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Volvo might not immediately come to mind if you’re looking for a new luxury three-row SUV. But the 2023 Volvo XC90 is an underrated choice that might be a good fit for you. On paper, it stands up with competition from Audi, Genesis, Lincoln, and Infiniti. With plenty of available options, you will surely find an XC90 that suits your preferences.

A look at the 2023 Volvo XC90

A dark color 2023 Volvo XC90 parked in front of a building lined with concrete framed windows.
2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Volvo Car Corporation

Still, in its second generation per MotorTrend, the XC90 hasn’t seen a complete overhaul since 2016. But the 2023 version offers quite a few improvements over the prior year’s model. The latest XC90 makes all-wheel drive standard across trims rather than just a few. There are also new exterior styling options, a switch to a Google-based infotainment system and USB-C ports rather than USB-A ones, and upgraded shift logic on all powertrains.

However, the new mild hybrid powertrain is one of the most significant changes. The XC90 offers three different powertrains, starting with the standard 247-hp 2.0-liter turbo I-4 engine. There is also a 295-hp 2.0-liter turbo- and supercharged I-4, and a 455-hp 2.0-liter turbo- and supercharged I-4 paired with an electric motor. The latter mild hybrid option gets 36 miles on EV alone and 530 miles combined range.

The XC90 is also well-designed and spacious for both passengers and cargo. It also comes equipped with a 9.0-inch infotainment system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10-speaker audio system, navigation, voice recognition, and OTA updates. You can add a 360-degree camera system, a 19-speaker premium audio system, and more for an additional price.

Three reasons you should consider an XC90

While the XC90’s $56,000 MSRP is on par for this segment, if you’re going to spend that kind of money, it’s important to be sure you’re making the right choice. And three aspects of the XC90 make it especially enticing.

  1. The first is that it’s quite an attractive vehicle. While the overall design has remained the same, some great new paint options complement the XC90’s sleek design. And though it’s a larger vehicle, riding on 19-inch wheels, it’s not boxy and boasts plenty of pleasant curves and contours.
  2. The XC90 also outdoes itself with its premium interior. It offers high-quality materials on every surface and numerous amenities at every trim. Volvo offers an air purification system, a power driver’s seat, a panoramic moonroof, a four-zone climate control system, heated front seats, and ambient lighting as standard features to ensure the driver and passengers are comfortable. Uplevel the trim, and the features only get better.
  3. Finally, in keeping with Volvo’s reputation for safety, the 2022 version boasts strong safety scores, including the Top Safety Pick+ distinction from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s not surprising given how well Volvo engineers its vehicles with safety in mind and how many advanced safety systems, from adaptive cruise control to blind spot monitoring, they offer standard.

Other considerations

While the XC90 has a lot going for it, it’s not for everyone. And it’s not perfect. In fact, a few improvements could be made that could put the XC90 at the top of every critic’s “Best of” list.

The first is ride quality. Despite the multiple powertrain options and excellent fuel economy, the XC90 is a bit stiff and rigid. Some of this can be expected, given its size. But as some other rivals on large wheels are more agile, some of this stiffness is an unpleasant quirk of the XC90.

While great to have, the third row is ideally suited only for children. This is a common complaint of vehicles in this segment and makes the XC90 ideal for families with young kids but not so great as the kids age. Finally, the expansive and feature-rich infotainment could use a bit of winnowing. But despite these criticisms, the XC90 provides excellent value for the price in this segment. It’s well worth a test drive.


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