2011 Volvo XC90

The luxury midsize SUV market is pretty congested with all kinds of competitors. Each has their own share of abilities and depending on the needs of the prospective owner, each car has a shot of going into someone’s garage. Volvo competes in this deep market with the XC90, a model that has remained relatively unchanged since 2003.


The 2011 XC90 offers two types of engines: the 3.2 liter inline-6, which is capable of producing 240 horsepower and a 4.4 liter V8 engine producing a maximum output of 311 horsepower. This is coupled with a six speed automatic transmission that provides great pull and acceleration, especially at the lower gears. 2 drive systems are available for the 3.2 liter engine: front wheel drive and 4 wheel drive. Meanwhile, 4 wheel drive is standard for the V8 engine.

Interior & Exterior

The front and rear bumpers are made to absorb contact and prevent passengers from going under or getting whiplashes in case of a collision. The interior is made to be as comfortable as possible for all 7 of its passengers (a third row seat was made standard in 2010). There is a well-equipped entertainment system that can give very capable performance, and it is equipped with technologies such as climate control and navigation system. And the boot space is huge: you can have up to 85 cubic feet of space.

The Volvo XC90 offers a great range of strengths. First, it is a legitimate 7-seater, and the components used in the interior are well thought of and made with high quality. It can seat its passengers quite comfortably, and the controls are made simple. Also, it boasts a great amount of storage capability, perfect for travels, hauling, and the like. The handling is decent enough, and the brakes are better than most of the competition. The all wheel drive system operates seamlessly and is deceptively effective, and works great even in adverse conditions and uneven road surfaces.


The Volvo XC90 possesses a sleek design characteristic of the brand. But behind the structure is an eye for safety. To protect its occupants from one of the leading causes of death in accidents, rollovers, its roof is reinforced with ultra high strength steel. And of course, as almost every Volvo does, it is armed with just about every safety gizmo there is. It passed safety tests with flying colors, and that is something that inspires confidence. Lastly, compared to its equals, it is priced less than most of them.

Pros & Cons

The XC90 also has its set of setbacks, perhaps because it is relatively outdated compared to its competition. The design, while it looks elegant, doesn’t seem to be able to stand out from the others. The performance is deemed lacking, with the engines (especially the 3.2) seemingly unable to haul the 5000 pound beast. Also, fuel economy is pretty weak, turning out an average of 15-20 mpg. Also, the third row seats seem better suited for kids. Some of the interior bits also seem cheap compared to its competition. Lastly, there have been numerous reports of transmission failures by the time it reaches the 60000 mile mark.

All in all, the Volvo XC90 is a great car. While you’re not going to expect to be a “car for all seasons” type, it performs great in a lot of aspects. And despite the fact that it is gaining on age, it is still very serviceable. If you don’t mind the fact that its performance is not the best there is, you are going to get a car that is both comfortable, safe, and family friendly. And it is priced very competitively, with a price tag lower than most of its competition. While the XC90 is due for an update, perhaps in 2012, the 2011 XC90 carries the Volvo legacy pretty well.

Overall Rating
70 out of 100

What others say:

“With the exception of one minor refresh, the 2011 Volvo XC90 carries through with that original look; while it still looks good from a distance, the design is starting to look dated, especially on the inside.”Car Connection

“The smooth 6-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration from a stop and for passing and merging.”Consumer Guide

“Upscale and stylish interior; supportive front seats; smooth ride. Third-row seating cuts into second-row room; weak base engine.”Edmunds


General Info
Vehicle Type: SUV Base Price: $38,400.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.1 gallons (79.8 liters) Miles Per Gallon: 16 city / 23 hwy
Length: 189.3 in. (480.8 cm) Width: 74.7 in. (189.7 cm)
Height: 70.2 in. (178 cm) Wheel Base: 112.6 in. (286 cm)
Curb Weight: 4751 lbs (2155 kg) Curb to Curb Turning Radius: 40 ft.
Luggage Capacity: 85.1 cu ft Maximum Seating: 7 people
Engine: 3.2L DOHC 24-valve, inline-6 Displacement: 3.2 liters cc
Horsepower: 240 HP Max RPM: 6200 RPM
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm Transmission: 6-Speed Shiftable Automatic
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds Max Towing Capacity: 3300 lbs (1496.8 kgs)
Available Trims & Engine
Option: R Design MSRP: $41,200; MPG: 16 city / 23 hwy
Option: XC90 4.4L V8 engine MSRP: $48,000; MPG: 14 city / 21 hwy