New Volvo XC90 vs Mercedes ML: first static evaluation

Mercedes ML vs Volvo XC90
6.27K 0

Is this new Volvo XC90 a competitor for the Mercedes ML? First static comparison.



12 years later, Volvo launches the second XC90 generation, which practically restarts the Swedish brand with a new design and the new SPA platform. Could Volvo XC90 compete against the Mercedes ML, if it only has 4-cylinder engines?

In the Ford era, Volvo officials considered Volvo as a premium brand. They have premium prices, but they have never reached the technical refinement of the German brands. Now, with Chinese capital in, Volvo starts a new chapter, after 87 years of history. And the chapter starts with a new design and a new platform (SPA – Scalable Platform Architecture), that Volvo claims to be very flexible. How will Volvo XC90 face the premium competition of Mercedes ML and BMW X5?

The Swedish came up with seven seats and state that, on the third row, people up to 1,70 meter tall can take a seat. The seats from the second row are individual and they can slide forward to eliberate more kneeroom for the passengers in the third row.

The Mercedes ML only offers five seats, but these seats are very generous. The ML has the the most spacious interior of the segment.

Volvo claims to introduce two safety innovations in a world premiere.

  1. Run-off road protection (avoids an accident when the car runs out of the road). In case a car leaves the road, the belts are firmly tightened as long as the car is in motion. But it seems that this is only a marketing tool, because Mercedes has been using the Pre-safe system for many years. The system does the same and even more.
  2. Auto brake at intersections: the car goes into automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming traffic. But in this case also, Mercedes has now the BAS Plus Brake Assist System, which has almost the same function.

It seems that the Volvo XC90 has done an upgrade regarding the assistance systems, but it does not have features which are not also available in the Mercedes.

 Volvo provides a range of two diesels, two petrol and a Plug-In Hybrid.

Both diesels have a 2 litre 4 cylinder engine and develop 190 HP/400 Nm (D4, turbodiesel) and 225 HP/470 Nm (D5, biturbo diesel). By comparison, the Mercedes ML 250 CDI comes with a 2.1 litre bi-turbodiesel with 204 HP and 500 Nm. Volvo proclaims a fuel consumption of 6 l/100 km for D5 which is the same for the ML 250 BlueTec 4Matic. Above 2.1 litre 204 HP, the Mercedes has the souveran V6 3 litre, which develops 258 HP and a huge 620 Nm torque. Volvo does not have an offer at this level.

In the petrol range, Volvo also lacks a nobile V6 or a V8 and they also use only 4 cylinder engines. T5 (2 litre turbo) develops 254 HP and 350 Nm, meanwhile the T6 offers 320 HP and 400 Nm from the same 2 litre engine using a compressor and a turbo. By comparison, the normal aspirated V6 3,5 litre engine from the ML 350 develops 306 HP and 370 Nm.

Surprisingly, Volvo also competes against the top range Mercedes ML 500 (V8 bi-turbo, 4,7 litre, 408 HP, 600 Nm) with a Plug-In Hybrid, which puts together a 2 litre petrol turbo with compressor and turbo with an electric engine of 80 HP and offers a total of 400 HP and 640 Nm. But in this case awd system seems to not be well prepared for off-road. The thermic engine drives the front wheels and the electric engine the rear wheels, a system used also by Lexus. As in Lexus, this solution is only for soft offroad, meanwhile the 4Matic in the Mercedes is much more capable.

6 l/100 km is the fuel consumption of the ML 250 CDI 4Matic and Volvo XC90 D5

Volvo also claim that they are replacing almost all the buttons and switches with the functions of a tablet. They probably got the idea from the Tesla and it is a very modern approach. But first, we have to actually see how intuitive the ergonomy is. The Mercedes has, in the ML, the old multifunctional Comand inspired from the menus of the former S-Class. But sometimes  “less is not more” and the presence of more switches is not a disadvantage. For example, the modern Porsche uses the jet inspired central console with a multitude of switches again.

Volvo also imitates the marketing strategy of Mercedes and, at the very start of the sales, they offer a limited serie of 1927 units (the year of the Volvo birth) named First Edition, combined with a D5 diesel or with T6 turbo. Volvo has not announced complete technical data and prices yet.