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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I'd share my recent experience on this subject as I've seen it come up a few times. I took delivery of my XC90 with 20" Matt Tech alloys, spring suspension back in June and commented on this board that I found there was too much fuss and bumping around in the cabin.

Well this week whilst the car was in for the airbag recall the dealership kindly loaned me a First Edition model for a few days (air suspension on 21" rims - driven in Comfort mode).

First off the air ride is not quiet as comfortable as I thought it would be. You still feel all the bumps and rolls as with the spring set up - however the intrusion is muffled and toned down. You don't get the same 'thud' as you do with the spring set up and only the very worst of the potholes sends a shudder through the cabin. The difference is subtle but the air suspension definitely isolates pothole feedback better than the springs.

I've found the handling of the regular suspension to be excellent - but I have to say that the air system takes it up a notch (or two). In corners, the front end remains perfectly horizontal allowing you to accelerate out of turns with total balance. The XC90 never feels like it wants to veer off line for a moment even under strong acceleration. It is brilliant for a car of this size.

On pothole free roads the ride felt a little more composed with less rumble.

Other points - the B&W sound system is awesome although it still seems a lot of money (£3,000 in the UK). I think Volvo could have done better with the standard audio system particular since a good set of 6/8 speakers and an amplifier aren't relatively expensive.

I noticed discoloration on the Amber soft nappa seats (on a car with 2,000 miles old) and a lot of creasing on the edge of the seats. I believe the standard seats wear a lot better.

The 21" shiny alloys generated a lot more attention than the 20" matt.http://www.vwvortex.com/Anthony/Smilies/cool.gif

Hope this helps.
 

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Thanks for the insight. I didn't want to test out all of the other options because I didn't want the decision to be one of passion but one of thought and utility. It is interesting though.
 

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Thought I'd share my recent experience on this subject as I've seen it come up a few times. I took delivery of my XC90 with 20" Matt Tech alloys, spring suspension back in June and commented on this board that I found there was too much fuss and bumping around in the cabin.

Well this week whilst the car was in for the airbag recall the dealership kindly loaned me a First Edition model for a few days (air suspension on 21" rims - driven in Comfort mode).

First off the air ride is not quiet as comfortable as I thought it would be. You still feel all the bumps and rolls as with the spring set up - however the intrusion is muffled and toned down. You don't get the same 'thud' as you do with the spring set up and only the very worst of the potholes sends a shudder through the cabin. The difference is subtle but the air suspension definitely isolates pothole feedback better than the springs.

I've found the handling of the regular suspension to be excellent - but I have to say that the air system takes it up a notch (or two). In corners, the front end remains perfectly horizontal allowing you to accelerate out of turns with total balance. The XC90 never feels like it wants to veer off line for a moment even under strong acceleration. It is brilliant for a car of this size.

On pothole free roads the ride felt a little more composed with less rumble.

Other points - the B&W sound system is awesome although it still seems a lot of money (£3,000 in the UK). I think Volvo could have done better with the standard audio system particular since a good set of 6/8 speakers and an amplifier aren't relatively expensive.

I noticed discoloration on the Amber soft nappa seats (on a car with 2,000 miles old) and a lot of creasing on the edge of the seats. I believe the standard seats wear a lot better.

The 21" shiny alloys generated a lot more attention than the 20" matt.http://www.vwvortex.com/Anthony/Smilies/cool.gif

Hope this helps.
Anthony, this information helps a lot as I have a Inscription w/ 21" and Standard Spring Suspension on order. Question for you....If you had the chance to go back in time, would you have selected the Air suspension...with the same upfront cost and 'possibly' significant maintenance in the future with the AIR?
 

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Thanks for this. As I've said elsewhere, I think the 4-C adaptive and adjustable dampers are probably more important than the air springs, except for load leveling. In any case, all new XC90s seem surprisingly sporting for a Volvo SUV, likely helped by the near-even 52%/48% front/rear weight distribution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Anthony, this information helps a lot as I have a Inscription w/ 21" and Standard Spring Suspension on order. Question for you....If you had the chance to go back in time, would you have selected the Air suspension...with the same upfront cost and 'possibly' significant maintenance in the future with the AIR?
Yes - the improved handling makes up for the refinement.
 

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My wife has standard suspension on the 21" wheels.

Here's the deal: When we first took delivery I did notice that it was rather stiff, you definitely feel the road and I was even a bit discouraged at first. However, 750 miles in I do not notice it nearly as much, I have actually grown to like how it feels. So I think that it's something that you need to ride in for a little while to really know how you feel about it.
 

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IMO, if the upgrade were that significant they'd be charging a heck of a lot more than $1,800 for the Air Suspension....
 

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IMO, if the upgrade were that significant they'd be charging a heck of a lot more than $1,800 for the Air Suspension....
What should they charge for it to be "worth" something? From my understanding every reviewer has said that it is a must have... That being said, it might cost a whole lot more post warranty. Air suspension issues are always expensive and for the most part far more likely to fail vs. conventional setup.
 

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What should they charge for it to be "worth" something? From my understanding every reviewer has said that it is a must have... That being said, it might cost a whole lot more post warranty. Air suspension issues are always expensive and for the most part far more likely to fail vs. conventional setup.
Evidence?
 

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Evidence?
Which part? Reviewers saying air suspension is worth purchasing or air suspension cost more to repair then conventional setups? Both answers are very easy to find. The first... Read the reviews. And the second, call any Volvo mechanic. Whatever I say will be met with responses like "just because you read it somewhere on the internet...and the Internet is always right" kind of remarks.
 

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Which part? Reviewers saying air suspension is worth purchasing or air suspension cost more to repair then conventional setups? Both answers are very easy to find. The first... Read the reviews. And the second, call any Volvo mechanic. Whatever I say will be met with responses like "just because you read it somewhere on the internet...and the Internet is always right" kind of remarks.
You offer no evidence that air suspension issues are ALWAYS expensive and FAR more likely to fail.
 

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You offer no evidence that air suspension issues are ALWAYS expensive and FAR more likely to fail.
They are. At least on the 2008 Mercedes R320CDI I used to own. When they failed anywhere between 45k and 65k miles, it cost me about $2,400 per corner to replace. I remember walking up to it in the morning and seeing it sitting like a lowrider, lol. When I ordered my XC90, even the sales guy at my Volvo dealer advised to stay away from the air suspension, especially if you live in an area with pot holes or not-so-great roads.
 

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I've been avoiding discussions about the air suspension vs the standard setup for a while and now I'm going to fail miserably. I can't speak on the XC90 setup specifically, but I can offer my 2¢ as an ex bus mechanic. As you may know the differences between the two, the conventional setup has 2 front springs, a rear leaf and possibly spring seats and mounting points for the rear leaf. The air suspension has 4 air bellows connected by air fittings to air lines fed by an air compressor and controlled by some type of switches or sensors and a computer module. Bellows are usually 3 separate parts that can all fail in some way, the fittings can fail, the air lines can fail and the compressor which is usually made up of 3 parts, the switches and computer module can all fail. Compare that to the 2 one piece coil springs and single leaf spring, 2 spring seats and 3 mounting points for the rear leaf and I think the longevity of the suspension is on the side of the standard setup. I'm sure Volvo did not compromise the quality of any of the components and I'm sure either will out last the average buyer who I suspect will own the vehicle for 3-7 years. I intend to have mine for 8-10 so I would not buy the air suspension. I'm sure it's as awesome as the reviews state but, they have to live with it for a week, where I'm planning on a decade. Maybe I'm biased due to my experience but the number of component alone speaks for itself.

Again, 3-7 years I'm sure you will have no regrets with the air setup and will absolutely enjoy it. Good luck either way
 

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I think we can find some data from used car market. If people are not buying 5+ yr old SUV with air suspension, then it will be hard to get better price for XC90 with air suspension than springs when selling/trading-in it.
 

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Any mention of air suspension on internet forums brings horror stories and loud condemnation by critics who never mention wear and tear and use and abuse, and insist that EVERYONE will have the same experience. The offending cars are nearly always Mercedes, and never Lexus, for example. Likewise adaptive dampers and other modern technology. Meanwhile, plenty of hardheaded buyers of trucks and buses and luxury cars continue to chose air springs, or even more complex semi-active suspensions like Mercedes' ABC/MBC system.

The 1958 Pontiac Bonneville was far from alone. Virtually every US car offered air suspension as an option in 1958, with mixed results. Most dropped it by 1960, but Citroen, Mercedes, and later Rolls-Royce and Bentley persisted. Most non-US luxury cars and SUVs offer it as standard or an option, some all round, some only at the rear, and some as an auxiliary system augmenting rather than replacing coil springs.

Transverse leaf springs work fine on the Corvette, and most pre-WW2 Fords, including the Model-T, but the XC90's standard springs have been criticized more than enough for me to prefer the optional system, though more for the 4-C adaptive dampers than the air springs. Either part of that system may fail and be expensive to repair, like any of the many other complex systems standard or optional on the XC90 and its competitors.
 

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Which is why we have to find out if the manufacturer of the air springs is the same as another car maker. This would give us a good idea on reliability. If anyone finds out please post in the other thread perhaps. Come on internet detectives, we can do it.

http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?225481-8-Speed-AT-by-Aisin-AW&p=2535540&viewfull=1#post2535540
A very good idea! Bilstein make the Mercedes Airmatic system, as far as I can tell. Tenneco do not seem to have made any OEM air suspension before the new XC90. Lexus still has me stumped.
 

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My favorite car I ever owned (by far) was our 2004 Audi Allroad 4.2. The sole reason we ended up parting with it was the repeated failing of the air suspension as the car approached 100k miles. I'm sure the systems are much different, but I can't even consider it at this point. It was such a bummer to walk out and see the car taking a knee because another bladder had gone to the tune of $1k++. A lot of owners on the Audi forums back then were removing the air suspensions and installing springs to keep their cars on the road.
 
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