First drive in the refreshed Volvo XC90

Every single time I drive a Volvo I think, “One day I will own one of these!” The launch of the refreshed Volvo XC90 was no different for me. I love it now as much as I did back when it launched in 2016.

Volvo XC90

Granted, not much has changed on this face-lifted model, it didn’t really need anything done to it. Especially when it comes to the exterior design. It is such a fantastic looking SUV. Volvo has stuck to just tweaking it with things like a new front grille and adding an array of new alloy wheels. Oh, and you can opt for new paint colours.

Not to mention the new R-Design package which gives the XC90 a more sporty look. It adds 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, black mirror housings and a gloss black mesh front grille. Sports seats and a perforated-leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles are also included in this package as well as powered front passenger seat with memory function (to match the driver’s seat), sports pedals, black headlining and upgraded interior lighting. There’s even an exclusive R-Design leather-clad remote key fob.


The biggest change probably comes in the form of the new seating arrangements on offer. The seven-seater is still up for grabs but now you can opt for a six-seat configuration. Which does make it all the more business-class like. But if you have a large family, you might not want to lose that second row middle seat. If you have two kids, then sure, the gap might just keep them from fighting (and in turn annoying you, the driver), but if you have more family members, you might prefer the practicality of what a seven-seater SUV is supposed to offer.

I can picture a cooler box between those two seats…ah the dream.

The issue with seven-seaters is often the lack of boot space. The XC90 doesn’t disappoint here, offering 312-litres. Certainly not big enough for a family of seven’s luggage, but, no seven-seater will offer you this. I wonder if they shouldn’t come standard with a trailer? Although this can be said for every car. I don’t even have kids and I could do with a trailer. But that’s a story for another time.

Volvo XC90


Volvo XC90

There is nothing quite like the interior of a Volvo. I know you already know that this is my number one brand and so might consider me biased, but I will bet you money (or even wine) that you won’t find a more refined, more classy and more luxurious cabin amongst its rivals.

I am not a huge fan of the tablet-like touchscreen, however, but that is because I hate all touchscreens. I much prefer a button. I wish all manufactures would start leaning toward buttons again, but I fear my wish will never be granted.

The T8 Inscription sports a gear lever made of crystal glass from Orrefors, the famous Swedish glassmaker, as well as diamond-cut controls for the start/stop button and volume control. Yoh, but it looks classy AF. BMW also offers a glass lever and I love it, but it can feel a little OTT. Volvo certainly has the edge in terms of class here.

Volvo XC90


Volvo On Call is now standard on the XC90. It is a handy little thing. You just sommer press the button above the rear-view mirror and someone will answer and do anything you ask of them. Well not anything, but if you need directions or have an emergency, these guys will sort you out.

If you’re in an accident and you are unable to press the button, never fear, because this system will pick up if the car has been involved in something and will call all the emergency services you require.

And if you download the app on to your phone you can do cool stuff like heat or cool your car before you get in to it, find it if you have lost it (the car will hoot and flash its headlights), check your fuel level, and lock or unlock your car – helpful if you have lost the key but need something from inside the car.


You can still choose between three petrol engines and the turbodiesel, all powered by Volvo’s 2.0-litre 4-cylinder powertrains. I got to drive the D5 Geartronic AWD and this would certainly be my engine of choice. It offers 173 kW and 480 Nm of torque and is smooth as butter (speaking of being OTT). The fuel consumption is claimed at just 5.7l/100 km.

The other derivative I drove was that of the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid unit. It is turbocharged and supercharged and and adds an electric motor for added wow factor (and other more cool reasons). It produces 235 kW and 400 Nm of torque and as much as there is an electric motor in the mix, the fuel consumption is claimed at a higher-than-the-diesel 8l/100 km. (The D5 is also cheaper, obviously). With that said, this has to be one of the best petrol/electric pairings on the market.


That’s a stupid question and one you should already know the answer to. Of course you should buy one. The XC90 might not have had a full make over, but it didn’t need one. The upgrades may be small but they are significant. Volvo offers a product that I believe few rivals can match. This is not to say the rivals aren’t fantastic products and some of my favourite cars on the market, but Volvo just offers something a little more special. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly. Perhaps you need to feel it for yourself. If you haven’t driven a Volvo in the past 10 years, you really should get your bum in a seat of one. You might find yourself with a new favourite brand.


T5 AWD MomentumR1 029 200  
D5 AWD MomentumR1 073 600 
T6 AWD MomentumR1 076 700 
T5 AWD Inscription R1 078 200 
T5 AWD R-DesignR1 094 700  
D5 AWD InscriptionR1 122 600
T6 AWD InscriptionR1 125 700  
D5 AWD R-DesignR1 139 100 
T6 AWD R-Design R1 142 200 
T8 Twin Engine AWD InscriptionR1 276 200
T8 Twin Engine AWD R-DesignR1 291 200
T8 Twin Engine AWD ExcellenceR1 668 500

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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