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Car review: Volvo XC90 SUV

Launched in 2002, Volvo's XC90 luxury seven-seat SUV remains desirable. That is no surprise given its all-round prowess, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay. 

Volvo XC90 exterior

It has been around since the early noughties, but the XC90 - Volvo's premium sport utility vehicle (SUV) - continues to be immensely desirable. 

The current model is due to be replaced by a fresher, funkier version in 2015. 

However, because of the current XC90's popularity, it still holds its value on the new and used markets.

The Volvo XC90 was launched in 2002 and offered a unique blend of attractive styling, practicality and seven-seat versatility that saw it become an overnight sensation. 

First-class handling and comfort

In 2010, sales figures for the XC90 grew close to 7,000 units nationally - its best year ever in the UK - and more than 37,000 globally. 

It continues to be a strong sales success this year, with the latest refinements to this still class-leading SUV including sophisticated lines and materials which give an even more rewarding driving experience.

The XC90 boasts all the virtues that have made it one of the Swedish automaker's most profitable models ever. 

The spacious and accommodating car combines brilliant handling and comfort with superior get-you-there ability and flexibility. 

Muscular design

Looks-wise, the vast Volvo XC90 gives off an elegant, muscular and robust impression. 

A daytime running light configuration using light emitting diodes (LEDs) in the lower bumper gives the front character.

At the other end, the tail lamps have dual lights and LED brake lights.

The XC90, on test here in turbo-diesel D5 SE LUX guise, is available with soft leather seats, a driver-focused character, a three-spoke steering wheel, aluminium décor and a watch dial-inspired instrument design with white lighting. 

Go, go, gadgets

Gadget-wise, Volvo's tried and tested "On Call" system is excellent. 

It's designed for enhanced safety and security in the car and, using a combination of wireless telecommunications and modern computer technology, you can receive assistance in tricky situations. 

It's recently been upgraded with music streaming from a Bluetooth-enabled portable music player.

New too, is a mobile application that makes sure you can connect with the system even when the car's parked up, via your iPhone or Android smartphone. 

The app opens up a range of possibilities, such as seeing the location of your car on a map. 

There is also a digital compass that points you in the right direction. 

Even better, the mobile app gives you access to information such as fuel level, average fuel consumption, average speed, odometer and trip meter readings. It's all very clever stuff.

Functional, but not boring

Volvo XC90 cabin interior

But it's not all about resourceful technology: the SUV is very functional too, but not boring. 

For instance, the rear hatchback, which is divided into a useful upper and a lower section for easy boot loading, comes with a colour-coordinated leather grab handle.

It's a tiny touch but it helps make the car feel all the more special.

The Volvo XC90 is also a top towing vehicle, capable of hauling up to 2250 kg, so anyone with a caravan or horse trailer will find the XC90 D5 oil-burner ideal.

The impressive Scandinavian machine does it all really. 

It's a perfect family car, looks good for business and is just the thing for anyone needing a dependable motor for all seasons. 

Volvo XC90 SUV: Pros & cons

  • Comfortable √
  • Powerful √
  • Practical √
  • Towing talent √
  • Long in the tooth X

Volvo XC90 SUV: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 127 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10.3 secs
  • Combined mpg: 34.0
  • Engine: 2400 cc 5 cylinder 20 valve turbo diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 197 at 3900 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 309 at 2000 rpm
  • Max. towing weight (braked) 2250 kg
  • CO2: 215 g/km
  • Price: £43,265 on the road

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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