2008 Volvo XC90

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
June 17, 2008

Buying tip

The 2008 Volvo XC90 has many worthy competitors, so bargaining power is higher than it might be for a luxury vehicle. The V-8 engine is recommended for its towing capacity, near-silent operation, and very small penalty in fuel economy.

features & specs

AWD 4-Door I6
AWD 4-Door I6 w/Snrf
AWD 4-Door I6 w/Snrf/3rd Row
14 city / 20 hwy
14 city / 20 hwy
14 city / 20 hwy

The 2008 Volvo XC90 caters well to safety-minded families who need an all-wheel-drive SUV, though third-row room is strictly limited.

TheCarConnection.com's editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Volvo XC90 to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident experts also drove the 2008 Volvo XC90 to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Volvo XC90 is a sport-utility vehicle done the Swedish way: there's the concession to American tastes in its optional V-8 engine, but otherwise it's a clean design with an emphasis on all-weather driving, instead of brute strength and style.

The 2008 Volvo XC90's basic shape is aging well, inside and out. Available since 2005, the XC90 still looks fresh and well proportioned. Inside, the interior is laid out handsomely and dressed in conservative-looking but expensive-feeling trim.

A 235-horsepower, 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine mated to a standard six-speed automatic is the base drivetrain on the 2008 Volvo XC90. A 4.4-liter V-8, shared with the new S80 sedan, makes 311 horsepower and is teamed with the same six-speed automatic. Unusually, the V-8 is very quiet--too much so, even when it's floored. Given its 13/19 mpg fuel economy, it should be heard. (The six-cylinder version musters 14/20 mpg.) All-wheel drive is standard, and the XC90 tows up to 5,000 pounds--and maintains a relatively spry, carlike feel. Steering is fast enough and the ride is well controlled. The XC90 has spawned a number of new cars, from the Ford Taurus to the new Volvo S80, underscoring its carlike ambitions.

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The 2008 Volvo XC90 can seat up to seven passengers via an optional hideaway third-row seat, making it a viable alternative to truck-based SUVs and seven-passenger minivans. The XC90's second-row seat can also be adjusted fore and aft to maximize either cargo space or passenger room. While the front and second-row passengers have good room and comfortable chairs, the third-row seat should be viewed as a last-ditch solution.

Front side and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, stability and traction control, roll-stability control, and a rollover protection system are standard on all Volvo XC90s, as is a tire pressure monitoring system. The XC90 scores five-star crash ratings from the NHTSA and is a Top Safety Pick, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Optional features on the 2008 Volvo XC90 include wood trim, 18- and 19-inch wheels, soft leather seating, and a DVD entertainment system for the second row.


2008 Volvo XC90


The 2008 Volvo XC90 is aging well, but a refresh should come soon.

TheCarConnection.com researched road tests from across the Web on the 2008 Volvo XC90 and finds that the basic SUV shape is aging well, inside and out.

Available since 2005, the XC90 still looks fresh and well proportioned. Kelley Blue Book thinks "the XC90 looks like a bigger, taller version of the popular XC70 wagon” and points out that "all the familiar Volvo styling cues are present, including the raised-V hood bulge and the elongated taillights running the length of the D-pillars." Cars.com says the XC90 has the "smoother, friendlier look that's been present since the early 2000s" in the latest Volvos. Motor Trend notes that in 2007, the SUV got “a new grille, bumpers, and taillights,” but took note of the XC90’s "stealth image." Road & Track says "to further accentuate the sporty nature and to create a sleeker appearance, the car is not fitted with roof rails, although these are still available as an option." Edmunds had a rare complaint for the XC90, saying its "overall design is getting a bit stale."

Inside, the interior is laid out well and dressed in conservative-looking but expensive-feeling trim. Cars.com states, "the dashboard and instrument panel dome employ slanted, angular themes, as does a three-spoke steering wheel with audio and cruise controls.” Kelley Blue Book also notes that "tending towards understated, the interior is tastefully appointed and very user-friendly." Car and Driver compliments the “first rate” cabin design.

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2008 Volvo XC90


The 2008 Volvo XC90 has better handling than many SUVs, but six-cylinder performance is sluggish, and eight-cylinder versions are thirsty and expensive.

The 2008 Volvo XC90 offers a choice of six- and eight-cylinder powerplants, as well as front- and all-wheel drive—but in all versions has a lighter, nimbler feel than some larger sport-utes. There’s little cause to recommend the six-cylinder versions, though, according to the reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com and firsthand experience with the XC90.

Cars.com reports that the XC90's "3.2-liter six-cylinder engine produces 235 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque," and "the available 4.4-liter V-8 generates 311 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque." Kelley Blue Book notes that the "3.2-liter in-line six gives the base model a significant advantage over the last generation turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine" and that "more horsepower and torque help the big Volvo cruise up to speed a bit quicker." However, for those drivers who must have a V-8, Kelley Blue Book goes on to say, "the 4.4 trim level's hefty helping of torque and impressive horsepower vastly improves the performance figures." Car and Driver agrees and recommends "the base engine is best avoided as it struggles to move the heavy XC90 around." Not only that, but the "weakling base engine" is rated "less refined than some of its rivals." Edmunds reviewers, however, aren't huge fans of the V-8, either, noting "the XC90 V8 Sport model takes 7.4 seconds to hit 60 mph, about average for a V8-equipped luxury crossover."

Cars.com points out "when properly equipped, the XC90 can tow up to 4,960 pounds." Both engines of the 2008 Volvo XC90 come equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, according to Cars.com.

The 2008 Volvo XC90 gets adequate fuel economy. Kelley Blue Book reports that the Volvo XC90 hits "13 mpg City / 19 mpg Hwy, according to EPA." Edmunds feels "fuel economy ratings are a bit below average for this class of vehicle." Additionally, their reviewers also cite "subpar fuel economy with either engine." Kelley Blue Book notes "both engines require premium unleaded gasoline.”

With respect to handling and steering, the Volvo XC90 gets mostly good reviews, but some say this 2008 Volvo XC90 could stand to see some improvement. Kelley Blue Book gives the most positive reviews, saying "the XC90 achieves impressive on-road performance via a combination of unique safety and stability devices." According to Edmunds, for "the 3.2 and regular V8 trims, ride quality is soft and comfortable"; they go on to explain that "although it lacks the silky ride quality of the Lexus RX 350 or the sport-sedan demeanor of an Acura MDX, this Volvo offers an appealing blend of comfort and handling that will satisfy most drivers." According to J.D. Power, with the 2008 XC90, Volvo claims to have solved the heavy load dynamic typical to an SUV by use of its Nivomat rear suspension, "which can drop the rear of the vehicle, changing handling dynamics, bumper heights and headlight illumination." Car and Driver is one of the few sources to find fault with the XC90 Volvo, stating, "Sport models have a stiffer and often jittery ride." However, Kelley Blue Book maintains that "the combination of a wide stance and Volvo's Roll Stability Control (RSC) system is a big part of the reason the XC90 can perform emergency maneuvers almost like a low-slung sedan." Their reviewers also assert "you'll hardly feel it as you round corners and zip through twisting turns."

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2008 Volvo XC90

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Volvo XC90 has great front seats, comfortable second-row seats, and a third-row seat best reserved for kids—along with a well-trimmed interior.

Reviewers from around the Internet agree that passengers enjoy a comfortable, quiet ride in the 2008 Volvo XC90, surrounded by high-quality materials.

Those reviewers give the 2008 Volvo XC90 high marks for its spacious cabin. Kelley Blue Book states that "the driver and passenger relax in a comfortable pair of bucket seats featuring built-in whiplash protection." For all but the back-row passengers, it's easy to get in and out of the XC90 Volvo. Kelley Blue Book says "the tall ride height does not translate into a tall step-up height...making entry and exit similar to getting in and out of a car."
According to Cars.com, there are "rear 40-20-40 split-bench seats.”

With seating for five as standard, the XC90 has the option of a forward-facing third-row seat. Most reviewers consulted by TheCarConnection.com, however, say the optional third-row seating is suitable for small children only. Kelley Blue Book states you won't like the Volvo XC90 if "you're all about maximum interior space," because the 2008 Volvo's "third-row seat is not well-suited for adults." Cars.com agrees, citing "difficult access to third-row seat," and "it's a tight squeeze in back." Edmunds says "legroom in the rearmost quarters is better than in many competitors, although the second row does get cramped as a result."

Reviewers agree the 2008 Volvo XC90 has plenty of cargo space, even if they differ on exact measurements. Edmunds states "cargo capacity is 43.3 cubic feet with the third seat folded (or not there at all if you have a five-passenger model), and it expands to a generous 85 cubic feet with both rows folded." Cars.com says "with all seats stowed, maximum cargo volume measures 92 cubic feet in five-seat models and 93.2 cubic feet in seven-seat models."

The quality of the interior materials is generally high. Autoblog says inside the 2008 Volvo XC90 "a blue-lit instrument cluster joins some additional badging, a leather wrapped steering wheel and an aluminum center stack to boost the premium feel." Edmunds agrees that "Materials are first-rate, ergonomics straightforward and the overall design consistent with the hip, minimalist look Volvo has utilized with great success for a decade." They predict "the addition of standard sapele wood trim in the V8 model should please those who have found past XC90s a bit austere." Kelley Blue Book isn't as enamored, pointing out that "there is a lot of gray plastic and leather inside the XC90 Volvo, although a smattering of wood trim helps warm things up a bit."

Car and Driver says that driving a Volvo XC90 is "a relatively quiet experience"; however, Cars.com doesn't like the "droning V-8 exhaust on the highway."

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2008 Volvo XC90


The 2008 Volvo XC90 is one of the safest sport-utility vehicles, with some cutting-edge safety options available.

The 2008 Volvo XC90 scores well in crash tests and has a raft of standard and optional safety gear.

The XC90 Volvo scores five-star crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is a Top Safety Pick, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The NHTSA also awards the XC90 a four-star rating for rollover resistance.

There are many reasons why the 2008 Volvo XC90 rates so high in safety. Kelley Blue Book notes, "Volvo takes particular pride in the XC90's reinforced roof design, which can provide an added measure of security in the event of a rollover accident." Edmunds reports that safety options on the Volvo XC90 include "power child safety locks, adaptive headlights and Volvo's Blind Spot Information System." Other standard safety gear includes front side and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, stability and traction control, roll-stability control, and a rollover protection system.

Among the safety options, Edmunds praises "the center position in the second row [which] has an integrated child booster cushion that slides forward, allowing easier access to children in the back," and notes the Blind Spot Information System. Known as BLIS, "this bit of technology monitors vehicles entering the XC90's blind spots and warns the driver via indicator lights."


2008 Volvo XC90


The 2008 Volvo XC90 arrives with luxury features built in and allows some high-tech options.

The 2008 Volvo XC90 is outfitted with a good selection of standard features, and its options list includes some luxurious features that families may seek out for the long haul.

There are three main trim levels for the 2008 Volvo XC90: the 3.2, the V8, and the V8 Sport. J.D. Power notes the standard features on every version include power windows, locks, and mirrors; dual-zone electronic climate control; a flat-folding 40/20/40-split second-row seat; and a high-performance 160-watt, 8-speaker, MP3-capable audio system. Also standard on the base version are 17-inch wheels, wood trim, a power driver seat, and an auxiliary audio jack, Edmunds says.

The V8 XC90 Volvo adds all-wheel drive and a third-row seat for seven-passenger capacity, along with a power front passenger seat, a rear air conditioner, a sunroof, and the third-row seat, Edmunds says. The V8 Sport puts on top of that 19-inch wheels, retuned steering and suspension feel, new gauges, and a three-spoke steering wheel.

Kelley Blue Book likes the "upgraded audio with subwoofer and rear controls" that are options on all of the 2008 Volvo XC90 models. A navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth are optional, along with a DVD entertainment system.

Review continues below
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September 4, 2015
For 2008 Volvo XC90

safety, safety, safety

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tough on gas and brakes, but worth the safety - interior durable, seating comfortable,
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