The Volvo XC90 is the ‘nanny state’ of family cars


There’s no doubting the XC90 is one of the finest SUVs on the market. Even so, I’ve discovered some niggling faults over the last seven days which would annoy me if this was my own car.

The XC90 is overladen with safety devices. What’s wrong with that? Well, obviously, we all want to be safe but the Volvo is the equivalent of the ‘nanny state’ with simply too many devices to keep you on the road.

You can switch off the lane departure system but with it active, the steering wheel vibrates when you change lanes and it gently tries to ‘push’ you back into the right place – unless you press the indicator stalk of course.

However, I was taught that you only indicate when another road user benefits. With the Volvo, you could be driving down a motorway with no other cars around in the middle of the night and the system still vibrates and squeals.

The impact warning system that flashes red lights and sounds an alarm when it detects an imminent impact isn’t foolproof. It will detect a parked car on a corner and suspect a crash – when you are simple driving past.

Finally, the gears can be frustrating, not letting you select ‘drive’ in automatic mode unless the handbrake has been deactivated. It’s not as bad as a Maserati Ghibli but you get the picture.

I guess people buy big Volvos to be safe – it’s the key message of the company. For me, I like to think my driving skills and instincts can cope with many of the things the Volvo wants to do for me. And for that, the XC90 won’t be everybody’s cup of tea…

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