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:
What I don't like:
- 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 REALLY don't like:
- 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.
- 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.