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2023 Volvo XC90 Review: The Beautiful Swedish Cocoon

2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123
We drove the plug-in Recharge edition of Volvo’s biggest SUV Automotive expert , Updated:
Profile of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Profile of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

•    Auto123 reviews the 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge. Here's what you need to know.

•    Our detailed assessment of performance, features and key functions.

A three-row luxury SUV, the 2023 Volvo XC90 is known for its elegant design, comfortable interior and, above all, the safety excellence attached to the Volvo brand.

Base models feature a light-hybrid powertrain based on a 2.0L turbocharged engine. The plug-in hybrid XC90 Recharge version is more expensive, but it offers a decent range in all-electric mode and it’s also the most powerful and road-trip-friendly XC90.

While the model doesn't rival some of the sporty models from BMW and Mercedes in terms of driving dynamics, there are plenty of interesting features to enjoy in Volvo's flagship SUV.

The XC90 still boasts a distinctive, sleek design and modern technology that disguise its age well, even though its last complete redesign was eight years ago.

However, if you're looking for an all-electric vehicle, you'll have to be patient. The XC90's electric successor, the EX90, was recently unveiled and is due to hit the market in early 2024. The electric SUV boasts an all-new design and even more safety technology than the model it is destined to replace.

Wheel of 2023  Volvo XC90 Recharge
Wheel of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

What's new for the 2023 Volvo XC90?

The Volvo XC90 now offers mid-hybrid powertrains with an integrated 48-volt battery and starter/generator added to the existing 2.0L engines. The new B6 micro-hybrids replace the T6 engines of previous years. The T5 or B5 will no longer be offered in 2023.

The XC90 Recharge is a plug-in hybrid option.

Once again, we find a Google-based infotainment software, which integrates Google Maps, Google Play and Google Assistant voice control. With mixed results, it has to be said. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay is also available - with a wired connection.

Finally, the trim levels have been reorganized into Core, Plus and Ultimate.

The XC90 Recharge AWD Ultimate, the model we drove, can travel between 30 and 50 km in the city on pure electric power. We had already tested a Recharge version last year, and this year wanted to focus on the engine's consumption in hybrid mode when not plugged in.

2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge grey
2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge grey
Photo: Auto123

The exterior of the 2023 Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 is hard to miss. The curves of the hood extend along the sides of the vehicle to create a flowing line, while the aluminum alloy wheels add a refined style. The wheels on our Recharge model were 21 inches, and in our opinion, these large wheels harmonize well with the overall look of the vehicle. However, the design of the wheels themselves left us dubious. A matter of taste.

The brand's iconic chrome grille and Thor's hammer-shaped daytime running lights add a touch of solidity. LED taillights complete the modern, distinctive look common to all Volvos. Finally, our Recharge model is easily recognizable by the charging hatch on the front left fender and the B8 logo on the rear of the vehicle.

Strong points

  • Clean styling
  • General shape

Weak points

  • Looks bigger than it is
Interior of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Interior of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

The interior of the 2023 Volvo XC90

Inside the XC90, the quality of the materials is immediately appreciated. The leather seats are heated, with a multitude of power settings for driver and passenger. Our version also had massaging front seats. At $1,700, the price for those isn't outrageous, but then they're not very effective either.

The XC90 is fitted with an uncluttered dashboard. The digital displays on the driver's screen behind the steering wheel and on the nine-inch vertical information screen are easy to read. Wood-accented trim around the dashboard, centre console and door trim also supports this sense of luxury and purity.

In the rear, the back seats could do with a little more room. That row is, however, divisible into three, and of sliding and reclining individually to increase passenger comfort.

The third row is not suitable for people taller than 5’9” or so. It'll do for short trips, but if you're looking for a true 7-seater, look to the competition; there are rivals that offer more in the second and third rows.

Finally, the trunk. With all seats up, the cargo area offers a capacity of 447 litres. With the third row folded, there are 1,183 litres available. With both bench seats folded down, there are 2,427 litres of space available on board this SUV.

Strong points

  • Materials
  • Quality of finishing

Weak points

  • Simplistic interior
  • Slightly tight rear seating
Multimedia screen of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Multimedia screen of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

Safety and technology in the 2023 Volvo XC90

The Google infotainment system is installed in all Volvo models, replacing the previous Sensus software. It offers a familiar user interface with features such as Google Maps and Google Assistant voice control.

Climate system controls are integrated into the touchscreen, so there are no longer physical buttons for those. In fact there are hardly any of those, save for a large button at the bottom of the central screen for audio volume. But if you want to change the temperature or activate the heated seats or steering wheel, it's a three-step process on the screen.

The problem is not so much the number of steps you have to take to activate an item, but rather the fact that you have to take your eyes off the road to access these functions. There is a voice command to perform the same task, but after several attempts, the results were inconclusive.

The Google interface, once connected to your account and your phone, should make life easier by ensuring a better connection between you and your phone and your vehicle. This Google infotainment system greatly enhances the driving experience, especially with natural voice control and live software updates. All in all, the Google infotainment system is a welcome addition to Volvo interiors.

On the safety front, you'll find a host of safety features inside the XC90, including Pilot Assist, which offers a level of semi-autonomous driving, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert and automatic emergency braking for pedestrians.

An air purification system is also available. This prevents up to 95 percent of harmful fine particles (PM 2.5) from entering the cabin.

The 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge 2023 in grey
The 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge 2023 in grey
Photo: Auto123

Driving the 2023 Volvo XC90

All XC90s are equipped with a turbocharged I4 engine linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Our Recharge version had an electric motor backing up the engine, bringing total output to 455 hp and 523 lb-ft of torque. The other engine in the offering, found in the B6, develops 295 hp.

The Recharge version is the most powerful of the group, but it's not quite a beast either. Power management with electric assistance is very fluid and barely perceptible.

The XC90 drives very well, the steering is light and the vehicle absorbs all road imperfections. Of course, it is aided by air suspension, which is not included standard but an option. Nevertheless, the vehicle’s ride remains soft and far from the firmness of the German models.

As for fuel consumption, we know that electric range has been slightly improved, as we had already confirmed in another B8 version. In this test, we wanted to check average consumption without plugging it in. During our week we drove 403 km, mainly in a suburban setting. Final consumption was 10.3L/100 km. That's good for a big vehicle, but we think it could do better. The test should be repeated in summer, away from temperatures that hovered around the freezing point.

Strong points

  • Overall combined power
  • Smooth, comfortable ride

Weak points

  • Electric range
Front of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Front of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

The final word
Our XC90 is far from unpleasant to drive. It's a very good vehicle that drives well and is comfortable and extremely safe. It's also very expensive! Our tester as equipped was priced close to $100,000. That's a lot for a plug-in model with such a short electric range and high average fuel consumption.

We strongly recommend that you opt for the base model, which offers all the comfort, safety and driving pleasure a Volvo can deliver, at an almost reasonable price.

Otherwise, drivers looking for an all-electric option are eagerly awaiting the XC90's electric successor, the Volvo EX90. This version will offer drivers a more ecological and efficient option for their daily driving.

Here are a few of your questions about the Volvo XC90 2023:

How long does it take to recharge the battery in the Volvo XC90 Recharge?
Battery recharge time depends on a number of factors, but in general terms, using a standard 110-volt household outlet, full battery recharge time can take around 8 hours. With a 240-volt Level 2 terminal, recharging time can be reduced to around 2.5 hours.

Specifications sheet of 2023 Volvo XC90

Front grille of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Front grille of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

Competitors of the Volvo XC90 Recharge

Test conditions

  • Weather conditions: Early spring without snow
  • Road type: Suburban, so boulevards and some highway and smaller streets
  • Speed: Often on roads with speed limits between 60 and 70 km/h
  • Test duration: One week and 403 km covered


Interior space
Technology & safety
Fuel economy
Overall value
Back end of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Back end of 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Photo: Auto123

Road Tests and Reviews

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