Launched in 2003, the XC90 is a premium three-row SUV and the largest vehicle in Volvo’s lineup.
Characterized by its advanced safety, the XC90 offers copious standard driver assists, an attractive design and high levels of comfort.
If you’re considering purchasing one, you might be wondering about its average lifespan.
We’ll cover that in this article, read on to find out…
Table of Contents
Here is the short answer to how long Volvo XC90 last:
The Volvo XC90 is a well-built SUV that can last between 200,000 – 250,000 miles on average when properly maintained and driven conservatively. Based on an annual mileage of 15,000 miles, it can last 13 to 17 years of service before breaking down or requiring uneconomical repairs.
How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Volvo XC90?
The XC90 has been on US roads for some time now and there is plenty of industry data surrounding this model, and we’ve used this to base our assessment.
Customer feedback regarding longevity is largely positive and we uncovered numerous accounts from owners who managed to get 200,000 miles on the original drivetrain.
There’s no exact milestone when the XC90 will break down or become unreliable, but 200k – 250k is dangerous territory and the chance of major component failure, such as the engine or transmission, is much higher.
When this happens the cost of repairs will likely outweigh the cost of the vehicle.
Your result will be heavily impacted by usage, personal care, and to some extent, luck.
We even came across a handful of reports from owners who crossed the 300k threshold, however these are in the minority and hitting numbers as high as this shouldn’t be expected.
How you drive your Volvo will play a part in how long it continues to drive.
Sure, they’re typically designed to venture off-road, but overworking the engine or being too aggressive with the brake and gas pedals can be hard on any vehicle.
The regular maintenance of a vehicle also can add thousands of available miles to the odometer.
The life expectancy of your XC90 will be cut short if you avoid:
- Service appointments
- Routine oil changes
- Tire rotations
- Using quality parts
- Driving smoothly
Do Volvo XC90s Rust Easily?
The modern day Volvo XC90 is generally considered to be very rust resilient thanks to advances in design, rust protection and the use of high-quality materials.
For all things rust-related you’ll be hard pressed to find many disgruntled customers of new XC90s, in recent years this is an area in which Volvo has really upped their game.
Anti-corrosion protection for the body consists of:
- Modern metallic protective coatings on the sheet metal
- A high-quality painting process
- Corrosion-protected and minimised metal overlap
- Shielding plastic components
- Abrasion protection
- Supplemental rust inhibitor in exposed areas
If you live in a cold-weather state that aggressively salts the roads in the winter or by the coast where salt air is prevalent then it’s important to stay on top of rust prevention measures.
Owners living in drier, hotter states such as Arizona are far less likely to experience rusting issues – although paint fading is more common.
The few rust complaints we did find for the XC90 were on older vehicles and in the following places:
- Lower door sills
- rear subframe assembly
- rear bumper brackets
Tips to keep your XC90 rust-free:
- Regularly wash and dry your car: This includes its underside (especially during the winter) to remove the salt, dirt and grime that causes rust. We recommend having a detail shop wash everything underneath at the end of each winter.
- Repair paint damage and scratches: Exposed metal will oxidize. If it’s beyond a DIY fix, speak to your local body repair shop.
- Sorage: Keep your XC90 in a garage to protect it from harsh weather and bird droppings.
- Waxing: Wax your car twice a year. Not only will this make your XC90 look amazing, but it also gives a protective coating against rust.
Volvo offers a 12-year/unlimited mileage limited warranty against corrosion perforation for XC90 models. Rust on a new XC90 is uncommon.
What is High Mileage for a Volvo XC90?
A Volvo XC90 with 100,000 miles is considered high mileage. Although it may still have many years of life left, there will likely be more expenses incurred from parts requiring replacement and repairs. However, a full assessment of the vehicle should be undertaken and any decision should not be based on mileage alone.
Buying one with over 100,000 miles won’t necessarily equate to a sour outcome.
A well-maintained XC90 with 100,000 miles might be a better purchase than one with 60,000 miles that had lots of owners and led a rough life or was previously a rental car.
When buying a second-hand XC90, consider the following:
- Maintenance history. Check that the car was properly serviced and the owner can provide evidence of this.
- Get a second opinion. Take it to an independent auto diagnostic clinic or have it inspected by a Volvo mechanic.
- Check the CarFax. This doesn’t guarantee anything, but it will provide a clearer picture of wear-and-tear. Ensure it has minimal damage, if any. Review the information to make sure if something happened, such as engine- or transmission-related.
- Number of previous owners. As a general rule, less is better. More owners usually mean more wear-and-tear. If one family owned it and drove the full mileage and serviced the car, then you can almost guarantee they took good care of it throughout their ownership.
- How long you are planning on keeping the car. If you’re planning on keeping the car for a long time, you should evaluate whether the short-term savings outweigh spending a bit extra on something more reliable.
If the car has averaged a lot more or less than 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year, you might want to further investigate why – for example – a 4-year-old model that has 100,000 miles.
You may also be interested in our article: Where Are Volvo XC90 Made?
How Long Do Volvo XC90 Last Compare to Similar Car Models?
In this section, we’ll compare the XC90 to some of its rivals.
Volvo XC90 vs Audi Q7
Launched in 2006, Audi’s Q7 offers practicality, hi-tech features and seating for up to seven people.
The Audi Q7 can last between 150,000 – 200,000 miles or 10 to 13 years, which is slightly lower than the XC90’s projection of 200,000 to 250,000 miles or 13 to 17 years.
- According to RepairPal, the Q7 scores a below-average reliability rating of 2.5 / 5.0, which ranks it 8th out of 19 in luxury SUVs.
- The XC90 scores an average reliability rating from RepairPal of 3.5 / 5.0, which ranks it 8th out of 14 luxury mid-size SUVs.
- The Q7 has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $1,185 vs. $851 for XC90.
- J.D. Power rated the Q7 with a consumer reliability rating of 75 out of 100, while the XC90 scored a rating of 71 out of 100.
The Volvo offers more tech at a lower price although the Audi is considered the flashier of the two. Both SUVs are closely matched and we’d advise test driving both.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Audi Q7 Last?
Volvo XC90 vs. BMW X5
Making its debut in 1999 the X5 is a large, luxurious and practical SUV that has always been noted for its road-focused performance.
The BMW X5 can last on average between 150,000 to 200,000 miles or about 10 to 13 years, which is slightly lower than the XC90’s predicted lifespan of 200,000 to 250,000 miles or 13 to 17 years.
- According to RepairPal, the X5 scored a below-average reliability rating of 2.0 / 5.0, which ranks it 13th out of 19 in luxury full-size SUVs.
- The XC90 scores an average reliability rating from RepairPal of 3.5 / 5.0, which ranks it 8th out of 14 luxury mid-size SUVs.
- The X5 has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $1,166 vs. $851 for XC90.
- J.D. Power rated the X5 with a consumer reliability rating of 80 out of 100, while the XC90 scored 71 out of 100.
Buyers looking for prestige and status will likely opt for the X5 although this comes with a higher price tag and higher maintenance costs.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do BMW X5 Last?
Volvo XC90 vs. Acura MDX
The Acura MDX is the luxury equivalent of the Honda Pilot and is highly regarded for its reliability and affordability.
The Acura MDX can last between 250,000 to 300,000 miles or about 17 to 20 years, which is slightly more than the XC90’s projection of 200,000 to 250,000 miles or 13 to 17 years.
- According to RepairPal, the MDX scores an above-average reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, which ranks it 2nd out of 14 in luxury mid-size SUVs.
- The XC90 scores an average reliability rating from RepairPal of 3.5 out of 5.0, which ranks it 8th out of 14 luxury mid-size SUVs.
- The MDX has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $501 vs. $851 for XC90.
- J.D. Power rated the MDX with a consumer reliability rating of 80 out of 100, while the XC90 scored 71 out of 100.
For those big on tech the XC90 will be the more attractive option however there is no denying that the MDX is the superior vehicle.
Please also read our article: How Long Do Acura MDX Last?
|Annual Repair Cost||$851||$1185||$1166||$501|
|J.D. Power Rating||71/100||75/100||81/100||80/100|
|Lifespan (miles)||200k – 250k||150k – 200k||150k – 200k||250k – 300k|
Is the Volvo XC90 Reliable?
The XC90 has scored mixed reviews from motoring journalists and consumer feedback regarding reliability, and upon assessment it’s not one of the XC90’s strong points. However 2nd generation models are much more reliable than 1st generation ones which were known to have weak transmissions that were prone to failure.
With the XC90 you can expect average dependability for its segment.
- RepairPal ranks the XC90 as the 8th most reliable SUV in its segment, with a reliability score of 3.5 out of 5.0.
- The Kelley Blue Book consumer rating index scores the XC90 a reliability rating of 3.8 out of 5.0.
- Consumer Reports gives the XC90 an average of 2/5 across all model years and is among their 10 least reliable models.
- J.D. Power rated the XC90 with a consumer reliability score of 71 out of 100.
The Swedish automaker might be lacking in the reliability department however they have risen a significant number of spots in the consumer reports rankings thanks to improvements in recent years.
How Reliable is the Volvo XC90 Compared to Other Luxury SUVs
In this section we compare the XC90 to the other luxury SUVs, this is based on data collected from Repair Pal.
|Lexus RX 450h||4.0/5.0|
|Lexus RX 350||4.0/5.0|
|Lexus GX 640||3.5/5.0|
|Land Rover LR4||2.0|
|Average score for |
Midsize Luxury SUVs
The Best and Worst Years for Volvo XC90
As with all vehicles on our roads, the XC90 has had its good and bad years…
Worst Model Year
According to Car Complaints, the 2003 XC90 was the worst model year because of the high costs of repairs and higher frequency of problems at lower mileage. This model was notorious for electrical and transmission problems.
The 2016 model received the most overall complaints with 27 in total, these were largely related to the brakes and interior accessories.
The worst Volvo XC90 problems are:
|Model Year||Cost to Fix||Average Mileage|
|Premature tire wear||2003||$1700||12,000 mi|
|Transmission failure||2005||$3500||100,000 mi|
|Auto braking malfunction||2016||$2016||11,000 mi|
Best Model Year
The best model years for the XC90 are the most recent ones, in particular from 2020 onwards.
These have the lowest number of complaints as Volvo has been gradually improving the reliability of its vehicles
Our standout choice would be the 2021 model which has seen its U.S News overall ratings increase from 7.6 in 2020 to 8.1.
This model also has a few additional features including:
- Adaptive LED headlights that aim with the steering wheel
- Front parking sensors
- Wireless device charging
And a few additional standard features including:
- Two USB-C ports for the rear seats
- High-pressure headlight washers
- Care Key, which lets the owner limit the maximum speed.
Model Year and Number of Complaints
Here are the total number of complaints for each XC90 model year from the Car Complaints database.
|Model Year||No. of Complaints|
|2021||0 (Best Year)|
|2016||27 (Most Overall Complaints)|
|2003||2 (Worst Year)|
What About Recalls For These Models?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) database, the Volvo XC90 has been recalled a total of 53 times since 2016.
A recall is issued when a manufacturer or the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) deems that a vehicle or one or more of its components creates an unreasonable safety risk or does not meet minimum safety requirements – recall related problems are fixed free of charge.
To find out if your Volvo has been subject to a recall you can check the Volvo website recall page, you’ll need your car’s 17-digit VIN.
- 2021: 1
- 2020: 3
- 2019: 4
- 2018: 2
- 2017: 6
- 2016: 7
- 2015: 0
- 2014: 0
- 2013: 0
- 2012: 0
- 2011: 1
- 2010: 3
- 2009: 1
- 2008: 3
- 2007: 2
- 2006: 3
- 2005: 6
- 2004: 6
- 2003: 5
Volvo XC90 Model Year List
- 2003 Volvo XC90
- 2004 Volvo XC90
- 2005 Volvo XC90
- 2006 Volvo XC90
- 2007 Volvo XC90
- 2008 Volvo XC90
- 2009 Volvo XC90
- 2010 Volvo XC90
- 2011 Volvo XC90
- 2012 Volvo XC90
- 2013 Volvo XC90
- 2014 Volvo XC90
- 2015 Volvo XC90
- 2016 Volvo XC90
- 2017 Volvo XC90
- 2018 Volvo XC90
- 2019 Volvo XC90
- 2020 Volvo XC90
- 2021 Volvo XC90
Are Volvo XC90 Expensive to Maintain?
According to RepairPal, the average annual cost for repairs and maintenance on an XC90 is $851 which is fairly standard for the segment.
In comparison, the average luxury mid-size SUV is $807 while the average cost across all makes and models of vehicles in the United States is $652.
|Model||Average Annual |
|Frequency of |
|Probability of |
|Lexus RX 450h||$540||0.5||7%|
|Lexus RX 350||$550||0.4||8%|
|Lexus GX 640||$770||0.8||9%|
|Land Rover LR4||$1,241||0.9||15%|
|Average score for |
Midsize Luxury SUVs
How Long Do the Brakes Last?
The XC90’s brakes last between 30,000 – 70,000 miles depending on driving habits and driving conditions.
- You can expect your brakes to wear out sooner if you frequently stop and accelerate in rush-hour traffic.
- Brake pad replacement, which includes parts and labor, can cost anywhere between $150 – $300 per axle.
- Full and complete stops from a high speed are the #1 cause of premature brake pad wear.
- A sporty driving style will lead to faster deterioration of brakes, a slow and steady style will help them last longer.
How Long Do the Tires Last?
Tires are perishable goods. After a few years, they will begin to harden and their friction properties will gradually deteriorate.
The stock tires on a Volvo XC90 are generally replaced every 50,000 miles however, they can wear out much sooner. This is dependent on various factors such as driving habits, climate, and road conditions.
- Have your tires rotated every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
- Tire wear increases with speed.
- Check your tire pressures every few weeks to make sure they’re at the correct tire pressure.
- Hitting curbs or potholes can damage the tires and/or wheels permanently.
- The temporary spare should be replaced at 6-year intervals even if it hasn’t been used
- Avoid fast starts, hard braking and tire screeching.
- Have a mechanic check your wheel alignment every 6 months
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Lincoln Aviators Last?
How Long Do Volvo XC90 Engines Last?
The Volvo XC90’s engine will typically last 200,000 – 250,000 or 13 to 17 years. This can vary drastically depending on maintenance and the overall care of the vehicle.
If you take good care of your Volvo, there’s no reason these mileages can’t be exceeded.
How Long Do Volvo XC90 Batteries Last?
The XC90’s battery usually lasts between 3 – 5 years. A vehicle’s battery life varies depending on factors such as climate, driving habits, the type of battery, and more.
- Keep your battery tightly fastened: The vibrations of your car can loosen the connections, potentially resulting in short circuits and internal damage.
- Limit short rides: Quick car rides prevent the battery from fully charging.
- Storage: Keep your XC90 stored indoors away from extreme temperature changes.
- Control Corrosion: Clean the terminals (toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water mixture) and keep them free from build-up.
How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?
According to Volvo, the XC90’s spark plugs need to be replaced every 50,000 – 70,000 miles.
Spark plugs are usually inspected, and if needed, replaced when you go for routine maintenance.
Signs of a fouled spark plug include:
- Reduced gas mileage
- Lack of acceleration
- Rough idling
- Hard starts
- Engine misfires
Related: How Long Do Genesis GV80 Last?
What About Insurance Cost?
The average cost for full comprehensive coverage for a Volvo XC90 is $1,458 per year or $122 per month. In comparison, its segment rivals cost an average of $2,044 per year to insure.
Insurance costs can vary from person to person; be sure to shop around to find the best possible deal for your Volvo XC90.
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Volvo XC90
- Keep up to date with factory-recommended maintenance.
- Adopt smooth driving habits.
- Use quality parts and fluids.
- Keep on top of repairs to prevent them from developing into larger problems.
- Regularly wash your Volvo to remove dirt and grime to protect the paint and undercarriage from rust developing.
- Check your engine oil, coolant, brake, and transmission fluid levels on a regular basis and top them up when required.
- Keep your XC90 in a garage to help protect it from the elements.
- Read the owner’s manual to learn the location of important components, what your Volvo needs and what quantity, and to understand the symbols and dashboard warning lights.