Long-term update (2): Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Insciption Geartronic
Eight months in and the Swede has proven to be a popular member of our fleet; there isn’t a single person in the CAR team who, at some point, hasn’t requested the XC90’s keys for a weekend away.
I’ve just returned from a 1 500 km trip from Cape Town to Nieu Bethesda that highlighted the XC90’s USP: with its refinement, wonderful interior and plethora of safety systems, it is a relaxing and enjoyable open-road car.
The Nappa leather seats with power adjustment are supremely comfortable and with my selected playtrack piped through the 18-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, the seven-hour trip was a breeze. It is one of the best car audio systems I’ve experienced and that descriptor applies to the entire Sensus Connect infotainment system with its nine-inch touchscreen and intuitive swipe-and-touch navigation.
NVH levels, too, are impressive and despite strong crosswinds, the XC90 simply ghosted through the big-sky Karoo landscapes on a route that included gravel, with the rear air suspension offering a consistent, cushioned ride. The seats, sound system and suspension are part of the R68 000 Premium Pack and it’s a box I would recommend you tick. I’ve had no issues with build quality and the cavernous 1 560-litre utility space is impressively hard-wearing, having ferried anything from bicycles to packed-to-the-ceiling luggage.
Given the standout nature of the overall vehicle, the engine doesn’t quite match up. The D5 does its job well enough, but that’s the problem. You get the feeling the 2,0-litre has to work hard to keep a two-tonne XC90 hustling along. It doesn’t have the punch of its 3,0-litre rivals and can be thirsty, averaging 10,1 L/100 km on this road trip.
After 8 months
Current mileage: 15 120
Average fuel consumption: 9,82 L/100 km
We like: space; refinement, interior, styling
We don’t like: in comparison, engine is merely average
Long-term update (1): Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Insciption Geartronic
It’s been difficult to resist this big Swede’s charms and testament to this are regular requests by colleagues to borrow it for weekend trips with friends and family.
Besides a few I’ve taken up the West Coast and inland through the Overberg, two CAR staffers have used the Electric Silver Volvo on similar journeys and returned full of compliments.
As an environment in which to travel, you’d have to look further up the premium hierarchy to better the XC90’s cabin. The Nappa leather seats – heated and power adjustable – are some of the most comfortable and supportive I’ve experienced, while the Bowers & Wilkins sound system (part of the optional R68k Premium Pack) provides superb entertainment.
This is a big car and rear passenger space is prodigious, as is the 464-litre boot and 1 460-litre utility space. It even offers a fairly generous 144 litres with all seven seats raised.
On the road, the XC90’s air springs on the rear axle provide a cushioned ride and, should the mood take you, the bevelled alloy scroller next to the gearlever accesses a dynamic mode that stiffens the suspension and remaps the eight-speed auto transmission’s shift patterns to best take advantage of the 2,0-litre turbodiesel’s 173 kW/470 N.m.
So far, I am averaging 9,56 L/100 km, which is far above our fuel index figure of 6,8 L/100 km. This is not helped by the fact that, most mornings, I complete a 20 km school run in congested traffic.
More and more, I’m using the XC90’s Pilot Assist semiautonomous driving capabilities, both on the highway where it operates up to 130 km/h, and in rush-hour traffic. Although very effective in the latter, it does tend to be a little jerky.
After 4 months
Current mileage: 5 976
Average fuel consumption: 9,64 L/100 km
We like: interior; Sensus Connect infotainment system
We don’t like: fuel economy still too high
Long-term test (Introduction): Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Insciption Geartronic
Out with the old and in with the new. Not only has our Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 long-termer been replaced with an XC90 D5, but the swap also represents a generational shift for the Swedish brand. The V60 platform is now seven years old, whereas this XC90 was the opening salvo of both the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture platform and its head of design, Thomas Ingenlath. This big SUV laid out the design DNA we’ve seen in the S90 and V90, as well as the new XC60 and upcoming XC40.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the XC90, if by nothing more than its size. It’s a big and imposing granite-jawed SUV with an intimidating pair of “Thor’s hammer” signature daytime-running LEDs to remind fellow road users of its Valhalla genes.
The XC90 range is well known to the CAR team, having tested the T6 (September 2015), the D5 in a comparative with the equivalent BMW X5 and Audi Q7 turbodiesels (November 2015), and the T8 hybrid (June 2016).
Our Electric Silver long-termer is the high-spec Inscription derivative of the D5 and with it comes a number of standard features, the highlights of which are Nappa leather seats; the nine-inch Sensus Connect infotainment system; adaptive cruise control; Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving up to 130 km/h; Drive Mode selector; and a powered tailgate.
Added to this D5 Inscription’s base price of R995 800 is a Premium Pack (R68 000) that includes heated seats with power adjustable sides, head-up display, park assist with 360-degree camera and a Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Air suspension, a sunroof, metallic paint and those 20-inch alloys are also options that push up the total price to an eye-watering R1 142 800.
While the XC90’s interior is one of the best in its segment, the XC90’s 2,0-litre engine is yet to win us over. In that comparative test mentioned earlier, we described the 165 kW/470 N.m D5 as “outgunned on paper and on the road”. Up against the Germans’ 3,0-litre turbodiesels, the Swede was third-best in both performance and refinement.
Since then, though, the D5 has been tweaked to deliver more power (173 kW/480 N.m) and benefits from the addition of PowerPulse tech that attempts to mitigate lag by using compressed air to spool up the turbocharger.
First impressions? There’s a small improvement in punch and I’m keen to see if I can match the fuel index of 8,7 L/100 km. Then again, considering the XC90’s luxurious interior and sumptuous spec, will any small powertrain deficiencies even bother me?
After 1 month
Current mileage: 1 009
Average fuel consumption: 8,54 L/100 km
We like: spacious cabin; standard spec
We don’t like: ride comfort of Sport model