Here Are The Worst Volvo XC90 Years to Avoid for Used Models

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you considering purchasing a used Volvo XC90? It’s important to know which model years are best to avoid to make a more informed decision and save yourself from potential headaches down the road.

This article uncovers some of the worst Volvo XC90 years to keep off your shopping list. The Volvo XC90 has been a popular SUV since its introduction, but some years stand out as less reliable than others.

Specific model years are notorious for common issues, from transmission failure to electronic malfunctions, water leaks, engine failure, and faulty gearboxes.

Noteworthy model years to avoid are 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2016. By steering clear of these particular years, you’ll increase your chances of finding a reliable Volvo XC90 Best Year XC90 that will serve you well for years.

Remember that every used vehicle comes with its unique history and potential issues, so it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect any XC90 you’re considering, regardless of the model year.

Also, please consult with a trusted mechanic before finalizing your purchase, as they can help identify any signs of potential trouble. Get ready to make an informed decision, and happy car hunting!

Volvo XC90 years to avoid

Worst Years for Volvo XC90

First Generation Problems

The first generation of the Volvo XC90, which includes the years 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, faced various problems that made these years less desirable.

Here are some issues you may encounter with the first generation:

  • Transmission failure
  • Electronic malfunctions
  • Water leaks
  • Engine failure
  • Faulty gearboxes

These issues may result in costly repairs, and it’s essential to be aware of them when considering buying an XC90 from this generation.

Common Issues During Specific Years

Specific years within the first generation of the XC90 are known to have more problems than others. Below, we dive into specific issues you might face when owning these models:

2004 Volvo XC90:

  • Transmission failure
  • Persistent water leaks
  • Failure in the anti-lock braking system

2005 Volvo XC90:

  • Severe transmission failure (commonly around 101,000 miles)
  • Electronic problems

2006 Volvo XC90:

  • Transmission issues
  • Software glitches

2007 Volvo XC90:

  • Faulty gearboxes
  • Premature tire wear

While the 2009 Volvo XC90 is known to be one of the better models to own, as it features a powerful V8 engine and numerous safety features, you should still proceed with caution when buying a first-generation XC90.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that 2016 has a high number of registered complaints, making it another year to avoid when searching for a reliable Volvo XC90.

TIPS: Here is a complete list of Volvo’s smaller counterpart: The Volvo XC60 years to avoid and why?

Notable Issues

Transmission Failure

Transmission failure is one of the most serious issues reported by Volvo XC90 owners, especially in the 2005 model.

Many users have reported that as the vehicle approaches 100,000 miles, there is a high risk of the transmission failing.

When this problem occurs, a complete transmission replacement is necessary, which is expensive.

Engine Problems

Engine problems have also been reported, particularly in some of the worst years for the Volvo XC90.

These issues may vary significantly, from minor problems like oil leaks to severe cases like engine failure.

When facing significant engine problems, the only solution might be a complete replacement, which can be pricey.

Suspension and Brakes

Suspension and brake issues have been less commonly reported for the Volvo XC90.

However, ensuring the suspension and brakes are properly maintained and functioning before purchasing is still essential.

Regular inspections and timely repairs can ensure the reliability and quality of these critical systems.

Electrical System Issues

Some years show higher electrical system problems in the Volvo XC90.

These issues can range from minor inconveniences, like faulty indicator lights, to more severe problems, such as power shutdowns or loss of control over various electronic components.

Your awareness of these potential issues might help you avoid a troublesome purchase or, at the very least, prepare you for potential expenses.

Regular maintenance, timely repairs, and vigilance in choosing the right Volvo XC90 can provide a more enjoyable, reliable, high-quality ownership experience.

Recalls and Safety Updates

As a potential Volvo XC90 buyer, you must be aware of any recalls and safety updates for the vehicle.

Over the years, there have been recalls on specific XC90 models. Consider these when deciding which year of the vehicle to look for.

One notable recall affecting the 2021 Volvo XC90 involves the steering gear assembly.

Double screws assembled on top of each other could lead to steering issues. This recall affects a range of 2019-2022 Volvo models, including the XC90.

Other recalls you should be aware of include the 2020 Volvo XC90, which had four recalls in total. Some recalls pertain to the same issues mentioned above, while others are unique to different model years.

It’s essential to stay informed about any recalls and safety updates to ensure your Volvo XC90 has the best possible performance and safety features. Keep these aspects in mind:

  • Safety: Check if any recalls have affected the safety features of the XC90 model you are interested in.
  • Performance: Pay attention to the engine or transmission-related recalls that might impact the vehicle’s performance.
  • Safety features: Volvo has long been known for its focus on safety; however, recalls may still affect safety features.
  • Power: Issues with the engine or other power-related components could lead to recalls on specific XC90 models.
  • Recalls: It’s essential to stay informed about any recalls and safety updates for the Volvo XC90 to ensure you have a reliable and safe vehicle.

Volvo XC90 Best Years and Models

One of the best years to look for is the 2009 Volvo XC90. This model year offers an outstanding balance between earlier design years and more modern technologies, offering a reliable ride and fewer owner complaints.

Another top contender is the 2012 Volvo XC90. It features improved safety, suspension, and transmission updates, making it an excellent choice if you’re prioritizing performance and safety.

The 2014 model also stands out for its dependability and upgraded features.

For those who prefer the most recent models, the 2020 Volvo XC90 is praised for its advanced safety features, luxurious interior, and fuel-efficient engine options.

This model year ensures you enjoy the latest automotive technology while benefiting from the XC90’s renowned reliability.

To recap, here are the Volvo XC90 model years that you should consider:

  • 2009 Volvo XC90
  • 2012 Volvo XC90
  • 2014 Volvo XC90
  • 2020 Volvo XC90

While exploring these options, consider your interior and exterior design preferences, available features, and budget.

Buying a Used Volvo XC90

Common Problems to Look For

One of the main concerns is the T6 engine, which has been known to cause transmission problems, especially in earlier models. It’s highly recommended to avoid the T6 engine if possible.

In contrast, the 2.5T and V8 engines hold up better, and owners have reported being satisfied with their XC90s. Newer models, like those equipped with the 3.2 I6 engine, are also generally reliable.

When inspecting a used Volvo XC90, make sure to check the following:

  • Transmission: Look for any signs of slipping, jerking, or overheating in the transmission.
  • Electrical System: Check if all the interior and exterior lights, sensors, and infotainment systems function correctly.
  • Suspension: Listen for any unusual noises or clunks while driving, which could indicate worn or damaged suspension components.

What to Expect in Terms of Maintenance

A used Volvo XC90 will have an average maintenance and repair cost of $12,359 during its first ten years of service.

This exceeds the industry average for luxury SUV models by about $3,100. You should expect to invest in regular maintenance and repairs to keep your XC90 running smoothly. Some routine maintenance tasks include:

  • Regular oil changes
  • Changing air filters
  • Brake pad replacement
  • Tire rotation

Modern Features and Upgrades

Design and Styling

When it comes to your Volvo XC90, the design is both elegant and refined. With an eye-catching exterior and an upscale interior, you’ll appreciate the luxurious feeling every time you step inside.

The interior offers plenty of space for everyone, ensuring passengers enjoy a comfortable ride. Plus, with ample cargo space, you’ll never have to worry about fitting all your belongings.

Performance and Handling

As a driver, you’ll love the performance of the XC90’s powerful engines.

The smooth all-wheel drive system ensures optimal handling and traction, making it easy to conquer various road conditions.

The plug-in hybrid option also provides impressive fuel economy, allowing you to go further for less without sacrificing power.

Tech and Infotainment Options

Regarding tech features, your Volvo XC90 is focused on innovation.

The infotainment system has options to make your driving experience more enjoyable, including smartphone integration and premium audio.

You’ll appreciate the convenience of various driver-assistance features, too.

Comparing to Other Luxury SUVs

We’ll compare the Volvo XC90 to the BMW X7, Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Kia Sorento.


The BMW X7 is another luxury SUV option that you should consider, offering powerful engines and spacious interiors.


  • A luxurious and spacious cabin
  • Wide variety of engine options
  • High-quality materials and finish
  • Strong performance


Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 is a midsize luxury SUV that combines performance, comfort, and technology.


  • Smooth and comfortable ride,
  • High-quality materials and luxurious interior,
  • Advanced technology and infotainment systems,
  • Standard all-wheel drive,
  • The Q7 Audi’s best models are a joy to ride.


  • Limited cargo space compared to competitors
  • Fuel efficiency could be better,
  • Check full Audi Q7 years to avoid and why?

Acura MDX

When considering luxury SUVs, the Acura MDX offers a more budget-friendly option with a reputation for reliability.


  • Attractive starting price for a luxury SUV
  • Reliable and well-regarded brand
  • Three rows of comfortable seating
  • Generous cargo capacity


Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee may not be a traditional luxury SUV, but it offers significant off-roading capabilities and a few Grand Cherokee lemon years.



  • Less refined interior compared to luxury competitors
  • Ride comfort can be harsh on rough roads
  • Limited third-row seating

Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento is a mid-size SUV with exceptional value for the luxury segment, an extended warranty, standard driver-assist features, and Kia Sorento lemon years.



  • Less powerful engine options
  • Smaller cargo capacity compared to some competitors
  • Third-row seating may feel cramped.


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