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 Kathy C. on Friday, March 27, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,450overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of cup holders, roomy and comfortable"
Cons: "Too man rattles, lots of broken things"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This car has been okay for us. It's a comfortable midsize SUV. Overall we haven't had any major issues, but lots and lots of small ones. Many interior pieces break or crack. We've had to replace the driver side sidepiece due to cracking, fuel door hinge is broken, center console hinge broke, window up/down buttons cracked, glove box hinge is broken and cup holder plastic piece is popping up. We are two adults in their 30's and not hard on our cars. This car is made of cheap plastic. Everything rattles and squeaks. The center console is really noisy and I've tried felt tape all over it. The plastic housing on the window control buttons rattles. There are so many rattles that come from the 2nd row seating and I have no idea what they are. I would not recommend this car."
By Muggs on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun and extremely safe to drive,"
Cons: "TOOO expensive for a retired person..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"If money is no object this is the SUV for you. It is outstanding in looks, comfort, and features but fixing it is very costly. In the almost year I've had it, I've only put 2K miles on it, paid $13K and have lost $4K of that in trade-in value. I want something much less costly when it needs lubricated or fixed, So far, I have spent oodles of money for new tires, all head and turn signal lights have been replaced, all 5 engine coils have been replaced. This has been an expensive vehicle to keep running in my experience. It gets terrible mileage, so I am looking for something newer that gets considerably better mileage and is good to go for at least a year with NO NECESSARY REPAIRS,"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By niko5252 on Saturday, March 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Volvo never corrected the drivers side windshield wiper/washer issue which does not clean the bottom portion of the windshield. This has been an issue with this model for years. Supposedly corrected with the 2015 models. That just seems ridiculous and the mfr has no solution for it other then a shrug of the shoulders. Other then that the vehicle has performed well and no issues experienced yet. Interior is comfortable and well designed. 3rd row seat is roomy enough for teenagers or short distances for adults. This has been a great family vehicle"
By Honey on Monday, March 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My husband passed away and I have an extra car. I bought this Volvo new and have cared for it as my responsibility. Everything has been done when needed but now I do not need two cars."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
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."
5 people out of 9 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."
52 people out of 74 found this review helpful