2012 Volvo XC90 Review
Despite its low starting price and status as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, the 2012 Volvo XC90 is outdone by its rivals in nearly every respect.
Reviewers feel that the 2012 Volvo XC90 is a good family-hauling SUV, but competitors from both affordable and luxury brands are better options on almost every front. The XC90’s engine is underpowered compared with the V8s offered in luxury crossovers, its fuel economy is on the low side for its class, it isn’t as luxurious or high-tech as competitors and its third row isn’t very large or spacious for anyone larger than a small kid.
Many reviewers complaints stem from the fact that the Volvo XC90 hasn’t been fully redesigned since its introduction in 2003. That means that most of its rivals have advanced while it stood still.
Even though Volvos are best-known for their safety and dependability, some test drivers say you should choose a different vehicle from Volvo’s lineup. Other models like the smaller and more-engaging Volvo XC60 are not only more fun to drive, but offer more updated accident-prevention safety equipment Volvo known for, like its new City Safety system. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the Volvo XC90 a Top Safety Pick, so it’s still one of the safest vehicles in its class.
Overall, even if you’re on a budget and are looking for the least expensive luxury SUV in the bunch, test drivers say the Volvo XC90 is outclassed by top trims of affordable brands, siblings from the Volvo stable and other luxury midsize SUVs.
Other Luxury SUVs to Consider
The Buick Enclave is another near-luxury SUV that’s been rated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Plus, its back seat is much roomier than the XC90’s, and even though it costs less than the Volvo, it can be similarly equipped.
Though it’s not luxury-branded, buyers should definitely consider the more expensive trims of affordable midsize SUVs like the Ford Flex. Not only is the Ford Flex Titanium an IIHS Top Safety Pick, but reviewers also love its standout looks, sporty paddle shifters, adult-sized third row and classy interior. Even with its standard rearview camera, leather seats and SYNC voice-controlled media interface system, it still comes in at a sticker price that’s a few dollars less than the Volvo XC90’s.
For a truly luxurious SUV, consider the Lexus RX 350. It’s more expensive than the Volvo XC90, but reviewers say its interior quality is the benchmark for the class, and you’ll get the benefit of true luxury-brand cachet.
Details: Volvo XC90
The 2012 Volvo XC90 comes in 3.2 and 3.2 R-Design trims, each of which offers a base, premier plus and platinum package. For 2012, Volvo has discontinued its V8 engine option, which could be problematic since test drivers say the remaining six-cylinder engine is woefully underpowered.
See the full list of 2012 Volvo XC90 specs.
- "Earning XC90 kudos are car-like road manners, rock-solid feel, and numerous safety features. While it doesn't top the class for agility or outright utility, prices are competitive, provided you are judicious with trim-level and option selection.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The … Volvo XC90 is certainly a nice luxury crossover, but it lacks an edge over the completion in both luxury and performance.” -- Edmunds