2006 Volvo XC90 AWD Premium 2.5T AWD from North America
The Golden Lab of SUVs
Bought the XC90 knowing it needed a lot of work. The previous owner must have stopped maintaining it at one point, and I paid a cheap price ($2600 CAD) for it, knowing it needed love. If it was maintained, I would have paid $6000 + for it.
I guess I felt bad for it, but now I am very happy I bought it.
First thing I did, was replace the timing belt. When I bought it, it was running rough, and the engine light was on and so many codes triggering check engine.
Did the timing belt, check engine went away, came back a week later.
Replaced coil pack, engine light went away, came back a week later.
Cleaned MAF, engine light went away, came back a week later.
Exterior temp sensor (in driver's side rear view mirror) triggered check engine, just reset codes, hasn't come back (it's been 20,000 km since the reset, assuming it was random). If I had to replace it, I would have found a used mirror (probably cheaper than the sensor from Volvo, and not a common failed piece).
Got the dreaded "ENGINE SYSTEM SERVICE URGENT" message. Throttle body bad, bought a brand new one on eBay (aftermarket) for $150, piece of cake to install, hasn't had an issue.
A lot of suspension components replaced (a lot just for my own preference, some were probably still okay).
All 4 wheel hub (bearing) assemblies. XC90s are known to eat these up every 80,000 km regardless of brand, so just get the cheap ones, same with sway bar link kits.
Both front control arms $110 a piece (you can go mid grade here).
Front strut mounts and bushings. $140 for the 4 piece kit (don't go cheap here).
Ball joints $65 for Lemforder (don't go cheap here, I learned the hard way).
Tie rods (there is a recall on them through Volvo) and 4 wheel alignment done.
This is a beautiful SUV. If you are in the market for one like I was, do a LOT of research. I am one of those people that researches for weeks if not months before I decide to buy anything.
From 2003-2005, there was a T6 version available. DO NOT BUY THIS ONE! The T6 was plagued with transmission failures. For some reason Volvo decided that it was a good idea to source these transmissions from GM. It was so bad that they dropped the T6 after the 2005 model year.
This leaves you with two options. The inline 2.5T (low pressure turbo) and the Yamaha designed (Volvo built) 4.4L V8. From what I have researched, the 2005 with the V8 had a problematic transmission because of a coolant leak that allowed coolant to somehow enter the transmission casing, allowing the coolant to contaminate the transmission fluid etc... The problem was rectified and is a non issue for the 2006+ models.
I read that wheel bearings were an issue on any XC90, and it's accurate. I have put 25,000km on it, and have replaced all of them. My Escape had bearing failures too, and it's probably not an uncommon wear item on any car. I should be good for another 80,000km now. The XC90 weighs 3700lbs so it's a lot of weight to put on those hub assemblies, and they aren't exactly large. I was told by a few people that putting aftermarket hub assemblies on it would trigger a message on the dash, but I used the cheapest ones I could find (made in China no doubt) and I haven't had a message yet.
Sway bar link end kits... I had a XC70 before, and it was a common issue with it, so I did this more as a preventative measure. They are inexpensive, and it takes no time to install them, and helps stop stupid little noises going over bumps.
ABS light was on when I bought it also, and only needed a little ABS ring for one of the wheels. Cheap part, no time to put it on.
I have driven a lot of SUVs working for a car rental companies. The Explorers, Gr Cherokee, Durango, Navigators, Expeditions, yadda yadda. This is not a flashy SUV. It certainly deserves a lot of respect, but it does it without making you look like an attention pig. It excels in seat comfort, highway range, safety and flexibility. Whoever designed it, clearly paid attention to human beings, and how they live their lives, because there isn't anything about it that makes you say "Why the heck did they do that".
I like the way the 3rd row seats cleverly fold. I like the two piece opening tailgate (and the light on the hatch part of the tailgate that lights up the whole ground and hatch area so you can see at night).
I like the way the front passenger seat folds flat too. I was able to fit 10 ft ladder inside and drive with the tailgate closed.
The middle seat in the middle row has a built in booster seat (and all three seats in the middle row move forward and backwards like the front seats), and because the front arm rest/console can be detached, the kid in the booster seat can be pushed closer to the parent in the front seats (I don't have kids, but I am sure it's an appreciated thing to have).
Is it good on gas? Nope. It's reasonable given the weight (you can feel the weight the instant you drive it). I am getting about 18 MPG in the city, and about 22-24 MPG on the highway. It has a big tank, but highway range is good. As with any turbo, you need to use supreme (91 octane), but easily get about 600km (almost 700 with summer tires on) on the highway.
Would I recommend one? Yes. I also recommend if you are buying a used one, have it looked over by the Volvo dealer or reputable mechanic before buying one. After the warranty is over, skip the Volvo dealer for non-mechanical repairs. I only take it to Volvo for software updates and recalls. Don't buy parts from Volvo, unless it's something that has to be fixed immediately. Take a few minutes, to look around for your parts; it's no more expensive than owning a Honda if you do.
I paid $2600, put about $2000 into it, and I have an SUV that can only be compared to having a faithful old Labrador. It always works, it's comfortable (more than anything I have driven), and it handles like a big wagon more than a top heavy SUV. It is a handsome rig, and ages well. I like it so much that I am looking for a second one for the household. I will get a V8 one to tow our travel trailer with.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th April, 2016
10th Apr 2016, 17:20
Nice review :)
1st Jun 2016, 00:33
Detailed review. I don't know about the XC90s, but on the XC70, S60 and V70, for control arms we only buy Lemforder (or OEM Volvo if money's not an issue). Anything, but I mean anything else, from Febi, Moog to Meyle HD is junk - by junk I mean it will last anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. Even Boge is not good enough. Same goes with the end links, front on rear, and basically with every single suspension part. Look for Lemforder, Bosch or Sachs. I don't know why, but it seems all other aftermarket parts simply don't last the least amount of time on European (Merc, BMW, Volvo and Audi) cars. Maybe these cars have suspension parts that are designed to take a higher load than say the Japanese vehicles, and the aftermarket parts makers can't keep up with the quality needed or their prices will get too high to be attractive. So basically everything that has a dust boot (or is covered with a dust boot), has a rubber bushing or a bearing, go with Lemforder, Sachs or Bosch.
21st Sep 2016, 06:15
Original poster here. Yes I will have to agree with that. I tried Swedish Performance Parts upper spring seats and strut mounts, and they turned out to be bad, which is frustrating, because it was a big job. I replaced them with Lemforder, and not a peep came from the front after that.
I have 306,000 on it now, and it's turned out to be a great rig. I have stopped having issues with it, so I started doing some mods to enjoy it more (I put 50,000 km on a year, so might as well enjoy it)...
I found some "Calcite" leather interior and two toned black/calcite door panels and arm rest, and did the swap. It looks much nicer than the all off-black interior. I also changed the amp under the passenger seat, and added the center speaker, and had Volvo do the software upgrade, so I now have Premium Audio. Then, I bought a set of used "Erakir" 19 inch rims from a 2013 XC70, and brought them to a machine shop to have the bore enlarged to fit the XC90...
It looks good, and I am happy enough with it, that when it comes time to replace it, I will buy another XC90.