We all have those restaurants. You know, the ones that are your go-to recommendations. Want ramen? I got just the place. Mexican? You gotta try this joint. Best SoCal pizza.. this one never lets me down. But unless you stay on top of your recommendations, they can feel disingenuous. Maybe the ramen chef left, maybe there is new pizza nearby that’s much better, or maybe, just maybe, the Mexican food was only good because the margaritas told you so. The Volvo XC90 is my recommended restaurant.
Anytime someone asks, “what SUV do you think..” before they even finish I just fill in the blank “XC90.” If budget or size is an issue, sometimes I’ll say “XC60” or it’s adorable little brother the “XC40”, but most of the time, my answer rhymes with XC90. Thus far, it has served me well, with plenty of readers and friends enjoying the full size, luxury Swedish goodness. But it’s been a while since I drove my go-to vehicle, so I figured it was time to check myself.
what i knew before:
*Like Jane Fonda, the XC90’s exterior has aged beautifully against the competition. (PS- I don’t really care what kind of plastic magic is occurring, that woman’s face is a miracle.)
*Volvo’s interiors in the other, more recent models are gorgeous.
*Plug-in hybrids are more common than they were in 2015 when the XC90 was first revealed with the T8 engine.
behind the wheel:
*Honestly, it was hard to get a good read on this car because my daughter Ava wouldn’t shut the hell up. The “Mom, you should buy totally this” and “Hey, I know, you should get one for your favorite daughter” refrain was exhausting. Unlike the XC40 or XC60 that left her lukewarm, this baby had her number.
*The interior was just as beautiful as I remembered it. I dare you to find an SUV with an interior as elegant and refined as this car. You won’t. Bling? Gimmicks? Sure, those are a dime a dozen. But a truly thoughtful interior is like a truly thoughtful politician, hard to come by.
how the xc90 drove:
*Being a speed demon, I much prefer the T8 plug-in hybrid engine over the T6, for that extra bit of torque means I can often be the first off of the line at a green light. But I’m shallow and immature like that, so it may not matter to you.
*While the handling is solid and secure, it was missing the right amount of heft for me outside of the sport mode. Once again, sport mode is my happy place, but most people wouldn’t really care.
*I’m always 100% happy with Volvo’s safety systems and their interface.
what I would change:
*My kids, as previously mentioned, were deliriously happy in the XC90. However, I found the third row difficult to access. I’d like to see how Volvo would execute captain’s chairs which leave a middle passage to the ‘way back’.
*Finally, the price. While the MSRP absolutely justifies itself against the competition, many readers have complained to me that the residual on this model is just so high that the financing numbers really never work in their favor. Many have reported buying a much more expensive vehicle for less because of this, which makes me sad.
The XC90’s Verdict:
Turns out, the XC90 may not be the latest hottest thing on the market anymore, but it’s still my favorite ramen. While rumors swirl about a “2020 model refresh”, I’ll wait with bated breath knowing that the advice I’ve given so far was spot on.