Volvo XC90 D5 SE Lux Black Edition Geartronic AWD road test review

Volvo XC90 D5 SE Lux Black Edition Geartronic AWD road test review

The TotallyMotor Verdict


Under £45k for this big chunk of classy, all-black Volvo XC90? Now don’t get me wrong; I’m no Rockefeller, and £45k is a serious chunk of change, but this Volvo XC90 seats up to seven people (with a third row of seats stashed neatly in the boot floor), has a four-wheel drive system; full leather interior; premium stereo with sat-nav, and a shiny coat of Black Sapphire metallic paint over black 18-inch alloy wheels. Phew, and breathe!

Now that’s a pretty decent haul of SUV goodies, and with CO2 at 219g/km and a quoted combined economy of 34mpg, its eco-credentials, for such a big car, are indeed respectable. But let’s see how the figures stack up after a week-long, 350-mile TotallyMotor test drive with plenty of commuting, motorway hauling and around-town-nipping.


Volvo XC90 D5 SE Lux Black Edition Geartronic AWD road test review  

First impressions:
Cool on the outside, warm on the inside – that’s the design idea behind modern Volvos. Nothing too ostentatious – as can so easily be the case with large SUVs – on the outside, but quiet and uncluttered comfort on the inside. And in the case of this all-black, smoothly imposing XC90 Black Edition, I’d tend to agree with that design ideal.

The Volvo look – which they kind of own right now – and is, for me, a most attractive feature, is the pronounced ‘pinch-line’ that runs front to rear and is particularly pronounced on the XC90.

Beginning behind the bold front grille and flowing in a gentle curve to the rear-end, and finishing in the mid-curve of those trademark ‘L’ rear lights; this pinch-line lends definition to the XC’s shape and bestows upon it a powerful, high-shouldered silhouette. This body sculpting works particularly well in this Black Sapphire metallic paint; part of the Black Edition’s finish.

It’s a class act in my opinion and surely looks more expensive than the pricetag would suggest.


Into the interior:
Like the outside of the Volvo XC90, I think it’s fair to describe the inside as cool and collected, with the Swedish brand leading the way in uncluttered interior design.

The seating is all-leather with this higher trim level and the front seats also enjoy electric adjustment with a 3-memory function. The leather is soft and neatly piped in white, and while the side bolsters aren’t particularly supportive, I never really found myself tossing the big XC through the bends and so I didn’t really suffer from too much side to side sliding.

There’s plenty of view from the raised driving position and just like the Volvos I’ve tried recently, I found plenty of reach and tilt adjustment to the steering wheel for maximum driver comfort. There’s useful third row of seating in vast boot area, too.

We also enjoy a premium sound system within this higher XC trim, which did indeed sound premium, but I wouldn't particularly highly rate the user interface ease of use for audio, phone and sat-nav. The sat-nav screen – and reversing camera display – rises from the dashboard, which helps keep things nice and neat, but if it is just a quick reverse, you may find the job done before the screen is finished revealing. The heater controls with their ‘human map’ are, on the other hand, as easy to use as they are pleasant to look at.

In all, a comfortable place to be with a premium feel round and about; just a little dated here and there for some of the technology.


The drive:
The D5 engine spec – a 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder turbodiesel motor is your top Volvo powerplant spec, and I have to say I was expecting a little more get up and go.

It’s not at all bad in most respects – it’s a quiet and calm motorway cruiser, for example – but on initial lift off I found the automatic gearbox rather ponderous. The grunt is there – 200bhp and a hefty 420Nm of torque, but you’ll need to get used to the way the auto ‘box delivers that ample shove.

Volvo quote performance figures of 10.3secs to 62mph and a 127mph top speed for their biggest black beastie, and that’ll do the trick for most of us in most situations, and to be fair, while this XC90 didn’t feel quite as quick as I wanted it to be, it’s restrained performance meant that it actually closely matched its advertised combined economy of 34mpg. After around 350 miles I saw just over 32mpg on the in-dash readout. And CO2 sits at a reasonable 219g/km.

The ride for this one is on the stiff side – to help control the roll of that big body – and while the XC carries itself respectably through the bends, I think there could have been a better compromise between bump-soaking and body control. Sometimes, over sharp-edged potholes, I felt a fair shake through the cabin.


Ten second sum up:
The Volvo XC90 is a classy-looking SUV, and in 7-seat trim, a practical family car; albeit for the more well-healed family. While it might be showing its age in some interior technology aspects, overall it is still a fine, well-made and comfortable car to drive, and made me feel quite special every time I parked it. And, for this high trim, at around £44k, it seems like good value.


Price and availability:
The Volvo XC90 range starts at £35,695. Price as tested, £44,015 including some options, for the Black Edition special edition. Available now.

Words & pics: Daniel Anslow

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