2018 Volvo XC90 Review

The 2018 Volvo XC90 is a luxurious crossover that wins you over with a refined interior and seals the deal with all the pep you need thanks to a supercharged engine and turbocharged engine on the T6 trim level. Add in the great infotainment system, top of the line stereo and semi-autonomous driving and it’s no wonder why buyers pick the Volvo XC90 instead of established luxury brands.

Volvo did not change much for 2018, making adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also now standard on the XC90.

2018 Volvo XC90 Review
The 2018 Volvo XC90 is luxurious, includes an impressive semi-autonomous driving mode, all the tech you'd expect and incredible sound.
What We Love
Excellent Safety & Semi-Autonomous Driving Features
Great Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Luxurious Interior and Comfortable Seats
Amazing Sound System
Fun Drive on Super & Turbocharged T6 Inscription
What Needs Work
Third Row is Not Big Enough for Adults

2018 Volvo XC90 Tested

Available in an array of trims and powertrain options, the 2018 Volvo XC90 T6 Momentum offers the supercharged and turbocharged engine that matches the heft of the XC90 best and includes many of the standout features. I spent the week in the 2018 XC90 T6 Inscription with AWD. The XC90 T6 base price is $54,050 and the Inscription trim adds $5,100. The review vehicle also included the $1,950 Convenience package and the $3,150 Luxury package as well as upgraded rims, air suspension, a tailored dash and the Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound upgrade. The full retail as equipped is $74,090.

Driving the 2018 Volvo XC90

Driving the 2018 Volvo XC90.
Driving the 2018 Volvo XC90.

The 2018 Volvo XC90 is a joy to drive with the turbo and supercharged engine in the T6 model. This delivers plenty of power for the XC90 and offers up an enjoyable hint of engine noise without being so loud that it goes against the luxurious interior.

I took the XC90 on the highway, interstate and even off-road for an afternoon at a family ravine. Thanks to the air suspension I was able to drive in comfort mode while taking my in-laws out to eat, switch into performance mode when driving with a friend and even toggle into off-road for the added ground clearance I needed to make it over the rough entry to the ravine.

Overall the ride is comfortable and the brakes felt more refined on the 2018 model than on the 2017 XC90 I previously tested. I’m still not a huge fan of the auto start/stop, but it wasn’t as jarring as on the earlier model. These aren’t listed changes, but the overall driving experience felt improved.

Volvo Pilot Assist makes longer drives pleasant by keeping you in your lane, with the flow of traffic and is an excellent addition to the XC90 driving experience. More on this in the technology and safety section.

The automatic parking feature is excellent for fitting into a tight spot and it is very easy to use. There is also a Park Out feature to get out of the tight parking spot when you need to go.

On the road, the combination of turbo and superchargers really shines with plenty of power when passing and you still get good fuel economy on the highway, especially for a three row crossover. Expect 23 mpg with mixed city and highway driving. In the city the XC90 delivers 20 mpg and that goes to 27mpg on the highway.

2018 Volvo XC90 Tech & Safety

The Volvo XC90 tech is top notch including infotainment and safety.
The Volvo XC90 tech is top notch including infotainment and safety.

With a 9-inch touchscreen on the center of the dash and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster you’ll see a lot of technology as soon as you step into the car. With the Premium Bowers & Wilkins sound system you’ll hear it as well.

Volvo placed a 9-inch touch screen in the center of the dash in portrait orientation. This works out nicely, allowing Volvo to show a lot of information on the screen at once. When using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay you can still see and use other parts of the Volvo Sensus system. The infotainment system is easy to use and organized very well.

The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster looks great and is similarly easy to take note of while driving. It’s not that big of an adjustment from standard dials, but I really like the look of it at night. The heads up display is useful, but with polarized sunglasses on it was very hard to see.

The XC90 Bowers & Wilkins sound system is the best I’ve heard across any car manufacturer. This system is tuned to deliver amazing sound inside the XC90 and settings allow you to choose from a studio sound system, an enveloping sound system and a tuning that matches the Gothenburg concert hall. All of the options sound great and fit specific types of music and audio content.

Volvo’s Pilot Assist is a semi-autonomous driving feature that dramatically improves longer drives. When activated the XC90 uses sensors to keep you in your lane, actively steering the car around bends in the road and uses the adaptive cruise control to keep the vehicle flowing with traffic. This can even slow and completely stop the car in traffic. The driver still needs to keep their hands on the wheel, but it removes the micro-corrections and some of the stress that comes with longer drives in traffic. One major adjustment I had to make was that Pilot Assist keeps the vehicle in the center of the line, which seems much closer to oncoming traffic while on a two lane road. Normally I favor the right edge of the lane on two lane highways.

At night I love the Active Bending headlights, which light up the direction you are going by slightly turning as you corner so that the light goes where you are looking, not just straight out the front of the vehicle. The XC90 also features Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights and automatic brights.

A backup camera is standard and the convenience package includes a 360 surround camera upgrade that makes it easy to stay aware of your surroundings, especially in tight quarters.

2018 Volvo XC90 Design & Style

The 2018 XC90 style carries over the same look from last year. The exterior is sleek and modern looking without losing the signature Volvo feel. The T6 Inscription trim includes a special grille, walnut wood inlays, nappa soft leather seats, a matching nappa leather keyfob, and incredibly comfortable front seats. The front row of the XC90 sets the stage with sumptious leather and wood throughout. Everything you touch feels like it belongs in a luxury car.

I love the feel fo the XC90 seats, which are incredibly customizable, thanks to the extendable front section that allows the seat to hit the back of your leg perfectly. Add in heated and ventilation options as well as massage and your passengers will be fighting over who gets to ride shotgun. The panoramic sunroof lets a ton of light in and makes the cabin feel huge.

The second row isn’t slacking much either. Passengers have plenty of legroom, the leather and wood carries over and the seats are also heated. The middle section of the center row is available with an optional booster cushion for younger kids who need a booster seat. This pops up when you need it and stows away when you don’t. It’s a very nice touch for families. The second row seats are firm, but still comfortable. The third row is great for kids, but definitely not where you’ll want to put adults.

Cargo space is good, and very plentiful with the third row collapsed. I love the grocery bag holder that is part of the convenience package. This small section pops up and then you can use elastic to hold bags in pace so they aren’t flying around while you drive.

You Need These 10 Must Have Car Features: Find Out Why

Smart Cruise Control

Smart Cruise Control

Do you hate constantly adjusting your cruise control, or giving up on cruise control because of traffic or due to a driver in front of you who keeps changing speed? You need a smart cruise control system.

Smart cruise control goes by many different names. You may see it listed as Radar Cruise, Adaptive Cruise or Intelligent Cruise control. Whatever it is called, it will allow you to set your cruise control and then stay with the flow of slower traffic.

Here's why we love it and why you need it. You get on the highway and set the cruise at 76 miles per hour. You also set the distance you want kept between you and the car in front of you. There are typically three or four settings so you can be close or keep a lot of space. Now you simply steer and your car will go 76 mile per hour when traffic allows it or there is no one in front of you. When someone is in front of you going 73 mph, the car automatically slows down to keep you the distance you choose from that car. This is indispensable in traffic and on long road trips. 

Not all smart cruise control systems are the same. Some of work at all speeds, while others only work above a specific limit. Some systems can bring you to a complete stop in traffic and then restart without you needing to touch a pedal. 

You can find adaptive cruise control on cars as cheap as $18,500 like the Toyota Corolla, and as an option on many cars below $30,000. Even on pricier cars you may need a higher trim level or special package to get this feature. 

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