The Volvo XC90 has always been an impressive offering in the large 4×4 sector. Now it’s got bigger and better writes Ian Strachan.

The new XC90 is the real deal when it comes to 4x4s. Big and muscular, it has all-wheel drive and a host of features to keep you motoring safely in all terrains.

The XC90 also looks good. I tested the D5 in Momentum spec and it has sporty good looks despite its rugged capabilities. The result is a car which is the ultimate in practicality, but which still looks smart on the road.

In design terms, there’s no doubt that this is a Volvo. Big, sturdy-looking and roomy, it’s all Volvo from front, back and side.

It has chunky bumpers, a high stance, superb traction and a host of electronics to keep you safe (this is a Volvo, after all). But one of its big advantages is the seven-seat configuration. Unlike some seven-seaters, adults can travel in comfort, while still leaving a respectable load capacity.

I took the XC90 around country roads and hilly fields, and it didn’t miss a beat. With its chunky tyres and good ground clearance I was impressed how good its capabilities and handling were, although I didn’t give it an extreme off-road workout.

I test drove the 225 horsepower 2.0 litre four cylinder diesel powered version. This is a superb engine, very quiet, with smooth, unfussed power delivery. Linked to an effortless eight-speed automatic transmission, driving it is a pleasure, particularly when you need mid range power.

Its fuel consumption is respectable at 48.7 mpg in mixed driving. This is a very big vehicle so that’s not too bad at all. Ride is comfortable, with nicely damped suspension, no sea cruise body roll on cornering, and supportive, supremely comfortable leather seats.

Most functions are controlled from a central nine-inch touch screen which is also home to the standard fit satellite navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth phone etc. Heating, stop/start switch-on and other vehicle controls use this facility. It takes a little while to get used to, and care has to be taken not to take your eyes off the road, but it is intuitive and easy to use.

The interior is nicely trimmed with leather upholstery and soft trim. The dash is uncluttered and clear. There’s plenty of leg and elbow room inside the cabin, and with the third row of seats stowed the load space is huge. The powered tailgate has hands free operation, which is a useful touch, although I found it a bit hit and miss.

Trim levels are high. Standard equipment includes smart stand-out alloy wheels,  electronic four-zone climate control, cruise control, bending Xenon headlights with automatic high beam and electrically heated folding door mirrors.

This new XC90 comes at £45,750 on the road, but my test car came loaded with extras which put another £9,000 onto the price. These included panoramic sunroof, head-up display, adaptive cruise control with distance alert, lane control, blind spot monitor, integrated sun curtains for the rear windows, park-assist and all round cameras. Volvo motoring at this level isn’t cheap, but you get a lot of car for your money.

Motoring Reviews are bought to you courtesy of Midlands Business News and its Motoring Editor Ian Strachan of Ian Strachan Communications