First unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in 2002, the entry-premium crossover SUV is steadily getting older. It is clear that the second generation model is long overdue. However, for the next model year the Chinese-owned Swedish brand has decided to introduce only a face-lifted 2012 Volvo XC90 version of the car.
Available soon in a standard seven-seater (on some markets the car will only seat five grown-ups,) as well as more exclusive Volvo XC90 Executive and Volvo XC90 R-Design, the new vehicle will offer a choice of just three engines: one gasoline and two diesels.
As you can see on the photos above and below, the facelifted version is not terribly different from the previous iteration of the car: just minor tweaks here and there.
Since Day Running Lights are now mandatory in the EU, the vehicle was too equipped with this safety feature. Although the use of DRL somewhat decreases the vehicle’s mileage, it also makes driving safer making your car better visible on a foggy road.
Other exterior refinements include a slightly updated silver metallic bumper bar, which is matched by a pair of roof-rails in the same finish.
Since the car is mostly targeted at soccer moms and will probably never see the real dirt, it has finally ditched its unpainted plastic elements in favor of color-keyed lower door moldings.
Looking classy and more expensive, they will also most certainly increase the cost of running the car: although the 2012 Volvo XC90 retained its impressive ground clearance of 21.8 cm (8.58 in,) there is still a good chance that you will put a dent or two on the lower elements while parking in a bank of snow covered with a nasty layer of ice.
The list of exterior changes is completed with new tail lights with trendy LED brake lights.
Inside the car, however, everything is not so bright.
Decorated with more expensive materials, the interior of the 2012 Volvo XC90 still sports an outright dated design that looks especially bleak compared to current models of the brand, like the new XC60 or S60.
The archaic three-spoke steering wheel has got a little bit more comfortable, but it still looks like it was borrowed from the first-generation Porsche Cayenne, while the “watch dial-inspired” instruments cluster is still light years behind the multifunctional LCD-based jobs offered in many of the new European premium-priced SUVs.
As to the engines, the facelifted XC90 is now offered with a choice of three powerplants.
There is an inline-6 3.2-liter naturally aspirated gas engine that offers 243 hp of power and 320 Nm of torque and promises a moderate fuel efficiency of 11.4 liters per 100 kilometers (24.9 mpg) in the European combined cycle.
Mated with the six-speed AWTF-80 SC automatic gearbox from Aisin, the engine makes the car accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds. Not really impressive.
There are also two oil-burners: the well-known D5 with 200 hp and healthy 420 Nm of torque and a 2.4-liter, five-cylinder D3 that offers 163 hp of power and only 340 Nm of torque. The smaller engine will be available only with a front-wheel drive version of the car.
As for the acceleration, the D3 and D5 make the car cross the 100 km/h mark in 11.8 and 10.3 seconds respectively. Oh, my…
Since with its 8.2 l/100 km efficiency the D3 offers only 0.1 l/100 km extra fuel economy when compared to the D5, there is no need to worry about the lack of choice when it comes to AWD trim.
2012 Volvo XC90 SUV technical specification
Price Range (estimated MSRP): TBD
Body Type: 5-door SUV
Layout: front engine, 4WD or FWD
Base Engine: 243 hp, 236 ft lb (320 Nm) of torque, 3.2L, inline-6
Transmission: five speed, automatic
Exterior Dimensions (L/W/H/WB): 189.2 (4807) / 76.2 (1936) / 70.2 (1784) / 112.5 (2857) in (mm)
Ground clearance: 8.58 (218) in (mm)
Track (frt/rr): 64.3 (1634) / 63.9 (1624) in (mm)
Approach Angle (degrees): N/A
Breakover Angle (degrees): N/A
Departure Angle (degrees): N/A
Curb Weight: 4369 lbs / 4510 lbs (1982 kg, five seats) / (2046 kg, seven seats)
Coefficient of Drag (Cd): 0.36
Seating Capacity: up to 7 (2/3/2)
Cargo Volume (Behind Rear Seat / Rear Seats Folded): 21.6 (0.63) / — (–) cu ft (m3)
Payload (max w/ occupants and cargo): N/A
Towing Capacity (max): N/A
Fuel tank: 17.6 gal (80 l)
Direct Competitors (4×4 capable): Lexus RX350, Range Rover Sport, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, VW Touareg
See also: 2007 Volvo XC90 crossover SUV