The XC90 luxury three-row SUV is Volvo’s thoughtfully equipped, exquisitely crafted flagship. We love the current generation of the boxy ute, enough that it earned our SUV of the Year award in 2016. Riding on the same platform that underpins all Volvo cars in the 90 and 60 Series, the XC90 is a functional, elegant, and above all, different option in a competitive segment. If the Volvo XC90 is on your shortlist and you aren’t sure which one to get, keep reading for our trim review.
2022 Volvo XC90 Momentum Pros and Cons
Both XC90 Momentum and R-Drive, the next trim level up, come standard as FWD and with the T5 250-hp turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. Both are also available as AWD with the T5, and there’s an available T6 package for each that swaps out the turbo engine for a twin-charged power unit—meaning both turbo- and supercharged—that is rated at 316 hp. All XC90 trims come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The XC90 competes against the likes of the Cadillac XT6 and Lexus GX460 SUVs. The Volvo’s base T5 engine makes more power than the Cadillac’s turbo four-cylinder, and the twin-charged T6 is rated for more than the XT6’s 310-hp V-6. With the 316-hp T6, the XC90 even bests the output from the Lexus’ 301-hp naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8.
When equipped with the standard T5 turbo four-cylinder and FWD, the XC90 is rated at 21/30 mpg city/highway. Fuel economy for the available T5 AWD is 20/28 mpg city/highway, and with the available T6 and AWD, the XC90 is rated at 19/27 mpg city/highway (the T6 engine is not available with FWD). In comparison, the XT6 sees similar numbers when outfitted with its turbo four-cylinder, while the 2021 GX460 has only one power- and drivetrain level, a V-8 sending power to a 4WD system, and correspondingly is rated at 15/19 mpg city/highway.
In T5 configuration, the XC90 has a towing capacity of 4,000 pounds, which is what the XT6 V-6 can tow. The T6 has a max towing limit of 5,000 pounds but the GX has them both beat, providing 6,500 pounds of max towing capacity.
The XC90 Momentum’s exterior features include a front grille with black insert and chrome frame, and rain-sensing windshield wipers with integrated washers. Darkened rear and rear side windows are standard, as are aluminum roof rails and the aluminum trim around the XC90’s side windows. A hands-free power liftgate is also on all XC90s.
The luxury ute rides on 19-inch wheels and offers illuminated door handles, and a remote-controlled panoramic moonroof with power sunshade is standard on all XC90s. Curve-adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beams, LED foglights, and power-folding side mirrors are standard.
Seating for seven is standard, but a six-seat configuration is available. The XC90 Momentum’s first row receives power adjustable seats, with the driver’s seat also getting memory function. For better blind-spot visibility, the XC90 is outfitted with second-row power folding outer rear headrests. Drivers also get adjustable power steering, a 12-inch instrument display, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel to match the Momentum’s leather upholstery and complement the walnut accents and blond headliner. Doorways feature aluminum sill plates with the Volvo logo, and the cargo area is furnished with a stainless-steel scuff plate.
Volvo calls its suite of active safety tech IntelliSafe. Under that umbrella is lane centering, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic braking, which are newly standard across all of Volvo’s vehicle lines.
Every XC90 is equipped with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, two USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. In Momentum trim, the XC90 starts off with 10 speakers. Four-zone climate control (first row and second row outboard seats), an electric heater, and third-row vents are all standard. So is a humidity sensor and a feature called Afterrun Parking Climate that blows in air from the outside to help maintain a comfortable interior temperature for up to 15 minutes when the vehicle is parked. Wireless device charging is standard across all XC90 trim levels.
The XC90’s starting price is just above $50,000. Buyers can opt for a Climate package that adds a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, and there’s also an Advanced package that adds a 360-degree camera system and head-up display.
2022 Volvo XC90 R-Design Pros and Cons
The sporty XC90 R-Design moves up to 20-inch wheels and receives a grille with a silk metal frame instead of the chrome one found on the Momentum trim. Body-colored side mirrors are exchanged for gloss black ones, and the Momentum’s aluminum roof rails and window trim are also replaced with gloss black versions.
The XC90 R-Design is only available as a seven-seater. Memory function is added to the first-row passenger seat, and the XC90 is furnished with brushed aluminum sport pedals at this level. XC90 R-Design buyers have three upholstery options at no additional cost, the standard nubuck and Nappa leather in charcoal or the available perforated Nappa leather in either charcoal or blond. All XC90 R-Design models have a charcoal headliner standard, and the walnut accents from the Momentum are replaced with metal mesh in the R-Design.
Illumination is added to the front door sills, and the rear side windows get retractable curtains. A 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system replaces the 10-speaker setup from the Momentum. The 2022 XC90 R-Design has pricing that should start at just over $56,000.
2022 Volvo XC90 Inscription Pros and Cons
The XC90 in Inscription trim is offered in only one powertrain variation: the T6 316-hp twin charged inline-four and AWD.
A matte silver grille with chrome frame distinguishes the Inscription from other XC90 trims, and the trim level is the only one to receive body-colored side mirrors with puddle lights. Aluminum roof rails and side window trim pieces return, and the front bumper picks up chrome accents.
Like the Momentum, seven seats are standard on the Inscription, but you can opt for six and get more breathing room for middle-row riders. The front seats become heated and ventilated and add power cushion extensions, an extra measure of support for drivers with long legs.
Volvo outfits the XC90 Inscription in brown Nappa leather and a blond headliner, but there are at least five other colors and even a tailored wool option that buyers can choose at no additional cost, all with matched headliners. Gray ash accents replace the metal mesh ones from the XC90 R-Design. The 2022 XC90 Inscription will sticker for more than $60,000.
2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge Inscription Pros and Cons
The Recharge designation denotes either EV or PHEV in Volvo speak, and in the case of the XC90, it’s the latter. The XC90 Recharge is offered with only one powertrain that combines a T8 400-hp turbo- and supercharged four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels with a 65-kW electric motor driving the rears. Volvo’s untraditional AWD hybrid is rated at 55 mpg-e combined, providing 18 miles of all-electric range and 520 miles of total range, making it the most powerful and most economical XC90 powertrain in the lineup.
In T8 configuration, the XC90 Recharge has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Neither the XT6 nor the GX460 has a hybrid variant, but the Lincoln Aviator does: the 494-hp Grand Touring. The Aviator Grand Touring can tow up to 5,600 pounds but does so with a more powerful turbo V-6 engine and electric motor. The EPA rates the Aviator Grand Touring at 56 mpg-e.
Curiously, the XC90 Recharge Inscription comes in two grades, and it’s the Inscription Expression that’s the standard trim at this level. The XC90 Recharge Inscription Expression brings back 19-inch wheels and body color-matched side mirrors without puddle lights and adds a chrome lower door molding with an embossed Recharge logo that’s only available in this trim.
The Inscription Expression has seating for seven standard and is available with seating for six like the non-Recharge Inscription. Its front seats are heated but not ventilated, and its cabin is outfitted in standard charcoal-colored leather, but maroon-brown and blond are also available at no additional cost.
Walnut accents and a front passenger seat without memory function make a return in the Inscription Expression’s cabin, and so too does a 10-speaker audio system. Aluminum door sill plates with the Recharge logo and a leather-wrapped shifter are both new to the interior at this level, but we also say so long to the retractable curtains, at least until the next trim level up.
The 2021 XC90 Recharge Inscription Expression retailed for $64,545 (and we expect similar pricing for 2022). The non-Expression Inscription package added $6,300 to the bottom line, bringing back 20-inch wheels, ventilated and heated front seats, and the 14-speaker Harman Kardon system. It also swaps out the leather-wrapped shifter for a posh crystal one.
2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge R-Design Pros and Cons
The XC90 Recharge R-Design is nearly identical to the non-Recharge version. Apart from the engine and drivetrain deviations, the only differences are the addition of a unique R-Design leather-clad gear shift knob and an interior illumination package that provides supplementary courtesy lights, reading lights, and mood lighting. Additionally, the Afterrun Parking Climate feature is eliminated, as is door sill illumination. The 2021 XC90 Recharge R-Design stickered for $70,245.
Which 2022 Volvo XC90 Trim Is Best?
The XC90 Inscription is by far the nicest trim, pampering all passengers. That said, even the entry-level Momentum comes well equipped, including a robust suite of active safety tech that is not yet universally standard on competitors. As tempting as the more powerful XC90 T8 plug-in hybrids might look, they suffer from poor brake feel, which prevents us from recommending them. We’d most strongly consider a 2022 XC90 Momentum, but the Inscription is a close second for us.
2022 Volvo XC90 Trim Levels:
- XC90 Momentum (MT’s pick)
- XC90 R-Design
- XC90 Inscription
- XC90 Recharge Inscription
- XC90 Recharge R-Design
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