Volvo XC90 Tuning

"Thanks for reading this XC90 tuning guide."

When Volvo do a large SUV the world sits up and takes notice. The XC90 is a great car, offering many practicalities. It is very well built and great to work on as a project car.

In fact we saw an awesome Mad Max style off road conversion on the XC90 and it looked fantastic.

We review and look at XC90 tuning and point out the best mods that work. Volvo XC90s are popular tuning projects and with carefully picked tuning upgrades you can really improve your driving pleasure of this great Volvo.

The XC90 is actually a very good car modification project to play with. The key to XC90 tuning is doing it right as you can waste loads of money if you do it wrong.

Common faults and complaints

Many owners, particularly those on bigger wheels report excessive road noise and vibrations. Switching to smaller alloys and specifying a different tyre goes some way to correct this problem.

The on board software seems to be glitchy and people are still reporting issues with it, particularly the navigation.

Electrical problems and issues seem quite significant on the 2016 model year, the 2017 and 2018 years are so far pretty good with few reported issues.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Handling/Suspension upgrades

Many XC90 owners uprate the handling of their cars with uprated suspension mods as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

Putting some negative camber on the wheels and a degree or two of toe in to improve stability or toe out for better cornering, will often improve your XC90 in handling and cornering.

We suggest that you fit sports suspension and lower the car by 29mm - 35 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with uprated suspension.

Our aim in engine tuning should be to increase peak power and torque at the top end.

Keep your car looking standard and take off the badges for the ultimate sleeper!

To be completely frank and honest, on the more modest engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

Engine Tuning.

There were quote a few engine choices, and thankfully Volvo didn't skimp on power output or design.

  • 2.5 L B5254T2 turbocharged I5
  • 2.9 L B6294T twin-turbocharged I6
  • 3.2 L B6324S SI6 I6
  • 4.4 L B8444S V8
  • 2.4 L D5244T4 turbodiesel I5
  • 2.4 L D5244T5 turbodiesel I5

This list of the stages and modified kits are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get going.

Getting the right modified upgrade kits for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport parts just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Alloy wheels, Panel air filter, Sports exhaust, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Lighter flywheel, Remap.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, Power/Sport clutch, fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

Peak power is all well and good but for a daily driven car you need a wide torque band and perhaps extending the rev range.

In this article we shall give a little insight into the world to the best upgrades for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance modification.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest bhp gains for your money as far as a bolt on uprated modifications goes on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

The exhaust & intake flow play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a performance chip to fully realise your gains.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to pay attention to the fuelling.

Most power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after tuning modifications are done can usually be traced to timing or fuelling issues. Bigger injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned XC90s uprated injectors.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Contrary to popular belief there is usually a small if any power gain got by fitting an induction kit, they only help and are recommended after you boos the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for XC90 engines you should settle for a performance panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Do not go with the biggest exhaust you can get this will reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Head work including a polish and port and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. A good fast road performance clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never skimp or think that the standard OEM clutch to cope. The best mods in our opinion for your XC90 are a tune/remap especially on a turbo, a fast road camshaft and sports exhaust, with a good air intakeTurbo engines are just crying out to be remapped. You will see phenomenal power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a tune/remap one of the most cost effective and phenomenal modifications for your money.Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. It is often simpler to add a supercharger than it is to fit a working turbo. It is difficult to map fuelling with a turbo as the boost increases exponentially with rpm.

The nice correlating boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them simpler to map. Alternatively you could perhaps install water injection to minimise knock.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than steel ones. Don't forget that your choice of rubber greatly affects your cars grip and handling. It is not worth compromising performance with cheap tyres when you can buy directional tread pattern performance tires.The drawback to large alloys on your XC90 is that you alter your final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on performance.

Although some people have with bigger wheels without issues we would stick to a 18 inch rim size as the maximum.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss XC90 options in more detail with our XC90 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volvo tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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