2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription Review & Buyer’s Guide – Sweden’s flagship SUV is Superb

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

2016 Volvo XC90

The previous first-generation XC90 ran from 2002 until late 2014. It was one of Volvo’s best-selling models, and the design almost timeless. However, by the end of its product run and despite a few updates, the cabin of the first-gen XC90 was well and truly outdated next to competitor SUVs.

In early 2015 the second-generation all-new Volvo XC90 went on sale, the leap forward on every single front and in all areas was huge, and both the powertrains and platform are engineered in Sweden, as well as being designed and manufactured by Volvo for total independence – rare in the expanding world of part-sharing manufacturers.

I was sent the 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription to review, and I quickly found out it is indeed a superb vehicle. Read on to find out why…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

For a designer to see their car receive but one reaction to its exterior – absolute positivity – must be highly satisfying. I’m guessing that after the initial launch of the second-generation Volvo XC90, its design group were really rather happy with the feedback.

While looks can be an entirely personal opinion, while I had this T6 Inscription version on test nothing but love and admiration was shown towards Volvo’s new and much-anticipated SUV. And so it should be, because this is a truly superb looking vehicle, and really it’s how a modern SUV should look.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

An an overall package, the new XC90 is handsome, and gives off an air of strength and elegance. It would be easy to make such a large SUV look bulky, but instead it is well proportioned with clean, contemporary lines. Volvo’s aim was to make the XC90 look “as timeless as possible”, and they have accomplished this. The first-generation 90 still looks good today, and I’ve no doubt it will still look fantastic in 14 years.

Although an entirely new design for the company, the XC90 is unmistakably Volvo-ish. That huge front grille with its upright teeth and badge with the diagonal slash each side identifies the marque immediately, even to those who aren’t into their cars, and the large vertical tail lights are yet another clear indication – even from afar and in the dark – of what make SUV this is.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription rear view

One of the nicest frontal features on this new XC90 are the narrow LED headlights. Running across the centre of these is an incredibly cool detail, which Volvo designed to look like ‘Thor’s hammer’ – a weapon used by the mythical Norse god of thunder.

While the front end of the second-generation XC90 does get more fussy towards the bottom with smaller grilles and slats, ultimately these three-dimensional lines and edges are so nicely done – and again, are well-proportioned – that your eye doesn’t tend to rest on them.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription front view

Of any of the large SUVs, I believe the current 2016 full-sized Range Rover has the most stylish, tasteful and refined design in its class. That was until this latest XC90 came along, because it on all those points above – as well as road presence – the Volvo equals the Range Rover. And that’s saying something.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

There are three spec levels for the XC90; Momentum, Inscription and R-Design, and separate from these is the Twin Engine plug-in hybrid version. My test car was the Inscription, which is the higher-spec’d of the first three mentioned above.

Let’s go through what features this version has first off. There’s 2-zone electronic climate control with ‘CleanZone’ air quality system, integrated sun curtains (or net blinds) in the rear doors, a 9″ centre console touchscreen, a 12.3″ active TFT driver’s crystal information display, multi-colour ‘theatre lighting’, Nappa soft leather upholstery, leather instrument panel and door tops, Linear Walnut inlays, heated front seats, Sensus Connect 10-speaker 330W system with DAB, Bluetooth, AUX and USB ports, keyless drive and Volvo On Call with App.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription drivers seat view

However, there were also a few options thrown onto this test car. When I say ‘a few’, what I mean is they totalled £14,180 and there were a lot. Too many to list in fact. To highlight a few of my favourites that were cabin-based; Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Bowers & Wilkins: £3,000. Apple CarPlay with 230v/150W 3-pin plug socket: £300, Xenium Pack which included opening panoramic sunroof, 360º camera and automatic Park Assist Pilot.

Open a weighted door of the new Volvo XC9o, slip into one of the seats, and you’ll quickly realise what a spectacular job Volvo have done on the cabin, from the minimalistic dash and centre console designs to the deep, soft leather seats.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription front seats

The only point that let this particular XC90 Inscription test car down for me was the black upholstery. This may be a personal choice, but I can’t stand black leather interiors on luxury vehicles – it just makes them entirely bland and really rather boring.

Volvo offer the upholstery in two other lovely colours other than black; Amber and Blond (white), and if I were specifying my car I would go for either of these over the lifeless Charcoal. I think you’d also get an easier sale and slightly more money when the time came to sell the car as well.

Here’s the thing. Volvo have made the XC90’s cabin a warm, inviting place to be, somewhere you will genuinely enjoy being for the length of the journey, and I personally felt the Charcoal takes the edge off the experience ever so slightly.

As standard, the trim on the doors and centre console is an intricate Aluminium mesh design, which apparently involves a “great deal of craftsmanship”, including hand brushing. While it is indeed really very nice, alongside the Charcoal upholstery it can leave the cabin feeling more ‘cold’ than it deserves.

Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription aluminium centre console

Volvo used British interior design director Robin Page, who wanted the second-generation XC90 cabin to be a “haven of tranquility and comfort” and also bring “a level of calmness with elements working together”. And on that point, the two wood trim inlay choices – Linear Walnut and Dark Flame Birch – are absolutely beautiful.

Chose either of these alongside the Amber or Blond leather choices, and the XC90’s cabin suddenly takes on a warmer ambience, and it gives the feeling of a being in a luxury spa. In my view, the Charcoal seats and aluminium finishes can take a running jump into the cold water dip, compared to these other much more alluring interior choices.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription dash and glove box

This new generation of Volvo XC90 has to compete with luxurious rivals from Audi, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Infiniti, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus as well American offerings we don’t get here in the UK. This means that the quality level of fit and finish has not only got to be high, but it’s also got to stand out from the crowd. Difficult, with such intense competition.

And on that, Volvo have well and truly taken up the challenge. Examples of this include the aforementioned Dark Flame Birch wood trim, sourced from northern Scandinavia and which has a flame-like 3D effect. The trees had virtually died out, but Volvo resurrected it for the XC90, selecting the wood carefully, before it is shaped and sanded by hand.

The Linear Walnut is also hand-shaped, sanded and varnished, and as mentioned earlier, the intricate Aluminium mesh trim also involves hand brushing.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription aluminium trim

Leather hides for the XC90’s seats are supplied by Bridge of Wier in Scotland, and then hand cut and stitched by Volvo, while the carpets were influenced by Sweden’s Kasthall rugs.

From a physical standpoint, Volvo have done a wonderful job of the dash and centre console design. Minimalistic describes it well. The dashboard is almost flat, aiding vision out of the windscreen, and there are very few controls – just the essentials; hazard lights, heated front and rear windows, forwards, backwards and play/pause buttons, and one to drop the glovebox lid.

Aside from that, literally everything else is controlled via the large 9″ high-definition portrait touchscreen on the dash, and you can also option Apple CarPlay (£300) to use your Apple device with it and utilise your various apps as they are mirrored on the touchscreen, as well as being able to use Siri.

Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription centre console controls

The touchscreen is used like an iPad or tablet, and you flick between menus using a swipe of the finger. Cleverly, the screen works by ‘intersecting light’ so you don’t physically need to touch the screen – just hover slightly over it, and you can also use it when wearing gloves. Superbly practical idea Volvo!

At first the amount of menus-within-menus-with-menus can be quite overwhelming, especially for the more technically-challenged. However, the controls and screens don’t take long to get used to, and just like an iPad or similar, there are shortcuts to various menus which also help.

The graphics are amazingly crisp and slick, with the black background having all the depth of ink. There’s barely discernible lag when swiping or jumping between menus. Volvo have included a fantastic satellite navigation system, which is not only easy to use, but you can pinch to zoom in and out too. It’s also the quickest I’ve come across when loading up the route, with literally a couple of seconds between you inputting the address and it showing the highlighted direction.

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A word of warning though. While this tablet-like touchscreen system is superb, it can also be quite distracting. Yes, it’s about using your common sense, and you can choose to lock out the menus while the car is moving (a good idea to do so) – but in taking away physical controls almost entirely, and giving you much more choice in what can be controlled, I found myself looking longer at the screen for what I needed, and I’ve seen other XC90 drivers doing the same.

Amongst my favourite features of the XC90’s touchscreen was the 360˚ surround camera system, which makes parking the Volvo unbelievably easy (you can also have automatic Parallel and 90˚ parking) and will de-stress things for those who find parking hard. If you prang a panel in this thing, there’s no excuse!

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On the XC90 Inscription test car was the optional £3,000 Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Bowers & Wilkins. This is THE best sound system I have ever come across in any car, and worth every single penny. It is so good that if you’re into your music, you’ll only ever want to listen to it in the XC90 once you have tried it.

The Bowers & Wilkins system has an output of 1,400W and includes 19 speakers, a 12-channel amplifier, a unique open-air sub-woofer and ‘tweeter on top’ technology (which gives a more detailed sound) over the central dash speaker. To quote Volvo; ‘there are three room modes: “Studio” for an excellent, dry and precise listening experience, “Individual Stage” that allows you to control the acoustics and create your own sound using the centre display, and “Gothenburg Concert Hall” which recreates the amazing acoustic experience of this legendary concert hall.’

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Another outstanding feature in this second-generation XC90 is the large adaptive digital display in the driver’s binnacle. While the base Momentum spec version has a 9″ display, the Inscription and above benefits from a huge 12.3″ version, eliminating any analogue dials or gauges. Again, it has ultra-sharp graphics and will display the information for the drive modes, navigation directions and other useful stuff.

Volvo have given the XC90 a comfortable steering wheel, and they’ve also made sure controls mounted on it actually look and feel nice, something that seems almost an afterthought on a lot of cars.

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The front seats are, as you’d perhaps expect, very comfortable and they look fantastic too. While the fronts are wide, they also have the benefit of excellent support with deep side bolsters and ‘wings’ to hug your shoulders slightly.

My personal recommendation for further comfort would be to option the Nappa Soft Leather Perforated and Ventilated front seats, a cost of £700 at the time of writing. For this, you’ll have the benefit of power cushion extensions which lift the legs slightly, and you also get power adjustable seat side supports to hold you in place a little better. Should you want a more sporty seat, for £350 you can have leather contour seats which have super-deep side bolsters.

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In my review of the first-generation XC90, I found that the middle row of seats had short base cushions, therefore sitting way back from the knee, and the backrest didn’t recline much either, meaning overall they weren’t really that comfortable.

Thankfully, Volvo must have listened to customer and media criticisms regarding this as the second row on the new second-gen XC90 are very much improved. Certainly the comfort level is way better thanks to a longer base cushion them and reclining much further than previously. There’s now more leg room too, due to a slightly longer wheelbase and thinner seats front seats.

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Unfortunately, the middle seat of the second row is nowhere near as comfortable (why do manufacturers do this??), but it can be folded to make room for skis or for your trip to the DIY store.

The third row seating is, again, enhanced over the old model, and can now seat a person up to 5 feet 7 inches high (170cm) and with the second row seats have sliders, it will aid in even better comfort. Just like the first and second rows, there are properly sturdy headrests to minimise whiplash in a shunt, and for practicality each side has their own fair-sized storage box with integrated cupholders, which double as armrests.

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The windows are huge on the XC90, and the third row passengers will be thankful for the fact Volvo have used a theatre-style seating arrangement, so those in the back are highest up and can still enjoy the view out of the front windows. Should you spec the panoramic sunroof, this will also further the already-airy feel to the cabin.

One thing I thought Volvo would have included – but did not – were levers in the boot to drop the middle row seating. I looked several times, but couldn’t find them. If I’ve missed them, feel free to let me know, but if they aren’t included that’s a genuinely daft thing do – where’s the ease and practicality for parents, Volvo?

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Boot space is yet again massive on this new XC90. Volume (litres) to the roof is as follows: seven seats in place: 451, five seats in place: 1,102, two seats in place: 1,951 litres. The beauty of this Volvo is the fact that even with the third row seats in place, there’s still a surprisingly large amount of room, and they’ve thought to include a large hidden opening under the boot floor (which can be removed by the looks of it), as well as sizeable cut-outs into the sides for even more stowage space.

As this test Inscription model had the option of four corner electronic air suspension (£2,150), there further practicality with a lowering and raising button feature in the boot, which drops the rear of the XC90 to make loading and unloading easier. Handily, you can also wave your foot under the rear of the car and the boot will open that way for hands-free access. You’ll look silly doing so, but it works.

2016 Volvo XC90 boot or trunk lid

Of course, Volvo are known for the safety of their cars and the XC90 scores an expected 5/5 stars from Euro NCAP, with the Safety Assist category receiving an amazing 100% score, the Adult Occupant an impressive 97% and the Child Occupant at 87%.

One final point in this section. Why, when you’re paying almost £54,000 for a premium-spec’d SUV do you not get a reversing camera as standard? Yes, ‘Park Assist’ helps, but it seems rather miserly to not include a reverse cam, especially on the Inscription version.

I’ll discuss in the drive section what Volvo’s flagship SUV is like to travel in, and cabin comfort on that front, but overall this second-gen XC90 is so much advanced over the previous model that aside from the basics of practicality, it’s barely comparable.

Engine & transmission

The new XC90 comes into Volvo’s age of the Drive-E technology, and you might be surprised to learn it is only available with 4-cylinder engines. Don’t let that put you off though, because Volvo state they are some of the most powerful four-pot engines in the world. Not only that but they reduce weight, emissions and fuel use.

Three engines are available in the UK. The D5 is a 2.0 litre twin-turbo diesel with 225 hp 347 lb ft (470Nm) of torque. The T8 Twin Engine, which is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with a 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine up front and an 87 hp electric motor at the rear, putting out a combined 407 bhp and 472 lb ft (640Nm) of torque. That’ll shift!

My test vehicle was fitted with the T6 engine, which is again a 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder unit. It’s the same unit as the T8, and therefore boasting supercharging and a turbo.

Power is a healthy 320 bhp at 5,700 rpm, while torque is rated at 295 lb ft (400Nm) max between 2,220 – 5,400 rpm. The T6 will take the XC90 to 143 mph at the top end, whilst 0 – 60 mph is undertaken in an impressive 6.1 seconds which is impressive, considering the minimum kerb weight is a shade over 2,000 kilos (4,409 lbs).

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD start dial and drive mode selector

All the current D5, T6 and T8 engined XC90s are all-wheel-drive, and on a dry, straight road almost all power goes to the front wheels (I’m guessing around 90:10), which is then distributed as needed depending on the conditions and drive mode selected.

Quoted UK miles-per-gallon figures are as follows; urban: 29.4, extra urban: 42.8, combined: 36.7. CO2 emissions are 179 g/km on the 19″ wheels, and 186 g/km on larger versions. Over a journey of 108 miles, which took in mostly winding, steep country roads, I got a return of 26 mpg, but a fair few times it touched around 30 mpg. On a motorway run it’ll probably get around the 35 mpg mark at an estimate. Not amazing on fuel then, but buy the more-popular D5 diesel if you’re looking for better economy.

Ready to roll? Let’s go!

I’ve not yet tested a newer generation Volvo yet that doesn’t give a decent driving experience, and this XC90 T6 not only carries that on but also rides and drives on a whole new level for Volvo, and I had nothing but love for it from the first time I drove it.

I usually get an especially cocooned, safe feeling in a Volvo. While it could be psychological – after all, Volvo have touted the safety of their cars for decades – it’s more than that, for even though the XC90 is a large SUV, I still got that warm, enveloping feeling which started from the moment I slide into the driver’s seat and shut the thick, weighted door with deep clunk.

That is furthered by the second-generation XC90’s build and material quality, which is to an incredibly high standard, and that pleasant, sheltered cabin has you settled in just moments after shutting the door.

A beautifully crafted diamond-pattern dial is twisted to one side to start the Volvo, and I think this brings a little more elegance to it than a simple push-button starter somehow. Pulling the lever into drive, and the T6-engined XC90 sets off as smoothly as any car I’ve tested yet, and with the sort positive, strong sense you get when driving more powerful luxury cars.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription on the road

My test car had the optional four-corner electronic air suspension (£2,150) and my goodness does it delivers on every penny’s worth of that extra price! This system allows the car to be lifted by 40mm (1.57″) for off-roading but also lowered by 20mm (0.8″) when in the Dynamic driving mode, which also firms the ride up for better handling as well. Low-speed bumps and imperfections in the road are dealt with fluidly, and any particularly nasty patches of tarmac are ultimately soaked up by the soft leather seats, leaving the XC90 entirely unruffled in the face of pothole hell.

About that actually, the Drive mode is a diamond-cut roller wheel which looks great, but I found was a harder to scroll than it should have been, especially if it was raining heavily and I’d just jumped in the car, as it then had very little grip thanks to its aluminium finish. Looks cool, but needs to be more grippy somehow.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription forest road

Driving the XC90 T6 on variety of routes, different road surfaces and in varying speeds limits over the week-long test leaves me with nothing but respect for this Swedish SUV. Changes from the eight-speed transmission are so slick you can barely tell they’re actually happening, and alongside that the 2.0 litre turbo’d and supercharged petrol is buttery-smooth in its acceleration.

Should you need to floor that accelerator, the 320 bhp and 295 lb ft (400Nm) of torque on tap provides a briskness that’ll bring forth a grin, and ample overtaking prowess that suggests the Volvo is packing more than the above stats. What I really like about this second-gen XC90 T6 is that is has the ability to handle itself surprisingly well (at least with the optional air suspension package) and accelerate harder than you’d perhaps imagine, but also cruises as well as competitors like the Range Rover Sport.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription on a forest drive

Volvo state that a lot of time was taken in developing the all-electric power steering in order for it to provide a natural feel, and certainly it’s well-balanced at higher speeds and light for slower city driving. Handling is helped by 53:47 front:rear weight distribution, giving the XC90 a planted feel and confidence in the bends. Taking into consideration this is a wide, tall SUV it’s absolutely fine in that department.

What the XC90 does do exceptionally well is provide the type of ride, drive and quiet cabin that’ll truly satisfy when you just want to kick back, unwind and waft your way down the road, whether that’s a motorway or winding country route. Indeed, the Volvo accomplishes this superlatively, to the point where on a few longer trips I arrived home so comfortable and relaxed that I simply didn’t want to leave the serenity of the XC.

Volvo are pushing forward with autonomous cars and even better intelligent safety systems, and already we’re seeing features relating to that with this vehicle. Volvo state they are addressing ‘real-world’ accidents, rather than simply trying to pass a safety test – a good thing for everyone.

2016 Volvo XC90 AWD

Standard across the range of XC90s are safety features which are part of Volvo’s ‘IntelliSafe’ package and expanded City Safety ‘umbrella’, which works in both the daylight and darkness now. This includes systems like the world’s first Run-off Road Protection, designed to prevent the car from going off the road and to mitigate or prevent injury if it should, by tightening seatbelts, while mini shock-absorbers reduce vertical forces (which effect the spine) by up to a third with 150mm of movement allowed.

Another world-first is Auto Brake at Junctions, which applies the brakes automatically should you turn in front of an oncoming vehicle. Clever stuff. Other impressive safety technology as standard on the second-generation XC90 is Road Edge Detection, Driver Control with Lane Keeping Aid, City Safety (includes Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection and Front Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake), Driver Alert Control with Lane Keeping Aid.

Volvo XC90 T6 AWD rough road

While Adaptive Cruise Control is a system I absolutely love on cars, Volvo have taken it further with Pilot Assist – again, a standard XC90 feature – which, at up to 80 mph, monitors the road ahead steering, braking and accelerating when needed. You do need to keep your hands on the steering wheel for this though, otherwise within 20 seconds or so the system will cut out, with plenty of audible and visible warnings issued before it does.

This would have been great, except I found an issue was the fact that it needs clear lane markings both sides in order for the system to work, and a lot of our antiquated UK roads simply don’t have them, so the feature could rarely be used. Another thing; isn’t it rather pointless to have a ‘pilot assist’ if you’ve still got to keep your hands on the wheel? You may as well just have adaptive cruise control, otherwise what’s the point of it?

There are a whole host more driving and cabin safety features to list, way too many for this article even, so the best thing to do is check Volvo’s website for the entire list.

AWD system and off-road capability

Without an area to properly test this new Volvo XC90 off-road, it’s down to facts ‘n’ stats about the system but should I get to use the XC90 in winter or over some rough terrain, I’ll update the review.

To date, UK variants of the XC90 with the T8, T6 and D5 engines come with all-wheel-drive (AWD) as standard. As mentioned earlier, on a dry, straight road almost all power goes to the front wheels (I’m guessing around 90:10), which is then distributed as needed depending on the conditions and drive mode selected.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD on a logging road

In corners, when accelerating or on damp roads, torque can be automatically and instantly diverted to the rear wheels to boost traction, handling and safety. In extreme conditions, all of the torque can be sent to the rear wheels. Volvo’s AWD system works in conjunction with the electronic stability and traction control systems for maximum safety and grip.

For those who want the technical low-down on the AWD system, the D5 and T6 engined cars get an electronically controlled mechanical system – the latest Borg Warner generation 5 system with on-demand coupling. Sensors monitor the road surface and the steering, brake and accelerator, plus the ABS and engine management system data are also analysed. This sends power to the wheels with most grip automatically, while ‘sophisticated electronics’ determine the most effect way to distribute torque to each wheel.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD off road with suspension raised up

Because the T8 is a hybrid, it has a different mechanical setup in that the petrol engine drives the front wheels while the electric motor drives the rears.

Volvos have been known for their great 4×4 capability for a while now, with their XC and Cross Country models obviously heading that. After all, Sweden gets some properly harsh winters and so naturally Volvos are well-developed to suit. With the electronic air suspension optioned on the XC90, plus the AWD, I’m using an educated guess and saying it’ll be proficient when it comes to bad weather and rough conditions.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD off road with suspension raised up


(Figures correct 2016). The Volvo XC90 starts at £46,650 and tops out at £64,500. SUVs for around the same price include the Lexus RX, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg, Infiniti QX70, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription verdict & score

There’s little else to say other than this second generation Volvo XC90 T6 is utterly fantastic, and it ticks all the boxes that buyers of large SUVs demand: luxury, refinement, big cabin space, contemporary in-car technology, clever AWD, powerful engine choices and a stylish, sophisticated exterior design. Certainly, it’s easily on a par with close rivals such as the Range Rover Sport and Lexus RX.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD off road with suspension raised up

For owners of the first-generation XC90, I guess the question will be; is this second-gen version worth the upgrade? Yes, for lots of reasons, but here are a few: it is more comfortable and roomy, especially for second and third row passengers, the advancements in safety technology are staggering, it rides better and felt much quieter too, the material fit and finish in the cabin is at a whole new level, and while the previous model’s look aged well Volvo have made sure this new XC90 carries on the understated-yet-upmarket design.

Are there any improvements needed though? First, off – include a reverse camera Volvo. It’s tight not to a £53k vehicle. The only other real area I could find was that the T6 engine doesn’t provide very good fuel economy, with averages showing just 30 – 35 mpg (UK). Is that good enough on today’s cars? Either way, if you’re concerned with economy, go for the D5 or T8 Hybrid. Aside from that, the T6 is a smooth, quiet and powerful engine.

All told, I think Volvo have done an incredible job with their flagship SUV, and it’s as strong a contender as you’ll get against the competition.

Do you own a Volvo XC90, or have questions about one? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below! Read more CarProductsTested.com Volvo reviews here.

Exterior  10
Interior  9
Engine (T6)  9
Transmission  9
Price  8
Handling  8
Drive & Ride  9
Overall Score  9.0 / 10 


All specs based on ‘as tested’ model.


Model (as tested) 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription 
Price (not inc. options)  (correct August 2016) XC90 Inscription T6 AWD: £53,905
The competition  Lexus RX, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg, Infiniti QX70, BMW X5Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV
 Spec includes (Inscription) 7 seats, Nappa soft leather seats, heated & power front seats, 20″ alloy wheels, 9″ central touchscreen with Sensus Connect with navigation, LED active bending lights with active high beam, 12.3″ active TFT driver information display, voice control, Autodimming inner & exterior mirrors, leather instrument panel & door tops, integrated silver roof rails, sun curtains in rear doors, 2-zone climate control with CleanAir Air Quality system, power tailgate, 10-speaker 330W sound system, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Volvo on-call with App, Adaptive Cruise Control with Distance Alert & Queue Assist + Speed Limiter, Drive Mode Settings. See Volvo website for full spec
Safety  All-wheel-drive, Volvo City Safety (includes Pedestrian & Cyclist Detection & Front Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake), Road Sign Information Display, SIPS Airbags (Front Seats), IC (Inflatable Curtain) – Full Length, Lane Keeping Aid, ISOFIX Attachment (2nd Row Outer Seats), Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Road Edge Detection, Run-off Road Protection, 5/5 Euro NCAP rating
Options you should spec  Four Corner Electronic Air Suspension: £2,150, Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Bowers and Wilkins: £3,000, Intellisafe Pro Pack: £1,500. If you live in a colder climate, or get bad winters: Winter Pack: £350.00, anything but the black leather – there are classier no-cost options
Off-road information  Maximum ground clearance: front: 238mm (9.4″) | Approach angle: 24˚ | Departure angle: 21˚ | Breakover: 23˚ | Wading depth: 450mm (17.7″)
Engine Petrol, 2.0 litre, four cylinder in-line, supercharged & turbocharged
Power, Torque   Power: 320 bhp @ 5,700 rpm | 295 lb ft (400Nm) @ 2,220 – 5,400 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  All wheel drive | 8-speed Geartronic (automatic)
Towing capacity  Braked: 2,700 kgs (5,952 lbs) | Unbraked: 750 kgs (1,653 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph  Max speed: 143 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Official fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 28.8, Extra urban: 40.4, Combined: 35.3 | CO2: 186 g/km
Weight (kerb)  Minimum kerb weight: 2,004 kgs (4,418 lbs)
Websites  Volvo UK, Volvo USA, Volvo global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography & film: Chris Davies

6 responses to “2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription Review & Buyer’s Guide – Sweden’s flagship SUV is Superb”

  1. John

    You are absolutely right that styling is objective, but this car really is a return to the butt ugly and cube like Volvo’s of old. It’s as if the designers have forgotten everything worthwhile that they’ve built over the last 15 years, then recalled the 144 design team and told them to design something even more conservative. Designed in Sweden it may be, but Is this a design specifically aimed at their Chinese owners and their home market?

    Apart from the typically superb seats and the, impossible to use without taking your eyes off the road, touch screen, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about the interior of this car. Can’t we at least reasonably expect stadium seating in a MPV/SUV crossover with this kind of asking price?

    I’ve run several Volvo’s before so was prepared to take this car seriously, even if my wants are more 4×4 and less MPV. I’m sorry to say that a ten minute visit to the showroom was all that it took to convince me that it wasn’t worth even test driving one!

  2. Ian Ridsdale

    A very good unbiased review based on real world driving. I drive a Range Rover and the XC90 will certainly be on my shortlist when its time to replace it.

  3. Wishful Thinking

    Puts NASA engineering to shame, an absolute marvel of technology, design and function with a beast of an engine.

    I’m liking everything apart from the price although I know it’s probably worth it.

    If Volvo need a volunteer for a 5 year extended, long term test I am available and have Abba CD’s ready!

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