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2019 Volvo XC90 remains a safety, tech leader among three-row SUVs Featured

Posted On Saturday, 19 October 2019 22:14 Written by
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The 2019 Volvo XC90 lives up to Volvo's legacy of safety innovation. The 2019 Volvo XC90 lives up to Volvo's legacy of safety innovation. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

Every automaker has its niche. For some it’s power. Others are known for smooth handling. And some have a reputation of being reliable.

When it comes to the Volvo lineup, what comes to most people’s minds is their dedication to safety and technology, areas where Volvo has been an industry trailblazer for many years — and it’s a reputation they strive hard to maintain. 

They are also among the automakers leading the push for changes in the auto industry, with recent announcements about fully-electric vehicles and a pledge to help combat climate change by going carbon neutral.

I recently spent some time in a 2019 Volvo XC90 — the Swedish automaker’s three-row SUV — and I’m back with a full report.


Let’s get the superficial out of the way, and just say that the XC90 has a high-class design, in and out.

In addition to being focused on safety and a green approach, we must not forget that Volvo is a luxury brand. And you’ll immediately recognize that.

The XC90’s exterior has a unique Volvo design, especially up front and in rear. It’s one of the few brands you really can’t mix up with its competitors, even in an era of similar vehicles in many segments — a testament to Volvo’s originality.

The sharply designed interior featured comfortable and high-end leather seating. The third row is tight and reserved for two children. The middle row was extremely roomy for all three passengers, as are the front row seats.

When you fold down the second and third rows, the amount of space you will have for storage is impressive, at 85.7 cubic feet.

My only beef on the seating is that when you want to configure the vehicle for people or cargo, depending on your situation, the seats were harder to adjust than I have experienced with the XC90’s competitors.

There are a boatload of classy and helpful touches that make the experience better in the XC90, including:

  • Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • A variety of cup holders, air vents and storage space throughout the vehicle for people in all seats
  • Four-zone climate control

The Inscription package spices up the design to an even higher level, but is quite pricey at $6,050, so most buyers can probably skip this one. Among the features it includes are: Dual integrated tailpipes, linear walnut wood inlay, interior illumination, Nappa leather key fob and Illuminated door handles.


The XC90 I tested was powered by a 2.0-liter, supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine; paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Total output was 316 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. (Note: You can also opt for the plug-in hybrid version of the XC90, which offers 400 hp).

The XC90 offers AWD with instant traction, as well as multiple drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Individual and Off-road. 

There’s a decent amount of power, but it's a large vehicle so it’s not a quick launch by any measure. There are others in the segment with better launch power, but the differences are not dramatic enough to disqualify the XC90 — unless power is your absolute focus when choosing a vehicle.

Handling is excellent, one of the very best in class, and the XC90 features a Double Wishbone front and rear suspension, as well as Advanced Electronic Stability Control.

The amount of quality, effective safety features on the XC90 is a testament to Volvo’s legacy, and the list is one to admire.

You get anti-lock brakes, Hill Start Assist, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, Hill Descent Control, Run-off Road protection and more.

As Autonomous Vehicles become closer to reality, Volvo is offering a glimpse of the future with its Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous system that includes Adaptive Cruise Control. This is testament to Volvo being a leader in the push toward self-driving vehicles.

Other safety features include: 

  • Rear Park Assist and Rear Park Assist Camera
  • LED headlights and fog lamps with Corner Illumination
  • Side Impact Protection System
  • Whiplash Protection System in front seats
  • Collision Avoidance by City Safety (detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals)
  • Power child lock for rear doors.

Add it all up, and Volvo’s reputation as a beacon of safety holds up well.

Let’s talk about the center of the XC90’s technology: Volvo’s 9-inch Sensus Connect vertical touchscreen.

My first observation when I see this system is that there’s a lot to take in, and more complicated than competitors’ systems. So many features and options are packed onto the screens, that you’ll need some time to get used to using it, and some of the touchscreen controls can be a bit finicky.

Voice commands worked quite well for me, though, and are the preferred route to controlling navigation, music and phone calls.

The screen allows smartphone integration (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) for phone mirroring. It also offers a good-sized view of Volvo’s Sensus Navigation Pro with Road Sign Information, which worked extremely well in my experience. It handled requests for POIs quite impressively, locating whatever I was seeking (gas stations, restaurants, stores, etc.).

Beyond the center screen, there is a massive 12.3 inch Digital Driver Display screen in the dashboard. Also, a mobile app can be downloaded that Includes Remote Start.

Other tech goodies include a WiFi hotspot (with trial subscription), Easy-to-pair Bluetooth connection, SiriusXM radio with 3-month trial subscription, and multiple USB ports.

A 600-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system  with 14 speakers is featured; and you can upgrade for $3,200 to an even more high-end Bowers and WIlkins sound system.

I would also recommend the Advanced Package ($2,500), which adds:

  • Park Assist Pilot and Front and Rear Park Assist
  • Active Bending Lights
  • LED headlights with Thor’s Hammer DRL and Auto high-beam
  • Headlight High Pressure Cleaning System
  • Visual Park Assist and 360 Surround View Camera (a great feature to help you park safety)
  • Head-up Display

This package is well worth it for the safety and convenience it offers.

The official fuel mileage numbers on the XC90 are 22 city/26 highway/19 combined. I averaged 20 mpg in real-world testing. 

These are decent numbers for the segment, where the XC90 battles vehicles such as the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Maserati Levante and BMW X5.

The XC90 I tested was priced just under $71K; and the XC90’s base price starts about $56K. These are definitely large numbers, but par for the course at the luxury level. Of the main SUV competitors to the XC90 in the luxury realm, most are either equal in price or more costly.

The XC90 comes with a 4-year, 50,000 mile limited warranty; 144-month corrosion protection, and Volvo on-call roadside assistance, in addition to complimentary factory scheduled maintenance for the first 3 years or 36K miles.

If you want a larger SUV but these prices are too much for your budget, you’ll have to exit the luxury segment and choose from the variety of strong three-row SUV offerings from non-luxury brands — which can be purchased for significantly less.


The 2019 XC90 is a stylish Swedish 7-seat/3-row SUV that is maxed out on safety and tech features — though the Sensus system can be jarring at first and has some room for improvement. 

Overall, It’s a well-designed, high-end family vehicle choice for the modern age that will give you true peace of mind, if you can afford it.

===== can be found
on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Volvo XC90
  • Price as tested: $70,940
  • Best feature: Excellent safety and tech offerings, high-class design
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars 
  • Who will want this vehicle?: SUV buyers looking for a smart and safe luxury vehicle for modern times
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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