Volvo has built some impressive vehicles the past few years. The S60 sedan, V60 crossover and their Polestar counterparts are chiefs among them. Go ahead and add the new XC90 to the list.
Though not a tuned-up Polestar model, the test mule is a 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription. And it’s gorgeous. At $78,000 fully loaded, it stacks up well against the highly-refined ned German and Japanese competition. Not just in terms of features and content, but in luxury, style and functionality.
With comfy seating for seven and all the traffic and safety features you could ever want or need, including forward collision warning, auto braking, lane keeping assist, pedestrian and cyclist detection and more, the interior is warm and inviting fore or aft. Even with a child seat installed in the rear can you access the third row, making this a true seven-seater.
The 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder feels more like a six-banger, boasting 320 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed automatic transmission and several different $77,650 as tested drive modes, including eco, comfort, dynamic, individual and off-road. The T6 is all-wheel-drive so it’s got plenty of traction and it drives well.
Supercharging bolsters the low end of the powerband while the turbo takes care of the mid and upper ranges. I spent most of the week in comfort mode where most will spend the majority of their commute. It is fine (read smooth, quiet and yes comfortable), but the vehicle really wakes up when the high-performance program is switched on. It would be nice to have some control over (or presets for) the suspension system, however, it is still one of the best SUV suspensions I have tried in a long time – it’s got a nice compression stroke and the rebound is perfect. Very impressive!
Interfaces for the driver include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and Volvo’s Sensus system with a nine-inch tablet that’s integrated into the dash. It’s pretty intuitive and functional, but may take some getting used to if you favour more of a dials and buttons layout. Even still, it does lots of really great stuff, and you can even have three screens up – which you can swipe up and away to access another screen to access vehicle functions like ESC sport mode, cross-track alert, park assist, distance alert and auto start/stop. The latter deserves special mention – I hadn’t experienced a four-cylinder with auto-start/stop (that wasn’t considered a hybrid model) until this, and this one is very smooth, quiet and nearly imperceptible when getting back on the gas.
Also noteworthy is the lane-keeping assist feature, which notifies the driver through subtle steering wheel vibrations. I really like this compared to more invasive systems that sound off and even tug at the wheel to correct. The front and rear seats o er heating and cooling functions, but at full crank the fan noise is so loud you’d swear the full A/C system is in full stride.
The XC90 isn’t a massive, hulking vehicle, but it does come with a litany of cameras for heightened visibility, including a 360-degree birds-eye view camera that is really useful for parking and maneuvering in tight quarters. There’s a heads-up display, headrest fold, active bending lights, road sign information the navigation system can use and voice control. The exterior is real sharp looking with the 20-inch Inscription wheels and additional brightwork! The full LED forward lighting with self-cleaning headlights provide excellent nighttime vision.
Inside, the moon roof basically spans the entire roof, giving all occupants a sense of spaciousness. The 10-speaker, 224-watt Bowers & Wilkins entertainment system sounds really good too. All in all, the interior is really classy; and the trunk is really cool too. One of my favourite things about the XC90 is that the cargo area is highly configurable for different and varying needs.
Fuel economy is rated 11.5 in the city, 9.5 highway and 106 combined, however, I only managed to see a ho-hum 13 L/100 km after 356 kilometres total. Still, I really enjoyed the look and feel of the XC90, and think the market will too.