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2018 Volvo XC90

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2018 Volvo XC90 Expert Review

By Matt Degen

KBB Expert Rating: 9.2

The Volvo XC90 is the Swedish automaker's flagship SUV, and a flagship in general for advanced driver-assistance, active-safety features and technology. Reborn in its current form two years ago, the XC90 midsize-luxury SUV went from one of the stalest vehicles to one of the most innovative. The extreme makeover included an interior that remains among the most stylish and sophisticated at any price point to an all-new suite of semi-autonomous driving aids. Even the up-level engine is a marvel: a turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder. Now, the XC90 is a legitimate rival to the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Infiniti QX60. Issues to be aware of, however, are the finicky touch-based infotainment system and T8 Plug-in Hybrid model's powertrain refinement.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a midsize-luxury SUV that packs some of the most advanced safety and driver-assistance features, put the 2018 Volvo XC90 on your list. If you're more drawn to exquisite styling inside and out, this Volvo crossover SUV shines there, too.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Some aspects of the XC90 seem too smart for their own good. The touch-centric display that controls everything from phone connectivity to climate features can be fussy. If you want something other than a 4-cylinder under the hood, you'll also have to look to one of the Volvo's rivals.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 9.2
  • 9.0
  • 9.2
  • 9.2
  • 9.2
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#4

out of 19

Fuel Economy

#15

out of 19

Horsepower
View all rankings
2018 Volvo XC90 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

For 2018, the Volvo XC90 gains as standard the impressive Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system, plus blind-spot monitoring, auto-dimming mirrors, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

Driving the XC90
2018 Volvo XC90 Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

If you need proof a small engine can power a big vehicle, look no further than Volvo's 4-cylinder. While the automaker recently announced its future vehicles will incorporate electrification, we...

... hope this gem continues to play a role. This gasoline motivator -- namely the T6 variant -- feels at least two cylinders more than it is, and has plenty of guts to get this luxury SUV up to speed. Once there, we found the XC90 quiet and compliant, though its ride remains on the firm side. An auto-leveling air-suspension system is available. We found the XC90 plug-in hybrid’s dual powertrain in need of polishing. The requirement of pushing the crystal shifter twice to engage drive or reverse is frustrating, and initial acceleration can be either too aggressive or too conservative in EV mode. Unlike the standard XC90, we found the plug-in hybrid to be neither seamless nor predictable.

BOWERS & WILKINS SOUND
This optional audio system is the epitome of premium sound. With 1,400 watts and 19 speakers it's loud, yes, but the quality is superb, even when playing tunes from your phone.

AIR SUSPENSION
This optional suspension makes the XC90 more compliant, yes, but we also like its functionality when parked. With the touch of a button, you can lower the entire vehicle or just the rear, making it easier to load people, pets and gear.

2018 Volvo XC90 Details
2018 Volvo XC90 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Volvo's interiors continue to be among the most impressive. Sleek, sophisticated and anchored by Swedish minimalism, it's all elegantly cohesive. From the moment you start the car with the twist of a jewel-like knob, you feel like you're in a special place. Optional leather and wood abound, while the standard 9-inch vertical center display reminds of a Tesla. The XC90 can be configured with two rows for five passengers, three rows for seven or, in the $105,000-plus Excellence trim, with four individually heated, cooled and massaging seats. The third row is sufficient for children, and cargo area is impressive with seats folded.

Exterior
2018 Volvo XC90 photo

The XC90's exterior is equally elegant with no small dose of strength. Just look to those T-shaped LED running lights, dubbed "Thor's Hammer," or that significant grille with a large Volvo emblem floating in the middle. Around back, long and curvaceous taillights lend grace. Wheels range in size from 18 to 21 inches. On the practical size, the tailgate is power-operated, the door handles are illuminated, and the side mirrors are retractable. Three new colors arrive for the 2018 XC90: Maple Brown, Denim Blue and Pine Grey. Out are Magic Blue, Savile Grey and Twilight Bronze. We can't make up these names.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Volvo’s standard package is even better for 2018 with the inclusion of its semi-autonomous Pilot Assist that includes adaptive cruise control. Also standard are blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping aid, automatic emergency braking, rearview camera and rear parking sensors, power tailgate, dual-zone climate control, navigation, power front seats and moonroof. Standard upholstery is Leatherette, and the base configuration is for five passengers. The basic infotainment system includes CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and a 224-watt audio system. For 2018, owners get four years of Volvo On Call service with emergency support, remote start and the ability to check fuel level, lock doors and more via a smartphone.

Optional Equipment

Upgrades to the 2018 Volvo XC90 include interior leather-and-wood treatments, the blissful Bowers & Wilkins audio system, air suspension, 360-degree camera, quad-zone climate control, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display and even a system the cleans the headlights via high pressure. An integrated child booster seat is available, plus a harness for dogs. If you live where it's cold, you'll like the heated front and rear seats and steering wheel. The lavish -- albeit low-selling -- Excellence plug-in hybrid XC90 includes four individual seats with heat, ventilation and massage, hands-free tailgate, a refrigerator, handcrafted crystal glasses and 2nd-row tray tables.

Under the Hood
2018 Volvo XC90 Engine photo

The 2018 XC90 lineup is fitted with Volvo’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. In T5 models, it’s turbocharged for a respectable 250 horsepower. T5 models come standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) and have all-wheel drive (AWD) optional. In the T6, with AWD standard, a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter Drive-E gasoline engine makes a stout 316 horsepower and develops 295 lb-ft of torque. The T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid’s electric-motor/gas-engine combo yields 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. Recharging takes 2.5 to six hours, depending on voltage. All models use an 8-speed automatic transmission and an engine start/stop system that cuts power at idle. In our tests, we opted to shut off that system to prevent rough restarts. The XC90 SUV is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (T5)
250 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (FWD), 22/28 mpg (AWD)

2.0-liter supercharged/turbocharged inline-4 (T6 AWD)
316 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg

2.0-liter supercharged/turbocharged inline-4 + electric motor (T8 AWD)
Engine:
313 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
Electric Motor:
87 horsepower/177 lb-ft of torque
Net Output: 400 horsepower / 472 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy, est.: 25 mpg combined, 54 MPGe combined
Pure electric range on a full charge: Up to 14 miles

The 2018 Volvo XC90 SUV has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $47,895 for a base T5 Momentum model. A T6 begins just over $55,000, while the T8 plug-in hybrid XC90 begins around $66,000. These prices are where most XC90 buyers will land, but a small minority will opt for the loaded, 4-passenger Excellence plug-in hybrid model. That extravagant hauler comes with a price tag of nearly $106,000. If it's any consolation, it's eligible for $4,585 in Federal tax incentives (as are the other T8 plug-in hybrids). At these prices, the XC90 starts under the Audi Q7, Lexus GX, Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5, and above the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60 and Buick Enclave. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Volvo XC90's resale value is expected to hold up quite well in the years ahead.

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