in 2010 Luxury Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $20,740 - $27,700
Original MSRP: $37,700 - $47,500
MPG: 15 City / 22 Hwy
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2010 Volvo XC90 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The majority of reviewers find the XC90 to be fairly nimble, and it rides even better with chassis improvements for 2010. However, reviewers say its driving experience is still largely boring. With six-cylinder and V8 engine options, the XC90 offers buyers a choice between a fair amount of power at a low price or abundant power at a premium.

  • "Both XC90 models ride quietly and smoothly on the highway, but they're hardly sporty, claimed improvements for 2010 notwithstanding." -- Edmunds.
  • "XC90s tested rode firmly but were comfortable and composed. The 18-inch tires react somewhat abruptly on sharp ridges and pavement breaks. Little pitching or bounding is noticeable over large humps and dips." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's quiet and comfortable but offers an anodyne driving experience. However, the V-8 version sounds good, and it rides well." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The XC90's base 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine produces 235 horsepower, while the 4.4-liter V8 makes 311 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Some reviewers say the six-cylinder can be sluggish, but all of them love the V8’s extra power. However, you’ll have to decide if the V8 is worth the significant price premium it carries over the base engine, not to mention the fuel economy penalty.

According to the EPA, six-cylinder AWD models achieve 15/21 mpg city/highway, while V8 AWD models achieve 13/19 mpg. FWD models get the best fuel economy, at 15/22 mpg.

  • "The smooth 6-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration from a stop and for passing and merging. The V8 delivers brisk takeoffs and fine midrange passing power. With either engine, the transmission is smooth, but some testers complained of slow downshifts with the 3.2." --  Consumer Guide
  • "The 2010 Volvo XC90's base 3.2-liter inline-6 struggles noisily to get the vehicle up to speed. It's just not up to the task of propelling this nearly 5,000-pound SUV. The V8 model's performance and refinement are much improved with a minimal fuel economy penalty, but it'll cost you." -- Edmunds
  • "Coupled to a six-speed automatic with a very short first gear the new six will step smartly away from a stop. Unfortunately, at speeds above 50 mph the engine struggles to motivate the XC90's 4786-pounds and all-wheel drive system." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 4.4-liter 311-horsepower V8 is outstanding, being smooth and strong." -- MSN
  • "The six-speed automatic transmission also did what we wanted it to during our test period. It uses Volvo's Adaptive Shift Logic system to set itself for the current driving style. We found it had no problem figuring out which gears to hold when we wanted acceleration." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

Though the Volvo XC90 is a large vehicle, most reviewers are impressed with its steering and handling capabilities. Still, if you’re looking for a fun driving experience, the XC90 isn’t for you. Check out the more expensive Acura MDX for a sportier feel.

  • "XC90s move like the tall, heavy wagons they are. The steering is numb and rather slow at any speed, and body lean is marked in quick changes of direction. Straightline stability is fine, though gusty highway crosswinds cause mild wander. Stopping control is good, but the brakes feel touchy on initial application, a bit spongy when depressed quickly." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The XC90 is hardly a beast through the twisty stuff. Steering is very light in parking lots, but tightens up as the speed increases. You'll notice understeer in the tightest sections, but it is never excessive. Mostly you will find that the XC90 tracks well through corners, belying both its weight and its tall stature." -- Road and Track
  • "Steering, too, could use improvement. Off center, the steering builds excessive heft and pressure, requiring muscle to hold a line through a sweeping curve, or to parallel park. Luxury vehicles should feel light and lively at the fingertips, but our Volvo XC90 V8 felt ponderous and heavy." -- Cars.com

All-Wheel Drive

Volvo’s all-wheel drive system is standard on V8 models and a $2,000 option on the six-cylinder model. Test drivers like the system, particularly for the excellent traction it provides.

  • "Effective all-wheel-drive system that, on the V-8, does not require front wheelspin to begin shifting power to the rear wheels. Worked flawlessly in heavy rain on slick asphalt." -- USA Today
  • "It operates seamlessly, and the driver will almost never know when it's working." -- Cars.com

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