2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2020 Lexus RXL

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 2020/10/22

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 RXL 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 RXL doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and RXL 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 RXL’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. Lexus doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the RXL. 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 RXL 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.

Both the XC90 and the RXL 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, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.

Warranty

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

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 2 years and 26000 miles longer than Lexus pays for maintenance for the RXL (3/36,000 vs. 1/10,000).

There are over 16 percent more Volvo dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the XC90’s warranty.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC90 has a standard 800-amp battery. The RXL’s 580-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

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 RXL’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

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The XC90 has more powerful engines than the RXL:

Horsepower

Torque

XC90 T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

XC90 Recharge 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

RX 350L 3.5 DOHC V6

290 HP

263 lbs.-ft.

RX 450hL 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid

308 HP

As tested in Motor Trend the XC90 T6 is faster than the RX 350L:

XC90

RXL

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.4 MPH

89.3 MPH

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 RX 450hL (58 city/53 hwy MPGe vs. 29 city/28 hwy).

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

MPG

XC90

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

AWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

RXL

FWD

350 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

350 3.5 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

The XC90 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 18 miles. The RXL 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 RXL Hybrid.

The XC90 Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the RXL 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 RXL doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 Recharge

RXL

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 RXL:

XC90

RXL

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

139 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

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

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the RXL. The XC90’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the RXL.

Suspension and Handling

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The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The RXL’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 R-Design/Inscription 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 RXL 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 RXL (117.5 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC90 is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the RXL.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the RX 350L AWD pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.7 seconds quicker than the RX 350L (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the RXL (8.3 vs. 8.1 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 1.8 inches higher than on the RXL (9.9 vs. 8.1 inches).

Passenger Space

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The XC90 has .2 inches more front hip room, 6.1 inches more rear legroom, .7 inches more rear hip room, 1.5 inches more third row headroom, 8.4 inches more third row legroom, 1.1 inches more third row hip room and 1.2 inches more third row shoulder room than the RXL.

The front step up height for the XC90 is 4.7 inches lower than the RXL (15.8” vs. 20.5”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 4.8 inches lower than the RXL’s (16” vs. 20.8”).

Cargo Capacity

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

XC90

RXL

Third Seat Folded

35.6 cubic feet

33.4 cubic feet

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 RXL’s liftover is 31.9 inches.

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

XC90

RXL

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

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

21.5”/48.5”/81”

Max Width

54.7”

51.8”

Min Width

44.5”

44”

Height

35”

30”

Towing

© 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 2020/10/22

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

Ergonomics

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The XC90’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The RXL’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 RXL doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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 RXL doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The XC90 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the RXL.

The XC90 R-Design/Inscription’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 RXL doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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 $925 less than the RXL over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the RXL because typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the RXL, including $160 less for a water pump, $124 less for a muffler, $111 less for a starter, $1494 less for a timing belt/chain and $1043 less for a power steering pump.

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 2020/10/22

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

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

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

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

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