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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)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2012 Volvo XC90 3.2 starts at just over $39,000, including destination charge. R-Design models begin at just over $42,000. A fully loaded, all-wheel-drive R-Design XC90 can top out at over $50,000. Both of those prices are comparable to competitors in this segment such as the Buick Enclave (with a slightly lower starting price) and Acura MDX (slightly higher).
By Christiana (AZ) on Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Holds value, fun to drive long distances as well a"
Cons: "No double visors like Tahoe for driver & passenger"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a diehard Tahoe truck lover yet recently purchased a used Xc90...and I am ecstatic. Talk about maneuverable, powerful, comfortable and smooth. I thought I'd have to give up room....not so, the cargo area is huge. This vehicle is a dream to own and drive...much easier on the wallet at the pump too."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By John (NC) on Thursday, February 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 122,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "seating, comfortable, well built materials,"
Cons: "gas mileage, expensive maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Have only owned the car little over a year now and it has been awesome! Has never left us sitting nor has any major problems. Wheel bearings are a common problem for the xc90 so those needed to be replaced. Love my volvo and would recommend to anyone. I have read terrible review on the xc90 t6 so i went with the xc90 2.5T. Wouldnt trade it for anything!"
12 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By CamCamJibJab (FL) on Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My XC90 has been an awesome car. Bought it used but have have no mechanical problems with it. The maintenance/tires are a bit expensive and now that I will also have a teen drivning it part time I can't afford what it will cost me in brakes and tires once a year. But all and all I have been extreamly happy with my Volvo. If you have a turbo watch the oil level. My burns extra oil and I have to add a quart between oil changes, there are no leaks or any problems. Many mechanics have assured me that all is good with my car. Runs like a dream!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Erin (NE) on Friday, January 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice drive, luxury feel, great in snow"
Cons: "pricey to repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car used, in 2009 with around 58,000 miles on it. It is a 2006. For the price we paid for it, and the amount of wear and tear I have put on it in 4 years, it has been a real trooper. I lived in Kansas City at the time, and my family lived 3 hours away, so it was driven over 400 miles at least once a month, sometimes twice to three times a month. The ride this car will give you if you travel a lot is unbeatable. Every other SUV is subpar to the luxury this car will offer in a road trip. The drive is quiet and smooth, and it is hard to stay under the speed limit because it drives so naturally. It has tons of room, and I can attest to how much stuff you can pack in that car, and still not feel any drag from the weight. Also, if you live in an area that can be hit by heavy snow, this car does great. I was flying by other SUVs in the most recent snow storm we had, and it really eased my mind to feel that safe during a blizzard. My volvo has run into a few problems in the last few years though. For example, my AWD sleeve has gone out TWICE and luckily both times it was covered by my warranty. I also have had to replace my headlights, which each cost 100 dollars. While the car is fantastic, it can become costly fast. I definitely recommend this car, esp. if you travel alot, or have children and want an insanely safe car. It is worth the money you pay for it, but just be willing to pay a little more when things go wrong with it."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Jen (CA) on Friday, January 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 122,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice looking, comfortable, size and shape"
Cons: "severe mechanical problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I love this car, but is has been nothing but a cash eater since I bought it a few years ago. This particular model and year is known for severe mechanical problems. My engine just burned up inside even though it had just been checked over and we've serviced it well while we have owned it. I'm now stuck with a car that will cost $8k (not to mention the already $4k that was put into it while owning it) to put a new engine in and I am upside down already in the loan. I will make sure that anyone I know considering this year of Volvo will not buy it."
16 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Heather (MA) on Thursday, January 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, safe and mostly quiet"
Cons: "Perelli Tires Junk at 23k miles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"No problems with the 04--turbo, nice, solid, not a single issue. The 08, I love, but have had noise issues with rattles in the door and popping in the transmission. I like the turbo 5cyl better than the V6, but both are great and have no regrets"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful