This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. I drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under real-world South African conditions. Most, but not all, the vehicles driven are world cars as well, so what you read here possibly applies to the models you get where you live.
My most recent drive is on the home page. Archived reviews and opinion pieces are in the active menu down the left side. Hover your cursor over a heading or manufacturer's name and follow the drop-down menu that appears.
This site is also a good source of reports on older vahicles going back to about 2008, so check the manufacturers' list down the left side of the screen. You could get lucky.
Posted: 26 August 2016
Base price: R926 900
Engine: 1969 cc, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder turbopetrol
Power: 187 kW at 5500 rpm
Torque: 350 Nm between 1500 and 4800 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 8.2 seconds
Maximum speed: 215 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 12.5 l/100 km
Tank: 71 litres
Luggage: 314 – 692 – 1057 litres
Maximum braked trailer mass: 2400 kg
Ground clearance (unloaded): 238 mm
Gearbox: 8-speed Geartronic
Warranty and maintenance plan: 5 years / 100 000 km
If you laid all but the front seats down flat in this car, you would have 1057 litres of loading space. That might just accommodate all the trophies, awards and medals it has collected over the past few years. It even broke Porsche’s three-year chokehold on the SA Car of the Year contest to uplift the trophy for 2016. Lots of people love it.
But, not being a sheep that follows simply because others do, I have been “unfriended” occasionally; common rationale decrees that, if thousands agree but I don’t, I am obviously wrong. But I can live with that. Thing is, I like the XC 90 too.
That’s because this particular mid-range model, with its sporty engine and trim, is a desirable piece of machinery. If it had more extreme off-road capability and Volvo overcame a couple of fixable flaws, I would rate it my favourite SUV. First, although it’s trendy, the touch-and-swipe control pad makes simple operations complicated. I do not want to ask permission from a menu in order to turn on the aircon, change temperature or reroute the air stream. I don’t want to do likewise when adjusting the music system either. Give me buttons and knobs, thank you.
The next point is about the rearmost pair of seats. They’re spacious enough for most adults as far as head- and knee space goes, but passengers’ feet can’t fit under the seats in the next row forward. One might live with that if anyone over the age of about twelve, and indecently skinny, could get into and out of them. While most second-row chairs fold and tumble forward, making access easy, those on the XC 90 just tilt their backrests and slide forward a bit. The resulting gap is about half of what real people need.
Moving on, award-winning features and capabilities include a full suite of braking and traction aids, seven airbags rather than six, Volvo’s City Safety that sees bicycles, pedestrians and animals before you do and brakes autonomously at intersections or when you get too close to the car ahead. It picks up road signs and speed limits you may have missed and is luxuriously equipped inside and out.
It’s also a competent soft-road vehicle that fulfils the needs of most weekend adventurers. For a fuller description of what you get, see my review on the 2016 D5 Inscription version here. Its base price of R926 900 (our test rig came with options that bumped the tag up to a touch over a million) won’t please everyone, but look closer before rejecting it.
Standard items include LED bending headlights with active high beam and LED running lamps, automatically dimming side- and interior mirrors, air suspension, 20” alloy wheels with 45-profile tyres, powered tailgate (both ways), sporty Nappa leather upholstery with powered adjustments (including lumbar support and under-thigh extenders) and memory settings for both those in front, a 12.3” virtual instrument cluster, a 9-inch Sensus Connect touch-screen infotainment system, Park Assist Pilot plus front and rear sensors, four-way drive mode selector (Eco, Comfort, Rough Road and Dynamic), four-zone filtered air conditioning and navigation. Most of those items would cost an arm and a leg to add on to your usual luxury car. And it seats seven.
Most of all, it simply feels right; spacious, comfortable, quiet and safe. The interior is beautifully fitted and finished, it steers and handles well and you have a clear view of what’s happening all around. It charges like a rampaging horde of Viking warriors too, with power delivery that feels endless and always available.
I liked it. Just fix those niggles and I’ll follow the flock.
Test unit from Volvo Cars SA press fleet
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