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Volvo XC90 D5 AWD SE LUX Review

Price £43,265 on the road. Bespoke weather and road condition information. Pedestrian detection in darkness

It was because he drove a Volvo...

Casper, the family dog is a sex mad bichon fries. He’s ‘on heat’ 24/7. He greets new guests with a hug around the ankle and a rhythmic gyration of the hips.

If we play Kiss FM while he’s ‘introducing himself’ he becomes unstoppable, hips gyrating at 200 mph. A sex mad dog who loves music.


Mind you, it’s a great way of getting rid of unwanted guests, we just introduce them to ‘our lovely little dog ’, tune in Kiss FM, and they’re soon awkwardly trying to make their way out with Casper wrapped around their ankles.

Casper’s sexual addiction meant there was no way we could take him with us to Chessington Zoo; he’d end up trying to have sex with the giraffes. How? Don’t go there – he’s only about six inches tall but we know he’d have a damn good try.

The solution was easy – borrow Esmerelda, the neighbour’s female Terrier, lock them away for the day with lots of food and loo facilities, and look forward to coming back home to an extended (dog) family.


That left the three grandkids, two daughters, their mum, and me. For parents, a family day out with kids is akin to war – you need all the protective armoury you can find. A tank is the best form of transport but failing that, the new 7 Seater Volvo XC90 is the next best thing.

It’s not a fully fledged 4x4, but what’s known as a ‘cross-over’, combining luxury car comfort with the added practicality of a 4 x 4. This car is tough as lead and strong as an Ox – it looks it and feels it too.

Ours is the D5 AWD, a 2.4 litre 5 cylinder diesel, capable of achieving 41 mpg with a light foot and good traffic, and 26 mpg in the absence of both.

Room, space, and practicality appeal far more, meaning that the noisiest and most mischievous kids can be seated two rows back, with sufficient boot space behind them to put the wife or husband. This means you can drive in piece, fearless of all other traffic coz you’re bigger and stronger than them all.

Having driven previous versions of this car through the worst of Swedish conditions I can vouch for its exceptional roadholding and grip in nature’s challenges. In truth, 99% of British motorists will not need more extreme poor weather drive-ability than this, the car being as capable as anything of getting you out of the worst.

It’s a comforting thought that your partner and children are about as safe as safe can be, tucked away in an XC90. Furthermore, it’s an easy car to drive, so much so that it is likely to be less of a ‘his’ or ‘her’, but more a ‘his’ and ‘her’ car – it’s not by coincidence that XC90’s are amongst the most popular school run vehicles.

All purpose and  user friendly

Dash layout is simple, functional, comprehensive, and user friendly; or simply put, well designed.

As you’d expect, the XC90 is very roomy inside, and all sit high in the car with good all round vision. Whilst a ‘big’ machine, the XC90 has good four corner parking predictability (ie you know exactly where the four corners of the body work are for parking ease and accuracy) taking the hassle out of busy all purpose routine driving . There are the usual bleeping parking aids and rear camera options, which means you can park whilst eating your breakfast cereal on the rush to get the kids to school in the morning (only joking officer!).

The D5 is not the quietest diesel on the road, but nonetheless is a refined long distance cruiser. For that credit is given to its 2.4 litre common rail diesel engine, good body/sound insulation, and best compromise suspension damping.

There’s enough torque on tap to allow prompt and confident overtaking at pretty much any speed within legal limits, and handling and cornering thresholds are both high and safe. You are unlikely to dangerously unsettle this car unless you haven’t been to Spec-Savers and go into a hairpin at 70 mph – because you thought the road was straight.

Mind you, being a Volvo, the XC90 is prepared for that too. It is abound with useful rather than gimmicky state-of-the art optional safety features, ensuring Volvo stay King in the ‘Keep Yourself Alive on the Road’ charts.

Long gone are the days when Volvo safety was just about being tough in a smash. It’s all much more complex now - animal detection radar, bespoke weather and road condition information, pedestrian detection in darkness, road edge and barrier detection with steer assist, adaptive cruise control with steer assist…too many to list here...

But your local friendly Volvo dealer will no doubt be happy to explain. I always wondered why that old hero TV series starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar was called ‘The Saint’ – it was because he drove a Volvo.

Tech Spec

Engine: 2400 common rail diesel. Average Consumption: 34.4 mpg. 0-60 mph: 9.7 secs. Top Speed: 127 mph. CO2 Rating: 215g/km


- Kevin Haggarthy


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