Getting behind the wheel of the diesel B5 version of Volvo’s largest SUV and one of its bestsellers.

THE B5 is a slightly enhanced version of the superseded D5 4-cylinder 2-litre diesel engine previously available in the XC90 – and some other Volvos too. Confusingly, it also can be had in petrol. So you really now have a B5(D) and a B5(P), and a petrol plug-in hybrid, the T8.

The XC90 has been a great success for Volvo. This second version replaced the original model a few years ago and will itself be replaced next year. It is the second-best-selling Volvo vehicle, attracting around 80,000 annual customers worldwide. The smaller (or less large, I should say) XC60 is its bestseller.

READ MORE: Fuel crisis: No one is talking about the cost of working struggle - forestry's situation isn't sustainable

Prices for the XC90 start off at £57,485 for the B5(P) and £61,535 for the slightly higher-spec B5(D). The model I was given to test was a top-of-the-range Inscription Pro version priced at £66,385 and £72,895 including extras. 

The updated B5 diesel engine comes with mild hybrid assistance which you don’t really notice, but it helps the engine provide a healthy 235 hp and 480 Nm of torque. It is certainly a fast car, sprinting to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph. A few years ago, Volvo decided to limit its cars’ top speed to 112 mph, which seems a good idea. The fuel tank holds 71 litres and the AdBlue tank 11.7 litres (for reference, my Land Rover Discovery uses about one litre of AdBlue per thousand miles). Fuel consumption varies, naturally, but averaged about 35 mpg in my hands. The automatic gearbox and automatic 4WD come as standard.

Forestry Journal:

Ground clearance at 217 mm is 6 mm higher than the smaller XC60, but the long wheelbase of the longer XC90 will limit its off-road capabilities. I think it is best treated as a tough estate car rather than an off-roader, which it is not. You would not take it off road in the same manner as the useful Discovery. It weighs in at 2,101 kg and can tow up to 2,700 kg for a braked trailer.

The XC90 is 4,953 mm long and 2,140 mm wide, so it is a large vehicle. Its exterior design is very well executed and conceals its size, to some extent. It is one of the better-looking vehicles on the market today. All XC90s come with three rows of seating and so will appeal to folk carting about numbers of kids.

Forestry Journal:

In some ways it feels like a minibus when driving as it is so big. The boot is huge and gets bigger when all the seats are folded. When the third row of seats are erected the boot obviously reduces in volume and would not be large enough to accommodate the luggage of seven people.

Volvo interior design has been very well executed since the times of the first V70. The current design, introduced on the second generation of the XC90, has been rolled out in all Volvo vehicles since, which include XC60, XC40, V90 and V60. On the model tested here, the interior is sumptuous but I felt the door card was over-designed. There are few dash buttons, with all functions accessed via the large LED screen. I would prefer a few more easily accessible buttons for the heating and ventilation. However, overall it is a lovely interior.

Forestry Journal:

The XC90 drives very well and rides a little firmer than expected. This does enhance the handling, so the vehicle can easily be driven briskly on a twisting road, unlike its forbear which lost composure pretty quickly. The engine noise is subdued and better insulated than on the XC60 where it can be a bit whiny. Visibility out is good, but I did find it a little compromised in that it was not always easy to place the vehicle in tight spots.

Overall it is a very comfortable car to spend time with, as long as the off-roading is mild.
Yes indeed, the XC90 is a great-looking vehicle, a useful people carrier and tough 4WD estate car. Its size will be its attraction, but in my opinion it is perhaps too big for the UK.