By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
Volvo's XC90 wasn't the first upscale SUV on the market when it debuted a decade ago, but it intended to be the safest of the bunch while providing a comfortable, car-like ride. Ten years after it made its initial bow, the 2012 XC90 still offers a lot of safety and versatility in a rugged-on-the-outside, refined-on-the-inside SUV. The vehicle also bucks the bigger-is-better trend, with the ability to seat seven in a body smaller than others in this segment such as the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave and Nissan Pathfinder. Throw in XC90's all-weather ability, semi-luxury cachet and laudable warranty with complimentary scheduled maintenance, and it's a utility vehicle that appeals to both head and heart.
If an image of safety, practicality and prestige top your priorities and you only occasionally plan to use the third-row seat, the 2012 Volvo XC90 deserves to be on your shopping list.
If you need to regularly seat passengers in the third row plus require space for cargo, the XC90 might not fit you, literally. In that regard, the larger Buick Enclave, Dodge Durango or Ford Explorer SUVs would provide more legroom and additional cargo capacity. If you need to tow your toys, the Volvo XC90 is limited to 3,970 pounds in front-wheel-drive (FWD) form and 4,960 with all-wheel drive (AWD).
Volvo has discontinued the optional V8 engine in the XC90, leaving the 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder as the sole choice. The 2012 XC90 is offered in two forms: 3.2 or R-Design, with additional trim levels for each that are designated Premier Plus and Platinum. Unlike other Volvos available in R-Design form, here the XC90 does not add more horsepower, but instead differentiates itself with a sport-tuned suspension and interior and exterior upgrades.
All 2012 XC90s get Bluetooth music-streaming capability and a new exterior color choice, Caspian Blue. R-Design models receive big 20-inch alloy wheels and xenon headlights.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Volvo XC90 delivers good on-road performance, wringing the most out of its 6-cylinder engine. Volvo pegs XC90's 0-60 mph time at 8.7 seconds. That isn't sports-car fast, but...neither is it SUV laggardly. Thanks to a wide track and stability control system, the XC90 performs well in emergency maneuvers. Unlike other SUVs with higher ground clearance, the Volvo doesn't feel top heavy and takes corners with confidence. Feedback is good from both the steering wheel and brake pedal. Models with the optional all-wheel drive employ a computer-controlled Haldex system that can instantly deliver up to 50 percent more torque to the rear axle when needed for extra traction. When not in use, 95 percent of the engine's power goes to the front wheels.
Sliding Center Child Seat
This parental favorite allows the front-seat passenger to easily reach a child in the second-row safety seat.
This new feature enables a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone to stream music to the Volvo's audio system, plus create playlists using Pandora or Grooveshark.
Standard leather seating and an available wood steering wheel and shift knob give the XC90 a premium feel. A total of 12 – yes, twelve – beverage holders provide enough drink storage for a trip through the Sahara. Innovative and flexible seating arrangements such as a flat-folding front passenger seat allow the XC90 to be a car you could sleep in or fill with surfboards. There is seating for seven, but the third row is cramped for most adults, and when in use, leaves a scant 8.8 cubic feet of storage. The second row is roomy and has a sliding center section that allows a child safety seat to be moved closer to the front passenger.Exterior
"Stylish" and "SUV" are often mutually exclusive terms, yet the XC90 manages to be both with aplomb. With a ground clearance of 8.9 inches, underbody protectors and a bulging hood, the vehicle looks like it doesn't mind the rough stuff. Yet its contoured lines and elongated taillights give the Volvo XC90 an elegance all its own, especially in the flowing rear.
All 2012 Volvo XC90 models come with a 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine that runs on regular unleaded and is mated to a 6-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Also standard are a passenger compartment reinforced with high-strength steel, a power moonroof, an integrated child booster cushion, a 160-watt stereo CD system with HD radio, power-adjustable front seats, and dual-zone climate control. R-Design models add xenon headlights, color-coordinated wheel arches and R-Design grille, rear skidplate, and interior badging. A navigation system is standard on Platinum editions of the 3.2 and R-Design models.
All-wheel drive can be had in all versions of the XC90, as can heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and an interior air-quality system. Blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, a dual-screen rear-entertainment system, walnut steering wheel, and a kayak cradle are further add-ons.
The 240-horsepower, 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder is now the sole engine in the 2012 XC90 as Volvo has ceased offering the Yamaha-built V8 in the vehicle. Still, the 6-cylinder gives the XC90 more than adequate power and, though it isn't exceptionally fuel efficient, does not require premium gasoline.
240 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg (FWD), 16/22 mpg (AWD)
By Hank on Saturday, October 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fairly priced against other European SUV. Gd. val"
Cons: "Awkward third seat. Haven't used."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"3.2 engine is not fruga lon gas. Averaged 18.6 mpg on 4 separate trips from Long Island to Stuart, Fl. Vehicle feels safe, good on long trips. A bit cumbersome in heavy traffic. Cargo space is adequate."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Juan Pablo on Monday, September 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"As a family car the Volvo is comfortable and looks GREAT! As a father of four...we have had astronomical bills on repairs....A/C condenser then compressor....then leaks.....I recommend another car if you are looking for a reliable A/C."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Twister on Saturday, September 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable drive and very good on gas"
Cons: "Pricey: Tire replacements high AWD"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This vehicle is our mine travel car. It has been cross country three times from San Diego to Michigan via cross Canada, cross Northern USA and Southern USA. It has been to Canada twice and several trips to Northern CA, NV and AZ. The interior is designed exceptionally and the exterior is sharp. I am awaiting the arrival of the 2016 model this spring. This has been my most favorite vehicle!!! The ride is exceptional - comfortable - reliable and resilient etc... the best vehicle yet. The cars I have had are Olds, Renault, Mazda, Toyotas (very good) VWs. The color is Ice Green. One feels very safe in this vehicle. Pictures will be loaded later."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By WOODS FAMILY on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 135,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice to look at when purchased in 2004"
Cons: "HORRIBLE REPAIR BILLS"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Love the sleek styling at first glance. However, we have had the WORST possible experience with this car in the world. After the 50,000 mile warranty was up, EVERY major system on this car broke down and needed extensive repairs. I would NEVER recommend this car to a friend or family member. Just took it in for more repairs (trading it in finally) and found that we need $1700. 00 in additional repairs. I asked the service personnel to look at history of repairs and he said it had been repaired 31 times. And I can truthfully say that those were each substantial in dollar amounts. I would even venture to say that we spent as much on repairs as the car cost in the time period we had it. If not more, very close. Maybe we got a lemon, but the dealership did not help out much. Volvo Corporation should be ashamed to call this a reliable car. NEVER, EVER, AGAIN."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By bdo on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 113,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "runs like new"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own a repair shop for forty years . This Volvo has been gone over front to back new timing belt , tuned up new brakes and parking brakes, and much much more. This vehicle looks new drives like new and smells like new, and has been kept in a garage since new. If you put it on a Volvo show room floor it would pass as new.This vehicle has passed Maryland state inspection , which is the strictest in the USA . This car is absolutely beautiful"
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Scarface Six on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great utility, comfort, visibility, and power!"
Cons: "Roof mounted antenna wire comes loose."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Our 2006 XC-90 was hit by a red light runner and totaled, with NO serious injuries to either occupant. A small ankle bruise from the brake pedal, was the ONLY injury. We decided to replace her 2006 with a 2011 XC-90, and we are SURE that was a GREAT decision. After 25000 miles, the engine started smoking, and Volvo replaced the ENTIRE engine after trying two repairs. Very impressive! It is roomy enough to fit five comfortably and seven with the back seats up. With the beach seats easily folded away, a split rear door is comfortable to use and provides access to LOTS of ROOM for groceries and other supplies. We will likely get another XC90 within the next 16 months. We just LOVE this car."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful