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2019 Volvo XC90 Departing Review - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

8301 Views 105 Replies 37 Participants Last post by  Big Lebowski
I have one month left on my second XC90 lease, and I am honestly counting the days until it is over. Admittedly, part of that is excitement for my new car which is scheduled to be built early next month, but mostly I am ready to move on. I am on multiple other vehicle forums, and I understand how this can come off. I'm going to share my feedback and let future buyers draw their own conclusions. Flame suit activated for those that do not like my perspective, and I respect that.

Where I came from: My first XC90 was a Momentum, in a gorgeous denim blue. After owning multiple Jeep Grand Cherokees I needed a 3 row utility due to kids, trips, dog, life, etc BUT needed to stay under a certain length and height as I have a car lift in my garage that I store my "summer" toy on. I felt many domestic mid size SUV's were too low rent for my taste and the Germans (Audi, BMW) were too pricey. The Volvo hit a sweet spot, but I admit I NEVER saw myself buying a Volvo.

What I liked: The Good
  • Design: I was attracted to the minimal styling of both the interior and exterior. In a nut shell, I thought it looked very attractive and stylish. I love the Audi's and saw this as a baby Audi. I negotiated a great deal and off the lot I drove.
  • Engine: I was surprised by how peppy the engine was for a 4 cylinder and it met my physical needs.
  • Auto Pilot: I of course was aware of Volvo's reputation for safety but that had little to do with my decision to buy one. I actually learned more about the safety features AFTER I bought it, then prior. My hands down, favorite feature of my XC90 is the AutoPilot feature. We take a lot of road trips, and the feature allows me to take micro-breaks while driving to change a station, talk, get a soda, etc. It does pull weird when an on ramp enters the road, and never centers but all in all it has been a phenomenal feature. It was a big feature I looked for in its replacement.
  • R-Design: I don't remember how long I owned my Momentum, but with a few years my dealer offered to upgrade me for the same payment into an "R-Design" in blue. I still LOVE this blue color and the styling of the R Design.
  • Visibility: Has good visibility, as expected for a Volvo.
  • Sound System: The upgraded Bowers & Wilkens sounds system is a delight.
  • Heads Up: Love it and have it on a few other vehicles, and insist on it whenever available. So handy.
  • App: The app is handy and respect that Volvo doesn't charge a monthly fee, that it comes with the car. I use the remote start from my phone and watch daily in the Winter and the middle of the Summer. Very handy.

What I don't like: The Bad
  • Engine: (Yes, I realize this was a like above...initially). In "polestar engineered" mode, its pretty peppy...surprisingly so at highway speeds, but it lacks low end umph, and at the end of the day I prefer V8 (v6 at a minimum) power AND sound. The 4 cylinder turbo and supercharged engine is very tinny to me. It gets old for this size of vehicle. Some of this is my baggage, and I acknowledge that.
  • Design: What are we at? 7 years? 8 years, with little or now cosmetic refresh? The design looked sharp when I bought it in 2017 / 2018, but now looks a little long in the tooth.
  • Chrome / Aluminum: Its Everywhere. Literally. Mirrors, grille, trim, etc. Tacky plastic aluminum. In fairness, the new ones have more exterior black trim and looks a load better. The aluminum just dates the design IMHO.
  • No cooled seats: The R-Design with its suede interior does not have cooled seats. Lame. This was a big negative on long road trips, especially in the Summer.
  • Seat Comfort: What began as looking tight, crisp, thoughtful and minimal seats are actually hard as a board. 10's of thousands of miles have not softened them...only wrinkled them. For perspective, I'm used to firm seats with bolsters in sports cars. On long trips I am constantly shifting in place. Not a fan.
  • No Buttons: What began as looking like a minimal, elegant designed cockpit, void of buttons is actually a user PITA. I really did like the lack of buttons and dusty spots, but after daily use, having to go through the head unit / touch screen for common tasks related to the radio selection or climate control gets old. The interior needs just a handful more buttons for frequently used tasks.
  • Safety features: Lane keeping assist can be invasive. My wife and daughters refuse to drive the car. Yes, you can turn it off, but they don't like it. So no on drives it but me.

What I REALLY don't like: The Ugly
  • Touchscreen Head Unit: After almost 5 years, I am still not used to the head unit organization. It is slow, it glitches and the swipe left, swipe right feels awkward and unnatural. I always swipe the wrong direction for what I need to do. The vertical orientation is TINY by todays standards and just doesn't work. CarPlay is a postage stamp. Radio channel selection, browsing requires too much time of your eyes off the road. Since almost EVERYTHING the driver needs to control is in this touchscreen it lacks finesse and a rational UI that makes logical sense. The system is just slow. Slow to wake up, slow to respond. Just slow.
  • System Crashing: Both my XC90's had issues with the dash crashing while driving. Now it does it a few times whenever we are on a longer drive. VERY unsettling to have the entire dash (including speedometer), touchscreen everything go blank at 75 mph. Systems goes dark, music off, AC off and drive mode resets. It reboots and we're eventually back in business. The good news is I have never lost vehicle power during this time. Dealer has done "software updates" but obviously we still haven't found the issue.
  • Loud Cabin / Road noise: It is not a quiet sanctuary as they'd have you believe in the commercials. Road noise, wind noise, engine noise... This is not a german by any stretch.
  • Rotors / Breaks: In my 2019, the Rotors are a joke. First ones were warped so bad all 4 rotors had to be replaced. They still vibrate when braking. Again, I am used to sports cars and don't need a cushy Cadillac ride. These brakes are not good and the vibration is horrible braking from highway speeds to an off ramp. If I wasn't returning it in a month, I'd be asking for new rotors again. Now, I just don't care.
  • Suspension: The air suspension went out and the entire rear system had to be replaced. That was a week plus in the shop but covered under warranty. Would not want to imagine paying for that outside of warranty.
  • Rear Axle: Something happened with the rear axle on my momentum, and the ENTIRE rear axle had to be replaced. Seriously.
  • Long-term Feel: It is not a comfortable vehicle. It is rigid, firm, unwelcoming, unemotional and stoic. It is northern European to a tee. If you are an uptight neat freak, you might love it. I hand wash and detail my own cars and this is about as lovable as a cat.
  • Service: I bought into the Volvo also for the service. They would pick up my vehicle and drop off a loaner. This occurred for the first few years but during Covid that changed. I understood during the pandemic but they STILL will not come to me for pickup, which requires me to take a half day from work and go sit in their cold dealership while they work on my car...or get a 40 minute ride back home. Loaners even are hit or miss. This was one of the biggest disappointments and original differentiators that steered me to the brand.

If you own a reliable XC90 and love it, my hat is off to you. I am sincerely happy for you, but I and my family have found in time, this to be a miserable piece of transportation. It gets us from point A to Point B. After considering the X5, Q7, Genesis and Cadillac, I have decided to get a loaded Lincoln Aviator. Should be here late February / Early March and I can't wait. The Volvo experiment is coming to a close. Ironically, I turned my brother in law onto Volvo and he loves it. My sister is in the market too, and she has decided on the XC90. Friends ask me about it, and I share the good, bad and the ugly and let them decide. If you are looking at an XC90, go into with open eyes is my only recomendation. It will not get faster. It will not get softer. It will not get sexier...but it very likely will let you walk away from an accident. So there is that.
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Many of your grips have long been addressed by Volvo since your model year. Some comments (like no low end torque, which is exactly what the supercharger instantaneously delivers) don't seem actually to even accurately describe the vehicle. Many of the cons are simply personal preference, many I have the exact opposite preference.

If you thought you had a lot of service on your Volvo, good luck with your fancy Ford.....yikes. That vehicle has abysmal fit and finish with some of the worst cabin material choices I have ever seen. If you thought your Sensus had software bugs, you are in for a rude awakening. I'm guessing you will find your service experience lest than stellar as you wait in line behind all the Fusion and Explorer customers. So many of your gripes about the Volvo are shared with the Lincoln, so that's confusing.

Regardless, thanks for sharing. Certainly is entertaining to see how many people have the exact opposite opinion of others on the same vehicle.
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Ha ha, I knew there’d be one who’d be offended by my feedback. Fair enough, but please don’t take it personally. My opinion / experience shouldn’t diminish yours.

So, my ”cons” of electrical system failure, air suspension failure and warped rotors are ‘personal preference?” Ok, sure. Those are pretty big flaws in most people’s books.

Thw Aviator and XC90 are nothing alike. The 30 way adjustable seats with massage function are incredible…and the fit and finish I’ve seen was top notch.

Honestly, we (consumers) role the dice on every new car purchase, from any manufacturer. I’m well aware of the Aviator issues and I will manage. If they are excessive, I’ll dump it. If they are persistent, I’ll pursue lemon law…which I’ve done before.

As for waiting behind Explorer and Fusion customers, not likely, as I bought from a stand alone Lincoln dealer in a brand new flagship store. IF I have to spend time at the Lincoln dealer at least it’ll be in a relaxing setting instead of an antiquated Volvo showroom with a Keurig and a vending machine. But I won’t, because they DO continue to offer drop off and pickup service.

I hope you continue to enjoy your Volvo. Sincerely.
Comments saying it's not a comfortable vehicle along with the seats tells me a lot about how you evaluate a car. Then you say the rear axel had to be replaced? Can you elaborate on that, because a Volvo has and independent rear suspension, and it has no axel.....telling me your tales of things being "completely" replaced isn't accurate at all and you are not technically familiar with how a car works. And like I said...lots of your grips have been addressed since your model year.

I don't mind people that want to evaluate the dislikes of their Volvo. I certainly don't like everything about the 3 I drive. What makes me grind my teeth is when people state issues or make complaints that don't really exist or there personal preference is conflated with design flaws. Lots of your comments go down that path, and it does a great disservice to people looking for accurate reviews of cars.

As far as your new Fancy Ford, give me 10 minutes to point out all the poor quality and workmanship on that thing and you'll see really fast....it isn't a Volvo, that's for sure. It's hard for me to see how someone could possible drive one of those after being in an XC90.
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I couldn’t agree more on the rotors being unbelievably sad on this car. Has anyone found a reasonable solution to keep them from warping? I can’t even get 10k miles out of a set of rotors without whole vehicle shake. Dealer replaced once out of goodwill but won’t again. Less than 10k miles. I really don’t want to replace rotors every year.

I know there’s going to be a boatload of folks saying they haven’t had any issues, I do realize that the driving style has a lot to do with it. Mine is garage kept so it isn’t rust and lack of driving. How can you make an r-design with polestar and leave the same set of rotors and pads in the design knowing that if anyone actually uses the gas petal all of the rotors will be instantly warped.

Has anyone found a set of more aggressive pads that might help?
Replacement parts have a 12/12,000 warranty. So if your rotors “warp” after 10,000 miles, that’s warranty. It's been that way for over two decades. Volvo was actively allowing dealers to warranty brakes through 30,000 miles at the height of this issue. Thankfully, an update to pads and rotors seem to have solved this issue for the most part.
“Fancy Ford?” This passive aggressive comment says so much about you. You “don’t mind people that want to evaluate the dislikes of their Volvo?” Lol, keep telling yourself that, because you clearly have an ax to grind.

I’ve elaborated enough, but everything I stated AND MORE happened. Sorry, I didn’t meet your standards of Internet forum journalistic formatting. Even though I’m not singing the same praises about your beloved Volvos, this was MY experience.
so no explanation about the axle?

Looks like I hit a nerve. I’ll leave you be. Sorry that the reality of a Lincoln being a Ford pushed you over the edge, along with pointing out some comments you made are not an opinion but you rather confused on the facts. Geez. Bye bye.
Ha ha, ahhh, so now we’ve moved onto gaslighting? How predictable. Hate to break it to you, but no nerve struck…I just enjoy quoting contradictions back to trolls. As I said in my original post, I expected that not everyone would agree with my perspective and I put on my favorite flame suit for the occasion. To be honest, everyone but you has been very pleasant. Understandably, not everyone agrees, but as a whole the feedback and insight has been refreshing for an online forum usually filled with trolls like yourself. Run along now. Time for you to ask your Mom for more Red Bull, or go to the store and get some smokes for the old lady or whatever it is trolls do in their spare time.
But you can't answer the question, can you? When someone suggests your evaluation of the car is flawed and doesn't make sense, you can't back up your statements. You have overstated and mislead, and now somehow if you mention that you are a "troll" and somehow gaslighting (the most overused expression of 2022). Now you hurl insults and mock me.

What a wonderful conversation we are having. You just deflect and insult. I just don't understand people like you. You just hunt for people to be unpleasant to I guess. So how about you move past my "troll comments" and let the discussion continue. Unless you would like to actually discuss how your critique has some very serious inaccuracies? You'll note my "troll comments" have been "liked" by a few people, so I'm not the only one that isn't on board with your review....
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Its kind of ironic that you are accusing me of being "unpleasant", given that you went out of your way to be unpleasant from the start. Its seems that's kind of your MO. Calling it like it is, isn't hurling insults or mocking someone. I've been here for 5 minutes and sized you up pretty quickly, and given others reaction to your comments I'm pretty confident I'm spot on. No real surprise that you can dish it out, but you can't handle being challenged. I wrote a list of things I liked and a list of major and minor issues I've experienced with my XC90 and you decided to take it personally and zero in on ONE comment. I'm not replying or justifying your request for "proof" because I have no doubt even if I provided documentation, it would never be enough.
Just as I expected your reply to be.....more insults, can't back up what you said and won't explain yourself because you know you are wrong. I've added you to my blocked list and I'm leaving this thread. You are the one that wanted to take my comments and amplify them as somehow being "unpleasant" beyond anything I intended, but you won't let it go. As someone that used to work for Volvo for years it's hilarious to think I can't handle being challenged but someone....OMG, it literally was my life every day for years to deal with people like you at one. You have been on this forum for less than one month and I've been here for more than 20 years, sooo....you don't know me or my work history with Volvo than is pretty extensive (nor do you know the connections I have with upper Volvo management in North America). Sorry my previous work history and experiences cause me to be a lot more knowledgeable about Volvo than you. The vast majority of what you said is true and I agree with you, but you made some very controversial statements. As you can see, many others have agreed with me, not you. You literally can not back up what you said because it's wrong and you know it...but won't admit your inflating some of the problems you had to sound worse than they were. You didn't have your entire axel replaced, and you didn't' have your entire air suspension replaced like you stated. You should own up to that. Enjoy your fancy Ford. Well, likely you won't with that thing's flaws.
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