Why the XC90 is a sensible big beast

The XC90 is a big beast. At nearly five metres long, it is eclipsed by very fews cars on the road.

Volvo XC90

Yet it handles like a sports car, whipping to 60mph in under eight seconds and on to 137mph, where legal.

And more importantly, perhaps, it manages more than 44mpg around town and more than 51mpg on a run - figures which wouldn’t disgrace a car half its size.

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Volvo is proud of its new second-generation XC90 and so it should be. It replaces the first generation which sold for 13 years (2002 to 2015), which is more than twice the lifespan of most modern motors.

You see, Volvo isn’t a company which rushes into things. Rather, it takes its time to make sure it does it right.

The SUV (sports utility vehicle) market was already well-established when Volvo came along with the XC90 in 2002 but such was the model’s build quality, styling, ability and competitive pricing, it succeeded against many of its longer-established rivals.

And the new model - cleaner, greener and much, much more luxurious - seems well-positioned to challenge Audi Q7, BMW X5 and the Range Rover.

It feels light, sporty and well-planted. It’s a well-balanced car and it hides its mass well.

On the road, it feels like a much smaller vehicle, yet it has seats for seven and the boot is 314 litres rising to 1,868 litres with the boot down.

Inside, one of the most interesting features is the tablet-style panel in the dash. This system, labelled Sensus. controls all the major functions of the vehicle, from the ‘infotainment’, phone, navigation and connectivity features.

The car has a formidable array of safety features, as you might expect from Volvo, under the IntelliSafe banner. They include energy-absorbent seats, City Safety auto-braking, Queue Assist and a self-parking system.

The new XC90 is more than just a refresh. It’s a very different model to the previous generation model and is built on a new platform.

Principle changes have been the introduction into the UK of the 320hp T6 petrol engine and the addition in the availability of the auxiliary heater on the D5. The auxiliary heater, standard on the T8 Twin Engine, allows the driver to pre-set the cabin to a set temperature.

As you might expect for a limousine-style SUV, it is well-equipped with climate control, stability systems, reversing sensors, parking systems and cruise control as standard.

The XC90 is the first car to be powered solely by Volvo’s new Drive-E engine range. Available to order with either an all-wheel-drive (AWD) D5 225bhp diesel, an AWD T6 320hp petrol or an AWD T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid with 400bhp.

Unusually for such a big vehicle, the engines are relatively small but they are strong and economical.

The XC90 has already won awards. It was named Car of the Year 2015 and Large SUV of the Year category winner at this year’s Auto Express New Car Awards.

Volvo XC90 AWD R-Design 4WD auto

PRICE: £49,875 on the road. Range starts at £46,250

ENGINE: A 1,969cc four-cylinder diesel engine generating 225bhp via all four wheels

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 137mph and 0 to 60mph in 7.8 seconds

COSTS: Town 44.1mpg; country 51.4mpg; combined 48.7mpg

EMISSIONS: 152g/km


WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles