“I wish there was a simple answer. In my time owning an XC90, I’ve come to find that the cheapest ones to buy are, in general, the most expensive to own.” That was my comment on Facebook in response to this post: “I’m looking at maybe buying an XC90 with a budget of $6,000USD. How’s the reliability and longevity of the XC90 and what’s the best years and drivetrain?” It’s true, there is no simple answer to that question which is more about money than it is about a cheap Volvo XC90. But the fact is, each and every day, people scour the Internet looking for a cheap Volvo XC90 thinking it will be the car of their dreams. Often, the opposite is true and they end up with repair bills that they never anticipated.
This was my entire comment on the Volvo XC90 Facebook group post: “I wish there was a simple answer. In my time owning an XC90, I’ve come to find that the cheapest ones to buy are, generally, the most expensive to own. I own a 2004 2.5T that has been amazing.
I paid more than $6K for it (USD) but based on the carfax and past Volvo experience, I wagered it was a good buy. I was right. 2+ years in and I’ve had minor issues compared to others. So it’s not as much about year and drive train as it is about how well it’s been maintained.
There are some general no-no years/drivetrain that are generally seen as a waste of money (somebody chime in…I don’t even pay attention to the 6 cylinder/transmission topics) but if you find one, outside of the generally-agreed-upon crap, that’s been maintained well, you’ll find it to be a reliable SUV with some good options for buying parts online.
I’m not saying a $6K (or $5K, $4K, $3K or $2K) XC90 can’t be cared for and brought to a condition that makes it worth it. If you’re willing to love an XC90 that much, I’m all for it.
What I AM saying is that if $6,000USD is your budget and you buy a $6,000 XC90 that needs $2,000 in unplanned repairs during the first few weeks/months (PCV, Timing, Brakes, etc) you may have a bit of regret. The more you know about XC90s before you buy one, the better you can judge one before you buy.”
I cringe when I read about people buying a cheap Volvo XC90 for $2,000USD and expecting it to run like the $50,000+USD car it was 10+ years ago. It just doesn’t work that way. Now, I know people who expected, and are willing and able, to put the work into an early model, aka “cheap Volvo XC90” that needs timing belt, water pump, pulley, idler, PCV system, turbo, exhaust, etc. Parts for these issues alone can add up to more than what was paid for the SUV. But, I’ve seen people who are up for the challenge, or have prepared for this reality before they bought.
I wish there was a simple answer. In my time owning an XC90, I’ve come to find that the cheapest ones to buy are, in general, the most expensive to own.
Those who have not done their homework before they buy a cheap Volvo XC90 often end up with a nightmare.
The bottom line is, it pays to know what you’re getting into when it comes to buying a 10+ year-old SUV. The early year models of the Volvo XC90 are not really (in my opinion) the right car for anyone – except a dedicated owner. You simply must be willing to maintain this older SUV if you want it to give you the kind of reliability you bought it for in the first place.
You can certainly buy a cheap Volvo XC90, but it will likely be the most expensive one you buy.