Volvo: 2015 XC90 D5 Momentum review

Volvo: 2015 XC90 D5 Momentum review

Ironically the week the new XC90 arrived for review, I was involved in a Trans Tasman rugby tournament with six competing teams, so the arrival of a seven-seat premium SUV could not have been better timed.

2015 XC90 Momentum rear boot spaceBeing a “rugby mum” means I normally have a mountain of gear to cart around, so not only was the remotely operated tailgate hugely appreciated, so too was the cavernous cargo space inside the XC90 when the third row of seats was folded down.

It easily swallowed a large kit bag containing one team’s jerseys, shorts and socks, as well as a 96 litre chilly bin, a first aid kit, two water bottle carriers, plus my own gear bag, and the gear bags of the four rugby players who needed transport to the venue.

The four players were well impressed by the high levels of comfort and space inside the XC90 and were even further impressed by the iPad sized central touch screen, which not only does away with numerous buttons and switches, it can also be operated by the driver when wearing gloves.

The central touch screen is one of the many intuitive new features in the XC90 that make the vehicle such a pleasure to live with.

This is a vehicle thats going to do battle globally with seven-seat competitors from Audi, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz, but it will do so in that characteristically well considered Swedish manner that differentiates it as a Volvo.


The Momentum D5 is the entry level XC90 model and it is distinguished by a black grille rather than a chromed one. It is priced from $97,900, but as you would expect from a near six-figure vehicle, there is a fairly comprehensive specification.

2015 XC90 Momentum interiorThat specification includes active high beam lights, child seat booster cushions, daytime running lights, front collision mitigation support, hill start assist, high pressure cleaning for the headlamps, LED headlights with active bending lights, park assist pilot with front and rear parking sensors, road sign information, Sensus infotainment system, lane departure warning, rain sensor, 19-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails and a powered tailgate.

Inside the cabin occupants enjoy comfort seats in leather, crossed brushed aluminium decor inlays, four-zone electronic climate control, interior mid-level illumination, front and rear metal tread plates, powered seats for the driver and front passenger, textile floor mats, third row climate control, and the rear doors have powered child locks!

The Sensus audio and communication system includes satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

Volvo’s focus on both passive and active safety means the latest generation City Safety low-speed collision mitigation is standard with pedestrian and cyclist recognition capability and a new intersection braking function.

Our Momentum was also fitted with the touring chassis, which uses a conventional steel suspension rather than the optional (at extra cost) Four-C active chassis with four corner air suspension.

While fellow motoring journalists have raved about the comfort and handling provided by the air suspension, I was perfectly happy with the comfort and handling provided by the standard set up.


2015 XC90 Momentum grilleVolvo has despatched it’s eight and six-cylinder engines to the scrapheap, and the new XC90 is powered by a D5 165kW four-cylinder 2-litre common-rail twin-turbocharged diesel engine or a T6 236kW four-cylinder 2-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine.

There is also a T8 twin engine variant that encapsulates the T6 petrol engine with an electric motor, to provide 300kW of total power, and a 43km electric-only range, with a 3.5 hour recharge time and a 0-100km/h dash of 5.6 seconds.

You might think that a 2-litre four-cylinder diesel would struggle to cope with the size of such a vehicle, but the 165 kilowatt D5 engine has 470 Newton meters of torque at its disposal and the eight-speed transmission has no problem distributing that force to all four driving wheels.

Volvo quotes 7.8 seconds for the zero to 100 dash for the D5, and it feels pretty swift. I had no problems piloting the XC90 in heavy traffic and nipping into gaps that appeared during my daily commute into the city.


2015 XC90 Momentum tailgate detailEven though it looks quite imposing and has a fairly decent on-road foot print, the XC90 never felt heavy or cumbersome, and it was quite pleasant to drive and park in the urban environment, but was equally at home eating up the distance on a long motorway run.

Noise, vibration, and harshness is almost non existent, the four-cylinder D5 engine is pleasantly muted even when swift acceleration is called for. It has refinement in spades!

The seats were incredibly comfortable and supportive as you would expect from Volvo, and I loved the very smart on/off rocker switch for the ignition which is found on the centre console just in front of the gear selector. Both the audio and climate air worked effectively and efficiently.

The Volvo design and engineering team wanted to make the new XC90 feel spacious and special, as well as meet the needs of a very discerning global audience, and they have succeeded.

Land Rover designer Gerry McGovern coined the phrase “premium without pretension” for the new Discovery Sport, but the same phrase could easily describe the new cabin of the XC90.

There is nothing gratuitous or unnecessary in the XC90 interior design, all of the controls are intuitive and easily used, and the grey tones of the Momentum interior didn’t feel funereal thanks to the use of different textured fabrics and the aluminium inlays around the dashboard, air vents, and even the steering wheel.


2015 XC90 Momentum side profileThe popularity of the first generation XC90 over its 12-year production cycle from 2002 to 2014 was such that Volvo set out to raise the bar even higher.

It is no surprise then that the new XC90 made the top ten list of finalists for the 2015 New Zealand Car of the Year Award as judged by the members of the New Zealand Motoring Writer’s Guild.

From the “Thor Hammer” T-graphic in the front LED headlamps to the nicely integrated tail lamps and roof rails, the new design language of the XC90 has a more cohesive look and feel to it, and presents a more premium image than its predecessor, much to the chagrin of its SUV competitors from Germany and Great Britain.

The Swedish company have focussed on providing a vehicle that offers luxury, amenity, and capability within an environmentally friendly footprint and it has succeeded handsomely.

Price: $97,900


  • Frugal, quiet, luxurious, comfortable
  • Well designed and executed
  • Brilliant world-class active and passive safety technology


  • Luggage space restricted with all 7 seats in use
  • Adding extra cost options can become a tad expensive

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