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Volvo XC90 Reliability

They’re definitely safe, but is Volvo’s XC90 reliable?

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BY The Drive Staff / LAST UPDATED ON March 16, 2021

Volvo XC90 T8 R-design
Volvo

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Exacting Swedish construction and the hell-bent ethos of safety over everything have given Volvo a legendary reputation for occupant protection in its automobiles. It’s perhaps the company’s best-known trait, but just how long can you count on that safety? When it comes to reliability, especially for its XC90 SUV, the public has questions.

In more recent years, Volvo has introduced hybrid variants and enhanced the XC90’s technology, safety systems, and drivetrains, all of which tend to complicate reliability and maintenance. As such, questions, complaints, and issues have arisen. To better prepare you for Volvo XC90 ownership, as well as preface any future purchases, The Drive has put together this article to inform your next decision.

We’ve taken off the blinders, so let’s dive into the Volvo XC90 and its reliability.

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What Makes a Reliable Brand?

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability

Short answer: you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Volvo XC90 Specs

Vehicle Type: SUV

Doors: 4

Engine options: 2.0 L Drive-E turbocharged I4, 2.0 L Drive-E twincharged I4, 2.0 L Drive-E twincharged PHEV I4, 2.0 L Drive-E turbodiesel I4 (2 Power Outputs)

Total internal combustion range: 414 miles

Total hybrid range: 520 miles

Is The Volvo XC90 Reliable?

As detailed above, reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we can’t make a definitive statement that the Volvo XC90 is reliable or unreliable.

To better assess its reliability, however, we’ve assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the XC90’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

The XC90’s NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the XC90’s issues throughout the years.

2020

Recall: Automatic Emergency Braking May Not Engage

Complaints: 2

2019

Recall: Automatic Emergency Braking May Not Engage, No GPS Location in the Event of a Crash

Complaints: 2

2018

Recall: No GPS Location in the Event of a Crash

Complaints: 16

2017

Recall: No GPS Location in the Event of a Crash, Seatbelt Component may Detach and Enter the Cabin,Curtain Air Bag Securing Bolts may Fail/FMVSS 226,Seat Belt Buckle may Separate/FMVSS 210, 209, A/C Water Drain may Affect Air Bag Deployment

Complaints: 24

Common Volvo XC90 Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all XC90 models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic XC90 offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

Premature Tire Wear

Repair Costs: $1,700, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“The front left-hand tires (LHD vehicle) shouldered completely after 12000 miles. Volvo Australia was and is useless !! I think it is a fundamental design problem.” 

2005 Model Year Transmission Failure

Repair Costs: $3,550, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“Well, I bought this car used as I had a big crash with my Benz. I came out from it with no harm so I decided to buy something cheaper and safer. So I found this Volvo xc90 awd v8 2005 and it had 150k mil on it.

From the first month I started to feel that the transmission is shifting and has a noise, it comes and goes !!! you don't hear it all the time. I took the car to a local certified Volvo mechanic, I don't have a dealer nearby in my city! So I was told the car has some issues with the transmission and mechanic told me also that the Volvo company recalled this model for the same reason. so he did his best but the problem still exists.

So can anyone help with advice !!!!! !!! Really, the Volvo company recalled the cars for this problem ????? If so can I still fix this problem !!!!!!!”

Automatic Braking System

Repair Costs: $300-$500, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“I was driving down the road at 60 MPH with the adaptive cruise on a two lane road. Suddenly, without warning, my brakes slammed on my car, my seat belt engaged, red dots appeared in my windshield and an alarm went off. There was nothing that crossed in front of my car. No one was coming in the opposite direction nor was anyone behind me. I had someone in my car and she couldn't believe what happened. This could have been deadly if someone was behind me as there would be no way they could have stopped. I was afraid to continue driving it, but was still two hours from home. This is very dangerous and I am calling the dealer in the morning. It could be a deathtrap.”

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.”

2021: 75/100

2020: 75/100

2019: 76/100

2018: 74/100

2017: 70/100

2016: 71/100

2015: N/A

2014: 70/100

2013: 74/100

2012: 71/100

FAQs About the Volvo XC90

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is The XC90 Expensive To Maintain?

A: As we’ve written above, it really all depends on how you treat your car. If you’re hard on your Volvo, you’ll find that it’s expensive. If not, you’ll likely find that it’s inexpensive. Treat your car well is what we’re saying.

Q: Is an XC90 High Maintenance?

A: No, but there is a regularly scheduled maintenance flow you need to follow.

Q: How Many Miles Does an XC90 Last?

A: Volvos are designed to last, which is why you still see those brick-shaped 240s from the late ‘80s rolling around. There’s no reason that an XC90 shouldn’t last just as long, so long as you take care of it.

Q: Are Repairs Expensive on the XC90?

A: As with all repairs, it depends on the part affected. If it’s deep within the engine, it could be quite expensive. But normal wear and tear isn’t too steep.

Video

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

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