• 2020 Volvo XC90

Volvo’s range-topping model now features an energy recovery system and a six-seat layout

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The 2020 Volvo XC90 is an updated version of the second-generation SUV. Unveiled in 2019, it features a mild exterior upgrade and adds new technology inside the cabin. The Swedish SUV carries over with the same engines, but it now includes an energy recovery braking system that enhances fuel economy. Additional safety equipment rounds out the XC90’s mid-cycle facelift, which keeps the crossover competitive against vehicles like the BMW X3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior

  • Mild upgrade
  • Redesigned grille
  • Revised bumpers
  • New wheel designs
  • "B" badges
left right
The front grille was redesigned to include thinner vertical slats

Volvo’s facelift for the XC90 is far from impressive. But even though the SUV sports only minor nips and tucks, it’s enough to remain fresh for a few more years. The XC90 still feels modern, and it will probably age quite nicely, especially when compared to its predecessor.

The front fascia remains familiar, sporting the same "Thor’s hammer" headlamps on each side of the almost rectangular grille. However, the latter was redesigned to include thinner vertical slats. While the old model has 17, the new grille includes 20 slats. Also, these are arches toward the back at the center, reviving an effect seen on many cars from the 1960s. The bumper sports minor changes, like a sharper splitter-like element and thinner black inserts at the corners.

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There’s nothing new to talk about onto the sides except for the fresh rim designs. The one showcased here is particularly interesting, as the eight double spokes are shaped like the letter T.

The rear fascia also looks identical to the outgoing XC90.

I can spot rectangular exhaust pipes and a "B" badge that signals the arrival of Volvo’s advanced kinetic energy recovery braking system, but other than that, we’re looking at the same SUV.

2020 Volvo XC90 exterior dimensions

Length 495.3
Width (body width) 192.3
Width (with small wheelarch) 193.1
Width (with large wheelarch) 195.8
Width (incl mirrors folded) 200.8
Width (incl mirrors outer edge) 214.0
Height 177.6
Wheelbase 298.4
Overhang (front/rear) 89.0/107.9
Track, front, (tire (width): 235/275) 166.5/167.3
Track, front, with air suspension (tire (width): 235/275) 166.8/167.6
Track, rear, (tire (width): 235/275) 166.7/167.5
Track, rear, with air suspension (tire (width): 235/275) 167.1/167.9
Ground clearance (standard chassis/with air suspension) 22.3/21.2–25.2

2020 Volvo XC90 Interior

  • Same design features
  • Nappa leather
  • Crystal gear lever
  • Updated infotainment
  • Android Auto integration
  • New six-seat layout
2020 Volvo XC90 Interior
- image 824825
The cabin is draped in soft Nappa leather combined with slabs of flamed birch wood trim

Much like the exterior, the interior’s design and layout remains unchanged. Actually, there are no nips and tucks to talk about here. But this isn’t an issue, as the interior of the XC90 is easily the nicest and most luxurious of any of Volvo’s vehicles, and it definitely has what it takes to tackle the competition. It’s draped in soft Nappa leather combined with slabs of flamed birch wood trim, and it even has a crystal gear lever made by famous Swedish glass maker Orrefors.

The dashboard has a simple design, but it exudes a distinct and luxurious feel thanks to the big wood inserts, the tablet-style infotainment display, and the really slim control unit on the center stack. The facelift adds new materials like wool blend. The Sensus infotainment system, which made its debut in the current XC90, has gone through a series of updates that have been adopted into the facelifted SUV.

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824819
Previously available with four, five or seven seats, the XC90 can now be ordered with six seats

Previously available with Apple Carplay only, the upgraded XC90 now also features Android Auto integration. It’s not something I’d brag about given that many cars have had both systems for many years, but I guess it’s better late than never. The infotainment system also includes the Spotify music streaming service.

Arguably the biggest upgrade inside the cabin is an additional seating configuration. Previously available with four, five or seven seats, the XC90 can now be ordered with six seats. The third-row seats aren’t very comfortable, but you can now get better shoulder and elbow room for second-row passengers in the six-seat configuration that removes the center seat. It’s not a really big deal, but the XC90 is the only SUV on the market that comes with four different seating configurations.

2020 Volvo XC90 interior dimensions

Headroom without panoramic sunroof (front/rear) (5 seat) 99.8/99.9
Headroom without panoramic sunroof (front/rear/third row) (6 & 7 seat) 99.8/99.7/92.3
Headroom with panoramic sunroof (front/rear) (4 & 5 seat) 98.7/97.9
Headroom with panoramic sunroof (front/rear/third row) (6 & 7 seat) 98.7/97.9/92.3
Headroom maximum, without panoramic sunroof (front) (5 & 6 & 7 seat) 105.1
Headroom maximum, with panoramic sunroof (front) (all) 103.3
Passenger comp width at shoulder height (front/rear) (4 & 5 seat) 146.5/143.5
Passenger comp width at shoulder height (front/rear/third row) (6 & 7 seat) 146.5/143.5/119.2
Leg room (front/rear) (4 seat) 103.8/98.9
Leg room (front/rear) (5 seat) 103.8/94.0
Leg room (front/rear/third row) (6 & 7 seat) 103.8/ 94.0/81.1
Cargo volume, including under floor storage (V214-1)(litres)(5 seat/6 & 7 seat/6 & 7 seat T8) 1886/1868/1816

2020 Volvo XC90 Passenger space

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824816

Although the current-generation XC90 is notably more spacious than its predecessor, it’s mostly on par with the competition. Front headroom is measured at 38.9 inches, which is 1.2 inches below the X3 and almost two inches below the Q5. Rear headroom is almost identical to its rivals. When it comes to shoulder room, it offers similar space in the front row, but it’s a half-inch roomier than the X3 in the back. It also offers an extra half-inch of legroom in the front and rear compared to the X3, but the Q5 provides almost an extra inch of legroom in the rear.

2020 Volvo XC90 Trunk space

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824824

Not surprisingly, trunk space remains unchanged for the facelift. This isn’t good news, as the XC90’s 15.9-cubic-foot capacity behind the second-row seats is well below the competition. For instance, the BMW X3 can swallow up to 19.4 cubic feet while the Audi Q5 offers up to 21.5 cubic feet. On the other hand, the XC90 is a better hauler when you load it up to the front seats. Fold the second- and third-row seats, and it can take up to 68.9 cubic feet. That’s 6.2 cubic feet more than the BMW X3 and 14.2 cubic feet more than the Audi Q5.

2020 Volvo XC90 Drivetrain

  • Same engines
  • Energy recovery system
  • T8 hybrid model
  • Diesels in Europe
  • Up to 400 horsepower
  • All-wheel drive
  • 8-speed automatic
2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824790
The new system reduces fuel consumption and emissions by recovering kinetic energy under braking

The XC90 carries over with the same engines, but there is some news to run buy. The facelift adds a new kinetic energy recovery braking system. Coupled with all existing internal combustion engines, this system reduces fuel consumption and emissions by recovering kinetic energy under braking. Volvo says that it provides fuel savings of up to 15 percent. This system adds a "B" badge to the XC90.

Beyond this, the XC90 remains mostly unchanged under the skin. In the U.S., you can choose between the same three drivetrains marketed as the T5, T6, and T8. All four feature 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, but certain technologies set them apart.

The base T5, for instance, features a turbocharged four-cylinder that cranks out 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Go with the T6 and the four-banged is both turbocharged and supercharged. Output also increases to 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of twist. Finally, the T8 combines the turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder with an electric motor that delivers an additional 87 horsepower. This combo generates a solid 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque.

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824797
The T8 combines the turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder with an electric motor that delivers an additional 87 horsepower

While the T5 is available in both FWD and AWD versions, the T6 and T8 plug-in hybrid are all-wheel-driven SUVs only.

The T8 is obviously the quickest XC90. The SUV needs 5.5 seconds to hit 60 mph, which makes it almost a second quicker than the T6. The T5 is the slower, hitting the benchmark in around eight seconds. While the T8 and T6 will get you to a top speed of 143 mph, the T5 is limited to 134 mph.

European customers continue to have access to two diesel variants, both also powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The base D4 model, available with either FWD or AWD, comes with 187 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque on tap. The D5 version with permanent AWD generates a more appealing 225 horsepower and 347 pound-feet. The D4 is the slowest version of the XC90. The sprint to 60 mph takes 9.3 seconds, while top speed comes in at 127 mph. The D5 hits 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, quicker than the T5, to go with a top speed of 137 mph.

All drivetrain include an eight-speed automatic transmission from Aisin.

2020 Volvo XC90 drivetrain specifications

T5 AWD (B4204T26) T6 AWD (B4204T29) T8 Twin Engine (B4204T34)
Type In-line 4-cyl. turbocharged In-line 4-cyl. supercharged and turbocharged In-line 4-cyl. supercharged and turbocharged
Configuration Transverse, all wheel drive Transverse, all wheel drive Transverse, front wheel drive, rear electric motor
Displacement, cm3 1969 1969 1969
Bore (mm) 82.0 82.0 82.0
Stroke (mm) 93.2 93.2 93.2
Engine cylinder block material Aluminium Aluminium Aluminium
Cylinder head material Aluminium Aluminium Aluminium
Compression ratio 10.8:1 10.3:1 10.3:1
Valves, no/cylinder 4 4 4
Camshafts 2 2 2
Engine management system Gasoline direct injection Gasoline direct injection Gasoline direct injection
Ignition sequence 1 - 3 - 4 - 2 1 - 3 - 4 - 2 1 - 3 - 4 - 2
Engine idling speed, rpm 875±50 875±50 875±50
Fuel, rec. octane 95–98 RON 95–98 RON 95–98 RON
Max output, kW (hp)/rpm 184 (250)/5500 228 (310)/5700 223 (303)/6000
Max torque, Nm/rpm 350/1800–4800 400/2200–5100 400/2200–4800
Gearbox Automatic Automatic Automatic
Acceleration, 0–100 km/h (sec) 7.9 6.5 5.8
Top speed, km/h 215 230 230

2020 Volvo XC90 Safety

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824800
Just like its predecessor, the facelifted XC90 comes with a "run-off road protection" system that detects what’s happening in an off-road scenario

The XC90 continues with the same features in the safety department, which makes it one of the safest vehicles on the market. The Swedish firm made a few upgrades, though, starting with revised City Safety and Blind Spot systems that now provide help with steering. The Oncoming Lane Mitigation system first introduced on the XC60 is now also available on XC90, while the Cross Traffic Alert technology now includes autobrake.

Just like its predecessor, the facelifted XC90 comes with a "run-off road protection" system that detects what’s happening in an off-road scenario. The front safety belts are tightened automatically to keep the occupants in position and help prevent spine injuries. It also sports an automatic braking system that activates if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car, which helps prevents crashes at busy city crossings and on highways.

The standard equipment package also includes Adaptive Cruise Control system with Pilot Assist. The latter makes the XC90 semi-autonomous. The airbags mounted front and rear further enhance occupant protection in the event of a crash.

2020 Volvo XC90 Prices

2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 824804

Volvo has yet to release pricing for the 2020-model-year XC90, but the facelifted SUV shouldn’t be notably more expensive than the outgoing model. The old XC90 retails from $47,700 in base Momentum trim, while the R-Design version starts from $54,950. The Inscription model comes in at $62,350 before options, while the Excellence variant tops the range at $104,900.

2020 Volvo XC90 Competition

Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
- image 827001

Around since 2015, when it replaced the GLK, the GLC has also been updated in 2019. Much like the XC90, the GLC didn’t change much inside and out, but it has just enough new features to stand out compared to the outgoing model. But while the exterior is conservative, the interior has plenty of cool new features to brag about, starting with the MBUX infotainment system. Available with either a 10.25-inch or 12.3-inch display, MBUX is a smart infotainment system with voice recognition that has the ability to learn. It’s one of the most advanced on the market and clearly above what Volvo offers at this point. Mercedes launched the revised GLC with two gasoline engines, both in 2.0-liter four-cylinder guises. The U.S. version comes with 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, but European customers can go with a 197-horsepower model. Mercedes also offers a hybrid that pairs the same engine to an electric motor for a total output of 315 horsepower. In Europe, diesel offerings include four-cylinder oil burners that deliver 163, 194, and 245 horsepower. Pricing for the outgoing model starts from $40,700, and the upgraded SUV shouldn’t be notably more expensive.

Read our full review of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.


2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 721343

While the XC90 and the GLC already have a few years under their belts, the current BMW X3 is still relatively new, having been launched for the 2018 model year. BMW finally made notable changes on the outside and brought the X3 in line with its larger sibling, the X5, ditching the awfully dated design of the second-generation crossover. The interior isn’t particularly breathtaking when compared to the XC90 and GLC, but it does include all the modern tech you get from the competition, like infotainment touchscreen with gesture control, a digital instrument cluster, modern technology, and premium materials. The engine lineup includes a variety of four- and six-cylinder mills working on either gasoline or diesel. The base model features a 181-horsepower 2.0-liter four-banger, which generates 249 horses and the more expensive version. The 3.0-liter inline-six generates 355 horsepower in M40i model. Moving over to diesels, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder injects 187 horsepower and 295 pound-feet in the base model, while the six-cylinder unit cranks out a sold 261 horses and 457 pound-feet. Finally, the M40d comes with a six-cylinder rated at 316 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of twist. Pricing for the X3 starts from $41,000 in the United States.

Read our full story on the 2019 BMW X3.


2020 Volvo XC90 Exterior
- image 831842

The current XC90 received rave reviews when it first hit the market. Customers and outlets alike praised the SUV for its quality interior, extensive safety package, and comfortable ride, and many agree that the XC90 is the vehicle that relaunched Volvo in its conquest to compete with the big German luxury firms. However, the XC90 had some issues with the efficiency of the hybrid drivetrain and the cluttered infotainment display. Volvo addressed many of these complaints by adding an energy recovery braking system and extra driving aids, so fuel economy is better while comfort increased significantly. The XC90 remains mostly on par with the competition and boasts the most powerful hybrid setup of any premium SUV in this segment, and these attributes should keep it appealing for a few more years.

  • Leave it
    • Infotainment not as advanced as Merc’s MBUX system
    • Very expensive range-topping trim

Further reading

2016 Volvo XC90 High Resolution Exterior
- image 565987

Read our full review on the 2018 Volvo XC90.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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