The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Volvo XC90 (P2)

2003-2014 - P2 Platform

With Volvo's new S80 flagship luxury sedan and S60 and V70 midsize cars debuting the advanced P2 platform, Volvo began to ponder the success of new market segments, including one they'd helped pioneer with the XC70: the "soft roader", tall wagons and crossovers featuring a high seating position and two-box shape like a traditional SUV, but in a unibody chassis with car-like fuel economy and driving manners.

The result of their design efforts launched in 2003 as the XC90, slotting in above the XC70 in Volvo's lineup. Shaped more like an SUV than the lower, wagon-derived XC70, Volvo intended it to go toe-to-toe with other car-based SUVs like the BMW X5, but with a greater focus on practicality with features like seating for 7, rear passenger audio and climate controls, and seats that could be folded and stowed with one hand (including the rear third row that could be entirely stowed under the cargo floor).

The XC90 is no Land Rover, but the new AWD system developed by fellow Swedish company Haldex Traction made the car-based XC90 surprisingly capable on loose surfaces, especially when paired with DSTC stability control to keep slides and spins at bay. On AWD XC90s, the Haldex system uses the car's existing ABS wheel speed sensors to not only detect wheel lock-up under heavy braking, but also wheel slip under heavy acceleration. When the sensors pick up a speed difference between the front and rear wheels, the Haldex controller in the rear of the car locks up a clutch, the "Active On-Demand Coupling (AOC)," transferring power across to the rear wheelsen the front wheels lose traction.

In the USA, the XC90 at launch was powered by "white block" inline five and inline six engines, either the "2.5T" light pressure inline five turbo, or the "T6"  inline six twin-turbo, backed by 5-speed Aisin-Warner AW50/55 and 4-speed GM 4T65 automatic transmissions respectively. Like the same powertrains in the S80, the five-speed Aisin transmission was dependable enough, but the T6's 280lb-ft of torque and rapid boost onset from the parallel turbos was uncomfortably close to the GM-derived transmission's maximum torque rating, and hard shifts and loss of certain gears can be an expensive portent of overheating issues, failed valve bodies/solenoids, and brake band and clutch pack failures.

Appearing in 2005 and gradually replacing the troublesome T6 was a new V8 engine, designed by Volvo and built by Yamaha in Japan. This compact, narrow-angle 60° V8 was shorter than the T6 and thus was able to be paired with better transmissions like the Aisin-Warner TF-80 SC 6-speed automatic, but after a few years some problems with the balance shaft in the vee of the V8 began to surface: the shaft bearings aren't lubricated by engine oil and sometimes wear out, particularly in early motors where any water that gets in the engine bay can't drain and instead collects in the vee and gradually washes the grease out of the bearings. Without grease, the bearings fail and the balance shaft starts eating in to the engine block, potentially taking out the timing chain as well when it finally seizes. An update in 2006 saw a drainage hole drilled in the block to allow any pooled water to escape; we don't know if this definitively fixed the problem, but we've found XC90s made after 2006 do seem to have fewer balance shaft failures.

Shortly after the V8's introduction, Volvo began to gradually replace the 2.5T in the XC90 with a new naturally aspirated inline six, designed by Volvo but with final assembly completed by new corporate parent Ford in Britain. These "SI6" engines were specially developed to fit transversely (sideways) in the engine bay of FWD cars, and they feature some unique engineering tricks to do this: the timing chain, accessory belt drive, and components like the alternator and A/C compressor have been relocated either to the sides of the engine (driven via special gears off the middle of the crankshaft) or to the "back" end of the engine, above the transmission and driven by gears off the end of the crankshaft.

In our experience, these "short six" engines are generally pretty stout, but they have an achilles heel: the brake vacuum pump. Above the transmission and driven by the camshafts, this pump often develops leaks from the o-ring where the pump bolts to the engine, and the oil dripping down can appear like expensive transmission or rear main seal leak when viewed from underneath. We offer both a reseal kit and new pumps for this purpose.

The XC90 remained one of Volvo's most popular models while it was available, selling over 600,000 units over its 11 year life. It was finally put out to pasture after 2014, with its new, SPA platform replacement appearing in 2015 for the 2016 model year.

  • Four door, three row "crossover" (unibody) SUV based on the Volvo P2 platform
  • Sold in the USA from 2003 through 2014 model year
  • All USA models were all equipped with automatic transmissions
  • Available in FWD and Haldex AWD variations

The P2 XC90 had several cosmetic face-lifts over its lifetime.

There was a limited run of the electric blue Ocean Race V8 version of this model produced in 2005-2006.  They are pretty rare in the USA.

Most early model P2 XC90 models will inevitably have transmission issues. The 4T65 and early TF80 transmissions seem most prone to issues, but the AW55-50/51SN can have issues too.  It is of great benefit to flush these transmissions on a regular basis as they have no filtration and do produce a significant amount of fine particulate during operation. This abrasive particulate wears out the valve body solenoids which can cause shift flare or extremely hard shifts.

USA Engine & Transmission Packages:

  • B5254T2
    • 2.5L gasoline light pressure turbocharged inline 20 valve DOHC 5 cylinder
    • Available on USA models from 2003 through 2006
    • Transmission: AW55-5x 5 speed automatic in with FWD or AWD options
  • B6294T
    • 2.9L gasoline turbocharged inline 24 valve DOHC 6 cylinder
    • Available on USA models from 2003 through 2006
    • Transmission: 4T65 AWD 4 speed automatic
  • B8444S
  • B6324S
    • Compact 3.2L gasoline normally aspirated inline 6 cylinder
    • Available on USA models from 2007 through 2014
    • CA emissions compliant B6324S5 available from 2010
    • Transmission: TF-80SC 6 speed automatic with FWD or AWD options

Model information is based on the USA vehicle market. Other model variations may exist outside the USA.

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