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Volvo XC90 vs. Ford Explorer

Most people don’t consider the Volvo XC90 a competitor to the Ford Explorer. While both of them are comparatively-sized SUVs, the XC90 belongs to a more luxurious class than the Explorer. However, when it comes to the Volvo, you get what you pay for—and if you compare the two vehicles to one another, you may find that the XC90 does everything better than the Explorer, all while wrapped neatly in a comfortable and upscale package.


It’s easy to overlook value when you’re comparing a sticker price of $43,950 (for the Volvo XC90) to a base price of just over $30,000 for a similarly-equipped Ford Explorer. However, many of the Explorer’s better features come through compromise—if you want more rugged power, you need to opt for a less fuel-efficient engine option. Meanwhile, the Volvo XC90 offers premium sophistication, SUV capability, and great fuel economy all in one go.

Fuel Economy

We mentioned above that the XC90 trumps the Explorer in efficiency, but by how much? The two vehicles’ standard engines have comparable highway economy, with the Explorer sitting at 24 mpg and the XC90 rated at 26. However, the true test is in the city, in which the XC90 is rated at 22 mpg and the Explorer gets a measly 17 mpg. Keep in mind, that’s before you opt for the Explorer’s gas-guzzling turbo-4.


You might think the tough Explorer would win here, but you’d be surprised. While the Explorer has a max towing capacity of 2,000 lbs., the XC90 wins with a capacity of 5,000 lbs. Additionally, even though the two SUVs have similar engines with negligible difference between specs, the Volvo XC90 is built with a double-wishbone suspension that offers a sportier and smooth feel than the Explorer’s strut suspension.