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 Long Islander on Monday, July 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safe, roomy, family oriented vehicle."
Cons: "Hwy mileage is good, city could be better."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is a true SUV. Not one of the crossovers or wannabees. You can tow a boat, pack up a family and be comfortable on a road trip. It's also one of the safest vehicles on the road. I find it comfortable to drive as I have owned a number of other SUV's. There is more room than needed w/ full third row seating (that an adult can fit in). While gas mileage around the city averages 15, I do get mid 20's on the highway. So gas mileage could be better, but could also be worse for what you have. Last, one reason I bought it is because my in-laws own one. They now have 190k miles on it and it is still going strong (and looks good too). Other than normal wear and tare, replacing tires/brakes, they have put less than $2,200 in repairs. So as far as I'm concerned, they got their monies worth."
8 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Shelby on Sunday, July 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable, easy to drive"
Cons: "maintenance, no navigation, no sensors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My mom passed this car down to me with only 30,000 miles while I was in high school and it's still going strong in college! This car is extremely reliable and is made for comfort. The only thing about Volvo is that it is difficult to get parts fixed quickly since it is not made in the US. Besides that I have loved driving my Volvo!"
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By shop74 on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: bad gas mileage bad ride
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I have had Hyundai, Acuras, Volvos and Lexus before this and I was very unhappy with this SUV. We have 2 little children and no problem on back seat. The pickup is HORRIBLE on the 6 Cylinder engine and gas mileage. 17 miles to gallon city driving. This was my first SUV and last. This will also be my last Volvo as they don't hold their value at all when trading in... I really like my 2002 S60 but this one was a mistake."
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Dvolvo on Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 111,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned 2 grand cherokees and didn't like the noise level in the cabin. My 05 xc90 was quieter, had more torque for getting on the freeways and very reliable. I'd like to get a new one but I'd like them to change something on the newer models...new should not look old."
11 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Silvia on Friday, June 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safety car , #1 !!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I would really recommend this car to everyone, especially people who want safety, comfort, and luxury. Its a great car for anyone who has kids but at the same time it is not too bulky like most SUVS. After getting into a major accident (the car was a total loss) in which I shockingly came out alive, I was reassured that I made the right choice in purchasing this car. After losing this car, I do not have to think twice about buying another Volvo."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Jim on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car with around 26k mile and now has nearly 87K. I am putting on my second set of tires the last set lasted about 30k. The nav/GPS system is ergonomically unfirendly and hard to use. You blindly have to set it and often push the wrong button and it retracts into the dash. Then you have to restart the process. Now the GPS does not always retract into the dash when shutting off. Have had to jump start car 3 times because of that and replace the battery once. I took out the fuse to stop this problem but then the radio does not work. This time it will cost over $1400 to fix. I am having them just unplug the GPS. Parking sensor went out and will cost $470 to replace. Leaking oil and the vaccum pump seal will be another $247. Remember this only has 87K miles. The seating capacity is falsly advertised. My family is scrunched in it. The third row person's knees hit the middle row seat and the middle row is pushed against the front row. My son is only 5'10" so the 3rd row is really for show only. The radio is somewhat complicated and you have to play with it to understand it. It is a gas guzzler too."
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful