2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Volvo XC90

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The XC90 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

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

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Explorer 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Volvo covers the XC90. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the XC90 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 10 times as many Ford dealers as there are Volvo dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The XC90 doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 31 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 28th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 16th in reliability. With 58 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 29th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Ford 11 places higher in reliability than Volvo.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the XC90:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

XC90 T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

XC90 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

The Explorer V6 Turbo’s standard fuel tank has 1.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the XC90’s standard fuel tank (20.2 vs. 18.8 gallons).

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the XC90.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the XC90 (255/65R18 vs. 235/55R19).

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The XC90 doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The XC90’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The front and rear suspension of the Explorer uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the XC90, which uses transverse leafs springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The XC90 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the XC90 (119.1 inches vs. 117.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 1.1 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the XC90.

Chassis

The Ford Explorer may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 400 pounds less than the Volvo XC90.

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The XC90 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The XC90 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has 1.8 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front legroom, 3.2 inches more front hip room, 4.1 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear headroom, 2 inches more rear legroom, 2.6 inches more rear hip room, 5.4 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, .3 inches more third row legroom and 7.7 inches more third row shoulder room than the XC90.

Cargo Capacity

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

Explorer

XC90

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

15.9 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

41.8 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

85.7 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the XC90’s in almost every dimension:

Explorer

XC90

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

Max Width

59”

54.7”

Min Width

48.1”

44.5”

Height

33.7”

35”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Explorer’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The XC90 doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Volvo XC90 is limited to 5000 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Explorer is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the XC90. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

An Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor is standard on the Explorer to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Volvo doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the XC90.

Ergonomics

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The XC90 doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its Volvo On Call can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Explorer has standard extendable sun visors. The XC90 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Ford Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The XC90 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Volvo XC90 by over 8 to one during 2018.

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

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