The 2020 Volvo XC90 is a sharpened and stylish Scandinavian standout among three-row luxury SUVs. For its blend of impressive tech and safety features, a comfortable and practical interior, and head-turning looks, we give it 7.5 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For the 2020 model year, Volvo has given the XC90 a mid-cycle refresh that includes some visual tweaks, Android Auto functionality, and a six-passenger version with middle-row captains’ chairs. The XC90 also gains a system that keeps the vehicle from drifting into opposing traffic. A 12.3-inch digital gauge display is standard, and plug-in hybrids get a larger battery.
Even the biggest Volvo fans will have to squint to spot the visual changes to the 2020 XC90, but that’s fine in our book, as this is one of the best-looking luxury SUVs on sale today. Thoughtful touches like distinctive LED headlights and sharp wheel designs make the XC90 look more like a Range Rover than a Ford Explorer, a helpful thing for a brand trying to move further upmarket. The interior is similarly impressive though reserved, and while we generally like the iPad-esque infotainment system, a few more buttons and knobs for things like climate control would be greatly appreciated.
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Base models get a turbo-4 powertrain with 250 horsepower and front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is available. A supercharged and turbocharged option provides 316 horsepower, and a plug-in hybrid model with two rear electric motors makes a combined 400 hp. The 2020 XC90 is far from a performance SUV in any form, though, emphasizing serene comfort instead over corner carving.
Three rows of actual, adult-sized seats and ample cargo space make the XC90 more practical than its contemporaries, and a high roof line yields adequate head room throughout. Luxury features grace the cabin such as a crystal shifter on the hybrid version and open-pore wood, but some materials are thin and flimsy to the touch.
As is Volvo’s reputation, the XC90 boasts an impressive safety record, including five stars overall from the NHTSA and “Good” ratings across the board from the IIHS in terms of crash tests. The headlights only receive an “Acceptable” rating however, keeping the XC90 from a Top Safety Pick award just yet, though the 2019 model did receive the honor.
Since it’s been on the market, the XC90 has gained new standard features nearly every year, and as such, base models are well-equipped with standard active safety tech like automatic emergency braking, a power liftgate, a digital gauge cluster, 18-inch wheels, and a big touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and now Android Auto.
Though the plug-in hybrid model manages an impressive 55 mpg-equivalent (MPGe), combined fuel economy for the rest of the range is surprisingly poor for 4-cylinder engines, ranging from 21 to 25 mpg combined.