2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2020 Tesla Model Y

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 2020/10/26

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 Model Y doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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. Tesla doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Model Y. 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 Model Y’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 Model Y doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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 Model Y 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.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the XC90’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Model Y doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The XC90 offers an optional 360-Degree Surround View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Model Y only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the XC90’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Model Y doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The XC90 has standard Volvo On Call, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model Y doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the XC90 and the Model Y have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, blind spot warning systems and rearview cameras.

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 Model Y has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 8 years and unlimited miles longer than the Model Y’s (12/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

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. Tesla doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Model Y.

There are over 2 times as many Volvo dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the XC90’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volvo vehicles are better in initial quality than Tesla vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volvo 31st in initial quality. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Tesla is ranked 34th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The XC90 Recharge’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel and a full charge is 536 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model Y’s range is only 330 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 8 hours and 30 minutes for only a 45% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas.

Brakes and Stopping

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

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 Recharge

Model Y

Model Y Performance

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

12.6 inches

14 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

13.2 inches

13.2 inches

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The XC90 has standard Electronic Brake Assistance to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model Y doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Model Y (275/45R20 vs. 255/35R21).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Model Y. The XC90’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 21-inch wheels optional on the Model Y Performance.

The XC90 has a standard space-saver spare (not available on Recharge) so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Model Y; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

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 Model Y’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 Model Y doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 3.7 inches longer than on the Model Y (117.5 inches vs. 113.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC90 is 1.2 inches wider in the front and 1 inch wider in the rear than the average track on the Model Y.

For better maneuverability, the XC90 w/19” wheels’ turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Model Y’s (38.7 feet vs. 39.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 1.7 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Model Y (8.3 vs. 6.6 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 3.3 inches higher than on the Model Y (9.9 vs. 6.6 inches).

Chassis

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As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the XC90 T6 AWD is quieter than the Model Y Long Range AWD (71 vs. 73 dB).

Passenger Space

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The XC90 has 2.2 inches more front hip room, 1.3 inches more front shoulder room, 5.9 inches more rear hip room and 2.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Model Y.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC90’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Model Y doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Payload and Towing

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

The XC90 has a much higher standard payload capacity than the Model Y (1210 vs. 954 lbs.).

Ergonomics

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The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Model Y doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the XC90 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Model Y can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC90 has a standard rear wiper. The Model Y doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the XC90 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Model Y doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC90 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The XC90’s standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model Y doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer a rear or rear side window sunshades.

The XC90’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Model Y’s power mirror controls are embedded in the infotainment system, seriously distracting drivers who have to adjust them while driving.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the XC90 Inscription keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Model Y doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the XC90’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Model Y doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Model Y.

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 Model Y 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 Model Y doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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 2020/10/26

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

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

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

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

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