Mud Plugger (Volvo XC90 2002-present day)

ENGINES – Sensible people will go straight to models powered by diesel despite the presence of petrol alternatives. Not only is Volvo’s D5 diesel the most cost effective choice, it also boasts the right attributes - smooth power delivery, refinement, economy.

EXTERIOR – The XC90 is unmistakably a Volvo. From the car’s big, bold grille to the V70-esque tailgate, this car couldn’t come from anywhere but Sweden. The XC90’s styling is as far removed from the usual aggressive-looking premium SUVs as you could get.

INTERIOR – The XC90’s fascia follows the usual Volvo trend of excellent ergonomics while the cabin boasts impressive build quality. Room inside is very good, with plenty of space for a full complement of adults. The rear seats fold to create a sizeable cargo area, and there are plenty of minor storage options dotted around the place.

DRIVING – Essentially the XC90 behaves like a large family hatchback. Normally most of the power goes to the front wheels, with the rears taking the strain when the going gets slippery. The result is a refined and balanced car to drive and, predictably, the diesel variants prove the most sensible. The XC90 isn’t a proper 4x4 though, and is better suited to light duties such as wet grass and towing.

OWNERSHIP – Opt for a diesel model and you’ll stand a better chance than most of keeping the bills down to a sensible level. You’ll also need to figure out if you’ve got enough space to park the XC90 – it’s not the smallest Volvo around. On a positive note, the car is hugely versatile. The rear seats fold to increase the storage options, and there are numerous family-friendly touches throughout the cabin.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – There’s a good chance that some XC90s will have been reduced to town duties: shopping, running errands, the school run. As such, check for soggy brakes, dirty engine oil, clonking suspension and lethargic gearboxes. Kerbed wheels and parking dents are other issues to worry about, plus if the XC90’s got a tow bar ask what it was used for – pulling too heavy a load could have put a strain on the car.

MODEL HISTORY

2000: Volvo launches all-new premium SUV, the XC90, with part time, on demand all wheel drive as standard, plus a host of family friendly features: flexible seating arrangement, spacious cabin plus numerous storage areas. Petrol and diesel power available from launch with performance and economy regularly improved. Well equipped plus a good choice of optional kit offered on all models.

REASONS TO BUY – Versatile, family-friendly, easy to drive.

REASONS TO BEWARE – Thirsty petrol models, it’s not a fully-fledged 4x4, physically large and potentially an issue around town.

PICK OF THE RANGE – 2.4 D5 R Design Geartronic

WHAT TO PAY

2008 08 17,860

2008 58 18,540

2009 09 20,135

2009 59 20,990

2010 10 22,830

2010 60 23,705

2011 11 25,945

Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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