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My spouse and I just had a conversation about one of us wanting to get a new BMW 540i to use as his/her primary vehicle as well as the primary joint driving trip vehicle.

The advocate for the 540i maintains that vehicle, with base suspension and 18” wheels, is a great long distance luxury touring car that would eat up the miles in comfort, making a six hour trip feel much shorter than the chronological time.

The other view is the XC90, with base suspension and 18” wheels, is a great trip car that doesn’t have to be used only when we include other people and/or fill up the back with things to carry long distance. As an SUV, it may or may not ride quite as well on highways and byways, it is a superior tourer in its own right partly due the driver’s elevated seating position and sense of security.

In addition, the person who likes the XC90 as the long distance tourer is the primary driver of that vehicle as well as the person who drives by far the most miles on trips. The thought is the XC90 driver knows where the buttons, screens and stalks are located and doesn’t want to have to drive an unfamiliar 540i on the long distance trips that only take place perhaps five times a year.

I welcome your insights as to which of those two vehicles is the better long distance tourer for two.
 

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Pilot Assist on XC90 and the seats make long trip a breeze, easy to remain safe and also relaxed. Not sure about BMW though.
 

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If you choose XC90, you should consider 20" or 21" wheels for better proportion to the size, height and length of the car.
 

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Hmmmmm . . . I've had sports sedans. I've had station wagons. Never had a CUV but the XC90 is like a station wagon.

For driving enjoyment, the sports sedan is great. With the sports sedan, you're sitting low and and are stretched out. One with the car, rocketing down the road. Digging on the tunes.

Travelling with a station wagon is completely different. If you're my age, they are easier to get into and out of. You have more shoulder room, more head room and more hip room. You have more room in back for your luggage and all the stuff that your better half will buy. My last big wagon, I'd set the snooze control for 80 and just cruise. You don't have the same road hugging feel but you have a different level of comfort.

Until my late 40s, I would have opted for the sedan. Now that I'm north of 60, getting in and out without pain is more important.


I look at big wheels with a jaundiced eye. Big wheels means lower profile tires the overall diameter is probably close to what they would have been with 16" wheels. Lower profile tires give you better handling BUT the ride gets harsher and you risk wheel damage if you hit a pothole and I live in the pothole capital of the country.

YMMV
 

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Hmmmmm . . . I've had sports sedans. I've had station wagons. Never had a CUV but the XC90 is like a station wagon.
let me disagree with you. XC90 is NOT a station wagon (I own 06' V70R and '16 XC90 and XC90 is very far from being "like" station wagon unless we are talking about cargo capacity).

To OP - it's a matter of what is more important to you and you trip companion. Personally, if it would be a two-person trip/s without hauling a lot of cargo, I would go with the sedan. I'm a wagon type of person and in this case, sedan is closer to my heart that SUV. Lower center of gravity has a higher value to me than better visibility provided by SUV. I also would expect BMW is a quieter vehicle (from my past experience with 5th series vs current XC90).
 

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I would rather drive a sedan on a road trip vs. a SUV. Better handling, better fuel economy, more fun to drive off the interstate (if you get the right sedan).
 

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My 2 cents...I can't quite compare 2017 XC90, but I have a 2 year old 540i, a 2008 V70, and a new BMW X5 (quite similar in size to the XC90...in fact we test drove them back to back several times and it was a very tough decision).

Volvo seats are magic. The older V70 still has the best seats of all, despite the X5 having wonderful massage features that the V70 lacks. I would imagine the new XC90 seats would be spectacular.

But.

I feel less tired after a long drive in the 540 than either the X5 or V70. The 540 is a sedan, and rear drive, so it just seems to require less "input" if you will. It tracks much better than the V70 or X5. From my experience with many other cars, much of that is the RWD aspect -- the front wheels are doing less and the rear drive cars I have had just seem to pull less and otherwise require less input than even the nicest of FWD or AWD cars I have had. Because it is lower, it doesn't seem to have as much movement on the road as the X5 (or a Ford Flex I once owned). Being higher gives you better view, but also means any wind buffetting moves you more, there is more "float" in the suspension (has to be to give some slight off road abilities) etc.

So if it is all about drive comfort, I'd say the 540. If we take a day trip or one day. 540 wins all the time.

Be aware however a lot more goes into the decision for a road trip car once you get over a day or so.

We can fit more into the V70, and even more in the X5. If we plan to go on any slightly rough roads (say visiting wineries with gravel lots, or mountain road), the SUV is a better bet. Despite much preferring the 540 for long distances, if we have lots of luggage or lots of odd stops, or are going for more than overnight, we usually take the X5.
 

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The primary driver on longer trips usually gets to pick in my household. I drive 90% of the time - MN to AZ to CA and back. We also drive through some snow (and at least risk of snow) even in northern AZ. Thus, I would want higher clearance, visibility, safety features and familiarity.

I would take an SUV over a sedan, but we also have our Golden Retriever with us. Thus, room and cargo are key factors, too.

If cargo, space, clearance, visibility and familiarity were not a concern, then safety wins - which may be a toss-up. I would lean towards the XC90 - not having had a BMW and not knowing if the safety features are equivalent to the XC90. I just know that I would not take my wife's Camry in any case except for a trip lasting up to two hours. I do dream of the day when she has a S60 and then it will be a tougher call.

That could be your situation with the BMW - in which case, doesn't the wife get two votes?

P.S., I no longer dread the ~10 hour, multi-day trips in the Volvo. In fact, I look forward to the next one. Not so with my other vehicles.
 

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I had been avoid long trip before I got Volvo. With Pilot Assist now I drive 10 hours a day and don't feel tired. It is very much like sitting there and playing a casual TV game once you know clearly when to take action to help PA.

The seats also helps I think. Kind of magic I don't feel back pain or numb shoulder, and still feel fresh after long trip.

Sent from my Z978 using Tapatalk
 

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Get the air suspension on the XC90 if you want to eat up the miles in comfort, it and the seats will make the biggest difference in the ride quality and long distance comfort.

The 5 series is still a sports sedan and needs to be outfitted in at least the M Sport guise on the 540i or as the M Performance M550i before it starts to make any sense.

If you want a comfortable cruising sedan, get the LS 500 with the air suspension.
 

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let me disagree with you. XC90 is NOT a station wagon (I own 06' V70R and '16 XC90 and XC90 is very far from being "like" station wagon unless we are talking about cargo capacity).
Sorry, it's a station wagon. That may hurt your feelings but that's the reality of it.
 

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The BMW 540 is a nice 4 door sedan. Having had a number of sedans, I no longer hunger for that type of vehicle. I must admit to really enjoying the Volvo XC90 T8. It has to be the most comfortable vehicle I have ever driven. The seats are to die for. While the Volvo is a bit larger and will probably takes a bit to become comfortable driving, I would venture that in the long run you would prefer the more versatile XC90. It is a safer car given its mass. While it might not maneuver as well as the 540. Maneuverability would depend on the driving skills of the driver. If we are talking normal driver and not someone who has been trained, then the quicker response of the 540 might not really materialize. Even if we were talking about the M5 I would still prefer the XC90 T8. I assume you are talking about a well optioned XC90 preferably the T8. Got to have the B&W sound system, air suspension, Inscription seats and Napa leather. If I long for a different car it would be to go back to a sports car (two seater) like the newer NSX or R8 or 911 Turbo S. Then it would make sense to have both! Otherwise the 540 is blah...
 

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I had been avoid long trip before I got Volvo. With Pilot Assist now I drive 10 hours a day and don't feel tired. It is very much like sitting there and playing a casual TV game once you know clearly when to take action to help PA.

The seats also helps I think. Kind of magic I don't feel back pain or numb shoulder, and still feel fresh after long trip.
I generally agree with this. My longest trip on my MY2018 xc90 T6 m+ was a 2500 mile -5 night run across several states, going from a few hundred feet below the sea level (in Death Valley CA) and 6k feet above (somewhere near Zion).

As for Pilot Assist, I also agree that it takes a specific mindset to have it work with you. It took me a few long trips to settle on the right expectation on what PA can and cannot do.
 

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Sorry, it's a station wagon. That may hurt your feelings but that's the reality of it.
That’s an unwinnable argument. There are no 100% clear, distinct lines between what qualifies as an SUV or a station wagon, and most SUVs could also qualify as station wagons in most respects.

Most people would associate station wagons with lower riding/car chassis, but I’m not sure why it matters. I don’t know why you must drill home to someone that it IS a station wagon or why someone else has to insist it is NOT. Most are both.
 

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If just two of you, why not XC60?

We drive a ton...have been doing so for two decades now. Had a 435i xdrive for 3 years, just moved in to a 7-series for a few years. Wife has the XC90. I prefer actually the 4- or 5-series for better road tracking...the 7’s a bit floaty at times.

Both will be comfortable...if you like riding higher...SUV, of course. Need to haul more luggage, etc...SUV.

If it’s just two of you and everything fits nicely in trunk and/or back seat...either still.

AS as noted above is pretty sweet as are auto pilot and lane assist features.

Really do enjoy long hauls in the Volvo tho.
 

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I've done multiple long distance trips with my 2017 XC90, and in fact just returned from a 3500 mile round trip that took me from Tucson AZ to Bend OR to Seattle WA and then along the Pacific Coast to San Luis Obispo with a return to Tucson. And once again, as in the past the my XC90 served me well. Even the Sensus Navigation system got me through LA traffic without stopping. This time around, I also got to enjoy the Dynamic mode on my Polestar equipped XC90. Normally around Tucson, I'm in eco mode, but when we got onto the Cabrillo Highway in California and I was faced with two lane, curvy roads beset with lumbering RV's and amateur drivers I put it into Dynamic Mode for a while and my what a transformation that made. I found myself having a ball apexing corners and blowing off a string of econo-boxes trapped behind a slow moving RV that was unwilling to pull off to the right to let the procession behind them pass. I hadn't had this much fun since driving my 911 several decades ago. And has been stated before the seats in the XC90 are exemplary and even after driving for 700+ miles in a day, I'm able to get out of the car without a back ache. And accessing the luggage is a piece of cake compared to my sedans. So when it comes to long trip travels my XC90 is ideal for me.
 

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I have a 2016 XC90 with 19" wheels and regular suspension. I also have a 2018 A4. Hands down, the A4 wins for long road trips. It's more comfortable, quieter, faster and easier to drive. The XC90 has too much wind buffeting and poor sound insulation. I also like Audi's MMI much better than Sensus. Haven't driven a current model 5 series, but I would guess it's a similar comparison. Also, the XC90 sun visor is terrible. The side coverage is poor and it doesn't telescope. Driving with the sun on your face for hours at a time is irritating.
 

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I cannot imagine our views will provide much insight, or really help in the OPs decision process. We can only guess as to what is important and what is not. The more I think about it, if one really wanted the most comfortable vehicle for long trips why not consider a larger sedan such as the BMW 750, or Lexus LS Sedan, or even the Korean Kia/Hyundai versions of the same. Hell there are vehicles from Audi A7, or Jag and Mercedes. It seems to me that the BMW 540 is more a performance sedan and not really comparable to the Volvo XC90. Two very different vehicles. Apples and Oranges, they are made for very different scenarios. Sorry, but the more I think about it, this is a really dumb discussion.
 

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I’m on the last legs of my third CT to FL and back trips this year and we took a different vehicle each time. A Volvo XC40, VW GTI and a Jeep Grand Cherokee. My favorite was the trip in the GTI. My wife’s was the XC40. I will concede that I can drive 16 hours in the Volvo and still be comfortable and I start to be bothered in the GTI after about 14 hours.

It really depends on what kind of road trips you take and if you like to drive or is it just something you need to do to to get to a location. When we drive up to Maine, there is about z75 mikes of driving through the White Mountain National Park and the GTI wins on those roads. I don’t enjoy driving a vehicle with a higher center of gravity on twisty mountain roads.

Another factor is what you consider comfortable. I don’t like floaty vehicles with a soft suspension.

Your best bet is to do some extended test drives. Maybe find a Turo in your area and really drive it to see what works best for you. Or, you can do what my bride and I do. Have four cars.
 

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I say take what you are comfortable with after several hours on the road. I’ve driven in a 2019 Chevy Suburban and a 2018 Volvo V90 T5 R Design. Both are good road cars. Both have heated seats.
 
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