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by Bill P. and Daryl Payne
There are many advanced luxury SUVs on the market, yet the Volvo XC90 continues to kill the game snatching up top awards for a second year in a row. Designed on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture, the new Volvo XC90 is one of the most elegant SUV’s I’ve ever driven. Elegance starts from the sleek chromed-out grill and continues into the Nappa leather decked out cabin with seat massage, and outward to the premium first-class powertrain.
What’s not to love about the new Volvo XC90? The whip is beautiful inside and out, and turns haters into fans. The lux SUV has a base MSRP of $51k and for that drivers get a premium SUV that rivals Mercedes and Audi. Why spend over $100k for a top SUV when the Volvo offers an adorned cabin, first-class technology and drivetrain that would hold up for decades? The Volvo with its new design platform is an investment that will continue to be ahead of the pack. While I stop shy of saying the XC90 is an ideal family vehicle, it’s great for empty-nesters or married couples with small or no children.
This past fall, we reviewed the 2017-2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD taking the whip throughout Chicago and the outlying suburbs. Since our review, the XC90 has gained millions of new owners, many on the streets of Chicago. The high-class decked out stunner SUV is a perfect iteration of elegance and fortitude.
Sophisticated new Design Uniquely Volvo
What used to be a boxy steel cage is now a stout long-nosed lux big-body with a matte silver waterfall grille and 360-degree chrome trim. The lighting design is dopeness with bezeled-out LED headlights and LED tail lights that look like a diamond-cut boomerang. Cornering illumination is standard along with 20 inch wheels with all-season tires. The $5k Inscription Package offers full LED headlights with active bending lights, Thor’s hammer headlights and automatic high beams.
Drivers will walk up to the XC90 Inscription and be welcomed by illuminated scuff plates with the Volvo emblem power folding mirrors. For an additional $560 buyers can opt for metallic paint – and for another $750, twenty-one inch 8-spoke silver diamond cut alloy wheels.
With this new innovative design, Volvo forges a new future for their brand and dares the competition to catch up. The opulent interior feels more like a high-tech yacht.
Lavish Interior Crushes Premium SUVs
The 2018 Volvo XC90 Inscription, fully-loaded is a worthy competitor against some of the most expensive premium SUVs, and make a great argument for why it’s a more practical buy. The Volvo doesn’t just offer a little of everything, it excels in balanced performance, aesthetic beauty, and premium functionality all with unpretentious sophistication.
The interior of the 7-passenger XC90 features standard ultra-soft leather upholstery with heated 10-way power front seats and a panoramic moon roof. Along with added comfort perks like a standard power tailgate, 4-zone climate control and tinted rear windows, the Inscription package adds dope premium features like a power cushion exterior for the front seats, ventilated seats for the front and rear sun curtains.
The XC90 features a standard 12.3 inch instrument cluster that houses much of the driver stats and digital info display. As usual the Volvo stunts with their XC90 instrument cluster combining digital illustrations for the speedometer and tachometer with icons on a strip for time weather and cruise control status, and a center digital area for customized info.
Daryl felt like a king whipping the XC90. Nearly every aspect of the interior design is painstakingly thought out in terms of comfort, practicableness and premium innovation. For instance, the start button in the Volvo is a discreet switch in the center console next to the park assist and drive mode buttons, so it’s not easy to accidently turn them on. The buttons for seats on the door and the unlock button are seamlessly blended into the wood and leather on the doors.
The cabin of the lux XC90 Inscription’s features perforated Nappa leather sweeping the dash and the doors and intricate walnut wood inlays with crystal and metal trim all-around. The Nappa leather key fob with the Inscription Package is a first-class perk .
The $1,800 Climate Package and $2,900 Luxury Package add enhancements that rival some whips over $100k. The Climate package offers the heads up display that projects speed, traffic signs, navigation, audio and warnings on the windshield, along with a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
The Luxury Package tricks out the truck with front massage seats, a unique Nubuck pillars, leather front and rear grab handles and leather sun visors.
While the XC90 interior is luxurious, it’s not very spacious. The 2nd row has decent legroom but the third row is impossible for even small children. Because of the high floor, it’s not easy to get comfy in the 2nd row. Passengers over 5 feet tall may feel claustrophobic in all of the rear seats.
With the third row up, the Volvo XC90 offers very little cargo room. In the 2nd row, there is merely a small cubby compartment. The glove box can be used to keep drinks or food cool. And the cup holders vary in size so large and small can be secure. But even the center console area, which is styled out with walnut wood, is too low for a person with long arms and too shallow to fit more than a few small items.
The glass roof is great but needs a more dense covering, not just a thin shade. In a harsh Chicago winter the SUV turns into an igloo parked in low temps.
The most innovative function the Volvo’s XC90 offers is the cool 9 inch touchpad in the center stack which houses most of the climate, infotainment, driving and comfort settings. Drivers can use gesture control to swipe, pinch, drag, and expand various views, and the home screen is customizable. Also cool is how drivers can pull down the menu from the top to reveal any warnings or status notifications, without losing the map or audio view. It’s also great that some of the climate and audio buttons are below the screen for easy access.
Cool functions that can be controlled by the screen include adjustments to the heads up display, an app view, driver’s eco performance, the function view with controls for the drive mode, lane keeping assist, and parking assist as well as menus for audio, navigation, media, communication and climate.
Customization on the center touchscreen are plentiful, but some important functions are difficult to find while driving, so it can become a distraction. It especially problematic because the XC90 seems to default to turning certain climate settings off when getting out of the car. So each time I entered the vehicle I’d have to find the climate control bi-level setting with three or four commands.
Sensus connect is standard with navigation and WiFi hotspot. And the Volvo XC90 boast a HD radio, auxiliary input, one USB and 12 volt outlet, Bluetooth, Sirius XM Satellite radio, and a 330-watt, 10-speaker high performance audio system.
A bangin Bowers and Wilkins sound system is available with aluminum speakers for $2,650. The 360-degree surround view camera is offered with the $1,900 Vision Package that includes a blind spot information system and cross traffic alert.
The XC90 has discreet safety technology that augments its elegance in the cabin. The blind spot monitor for instance is a small sliver in the side view mirror. Instead of thumbing through the paperback owner’s manual, drivers can access a digital owner’s manual via the 9-inch touchscreen. Apps can be also be downloaded via Google play.
Elevated Performance with Seamless Innovative Safety Tech
Simply put, the XC90 is one of the smoothest SUV’s I’ve even driven. It deserves all the accolades it’s received so far. The XC90 is powered by Volvo’s Drive-E powertrains that include gas, diesel and the infamous T8 twin engine. The XC90 we reviewed features a 2 liter super and turbocharged V6 with 318 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 296 lb-ft of torque at 2,200 rpm. The V6 features direct injection and an efficient EPA of 22 mpg combined (20 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway.)
Turning, swerving, cornering and weaving at high and low speeds is effortless at the tap of the gas for a tranquil and relaxing cruise. Eco mode boosts efficiency, and comfort mode levels-out the drivetrain. The XC90 even has an Off-road mode for hills and rough terrain.
The V6 is matched to an 8-speed geartronic automatic transmission. Manual mode is fun with the XC90 especially because the trans will skip multiple gears smooth as butta. The XC90 accelerates with calculated aggression to tear up the road, but remains a cool as a cucumber under the hood.
Awesome all-wheel drive with instant traction and double wishbone front and rear integrated axle suspension give Volvo XC90 dynamic handling that’s superb in bad terrain. The $1,800 4-corner air suspension glides the XC90 over larger craters and train tracks in Chicago.
Standard safety features includes ABS, electronic stability control, electric power assisted steering, road stability control, road sign information, lane departure warning, driver alert control, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Volvo’s City Safety tech, standard on all models combines automatic braking and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accidents. The XC90 will auto-brake if a pedestrian or large animal runs in front of the vehicle. Or if the car is moving too fast towards a car ahead, the XC90 will activate the auto brake as well. Run off Road Mitigation will steer the XC90 on the road at all costs.
The XC90’s lane keeping aid will aggressively push the XC90 back into its lane if swerving. But at times caused the XC90 to sway so hard I lost control driving in the windy city.
The Volvo XC90 also features standard rear park assist with its rear camera.
For $1,800 buyers can opt for the Convenience Package that adds the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system with cruise control. Pilot assist works very similar to automatic cruise control and will drive the whip and maintain safe distances at speeds up to 130 km/hr. Park Assist Pilot with Front Park Assist is also included in the Convenience Package.
Where the Volvo’s rigid steel cage used to feel bulky with no give, the revised unibody high-strength steel’s design has more flex and feels lighter at high speeds and with turning.
In 2016 the then brand new XC90 picked up top awards like Motortrend’s Car of the Year and the IHS Top Safety Pick.
The XC90 with its refreshed ultra-elegant design is on my list of top SUVs. Yet, there’s still a chance the 2019 whip can be even better if the cargo space is increased and autonomous driving capabilities beefed up.
The 2017 XC90 has an MSRP of just $51k. Fully-loaded the SUV is on sale for $72,805.