2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2020 BMW X7

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW X7 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

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 BMW X7 doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

Both the XC90 and X7 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 X7’s 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. BMW doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the X7. 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.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The X7’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The X7 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the XC90 and the X7 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 and available around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 132 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The X7 has not been tested, yet.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the XC90 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the X7:

MPGe

XC90

AWD

Electric Motor

58 city/53 hwy

X7

MPG

AWD

xDrive40i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

20 city/25 hwy

xDrive50i 4.4 turbo V8

15 city/21 hwy

M50i 4.4 turbo V8

15 city/21 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the X7:

MPG

XC90

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

26 city/28 hwy

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

X7

AWD

xDrive40i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

20 city/25 hwy

xDrive50i 4.4 turbo V8

15 city/21 hwy

M50i 4.4 turbo V8

15 city/21 hwy

The XC90 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 18 miles. The X7 must run its internal combustion engine to move.

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 X7 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the BMW X7 (3). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the X7 every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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The XC90 stops much shorter than the X7:

XC90

X7

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

169 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the X7’s optional 40 series front tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the X7 xDrive50i pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the X7 xDrive40i (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .66 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the XC90 w/19” wheels’ turning circle is 4.1 feet tighter than the X7’s (38.7 feet vs. 42.8 feet). The XC90 w/22” wheels’ turning circle is 3.1 feet tighter than the X7’s (39.7 feet vs. 42.8 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 w/Air Suspension has a 1.2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the X7 (9.9 vs. 8.7 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The Volvo XC90 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 to 1050 pounds less than the BMW X7.

The XC90 is 8.3 inches shorter than the X7, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Volvo XC90 amounts to more than styling. The XC90 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .33 Cd. That is lower than the X7 (.33 to .36) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC90 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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The front step up height for the XC90 is 4.2 inches lower than the X7 (15.8” vs. 20”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 4.5 inches lower than the X7’s (16” vs. 20.5”).

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the XC90 easier. The XC90’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 30.8 inches, while the X7’s liftover is 32.5 inches.

The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the X7’s in almost every dimension:

XC90

X7

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

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

18.5”/45”/81.5”

Max Width

54.7”

48”

Min Width

44.5”

43.5”

Height

35”

32”

The XC90 has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The X7 doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

The XC90’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The X7’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

Ergonomics

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Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The X7 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC90 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the X7 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The X7 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

A manual rear sunshade and rear side window sunshades are optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The X7 doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The XC90 has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X7 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

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The XC90 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X7 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the XC90 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the XC90 will cost $2135 to $8145 less than the X7 over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volvo XC90 will be $28643 to $33576 less than for the BMW X7.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The BMW X7 isn't recommended.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The X7 has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The X7 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 X7 has never been chosen.

The Volvo XC90 outsold the BMW X7 by 66% during 2019.

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