2018 Volvo XC90: Not As Impressive As It Looks

In terms of style and presence, the 2018 Volvo XC90 is a knockout. The XC90 boasts swagger and a brawny shape. But as you do your research, you may conclude that this Volvo isn’t as impressive as it looks. 

Driving the 2018 Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 SUV is seen during the 2017 North American International Auto Show
The Volvo XC90 | SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Critics and consumers recognize the XC90 for being luxurious and family-friendly. As a new model, reviewers like Consumer Reports appreciated this SUV for its smooth and secure driving dynamics. But at the same time, the XC90’s powertrains aren’t the grandest.

The 2018 XC90 comes standard with a 250-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. For more oomph, there’s the available twin-charged four-cylinder that produces 316-hp. The 2018 model is also available as a hybrid but significantly more expensive. Each engine comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

These powertrain options are smooth, but not remarkably so. Furthermore, the XC90’s power isn’t a standout, given that V6 engines are more prevalent in the class. And as CR also highlights, the XC90’s fuel economy isn’t as impressive, given the smaller engine choices.

“Still, even with this smallish engine, we measured only 20 mpg overall. And for a $57,000 vehicle, the engine should sound and feel more polished. Instead, the XC90 feels and sounds gritty. The big Volvo’s responsive, planted, and secure handling belies its size. But the stiff suspension is best suited to a perfectly smooth Swedish highway. On American roads, every bump and ripple is fed to the cabin.”

Consumer Reports

Interior elements 

Where the XC90 really wows is on the inside. The XC90 is filled with high-quality materials that are soft to the touch. Base models seat up to five. There’s also a three-row configuration that brings seating up to seven. The 2018 XC90 is standard with faux leather. Upgraded versions will have amenities, including leather upholstery and heated and cooled seats. 

In addition to its spacious interior, the XC90 presents lots of in-car tech. Volvo added more standard active safety functions, including blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert for the 2018 model. Additionally, Volvo added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard features for 2018. But as CR notes, the XC90’s touchscreen can put a damper on things. 

“Our love of the interior cooled when we engaged the large touch-screen console, which looks dazzling until you have to operate it. Almost all audio, climate, navigation, phone, and vehicle settings are integrated via swipe-and-tap commands that are frustratingly unintuitive.”

Consumer Reports

Where 2018 XC90 consistently falls short 

A Volvo XC90 on display at an auto show
A new Volvo XC90 | Wang Gang/VCG via Getty Images

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Furthermore, the most unimpressive aspect of the 2018 XC90 is its predicted reliability ratings. CR has consistently given the XC90 its lowest possible reliability score since 2016. These low rankings partly relate to the model’s history of recalls. J.D. Power also gave the XC90 below average dependability scores.

If you’d prefer a midsize luxury SUV with a more impressive reliability history, you’ll want to consider a used Lexus RX. However, not all hope is lost if you have your heart set on getting an XC90. There aren’t many significant complaints about the model, which indicates that there isn’t anything seriously wrong with it. On average,  used 2018 XC90 falls between $33,325 and $61,175,