2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e

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 X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the XC90 and X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e’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 X5 xDrive45e. 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 X5 xDrive45e’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 X5 xDrive45e doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the XC90 and the X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e has not been tested, yet.

Reliability

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The X5 xDrive45e’s redline is at 7000 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The XC90 has a 6000-RPM redline.

Engine

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The XC90 Recharge’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid produces 11 more horsepower (400 vs. 389) and 29 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 443) than the X5 xDrive45e’s 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid.

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 X5 xDrive45e (58 city/53 hwy vs. 47 city/54 hwy MPGe).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the X5 xDrive45e:

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

X5 xDrive45e

AWD

3.0 turbo 6-cyl. Hybrid

19 city/22 hwy

The XC90 T5’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 18 miles, 13% further than the X5 xDrive45e’s 16 mile range.

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 X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e (3). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the X5 xDrive45e every 15,000 miles.

Tires and Wheels

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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 X5 xDrive45e’s optional 40 series front tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 22-inch wheels. The X5 xDrive45e’s largest wheels are only 21-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For better maneuverability, the XC90 w/19” wheels’ turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the X5 xDrive45e’s (38.7 feet vs. 41.4 feet). The XC90 w/22” wheels’ turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the X5 xDrive45e’s (39.7 feet vs. 41.4 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 w/Air Suspension has a 1.6 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the X5 xDrive45e (9.9 vs. 8.3 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 1350 pounds less than the BMW X5 xDrive45e.

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 X5 xDrive45e (.35) 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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For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the XC90’s middle row seats recline. The X5 xDrive45e’s middle row seats don’t recline.

The front step up height for the XC90 is 3.7 inches lower than the X5 xDrive45e (15.8” vs. 19.5”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 4 inches lower than the X5 xDrive45e’s (16” vs. 20”).

Cargo Capacity

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The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the X5 xDrive45e’s in every dimension:

XC90

X5 xDrive45e

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

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

n.a./40.7”/70”

Max Width

54.7”

49”

Min Width

44.5”

44”

Height

35”

31.5”

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 X5 xDrive45e’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.

Payload

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The XC90 has a much higher standard payload capacity than the X5 xDrive45e (1210 vs. 937 lbs.).

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 X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

© 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 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X5 xDrive45e 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 2020/10/27

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 X5 xDrive45e has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The X5 xDrive45e 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 X5 xDrive45e has never been chosen.

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

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