What Are The Best Years For The Volvo XC90?


Most used Volvo XC90 model years deliver luxury at a fraction of the original cost. 

They’re so good that CarGurus included two successive generations when it named the 2014-2018 XC90 as the Best Used Car in the Luxury Midsize Crossover/SUV segment. 

Given the rampant competition in this segment, this speaks to the XC90’s power, comfort, and reliability. It is a well-rounded vehicle. 

But, clearly, a few model years are better than the rest. 

What Are The Best Years For The Volvo XC90?

Buyers have been highly satisfied with both the 2014 and 2016 Volvo XC90 model years. These years are known for their reliability and powerful engine options. The 2016 line-up even features a hybrid variant for those interested in improved fuel economy.

What exactly makes the 2014 and 2016 model years so likable? Which one might best suit your needs? And what common XC90 problems should you be aware of before you decide to buy? 

Read on to learn more about the best Volvo XC90 model years.

The 2014 Volvo XC90: End of a Revolutionary Era

The first generation of Volvo XC90 models was quite the smash hit. By the end of it, this vehicle was known for delivering reliable performance. 

While the 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine is not exactly an exciting one, the vehicle is tuned for comfort driving.

Opting for all-wheel drive would only cost 1 mile per gallon, which helped make AWD a popular addition on the XC90.

The R-Design model, however, brings with it a sport-tuned suspension that delivers a more thrilling ride quality than what you get on the other trims. 

No matter which trim level you buy, you get treated to a beautiful, upscale interior with a lot of creature comforts. 

The front seats are known for their all-day comfort, and the controls are easy to figure out. 

A lot of tech features come included on the 2014 XC90. 

Rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, and a USB charging port all come included on this SUV. 

The higher trim levels come with navigation built into the infotainment system, but most drivers are just fine with using their smartphones for navigation.

Cargo space is fairly standard for this segment. 

You can fold the rear seats down flat in order to expand the amount of available cargo space. 

The only trick is getting into the third row; there is not much room to pass through, even for kids.

The 2014 XC90 has an annual estimated repair cost of $851, which is a little higher than average in terms of ownership costs for this segment. 

Problems can arise somewhat frequently, but they are not often as serious as they are on other luxury crossover SUVs. 

The 2016 Volvo XC90: The Legacy Continues

Volvo took a year off between the end of the first generation and the initiation of the second generation. 

The wait was clearly worth it, as the 2016 Volvo XC90 gained a bunch of improvements over the outgoing generation. 

The vehicle got a much-needed styling update to make it look a lot sleeker and modern. 

The front grille was enlarged to look more aggressive, along with the slenderized headlights and larger air intakes.

Inside, the second and third rows gained more space for passengers to pass through and sit down comfortably. 

You could end up with a cabin imbibed with a gorgeous combination of wood, leather, and even Swedish crystal glass. 

The optional 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system just serves to reinforce how luxurious this vehicle really can be.

The old, laggy engine was removed in favor of a turbo- and super-charged version that could make 316 horsepower. 

The inclusion of a 400-hp hybrid variant that could zip from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just under 6 seconds made a real splash too. It could even drive on 14 miles of pure electric charge. 

For those wanting something more fuel efficient, the hybrid was a welcome option, albeit a rather expensive one at the time.

Plenty of safety features were tacked on for good measure. 

The 2016 line-up comes with a standard frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking. 

There is even a system that utilizes seat-belt pretensioners and shock-absorbing seat cushions to brace the cabin’s occupants for a pending impact. 

It could even possibly reduce the severity of spinal injuries.

Buyers of the 2016 XC90 like its standard suspension. It is firm and smooth, remaining compliant in any circumstance. 

Drivers do not feel like they are captaining a large pontoon boat. 

They also rave about the seats being some of the most comfortable they have ever sat in, making this vehicle ideal for those facing long daily commutes or who enjoy lengthy road trips. 

Additionally, some buyers decided to get Auto Pilot upgraded to Auto Pilot Assist 2 as of 2017 and really like the smoothness the upgrade offers.

What are the Volvo XC90’s Common Issues?

Although the 2016 is a strong model year, it came out a little rocky with the automatic braking system. 

Drivers have reported it engaging on its own while they were driving, most commonly at highway speeds. 

This problem hits around the 12,000-mile mark and honestly shouldn’t be happening at all. 

Thankfully, no serious injuries were reported as a result. Volvo eventually issued a recall, listing a missing software code as the cause.

This code was introduced to the recalled models, and it seems to have fixed the problem.

Older XC90 models tend to experience premature transmission failure. In the 2005 XC90, slippage would start at around 100,00 miles. Drivers would hear odd noises before the transmission would tank altogether. 

The failure happened on the highway and while trying to climb hills. Those transmissions had to be replaced at a cost of about $3,500. 

Having the driveshaft also replaced racked one driver’s repair bill up to an astounding $8,000. 

A few owners even had to replace the transmission multiple times. 

And, no, this was never recalled.

Finally, early tire wear is common on the XC90 dating from 2003. 

The wear would happen unevenly across the four tires and lead to worsened fuel economy and eventual tire blowouts. 

Is the Volvo XC90 Affordable?

A used XC90 will be a little more expensive than the average, non-luxury SUV. But, as far as luxury SUVs go, it is pretty typical. 

But repairs are what will cost you. Just replacing the tires on even an older Volvo XC90 will cost you around $1,200. 

The high-end parts Volvo uses are not cheap, and neither is the labor that goes into putting them in. The XC90 is also not the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can get, so you should expect to pay more at the pump. 

The only real way to offset this is by getting a used hybrid variant from the second generation.

Which Volvo XC90 Model Year is the Worst?

The 2003 Volvo XC90 is undoubtedly the worst model year. The T6 engine was particularly problematic (and was also placed in the 2004 and 2005 models). 

As a few owners have said, the T6 will eat a transmission for dinner. Early transmission failure is most common in those years with the T6 engine equipped.

You will have to stick to the T5 engine for more reliability.

Owners of the 2006 model report that the wheel bearings go out quickly and that they do so in spectacular fashion. 

One driver had the right wheel bearing go out first, then the left soon followed, even fusing itself onto the axle. An issue like that is insanely hard to repair and not worth the cost of the vehicle itself.

Closing Thoughts

The Volvo XC90 is perhaps not the most popular luxury crossover SUV, but it has certainly gotten better over the years. 

The second generation brought about a lot of much-needed upgrades, although the 2014 year ended the first generation on a high note. Either the 2014 or 2016 model should suit buyers looking to save a little money but still get a lot of creature comforts.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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