A little something for everyone. In a world where automakers look to stand out in a crowd, the 2019 Volvo XC90 does so by not really standing out at all. It boasts a understated design that turns heads with its sheer elegance. Plus, its array of powertrain and tech options deliver a no-buyer-left-behind focus that makes finding the perfect crossover for you a breeze.
Pinnacle of safety, lacking autonomy. Fans of this Swedish automaker have long known it as one of the safest brands on the market, but the Volvo XC90 takes this obsession for safety a step further. It's an IIHS Top Safety Pick thanks to its “Good” ratings in all the key crash tests and “Superior” rating in the front-crash-prevention test delivered by its standard automatic emergency braking. On top of these measurables, the XC90 also boasts a standard rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road-sign recognition, and rear-collision mitigation.
Another advancement includes its near-autonomous Pilot Assist system. While it’s great having this limited autonomous driving, it still requires a lot of input from the driver, leaving a lot to be desired relative to more advanced systems from its German competitors.
Simple styling. The XC90 is one of the best-looking crossovers in its class, but it does this without over-the-top styling. In fact, it’s this simple, Swedish styling that makes it so elegant. The exterior boasts smooth and effortless body lines that look clean and crisp without drawing too much attention from its overall shape. Up front, a little complexity jumps in with its “Thor’s Hammer” headlights, but they're far from distracting.
Inside, this elegant simplicity continues with a scrubbed-clean dash that's virtually button-free. Taking the place of many of these buttons is a nine-inch tablet-like touchscreen infotainment system that's easy to use and features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – which are only available as pricey options on the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. Despite its simplicity, though, the XC90’s cabin is covered in high-quality materials that confirm its status as a legit luxury crossover.
The XC90’s cabin isn't only stylish, but it's happy to haul cargo with up to 85.7 cubic feet of cargo room with all the seats folded. This crushes the Audi Q7 by 16.1 cubes, the X5 by 13.4 cubes, and the GLE-Class by 5.4 cubic feet.
Potent powertrains on top, bottom is lacking. The Volvo XC90 offers buyers plenty of options, including an array of engine options. The XC90 shines in the middle and top of its lineup, as the midrange T6 powertrain includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine with 316 horsepower, and the range-topping T8 powertrain uses an electric motor and the same greasy bits as the T6 to create 400 hp.
In the base T5 powertrain, though, the XC90 struggles with just 250 hp. This isn’t terrible, but it falls behind the Acura MDX’s standard 290-hp V6, the X5’s standard 335-hp inline-six, and the GLE-Class’ standard 302-hp V6.
Final thoughts. In a segment where so many models rely more on their name than offering great features, style, and comfort, the 2019 Volvo XC90 is a shining example of how to do it the right way. Is it perfect? No, but it does a lot of things better than many of its key competitors.
If the XC90’s massive cargo area is somehow not enough for you, you can look to the MDX’s cavernous 90.9 cubes of space. If you must have more base power, the X5, MDX, and GLE-Class are all happy to oblige. Otherwise, the XC90 is a near-perfect luxury crossover.