Is Volvo XC-90 a problem for the BMW X5?

BMW X5 | February 19th, 2015 by 38
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Comparing the Volvo XC-90 with the BMW X5. The XC-90 is looking to be a dangerous (in a good way) player in the luxury SUV segment

Volvo’s previous generation XC-90 was so good that it lasted ten years. A decade of making the same car and still having positive results. That’s mighty impressive. So the expectations are high with this new one. And after taking a look at the spec sheet and the price, the X5 better be worried.

Sporting a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged, the T6 model XC-90 produces 316 hp. It will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and come with all-wheel drive as standard (the X5 is RWD as standard). It also comes with seating for seven and an all-new, high-tech infotainment screen.

I won’t give you the full spec sheet, but the XC-90 comes very well equipped as standard. What is important to know, however, is just how safe the XC-90 is. Volvo claims that no person will die or be severely injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020, and this new XC-90 is the first of the building blocks for that promise.

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With more airbags than you can count, high-tech crumple and impact zones and more man hours studying crash tests than there are hours in my entire lifetime, it’s safe to assume the new XC-90 will be the safest car on the road. Volvo study’s real world crashes more so than just IIHS safety reports. The reason for this is that most real crashes don’t happen like they do under controlled tests. So Volvo wants to make cars that are safe in the real world, not just in a lab. The XC-90 is the ideal choice for a family SUV for this reason alone.

This leads to my point about the X5 needing to worry. See, with the previous XC-90, the X5 never had to worry because the two cars were in a different class in terms of luxury. Yes, the XC-90 was nice, but not nearly as luxurious or expensive feeling as the X5. So the two catered to different customers. But now, the XC-90 is just as luxurious as the X5.

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And it has the performance credentials to match. All while costing almost $8,000 less to start than the equivalent X5. The XC-90 starts at $48,900, while the X5 with xDrive costs $56,200 to start. And the Volvo is better equipped and is just as luxurious on the inside.

So if the XC-90 is the X5’s equal now, in terms of luxury and status, but is much safer and costs quite a bit less, could it pull X5 customers away? It’s very possible. And when you consider the fact that most previous XC-90 customers will buy the new one despite the price bump, because they still want that same level of safety, the X5’s problem seems to worsen.

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The X5 will probably be the better car, dynamically, but being that most people don’t buy luxury SUVs for chassis dynamics, that probably won’t be too much a factor in the sales. The XC-90 is looking to be a dangerous (in a good way) player in the luxury SUV segment. And if it can perform the way Volvo is claiming, I’m not so sure it can be stopped.

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