Volvo is synonymous with making safe cars but its biggest model, the Volvo XC90, has been named the least reliable model in the UK by a comprehensive report.
Which? polled 47,000 car owners as part of its Reliability Survey and the huge Volvo 4X4 came bottom in the rankings.
Nearly three quarters of owners with the latest XC90 SUV – which costs £54,400 new – said their car suffered a problem in the last year – more than any other vehicle.
The UK’s most unreliable car: The Volvo XC90 (2015-), which costs from £54,400 new, is the most problematic car in the UK once it passes three years old
The current XC90 is the second version of the massive 4X4. It has been on sale since 2015.
Three to five year old versions of the flashy SUV have a fault rate of 74 per cent, the survey found.
This was the highest fault rate of any car, in any age group, in the poll, which included reliability data for 280 models from 35 different brands in total.
Not only were there plenty of problems, the breakdown rate of these cars was also sky high in the last 12 months.
Which? calculated that one in six (16 per cent) Volvo SUVs conked out on their owners and refused to start.
The findings of the report showed an array of issues rather than a single standout fault that was impacting these cars and causing headaches for their drivers.
Top of the fault list was issues with the exhaust or emission control system.
Some 16 per cent of owners said their XC90 suffered this problem.
Also high on the list of faults – impacting more than one in 10 XC90s in this age group and needing to be fixed by mechanics – were: engine cooling system (13 per cent); exterior door handles and locks (13 per cent); interior door handles and locks (11 per cent); suspension (11 per cent); fuel system (11 per cent); interior trim (11 per cent); and engine turbos (11 per cent).
Which? has listed the major issues Volvo XC90 owners suffered in the previous year. Some, such as suspension and engine turbo faults, will be very expensive to put right
Three to five year old versions of the flashy SUV have a fault rate of 74%, the survey found
While many of these grumbles are relatively inexpensive to repair – such as trim and door handle problems – others would have cost a fair sum to put right.
Fixing suspension on a big, high-riding 4X4, and repairing or replacing a turbo will have set owners back hundreds of pounds.
Unreliability among SUVs like the XC90 is common, according to the data.
In the Which? rankings, seven out of ten of the least reliable models up to three years old are medium to large SUVs. For the 3 to 8-year age group, it’s three out of ten.
While this catalogue of faults might have riddled XC90s between three and five years old, but drivers of newer cars (zero to three years) said they were not overly burdened by issues, suggesting that cracks begin to appear as cars go beyond their three-year, 60,000-mile warranty period and owners are then responsible to cover the cost of repair work.
Plenty of owners reported problems with interior trim and door handles
Which? said many of the problems identified with the XC90 in the most recent Car Reliability Survey were not related to recalls and instead were caused by issues with quality of manufacturing.
‘It’s hugely disappointing for the brand and its flagship SUV,’ said the consumer group.
That is especially the case given the car maker’s traditions of being one of the safest manufacturers in the world.
It was Volvo that introduced the first three-point seatbelt, the first side-impact protection system, the first external airbag system – it was even the first to use booster cushions for children.
The Volvo XC90 is a large premium SUV – the biggest model in the Swedish brand’s existing range
Which? said the findings suggest that cracks begin to appear as the XC90’sthree-year, 60,000-mile warranty expires. Owners are then responsible to cover the cost of repair work
Harry Rose, editor at the consumer group, said: ‘ With their reputation for safety, you’d be forgiven for thinking Volvo’s cars would be reliable too but as our research has found, the two don’t necessarily go together and once your warranty runs out you could actually end up forking out for a litany of problems.
‘While Volvo was not the least reliable brand overall, at £52,000 for the XC90 it’s unacceptable that after three years three-quarters of owners of cars aged up to eight years old are reporting issues.
‘If you are concerned your vehicle isn’t reliable, make sure you’re with a breakdown service that won’t let you down. If you are in the market for a new car, consider steering clear of this unreliable Volvo and do some research before you opt for any other SUV.’
Responding to the Which? results, a Volvo spokesman said: ‘We never compromise on safety and always take any action required to ensure the safety of our customers.
‘In addition to safety recalls, we constantly monitor the reliability of our products and carry out free in-service campaigns to update certain items where a systematic concern is identified.
‘While sample sizes may be small, surveys such as this supplement our own comprehensive data and help our understanding of what our customers are experiencing.’
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