while a mix of gentle curves and arrow-straight borders define the dash and centre console.
But then it’s as if ‘he of the tiny digits’ choppered in and demanded custom touches, like yet more chrome around the console, instruments and key controls, as well as broad bands of high-gloss timber you’d swear was fake, but Nissan says is in fact “high-grade wood” trim.
But aesthetics is always a subjective call, and from a functional point of view the interior layout works beautifully. The switchgear is clean and simple, the multimedia interface is straightforward and intuitive and the ergonomics are thoughtful and considered.
That said, niggles include a steering wheel that just won’t come up high enough (or a driver’s seat that won’t adjust low enough), the lack of a digital speedo read-out, multiple blanked-out switches at the base of the centre stack (not a good look), and an awkward, US-style pedal-operated parking brake. Curse you, middle America.
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.
Space is something this vehicle has in abundance, and with a wheelbase of close to 3.1 metres, passengers are well taken care of. Actually, five out of eight passengers. But it’s likely the third-row seat will be a kid-zone anyway, and if they’re not old enough to vote, they’re not old enough to complain.
The fortunate pair up front will luxuriate in broad but supportive chairs, with heaps of storage on offer, including a giant central console box (with a nifty two-way lid that provides access for rear seaters), a pair of large cupholders, a generous glove box, and big door pockets with space for bottles. There’s also a drop-down sunglass holder in the roof, a 12-volt outlet, as well as USB and auxiliary line-in media sockets.
Second-row accommodation is probably best measured in hectares, but suffice it to say there’s plenty of room. With the driver’s seat set to this 183cm-tester’s position, head and legroom is limo-like, and there’s even enough width for three grown-ups.
Roof-mounted air-con vents are controlled by a digital panel in the back of the front centre console, there are specific reading lights, big bottle bins in the doors, and a pair of small-ish cupholders in the folding centre armrest.
Yes, third-row legroom is tight for adults, but access is easy thanks to a simple fold-and-roll function on both sides of the centre-row seat. Once back there, the kids have no less than four bottle/cupholders at their disposal, as well as air vents in the roof. And the third row can slide through 20mm for more legroom or storage space.
Even with the third-row seats upright there’s 550 litres of cargo space available. Enough to hold the CarsGuide pram (on its side), or our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres). Plus there’s a full-width stowage box under the floor. For reference, a full-size Holden Commodore sedan’s boot holds 495 litres.
In this configuration, there are still six cargo tie-down shackles available, with a light and 12-volt outlet also provided. There’s also a full-size (alloy) spare wheel.
Fold the third-row forward, and capacity increases to 1490 litres, which is enough to swallow the pram and luggage set, with room to spare.
Flatten both the rear rows and it’s like looking down the belly of a C-130 Hercules, with no less than 3170 litres of load space liberated. And if weight is a factor, you have a 734kg capacity to play with.
Worth noting the cargo floor, with seats folded, isn’t flat, the ramp angle increasing the closer you get to the front seats, and weirdly, there’s no electronic control for the tailgate. You need the top-spec Ti-L version for that.
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.
When it launched here in early 2013, the Y62 Patrol Ti was priced at $92,850, with an entry-level ST-L ($82,200) below, and the flagship Ti-L ($113,900) above it.
This positioning kicked the evergreen four-wheel drive into new territory, given the most expensive version of the previous (Y61) model weighed in at $72,690.
And sure enough, by mid-2015 the market had spoken, and Nissan Australia ‘repositioned’ the range, culling the base ST-L and lopping a massive $23,400 off the Ti’s price, adding some extra fruit to its specification at the same time.
That $69,990 pricing remains in place, substantially undercutting the V8 petrol-powered Toyota LandCruiser VX, which sits at $94,070. But the Toyota steamroller continues to flatten the Patrol in terms of sales.
When you look at the Patrol Ti’s standard features list, though, you have to marvel at the power of the LandCruiser brand, because this Nissan is loaded.
Included on the Ti spec sheet is, keyless entry and start, ‘leather accented’ trim, eight-way power front seats (including height and lumbar adjust), tri-zone climate-control air con (with rear control), cruise control, sat nav with 3D mapping, ‘leather accented’ steering wheel and shift lever, 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen, ‘Around View Monitor’ (with reversing camera), six-speaker CD/DVD audio with 9.0GB hard drive and Bluetooth connectivity, glass tilt and slide sunroof, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, side steps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Not bad at all, but it’s worth noting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing in action.
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.
Nissan’s all-alloy, 32-valve, quad-cam VK-series V8 engine started life 15 years ago, debuting in the third-generation Infiniti Q45 (which never saw the light of day in Australia).
It's since gone on to power a range of other Infiniti and Nissan models, and in this most recent 5.6-litre (VK56VD) iteration, develops 298kW at 5800rpm, and a thumping 560Nm at 4000rpm.
The big V8 features ‘VVEL’ (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology (on the intake side) as well as direct injection. And in case you think the torque peak arrives high in the rev range, 90 per cent of that maximum (504Nm) is available from just 1600rpm.
It’s matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission featuring sequential manual mode (available via the console shifter only) and ‘Adaptive Shift Control’ logic.
Drive can be directed to the rear wheels or all four (in high- or low-range) via Nissan’s ‘All Mode 4x4’ system, offering specific off-highway settings for sand, snow, and rock, as well as a rear diff-lock.
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.
Nissan claims 14.5L/100km for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, and doesn’t even venture into the area of stated CO2 emissions.
Without any injudicious use of the right-hand pedal, over roughly 250km of city, suburban and freeway running we managed to exceed that figure by close to 15 per cent, recording an average of 16.5L/100km.
The other not so good news is the V8 turns up its nose at anything less than premium unleaded, so if you live in a capital city, get ready to shell out around $210 dollars to fill the 140-litre tank with 95RON juice.
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.
Driving the Patrol Ti is like eating a freshly baked marshmallow – soft, sweet, and delightfully indulgent.
It’s an effortless, stress-free experience, thanks mainly to the engine’s huge reserves of torque, and the independent (double wishbone front and rear) suspension’s magical ability to soak up even significant imperfections.
You have to consciously remind yourself this is an old school, body-on-frame design. But the magic bit that transforms the Patrol’s ride and handling, is Nissan’s ‘Hydraulic Body Motion Control’ suspension tech.
The system is managed by nitrogen-charged accumulators, with cross-linked piping allowing the transfer of hydraulic fluid between shock absorbers to actively control suspension travel.
In cornering, stiffness is increased to reduce body roll and, in straight running, overall ride quality is enhanced… a lot.
The seven-speed auto is ridiculously smooth, the seats remained comfy and supportive after lengthy stints behind the wheel, and the interior is supremely quiet.
And with all that heft barrelling down the road, big disc brakes (358mm front/350mm rear) with four-piston calipers at the front, consistently pull this sturdy unit up without a hint of drama.
But with the soft sweetness comes a hard truth. The light ‘speed-sensitive’ steering twirls through roughly 5000 turns lock-to-lock, and produces approximately zero road feel.
Nissan makes no bones about the fact the Patrol is aimed at city types, with its 4WD ability mostly applied to towing. And the Ti is able to haul 750 unbraked kilos, with a healthy 3.5-tonnes in scope if your boat trailer or caravan is braked.
Another standard feature that comes in doubly handy when manoeuvring a substantial vehicle like this is the ‘Around View Monitor’, combining bird’s eye, front, rear, and side views. It’s brilliant, and panel beaters should hate it.
While this isn’t an off-road test, if you do decide to take the tribe on a Top-End adventure, standard ‘Hill Descent Control’, ‘Hill Start Assist’, rear diff-lock, helical LSD, and the All Mode system are ready for action.
For the hardcore off-roaders, ground clearance is 283mm, approach angle is 34.1 degrees and the departure angle is 25.9 degrees.
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.
Standard active safety tech includes, stability and traction control, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, ‘Cross-Traffic Recognition’, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. But no AEB.
If you want higher order features like, ‘Blind Spot Warning’, ‘Blind Spot Intervention’, ‘Distance Control Assist’, ‘Forward Collision Warning’ and ‘Intelligent Cruise Control’, they’re standard on the ($86,990) VTi-L.
On the passive side of the ledger, there’s driver and front passenger head and side airbags, as well as side curtain airbags covering all three rows.
ISOFIX child restraint anchor points and top tethers are included in the outer second row seat positions, with another tether hook in the third row.
The Patrol has not received a safety star rating from ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
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.
Nissan supports the Patrol with a three year/100,000km warranty, with three years roadside assistance included.
Sure, Nissan has a well-deserved reputation for reliability, but with the likes of Kia upping the game to seven years/unlimited kilometres, surely it’s time for a warranty adjustment.
The scheduled service interval is six months or 10,000km, which is a pain when most of the market is at 12 months.
A six year/120,000km ‘Service Certainty’ program locks in pricing for those 12 services, with a low cost of $375, and a high of $1240 (100,000km), which equates to an average of $608 per visit. You’ll also need to factor in $42 for brake fluid every two years/40,000km.