Volvo XC90 2.4 diesel owners/towers.

Dec 7, 2005
Would really appreciate any comments and views of xc90 towers. particularly interested in the weight of the van you tow with it and how the car performs. How does it cope on long m/way climbs, do you need to drop a gear, does the auto box cope etc. Do they have the power / torque to pull out past the trucks pass quickly and safely and pull back in. Ive been tempted for a little while now but if I change to anything its going to have to be good, Ive been towing my 1440kg caravan with my 2.2mondeo st tdci which is some towcar, very stable and doesn't notice the hills. The reason Im considering this is three growing boys and an ever increasing payload, plus my wife would like the seven seats for trips with her parents etc.Any info you could give me re the performance/things to look for etc would be really appreciated. Will probably be looking at 2004/2005 2.4 diesel geartronic 163bhp.
Many thanks
Sep 6, 2010
Hi Bay343
I have been towing a Coachman Amara 530/4 for the last 5 1/2 yeras in Uk and on annual trips to the South of France. Its a 2005 163 manual. The Amara weighs 1425kgs and the Volvo easily towes. solo mpg over my period of ownership has improved year on year and with 66K miles now, it averages @ 38mpg. Towing @2 4mpg.
i am just about to sell it because at 66K there are a number of epensive problems that need putting right. The reversing sensors have given up functioning, it needs a new set of brake pads and disks. The drivers seat has split and is starting to collapse. i am also mindful that it will soon need a new exhaust sytem plus a number of minor niggles. To put things right is in the order of £2K.
front tyres last around 20K miles and rears '28K.
Whilst the 7 seat arrangement was useful when I first bought the car, leg room is limited and really ony suited to younger teenagers or people of aa slight build.
The load carrying and towing capcity of this car is superb and the only reason that I am not replacing it on a like for like basis is that I want a more environmentally friendly car that costs less in roadfund tax. Volvo have yet to catch up CO2 emmisions.

May 2, 2006
Hello Mike,
We have a 2007 2.4 Deisel with the 185PS engine and Geartronic transmission. We towed a 1500Kg Bailey for a couple of years with it but switched to a 1600Kg Swift at Easter this year. We have done a total of 45,000 miles (of which I guess about 10,000 with the vans on) and are very very happy with the car.

Positives - it copes very well with everything we throw at it; pulls well up long inclines; is very comfortable to drive (and be a passenger in); even with a van on the back it can certainly accelerate from cruising speed to get past lorries effortlessly; the auto gearbox manages towing with no fuss and the only time I switch into manual override is to lock into a low gear on steep descents; the service interval is 18,000 miles or 12 months.

Negatives - it is heavy on tyres, partly because the state of UK roads (certainly in this neck of South Wales) keeps knocking the tracking off too easily; we had a total gearbox failure on a trip to Spain (without the van), though it was replaced under warranty with no quibbles; as Saj says, the rear pair of seats are not of much use to anybody bigger than, say, 5'3" or heavier than perhaps 65 Kg and even with such small people or children, bringing the rear seats into use cramps up the legroom all through the car so I really wouldn't want to do a very long journey with that setup; there is no long wave on the radio so I am deprived of test match commentary.

When we were buying I looked a lot at the Volvo owners forum and quite a few people with the 163PS engines were saying they didn't have as much power as they wanted, but I have no personal experience of that engine.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy whatever you eventually buy.

Mike A
Feb 15, 2006
Hi Mike,
I have a 54 Plate XC90 which i have had for 3 years.
Its an absolute brill towcar & my outfit is a T/A 2008 Bucanneer Caravel with a MIRO of 1690KG & a MTPLM of 1900KG. One of the heaviest caravans on the market. I never have any problems & i have towed all over the country up & down steep gradients.
It returns me about 20mpg towing which is not bad for almost a 2 tonne caravan. I have never returned 38mpg about 35mpg solo on motorway and about 26-27mpg around town
It is very comfortable on long journeys with a high spec, like already mentioned tyres are heavy but again the car itself is nearly 2.3 tonne so its what you expect really. Service costs are average for any 4x4.
I would certainly go for it & will certainly have another XC90 hopefully early next year & will be the newer uprated engine which is supposed to be better than my 54 plate.


Aug 23, 2009
As I'm in the market to change my towcar at some point over the next year I did look at the XC90 at lawns this year. I have discounted it quite quickly purely and simply from an access point of view. I have been running various 4x4's for the last 12 years and have never encountered such deep sills (non of mine have had them at all) to have to negotiate when getting in and out. My daughter fell out tripping over it as she got out and I didn't feel comfortable getting in and out. Nothing against the rest of the car mind you!
Nov 9, 2006
I have a 04 XC90 with the geartronic, 163hp engine. I tow a Ciachman Amara 550/5 (1450kg). Gearbox works fine, no "hunting for best ratio" as some reviews (not this site) might have you believe.
You will notice a difference compared with your mondeo when you hit the hills, and that is because of the additional weight of the car.
My previous Sharan 115hp with the same van went up hills better, but was hopeless on anything slighty damp.
The rear 2 seat are fine for an adult, I have sat in them alogside my equl sized sister in law on a journey from brum to orpington, I'm 5'7", 11.5 stone, no complaints, would happily do so again.
Very capable of ovetaking the lorries on the mway, and no white knuckles while doing so, wheras my previous Sharan used to have me gripping the wheel with some trepidation. Also not affected by passing vans or coaches.
The side sills are deep, but it does have ground clearance and something called "Side Impact Protection System" (well it is a Volvo) and that is obvioulsy going to take up some space.
Wish I had the money to upgrade to the higer power engine - but happy all the same with what I have got.
MPG while towing is ~25, and on a run ~35, in town drops to ~27.