Should I buy a used Volvo XC90 from Japan or the UK?

Thursday April 18 2019


By Paul Kaganzi

Hello Paul, I wanted to buy a used Volvo XC90 from Japan but I have been told that its spareparts are costly and maintenance costs also high. Others tell me that it is better to buy one from Europe than from Japan. What should I do? Cliff

Hello Cliff, I presume you are looking at a used Volvo XC90 built from 2003 to 2015, which generally carried the same design with updated engine, lights, slight exterior curves and interior comfort and convenience features. The XC90’s service parts are affordable but repair parts are pricy and often have to be ordered from abroad as there are a handful independent new or used parts suppliers often with limited service parts.

However, what you fix with new parts lasts. What is critical is getting a used car with a good maintenance record and genuine low mileage.

This has an implication on needed costly repairs such as timing belt and driveline or suspension parts. The Volvo XC90 first generation was built in Sweden so the quality is the same for used cars bought in the UK or Japan. However, it is easier to buy the more fuel-efficient right hand drive XC90s with diesel engines from the UK. You have to look out for suspension and under ride corrosion damage from winter salt, which is a common problem with some UK used cars.

The generation i XC90 Sports Utility Vehicle has been attractive to buyers because it promises the legendary Volvo safety record (absorbs frontal impacts, deflects pedestrians up onto the hood, crumple zones, a steel passenger cavity for roll over protection); offers impressive driver control passive aids (like roll stability and dynamic stability control) and practicality (flexible seven-seating capacity).

This XC90 generation has a stiff interior with ageing dated design features. However, it is roomy, comfortable for long safaris and feels robust. The XC90’s top heavy structure can lean over uncomfortably when driving fast through corners. However, it provides responsive performance and reasonable road handling thanks to its suspension design and curb weight.

But here lies this XC90’s other limitation ‘curb weight’. Its smaller D52 line 4 and line 5 turbo diesel 2.4 litre engines are reputed for being under powered (161-192 BHP) and struggle a bit to carry the top heavy Swedish SUV (acceleration 0-100 km/hour : 11.8 seconds & 10.3 seconds). Noteworthy is the fact that the smaller diesel engines give you better fuel economy 12.3-13km/litre.


The bigger petrol engines provide more exciting power but poorer fuel economy results. The popular 3.2 L-line 6 engine uses its 240 BHP to accelerate from 0-100 km/hour in 9.3 seconds. Its fuel economy is 9.8 km/litre. The aggressive 4.4 Litre V8 belts out 311 BHP and needs only 7.3 seconds to accelerate from 0-100 Km/ hour. The V8’s fuel economy is the worst at 7.4 km/litre. Exciting and thrilling power comes at a cost of your fuel wallet.

You can control fuel economy by planning your journeys to escape traffic congested routes and avoid aggressive driving which demands low gearing, keep engine well-tuned or serviced as well as fueling with efficiency and economy enhancing fuels.