The 2019 Volvo XC90 is a sharp-looking crossover with a third row, smart tech options, and incredibly helpful driver-assist features including Pilot Assist. If you’re in the market for a luxury crossover with a lot of safety and a lot to love, the XC90 fits the bill. While it isn’t perfect, there is a lot to love including a third row and excellent standard features.
There are some catches, including a stiff ride, but overall this remains one of our favorite luxury three-row SUV options. Just make sure you check out the Hyundai Palisade, which offers more legroom and some impressive second and third-row features.
I tested the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription with the Advanced Package ($2,500), Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel ($750) Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound (3,200) and 21″ 5-V-Spoke Allow Wheels ($800). This model also came with metallic paint, $6,050 worth of Inscription features and an integrated center booster cushion. The total price as equipped is $70,940. I highly recommend both the Advanced Package and the Premium Sound packages.
There are a wide range of XC90 trims you can choose including T5, T6 T8-eAWD Plug-in Hybrid, which you can pair up with the R-Design, Inscription and Excellence trims. The Trim and package you choose changes the look of the XC90 and the features. The T6 Inscription I tested uses a supercharged and turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive.
Looks and Comfort
The 2019 XC90 T6 Inscription tested looks great. Volvo manages to deliver a modern design that stands out in a sea of boxy designs. While the front is clean and attractive, I personally find the rear angle the most pleasing with a tapered design and taillights that flow beautifully into the metal. Back up front he Thor’s Hammer headlights accentuate the design and complete the striking style of the XC90.
Inside the XC90 interior looks great and the front seat is incredibly comfortable with a myriad of seat customization options including the ability to move the front edge of the seat. The Walnut wood inlays throughout the cabin, and in the center console are beautiful and accent the Nappa leather nicely. Even the key fob is coated in matching leather. With the Bowers & Wilkins sound upgrade, you get beautiful metal speaker grilles and a center-mounted speaker on the dash.
The seats are high and visibility is very good. The cabin feels very open in the second row thanks to a panoramic sunroof. There’s a good amount of room in the second row, but the third row isn’t as large, so it’s best saved for kids or very short rides for adults. The back seats are easy to heat or cool thanks to adjustable climate options and the second row can even control this from the center console. The second row features a 12V outlet, but no USB ports and there is no power connection in the third row.
Cargo space is limited in with the third row in use, but you can fold both rows down if you need to prioritize hauling things instead of people.
The Volvo XC90 infotainment system is easy to use, supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and allows you to easily access other car features while you are using these systems. The screen is easy to see, responds to touch quickly and with a swipe, you can quickly jump to additional details. While you miss out on the wide screens that many vehicles now use, this taller display works well in the XC90.
You can plug your phone in to use CarPlay or Android Auto or pair via Bluetooth. The setup is easy and the Bluetooth connection is strong. You can use the built-in navigation, but the connected experience on your phone is better. The instrument cluster is all digital and easy to read.
With the Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound, you get immersive and impressive sound. This is a must-have upgrade if you enjoy listening to music while you drive. You can choose from a concert hall, studio or individual stage. It’s up there with the Mark Levinson system in the Lexus LC 500 and LS 500.
Safety and Driver Aids
The Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving feature is one of the big selling points of the XC90. This system is easy to use and once turned on simplifies long trips on the highway by keeping you with the flow of traffic and in your lane. You set your top speed, the distance to keep between you and the car in front of you and then keep your hands on the wheel — but the car is handling all the small corrections that you make while driving. It’s standard on the T6 AWD Inscription, but it may be an option depending on the trim you choose. You’ll also find a handy Blind Spot detection system and Run-Off Road Protection and Mitigation.
With the Advanced Package you also get Park Assist Pilot along with front and rear parking sensors that can help you squeeze into parking spots easier. While the standard headlights are great, this package also adds in the Active Bending Lights, which turnt he headlights slightly as the car turns so that the road is always illuminated. If you need better visibility at night, this is an excellent feature.
That package also includes a Head-Up Display and the 360 surround camera system. Both are useful and work nicely, but the 360 camera system really feels like I should be a standard part of the T6 Inscription package.
Driving the XC90
The 2019 XC90 drives and handles nicely, though the ride is a little stiff on the 21-inch wheels. In this segment, many other vehicles do a better job of handling rough roads.
The Super and turbocharged engine keeps a good deal of power on tap for getting around town and on the highway. With a 0-60 time of around 6.5 seconds, there is some zip. The handling is good with light steering that makes it feel like a smaller car than a three-row SUV. The brakes are good, though they take some getting used to as a light touch is all they need.
With the drive mode options, you can raise the ride height if you need to go off-road into a field for soccer practice or lower the height in sport mode. While leaving a photo spot I was able to test the All-Wheel drive and off-road mode and the XC90 handled the loose dirt and steep angle better than expected.
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