2013 Volvo XC90 Reviews

2013 XC90 New Car Test Drive


The Volvo XC90 gets fresh styling and a revised interior for the 2013 model year, the most significant updates since the seven-passenger SUV was launched as a 2003 model. The XC90's appearance was freshened for 2007 and the sporty R-Design models joined the lineup for 2009. 

A fully color-coordinated exterior makes the 2013 XC90 look sleeker and lower to the ground. Updated design cues include new body-color bumpers, sill moldings and wheel arches. LED daytime running lights and taillights come standard. The 2013 XC90 3.2 receives a new silver front bumper bar, chrome taillight trim, silk matte mirrors, and 18-inch Thalia alloy wheels. The 2013 Volvo XC90 3.2 cabin gets new luxury accents including sanded silver aluminum inlays, white instrumentation lighting and a leather strap on the tailgate. As before, the XC90 comes standard with leather upholstery, a power glass sunroof, rear park assist and third-row climate control. An integrated center booster cushion adds versatility to the second-row seat and eliminates the challenges associated with installing a separate child seat. All 2013 XC90 models gain rain sensor windshield wipers and headlight washers. 

2013 XC90 Premier Plus and Platinum trim levels are swathed in Sovereign hide soft leather seating surfaces and red wood inlays. A red wood steering wheel is available for 2013 XC90 Premier Plus and Platinum trim levels. The 2013 XC90 R-Design features a fully color-coordinated exterior plus LED daytime running lights and taillights. New 19-inch Ixion alloy wheels amplify its sporting appeal. The R-Design continues to feature a sport-tuned suspension and steering for an enhanced driving character, plus a unique R-Design grille, leather seating surfaces with embossed R-Design logo on the front seats, an R-Design steering wheel, watch dial instruments and floor mats. 

The Volvo XC90 is available only with a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder. (A V8 engine is no longer an option.) The 2012 Volvo XC90's six-cylinder engine makes 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2012 Volvo XC90 are 16/22 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined for front-wheel drive models, 18 mpg Combined for all-wheel drive. 

We found the XC90 rides comfortably, handles well and is easy to park. It boasts more cargo space than many of its competitors. Its tow rating of 3,970 pounds is enough to haul light boat trailers, personal watercraft and snowmobiles but not cars and horses. 

The optional all-wheel drive works smoothly, without penalty in fuel economy, and it's truly welcome when the weather gets foul. Buyers who don't need all-wheel drive can choose an XC90 with front-wheel drive. 

Competitors to the Volvo XC90 include the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350 and the Volkswagen Touareg. Good value alternatives include the Buick Enclave, Ford Flex and Hyundai Santa Fe. Volvo buyers might also consider the XC70, which features a more contemporary design in a slightly smaller, sportier package. 


The 2013 Volvo XC90 ($39,500) comes with a 3.2-liter inline-6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional ($2,000). 

Volvo XC90 3.2 ($39,500) features include dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with driver-seat memory settings and lumbar adjustment, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 40/20/40-split second-row seats with built-in center child booster seat, a 50/50-split third-row seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, and an iPod/USB port. It also comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated mirrors, a sunroof, roof rails, rear privacy glass, rear parking sensors and keyless entry. 

Premier Plus trim ($42,000) adds adaptive xenon headlights, a wood-trimmed gearshift knob and a rearview mirror with built-in compass. The Platinum model ($44,700) adds a rearview camera, navigation with real-time traffic info and a 12-speaker premium surround-sound audio system. 

The XC90 3.2 R-Design ($42,300) includes 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a self-leveling rear suspension, unique exterior and interior styling cues, distinctive leather upholstery, unique gauges and a sport steering wheel. R-Design is available in Premier Plus ($400) and Platinum ($3,100) trims. 

Options for XC90 include a Climate Package ($700) with heated front seats and an Interior Air Quality System; a rear-seat DVD system with two headrest-mounted eight-inch color screens ($1,800); Blind spot monitoring system ($700); a trailer hitch ($795) and a dual-screen rear entertainment system ($1,800). 

Safety features on all models include dual-stage frontal and side-impact airbags for front passengers, and curtain type head protection airbags for all outboard seats. A rollover protection system senses an impending vehicle rollover, tightens the seatbelts and deploys the curtain airbags. The seats feature Volvo's Whiplash Protection System, which moves them back and downward if the vehicle is hit from behind, reducing neck snap. Rear park assist is standard on all models. Active safety features include advanced four-channel antilock brakes, an electronic stability program, and Roll Stability Control, which uses a gyroscopic sensor to reduce the possibility of a rollover by applying brakes and modulating engine power. 

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