This is the second generation of Volvo's largest SUV and marks something of a change of tack for the model. While the first was successful enough (as evidenced by school runs), it was just not quite good enough to take on the premium rivals.
Volvo has worked hard to make the XC90 a more prestigious car in the SUV range. Its radical overhall is most apparent in the cabin, where the only thing they retained from the old model is the ability to seat seven people. The rearmost pair of seats are identical in design to the rest, so there's no downside to drawing the traditional short straw. All cars get a full leather interior and nine inch touch screen, which is, unusually, in a vertical portrait layout. By moving most of the cabin controls to the touch screen, Volvo has reduced button clutter to create a clean look for the dash. With top quality materials used throughout, the XC90 oozes class without ever being the kind of in-your-face display of wealth that affects its rivals.
Volvo has taken an unusual step of only using 2 litre engines across its range, even in something the size and weight of the XC90. The engine choices are the Turbo Diesel D4, the turbo charged and supercharged T6 petrol, and the T8 hybrid which uses the T6's petrol engine and an attached electric motor.
There's a huge improvement over the noisy and thirsty engines of the old car, and it's a lot more comfortable, meaning that the XC90 is at home on long runs on the motorway. It's also a far more capable car when it comes to really ringing it out, with very little body lean, but it's still a very heavy car so this isn't its strongest suit.
Unlike most seven seater cars, the XC90 has a pretty generous boot, even with all the seats up. The 451 litre load space embarrasses just about every hatchback on the market. You can fold all the seats flat to reveal a huge 1,951 litre boot and, unlike most hybrids which take up some extra space for battery packs, the T8 version is no smaller than its petrol and diesel forms.
Of course, as a Volvo the XC90 comes with an amazing safety kit, having scored the full five stars on the Euro NCAP testing programme. But Volvo go even further, pledging that noone will be killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020.
The old XC90 was a bit of an alternative choice that you either bought for the extra seats or because it was a Volvo. With this new generation model it's one of the picks of the class.