Road Test: Volvo XC90 D5 AWD SE Lux
Sector: Large SUV Price: £42,695 Fuel: 34.0mpg CO2: 219g/km
It’s been a formative decade for the automotive industry, dealing with the battering of a global recession, rapidly climbing oil prices and ever-tightening taxation against the most polluting vehicles.
No less so for Volvo. Ten years ago a subsidiary of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, now a Chinese-owned Swedish manufacturer with some innovative new products in the pipeline.
Thankfully, Ford investment has done them proud with the XC90. This gargantuan seven-seat SUV celebrates is tenth birthday this year, yet it’s been a backbone of the Volvo range ever since it was launched, ranked at the top of sales lists in several markets until it was usurped by the XC60 in 2008.
Volvo’s styling might have moved on a generation since, but this really has aged well. Its flat front and broad shoulders add to the commanding on-road presence, while subtle tweaks inside and out have kept it feeling fresh. From the soft, supple leather to the watch-like dials, there’s really not much to hint at its age. It’s just a shame the clunky satellite navigation system wasn’t ditched during last year’s refresh.
It’s also staggeringly versatile. The rear seats pop easily and disappear just as quickly, and the boot is cavernous enough to swallow even the most demanding loads, including a couple of Labradors easily restrained by the load net that clips onto the back of the second row of seats.
There’s now only one engine on offer in the UK, and predictably it’s a diesel. But that 200bhp five-cylinder sounds pleasingly muscular under load and smoothly, effortlessly, hustles the two-tonne Swede up to license-threatening speeds. The fuel economy figure might be low, but it’s achievable.
Those who like the XC90’s muscular styling, luxurious practicality and towing ability will find it’s still a thoroughly viable, if rather thirsty, way to move the family about.
Volvo isn’t replacing the XC90 until 2014, when the next model will debut the manufacturer’s clever Scalable Platform Architecture. Until then, this might not be the freshest or thriftiest SUV on sale, but it’s still a luxurious, practical, safe way to travel that won’t lose you any points in the company car park.