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 Roadie on Friday, February 27, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 152,238overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, safe, and reliable."
Cons: "T6 transmission problems. Leather wears quickly."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After considerable research I learned that the T6 model has horrible transmission problems, but my 2.5T has been excellent. It carries our entire family, all of our stuff, and does it comfortably. I really like this SUV. Maintenance and repairs have been minimal in over 100K miles."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By K. M. on Monday, December 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 126,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking comfortable"
Cons: "Mechanical issues not worth the style."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"If you are one of the unlucky gamblers to get one with the common faulty transmisions, prepare to add an additional $6000 to $7000 to your cost. A common problem since 2003. Volvo needs to step up to the plate and replace the faulty transmissions with a reliable design."
45 people out of 67 found this review helpful
By Tim on Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 257,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my XC90 in 2005 with 70,000 miles on it. She now has 257,000 miles, and she is still running strong. I've had to keep up on basic maintenance just like with any other car, but I have had no major out of pocket expenses for this vehicle since I have owned it. I absolutely love the way this vehicle drives and handles, and it has great get up and go. I have the AWD T6, so it does very well in snow... I live in Wisconsin, so this is very important. While the interior does lack in personal storage, it's an extremely comfortable and roomy vehicle. I love the style of this vehicle both inside and out. It has a very classic yet modern feel to it, and I just love driving it. Nice thing about this vehicle is that the body style has not changed much over the years, and it always looks newer than it is. Put it next to an 06, and you can't tell the difference. I read allot of mixed reviews about this vehicle prior to purchase, more bad then good, but this vehicle has proven those reviews wrong in my mind. She has been one of the most reliable Volvos I have ever owned. I'm purchasing a 2010 in about a week, and this one is going to my son. I'd like to see if we can get her to 400,000 miles or more."
17 people out of 32 found this review helpful
By theo on Friday, December 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,160overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "very good car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"80% hihgway driving, maintainance done personally, change oil every 4000 miles/ no accident/ excellent running condition"
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Littleoats on Wednesday, December 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 132,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Here's my take on this vehicle. Very plain interior. Not much storage or room for phones, drinks, sunglasses, etc. Now why would Volvo not have an overdrive for this vehicle. It is a six cylinder turbo and has only four gears thus we get about 14 miles to the gallon on the hiway! That is horrible. We only bought this to protect my young son and should have done more research before we purchased."
13 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Cassius on Sunday, November 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 161,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "attractive styling, great interior, good mileage"
Cons: "A few bugs that need to be worked out"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I bought this vehicle about 6 months ago and although I love the fit, finish, and road manners of it, I would suggest to anyone who buys one to make sure the throttle body has been replaced and that the plenum leak in the firewall has been fixed. The throttle body problem may leave you stranded and the water leak causes the CEM to malfunction, which can leave you without any heat, air, radio, power windows, turn signal, or gauge cluster function. I found out through a little digging that these are common problems with this model and Volvo knows about them. I happen to work on vehicles and was able to fix these problems myself but if you do not know how, these repairs may cost well into the thousands. Be careful."
20 people out of 27 found this review helpful