It’s no coincidence that when you think of Volvo you think of safety. However, the Swedish automaker isn’t just a one-trick pony. Sure, they have industry-leading technologies, but it’s about time to add new adjectives to the Nordic brand’s descriptors.
Such words can include: innovative, classy, pioneering, as well as desirable.
What is the 2016 Volvo XC90?
It’s all new from the ground up. An undertaking over three years in the making, Volvo engineers and designers were essentially given a blank canvas on which to draw out the future of the automaker’s cars.
While the brand new XC90 is refined, revised and reimagined in every possible sense, it’s still distinctly Volvo.
Sure you get a host of safety features -- a platform that has undoubtedly put their vehicles at the forefront of the industry, like introducing the three-point seatbelt in 1959 among other accolades -- but that’s wrapped in a crisp package that leaves one feeling like they want to keep on driving.
Imagine walking into a gelato shop with hundreds of flavours to choose from. Now try and narrow your selections down to focus on only a few. That’s the difficulty with the XC90. There’s so much new tech to talk about and so little space on the page!
Let’s start with the engine;: the new heart(s) of this brilliant machine. The T6 engine is both a supercharged AND turbocharged 2.0L, 4-cylinder. No, you’re not reading it incorrectly. I did say super- and turbocharged. The output is a handsome 320 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. When driving, you forget entirely that all you have are those four cylinders moving this Swedish model.
The T8 PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is even more impressive.
The 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine is under the hood, but you also have an electric motor and 9.2 kWh battery pack. That means it’s a plug-in hybrid, and the first seven-passenger SUV in the world to have this configuration. The 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque from the T8 engine comes with a 0-100km/hr time of 5.6 seconds.
Not to mention, both variants come with all-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic transmissions.
Inside and Out of the 2016 Volvo XC90
Along with a beautiful new interior design -- complete with a 9.2” touchscreen, wood and metallic trims, and textured knobs and dials -- there are three rows of seats.
You might be thinking that they’re only meant for small children. Wrong. Volvo engineered the XC90 in a way that those up to 5’6” will feel comfortable in the nosebleeds.
I had to check it out for myself, of course. And boy, was I impressed. I didn’t feel cramped at all. Plus, the third row seats are designed the same as the first and second row, meaning there’s back support and they’re very comfortable. That’s a huge win in my books.
There’s even an anti-snag mechanism that will help prevent your feet from getting any unnecessary owies when the second row is being put back into place.
Speaking of backs, Volvo’s research-lead seat designers set out to mimic the shape of the spine. That gives you the feeling you’re being embraced in the most pleasant way. Need a hug? No problem. Just get in the 2016 Volvo XC90 and you’ll feel better!
On the T8, one sparkling feature that the brand is very proud of is the Orrefors crystal gear selector. It’s unique and beautiful.
Furthermore, talking with Tisha Johnson, Chief Designer - Interiors at VCC, she explains that Volvos embody the Swedish mantra of confidence without being cocky.
Space is plentiful, and a minimalist attitude is used in the interior approach. The cabin is virtually button-free, and command central is found in the aforementioned 9.2” touchscreen.
Driving the 2016 Volvo XC90
You’re not without driving mode choices in either the T6 or T8. I’ll focus on the T8 for a moment because it has five different settings, including a Pure mode that gives you over 40 kilometres of pure electric driving. There’s Hybrid (using both the electric motor and gasoline engine), Power (using all assets to get you up to 100km/hr in the 5.6 seconds), AWD (offering constant all-wheel drive on demand), and Save (saves the electricity for another time).
Regardless of T6 or T8 variant, you get an incredibly quiet ride. It drives as smoothly as a lake’s surface on a cool and calm summer’s morning. The seats are heavenly, and I felt quite engaged through the winding roads of Southern California.
My drive time was short, but definitely memorable.
Comparing the 2016 Volvo XC90
When it comes to the competition, the XC90 goes up against the BMW X5, Audi Q7, the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, along with the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60.
The 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 has a starting MSRP of $60,700 for the Momentum trim, the RDesign has an MSRP of $65,200, and the Inscription trim’s MSRP is $66,800. For the T8 PHEV, the RDesign trim’s MSRP is $73,400. The T8 PHEV Inscription carries an MSRP of $75,000.