Both Audi and Volvo are reputable brands, producing high-end SUVs that improve year on year. We put the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 head-to-head to compare their engines, performance, safety and reliability for UK drivers.
Established in 1927, Volvo has developed a reputation for unwavering reliability across the world. The XC90 was the first model of their XC range, originally launched in 2002. Joined by the smaller XC60 in 2008 and XC40 in 2017, the three cars provide attractive options for the increasingly popular SUV market. Now into its second generation, the XC90 - a seven-seater SUV - has established itself as safe, efficient, clever and practical.
Audi is an iconic brand in the motor industry, known for its incredible reliability and build quality. They continue to produce vehicles and technology that makes them the envy of the motor industry. Their Q range offers SUVs with smart design and practicality, with the larger SUV, the Q7, ready to go anywhere with all the technology you may need.
The XC90 interior is understated yet elegant and filled with the latest tech. Its innovative technology is paired with unique materials like the tailored Wool Blend Textile on upholstery for a fun and premium feel with a hint of sustainability. The car underwent revisions in 2019 and came out with a new front end, a redesigned grille and a lower front bumper. The XC90 certainly vies with the Q7 for best design.
From the outside, the Q7 is instantly recognisable as an Audi with a large, imposing front grille and intricately detailed headlights with LED daytime running lights. Even though it’s a bit less sculpted along the sides and back, it’s a smart and sophisticated looking car and disguises its size remarkably well.
The XC90 has a 4x4 system, but it’s more of a luxury SUV than a rugged off-roader. Designed for the roads, the set-up provides a comfortable ride in all models and plenty of grip. The vehicle strikes a nice balance between comfort and agility, with great body control. Drivers can feel comfortable guiding it around narrow country lanes and retaining a composed ride.
On the move, the Q7 is no race car – but that’s not why people opt for an SUV. Even so, it handles corners well for its size and its smooth ride makes for an enjoyable drive. You can choose to pay a little extra for the optional air suspension so that it glides over rough surfaces and remains exceptionally comfortable. Additionally, the Q7 makes a great car for towing – the powerful diesel engine has plenty of torque, which means it’s strong enough to pull large caravans and heavy trailers.
Inside the Q7, there is plenty of space for the whole family. There’s a decent 295 litres of boot space available with all seven seats in place, making it great for hauling goods while travelling with passengers. Similarly, the XC90 doesn’t lack boot or passenger space, providing a spacious 356 litres of boot space even with all three rows of seats intact.
One of the safest cars on the road, the XC90 scored 90% in the adult occupant protection section of Euro NCAP’s crash test, securing a solid five-star rating, too. No fatalities have ever been recorded in a Volvo XC90 in the UK, making it a solid safety choice for many.
As well as being robust, the XC90 vehicle packs a whole host of clever technology designed to prevent a crash such as cameras that detect pedestrians and an automatic braking system that stops the car if it detects you’re about to rear-end the vehicle in front of you.
The Q7 scored the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. In addition to the standard safety technology, there is also a long list of optional safety extras that you can include to protect your journey even more. These include driving assistance systems such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warnings.
Engine and fuel
The efficient diesel and high-tech hybrid power are the highlights of the engine range of the XC90. The B5 mild-hybrid system incorporates an energy recovery device into its braking system, which harvests energy that would otherwise be lost under braking. It is then used when accelerating to reduce the load on the petrol or diesel engine.
The XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid offers an appealing combination of ultra-low emissions, brilliant fuel economy and eager performance. The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers 320bhp, combined with an 87bhp electric motor. There’s even an Eco mode which claims to provide up to 25 miles of driving on electricity alone. What’s more, it attracts an incredibly low benefit-in-kind rate of 7%.
The Q7 has two 3-litre diesel engines to choose from, which keep it relatively economical, along with a petrol V6 of the same size. There are also two plug-in hybrids, which offer lower emissions and more cost-effective running costs. The plug-in hybrid (Q7 e-tron) can achieve 166.2mpg and emits just 77g/mile of CO2. On the other end of the scale, the 3-litre TDI models offer around 49.6mpg. The good news is that the 12% benefit-in-kind tax rate of the Audi Q7 e-tron will appeal to company car buyers.
Take a look at the reputation of Volvo as a brand, and it’s easy to see that the manufacturer performs well for customer satisfaction across the whole of its model range – including the XC90. Just 17.7% of these vehicle owners reported having experiencing an issue in the first year of ownership, making it a sturdy and reliable choice.