2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2019 Lexus RX Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The RX Series doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Lexus RX Series has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the XC90 and RX Series have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The RX Series’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Lexus doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the RX Series. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The RX Series doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The RX Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC90 and the RX Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras and available around view monitors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Lexus RX Series:

 

XC90

RX Series

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Lexus RX Series:

 

XC90

RX Series

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

51

53

Chest Movement

.7 inches

.7 inches

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

165

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

44 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

14 inches

HIC

209

275

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

44 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

685 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the RX Series’ (12 vs. 6 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Lexus only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the RX Series.

There are over 24 percent more Volvo dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the XC90’s warranty.

Reliability

The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The RX Series’ battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

The XC90 has more powerful engines than the RX Series:

 

Horsepower

Torque

XC90 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

XC90 T8 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

RX 350 3.5 DOHC V6

295 HP

268 lbs.-ft.

RX 450h 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid

308 HP

n/a

As tested in Motor Trend the XC90 T6 is faster than the RX 450h:

 

XC90

RX Series

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.3 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the RX 450h (59 city/56 hwy MPGe vs. 31 city/28 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 gets better fuel mileage than the RX Series:

 

 

 

MPG

XC90

 

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/29 hwy

 

AWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

 

 

T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4 cyl.

19 city/26 hwy

RX Series

 

FWD

350 3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

 

AWD

350 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 17 miles. The RX Series must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regardless of its engine, the XC90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the RX Series Hybrid.

The XC90 Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the RX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The RX Series doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the XC90’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the RX Series:

 

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 T8

RX Series

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

13.3 inches

The XC90 stops much shorter than the RX Series:

 

XC90

RX Series

 

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the RX Series (275/45R20 vs. 235/65R18).

The XC90 T5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the RX Series’ standard 65 series tires. The XC90’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the RX Series’ optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The RX Series’ largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The RX Series doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 7.7 inches longer than on the RX Series (117.5 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC90 is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the RX Series.

The XC90’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.7% to 48.3%) than the RX Series’ (57% to 43%). This gives the XC90 more stable handling and braking.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the RX 450h AWD pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the RX 450h AWD (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.5 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 1.2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the RX Series (9.4 vs. 8.2 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 2.3 inches higher than on the RX Series (10.5 vs. 8.2 inches).

Passenger Space

The XC90 has standard seating for 7 passengers; the RX Series can only carry 5.

Cargo Capacity

The XC90’s cargo area provides more volume than the RX Series.

 

XC90

RX Series

Third Seat Folded

41.8 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

18.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

85.7 cubic feet

56.3 cubic feet

Towing

The XC90’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the RX Series’ (4000 vs. 0 pounds).

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the RX Series, the XC90 R-Design/Inscription/Excellence has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The RX Series doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

A manual rear sunshade is optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The RX Series doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The XC90 Inscription/Excellence has standard front air conditioned seats and the XC90 Excellence also has them in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The RX Series doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

The XC90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The RX Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the RX Series because typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the RX Series, including $153 less for a water pump, $117 less for a muffler, $104 less for a starter, $1452 less for a timing belt/chain and $1022 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The RX Series has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The RX Series has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The RX Series has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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