By on May 21, 2015

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

Volvo seems to be on the long road to recovery. Although sales have continued to slip in the USA, the numbers were up worldwide last year. In an interesting twist, 2014 was also the first year more Volvos were sold in China than North America. That could be cause-and-effect since Volvo had been more focused on their European-only new compact sedan and wagon. 2016 finally showers some Swedish love on America with a complete redesign of the XC90, the SUV originally designed for us. Because China is now a bigger market than we are, this XC90 isn’t just for us, but for China and the growing number of big crossovers clogging up Europe as well.

Exterior
The Volvo DNA is undeniable, but an Audi influence is also readily apparent. While I admit I like Audi’s design language, I am a little saddened the very distinct Volvo styling cues from the original S80, S60 and XC90 continue to get softened over time.

Up front is a bolder, flatter grille (thanks to pedestrian impact regulations), distinctive optional LED headlamps and a shorter front overhang than ever before. The shorter overhang is possible because this is the first Volvo in ages designed to accept only 4-cylinder or smaller engines under the hood. Out back, the distinctive Swedish hips are nearly gone, replaced by a more sloping profile that is more aggressive but less extraordinary. The Audi influence is most apparent out back where U.S.-bound models get red turn signals instead of the amber blinkers found on the European model. While Audi supposedly makes the amber-to-red change because the amber lamps from the EU don’t cover enough surface area, Volvo’s switch is purely aesthetic.

Interior
Until the new Q7 lands and we can look inside, the new XC90 has the best interior in the segment with no exceptions. After stepping into a Range Rover Sport after the event, I can safely say the Volvo compares well with the next category up. Momentum trims make do with injection moulded door and dash components, while Inscription models slather everything within reach in acres of cowhide, more wood trim than a modern Jaguar and a simple style that is distinctly Scandinavian. (Which is surprising since the lead interior designer is American.)

The new SUV gets Volvo’s first complete seat redesign in ages. The Swedish thrones have long had a reputation for impressive ergonomics, but a refresh was overdue. The new design allows for 4-way lumbar, adjusting side bolsters, extending thigh cushions and ventilation in addition to heating. I was unable to sample the less capable base seat, but 8 hours in the top-end model confirms Volvo has improved the adjustability without sacrificing their legendary comfort and support.

Hop in the back and you’ll notice the XC90’s length may have grown over time, but interior height is actually down in some measures. This makes the third row very unusual. The seats are some of the most comfortable mother-in-law-row seats I’ve had the pleasure to sit in, but the headroom limits their usefulness to those under 5’8. The cargo area is surprisingly generous behind the third row with enough room to stuff roller bags in the long way, but I suspect most folks will keep the way-back seats folded. If that describes your typical third row usage, you may want to lobby Volvo for the seating accoutrements in the picture below.

Volvo XC90 Excellence - interior

As we’ve all heard, chauffeurs are cheap in China and being driven is preferred to driving. To satisfy this growing segment of Chinese society, Volvo will build the XC90 Excellence, which can be had as either a 3 or 4 seat model. No, Volvo didn’t bring one to sample to the event, but I mention it because the concept sounded way out in left field when I first saw the blog posts about it a few weeks ago. After having experienced the new interior, however, I have to say it makes sense. All but the steering wheel airbag cover is Range Rover competitive and I wouldn’t mind seeing a 5-seat variant with a little extra “plush” in the back. Just call it something other than the “XC90 Excellence.” Please.

Infotainment
Volvo placed a 9.3-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash, which acts more like a tablet computer than a traditional infotainment system. The display actually works a little more smoothly than Tesla’s ginormous 17-inch model, although it’s much less snazzy. The overall concept allows four different data “zones” to coexist on-screen at the same time, customizable by the user. To interact with them, you touch the option and it expands while shrinking the others. This allows you to see the nav system’s map and your next turn directions while also seeing your media information, fuel economy, vehicle status and other pertinent bits. Touch responses were lightning fast, just like the latest tablet computers. The system offers iDrive-like levels of adjustment and vehicle customization.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

Over on the driver’s side is an all-new and all-gigantic 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster. The gauge design is elegant and well-laid out using nearly 1/3 of the display for either your media functions or a navigation map, even when a destination is not set. I’d say the new Volvo display ranks on par with the new Mercedes S-Class and ahead of the Jaguars and Land Rovers with disco dashes in terms of design. Speaking of JLR products, I have one gripe: like the English disco dashes, Volvo has little ability to customize the LCD aside from colors and some minor gauge changes. Although GM has only four different layouts to chose from in Cadillac CUE, that’s three more than Volvo and the looks are all different.

Safety
For 2016, Volvo reprises most of its safety systems, updates several of them and adds some new ones for good measure. The usual suspects – like a plethora of airbags and anti-whiplash seats – are standard. Volvo’s City Safety autonomous braking system gets an under the covers overhaul. Previously, the system came in two different versions: the base version relied solely on a laser scanner and camera to detect traffic and the second version was bundled with the adaptive cruise control using a radar sensor to expand coverage to pedestrians and cyclists. This generation of City Safety doesn’t increase the speeds above 31 mph, but the radar sensor and expanded sensing is now standard, as is a software tweak to improve accident avoidance in intersections. The new radar sensor replaces the laser scanner and is located in the same housing behind the rear-view mirror. The new location is less susceptible to ice build-up or snow packing in cold weather and may reduce repair costs in minor accidents.

Safety seems to be a game of diminishing returns, so the new systems focus on higher hanging fruit. The run-off-road protection uses the City Safety camera to determine if you are leaving the road surface. If you do, new seatbelt tensioners will pull you into place and a deforming seat frame makes sure when you launch into the air and land, spinal forces are reduced by 1/3. There’s also a rear-end collision warning that lets you know a drunk is about to plow into your hind end. The system will tension the seat belts, flash the hazard lights to attract the attention of the other driver, and will use the brakes to keep the car under control during and after the collision.

Volvo 2.0L T6 Drive E Engine

Drivetrain
As advertised, Volvo has kicked their 5- and 6-cylinder engines to the curb with the new XC90. While there are a selection of engines available in the EU, the only one making it to the USA is the turbocharged and supercharged 2.0L direct-injection four-cylinder. In the SPA platform, there’s a little more room for the plumbing. So, power is up slightly from the XC60 Drive-E to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, nearly the equal of the BMW N55 in most tunes. The only transmission is an 8-speed Aisin automatic. All T6 models get a standard Haldex AWD system that will send up to 50 percent of available power to the rear whenever it wants. And, depending on the situation, the system will send up to 80 percent of power to the rear axle if a front wheel slips. If you need more power, Volvo doesn’t give you a bigger engine; they add a hybrid system in addition to the turbo and the supercharger. Say what? You heard that right, the XC90 T8 is a plug-in turbocharged and supercharged 400 horsepower hybrid.

Volvo’s hybrid system is thematically similar to Acura’s RLX hybrid. Things start with the same 316 hp engine and 8-speed auto as the T6, but they jam a 46 hp, 103 lb-ft electric starter/motor/generator between the engine and torque converter. The engineers ditched the Haldex AWD so they could stuff a water-cooled 9.3 kWh lithium ion battery in the tunnel between the front seats. The mechanical AWD is replaced by a 87 hp, 177 lb-ft electric motor connected to the rear axle sending power through a fixed 10:1 reduction gear. With a maximum discharge rate of 87 hp from the battery, the power and torque curves combine to give the driver 400 ponies and 475 lb-ft of torque. (Official US numbers are not final.) If you live in the snow belt, you should know while the T6 can send 158 hp to the rear on a whim, 87 is the most you’ll ever get in the T8. If that sounds like the Lexus and Acura eAWD systems, you’re right, so expect similar snow and ice performance.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

Drive
I was honestly a little surprised Volvo designed an entirely new suspension system for the SPA platform in addition to everything else. Instead of MacPherson struts, Volvo fits double wishbones up front producing a positive impact on handling. Out back, the XC90 sports a funky single composite leaf-spring in the independent multi-link suspension. The rear suspension design (except the leaf spring part) is quite similar to what Jaguar is using in the new XE. Logical, since both were started while Volvo and Jaguar were owned by Ford. The new design makes it easier to integrate the optional four-corner air suspension fitted to all XC90s at the testing event. The new suspension design, the lightened front end and the widest tires Volvo has ever put on a production car (275 width) improve handling just as you’d expect.

This puts the XC90 closer to the X5 than the MDX or QX60 in terms of grip. Configured comparably, the X5 will out handle the XC90 thanks to a RWD dynamic and better weight balance. But, the XC90 is less expensive. So, configured to a similar price, the Volvo will likely win. Speaking of price, the XC90 and the MDX price out almost identically. Although the XC90 starts higher at $48,900, it comes with standard AWD and the Acura doesn’t. Similarly configured an MDX Advance and a XC90 Momentum (with appropriate options) end up just $100 apart, a decent discount vs the other Euro options.

The all-new XC90 features a completely new chassis, front and rear, including a double wishbone front suspension.

The all-new XC90 features a completely new chassis, front and rear, including a double wishbone front suspension.

The engineers are claiming a 6.1 second 0-60 time – the same time advertised by BMW for the X5 in both RWD and AWD forms. Unfortunately, I was unable to 0-60 test the Volvo. Going back in our logs, I discovered that the 2015 X5 xDrive35i is the only BMW in recent memory to take longer to get to 60 than BMW’s claimed. The X5 hit 60 after 6.5 seconds, meaning the Volvo may be a hair faster. Check back for full specs when we get our hands on one for a full review. Add the hybrid hardware and Volvo says 0-60 drops to 5.7 seconds – notably faster than the QX60 hybrid (7.1) but a far cry from the 4.4L turbo X5 (4.7).

Numbers aside, the small engine in the XC90 certainly has a different feel than the 3.0L engine in the BMW. Low end torque from idle lags then comes on strong. Passing torque is excellent at most speeds, and at high RPMs the engine feels a hair more out of breath than the larger displacement options.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

The XC90 isn’t a game changer for Volvo in America. It can’t be. A brand is more than one car. However, if the XC90 is a window into Volvo’s future, then I have high hopes. If the Swedes can make over their entire lineup fast enough, they may also salvage their American sales numbers. This kind of interior quality in a 3-series sized vehicle would give even the all-new and all-tasty C-Class a run for its money. Just two things stand in their way: a distinct lack of marketing to let Audi shoppers know there is a better crossover for sale and the worrying thought it may be another 12 years until this XC90 gets redesigned. If you’re shopping for a luxury 3-row and don’t give the XC90 a look, you’re missing out on one tasty meatball.

Volvo provided the vehicle at a lunch event.

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109 Comments on “2016 Volvo XC90 First Drive (With Video)...”


  • avatar

    It could be argued that Ford brought reliability to Volvo, Rover and Aston…

    I’d still never buy one. Nothing about Volvo screams “want” to me.

    In fact, the very name sounds like…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Volvo was already reliable for decades, this dipped when the 850 was introduced and took a nose dive after the Ford buyout, but later recovered after MY05.

      • 0 avatar
        pdl2dmtl

        No thank you. I do not want to be more knowledgeable than a mechanic in what is going on with my car and take gambles like so many I have met to drive with lights on in the dashboard just because they are tired to go to the dealership every other month.
        I am not sure if the swedes have learned how to make reliable switches yet.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          While even I will admit Saab had a relatively reliable turbo 4 banger for its time, that was pushing a relatively small, fwd vehicle, and Saab engineers obsessed over its short term performance and long term durability, coupled with adequate cooling, especially when it was paired with an automatic transmission powered vehicle.

          These 4 banger, turbo motors are being asked to push or pull increasingly more weight, and I have zero faith this thing will be anything other than a statistical reliability nightmare both within and outside of the Chinese warranty period.

          Of course, Alex does these reviews in a manner which pretty much presumes everything will be peachy, and nothing will be the worse for wear, no matter the curb vehicle weight or application.

          Everything’s worked out. Debugged. Rock solid. Have faith.

  • avatar

    A very clean, simple, neat and BMW-like interior…

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Agree. That interior looks absolutely glorious.

      But I don’t trust Volvo to buid that powertrain reliably, no way no how. Hell, it’s so complex, I’m not sure I’d trust Toyota to.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      I’ve always been of the opinion that Volvos of the recent past usually do much better than the Germans at “clean, simple and neat”. From too many identical buttons and ugly orange sub displays that BMW like to use, to the godawful mess of a center tunnel that Audi floods with iconed buttons, Volvo wins by a mile. As an added bonus, Volvo don’t punish you if you get thirsty and need somewhere to safely hold a cup!

  • avatar
    ajla

    This sounds like the most complex vehicle ever.

  • avatar
    slance66

    It’s a beautiful CUV. We will see how they price it. Volvo will never have the brand power of the German three (four with Porsche), and Chinese ownership only diminishes it.

    Oddly enough, I’m considering picking up a well used XC90 V8, just a pretty sweet motor and nice ride handling balance for the category.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You and I both know with as picky as you are, you’re never gonna buy an LR or Volvo. I dunno why you continually tease yourself this way. It’s been months.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        It has been months. My wife is going to kill me. Used SUV/CUVs are just way overpriced in the market. An A6 is less than a Q5 of the same vintage. But the V8 XC90 is nice and best of all cheap.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          It’s cheap because that damn Yamaha V8 drinks like a sailor on leave, and causes just as many problems.

          I know this because for a time I wanted an S80 V8.

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            From what I have read in the forums people have actually had great luck with the reliability of the Yamaha V8.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The people who have bad luck with it can’t get to the forums to post – they lost their jobs and all their money fixing it, and the internet got shut off.

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            ha! Says you. I say go for it. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            slance66

            Other than the 2005 V8 which had a catostrophic transmission issue, all the Volvo forum people say it is very reliable and drinks no more gas than the 3.2 (which I found inadequate in the XC60 let along the 90). The computer on the tester I drove had many miles in the calculation and showed 16.8. Much better than Hemi Grand Cherokee territory (and probably better than the pre 2014 Pentastar).

  • avatar

    That crash in the picture nearly made me spill my yack!!!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Woo that’s a nice looking interior – though I’m sure the one pictured is $58000 or so. I like all of it really, except for the tweeter bauble at the center dash. That’s gonna look really corny in about 5 years. Oh, and if there’s a way to avoid the DNA pattern in the seat leather, I’d take it. That’s not cool.

    Part of me wonders though, at the price point they’ll aim for, if their lack of brand prestige and 4-cylinder only availability might make a difference in the minds of the consumer. Americans prefer more cylinders.

    Turbo-super-plug-in. That’s a whole lotta plastic fragile Volvo sensors and trim variant specific parts.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Close, $56,0000 gets you that interior (without some other options), $50K gets you acres of shiny lacquered walnut ala Mercedes and no leather dash. I was a little worried about the 4-cylinder to be honest and then I was reminded that Audi is also dropping a 4-banger into the 2016 Q7 for the USA so that makes it a little more reasonable. As competition to the QX60 and MDX it makes sense, to he base X5 AWD, sure, but there’s no parallel to the twin turbo V8s out there.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thanks.

        I think $56,000 sounds like too much money for this, and considering that’s not even the top end.

        The kind of customer who shops the MDX and the QX60 (by the way, standard large V6 there, for less money) is family oriented and reliability concerned. They want lots of options built in as standard, which they get with either of those options. Neither of these customers want their car in the shop – ever.

        The customer they want to pitch this against is the next level up – up there with Land Rover and the M-Class and Q7. They have more money, and are less concerned with reliability in exchange for badge. But $56,000 is $19,000 more than the start of the Discovery Sport, and $6,000 more than the LR4. The Q7 starts at $48,000 as well. A Q7 Prem+ with the 3.0 TDI is $54,000.

        I just think they’re aiming too high with their price – same mistake they’ve been making since 2004. They haven’t got the brand prestige to play with the big boys, and they priced themselves out of the family with kids MDX segment.

        They’ll end up with this in the middle of the two, and I predict slow sales.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t know. This sort of splits the difference between a soft soccer-mom crossover like the MDX or QX60, and a world-class, pedigree one like the X5 or Q7. And if you’ve ever priced out an X5 or Q7, $56K is a bargain.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That was my point though! It’s too much cost for the soft Honda moms, and not enough badge for the Land Rover purse enthusiast.

            All of them offer more engine/power for your money than we see here.

        • 0 avatar
          Alex L. Dykes

          Remember that the MDX goes up to 57K without trouble and that the V6 may be standard but AWD isn’t. Regardless of the standard V6, Volvo’s 4 is faster and more powerful as well.

          As far as pricing goes, the Volvo and the Acura are actually comparably price. The 56K XC90 is a step above the MDX. The MDX with AWD and Advance package is $55K, comparably equipping the Volvo to that Acura ends up also at 55K but you get more features including: steering led lamps, real wood, power folding mirrors, heated steering wheel, electric heated windshield, autonomous driving under 31MPH. The Volvo is also arguably safer.

          Remember that the Acura has become much more expensive. The MDX starts at $42,865 now and AWD is $44,865 but prices gain rapidly. The average MDX transaction price is something Acura doesn’t specify, but they have said its over 50K so we’re still in the neighborhood.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I guess I didn’t realize how costly the MDX had got. I’d place a big bet on which gets you more money at trade-in time though!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            $57K for an MDX is redonkiculous and I think Volvo’s pricing is a little steep as well (although you’re getting a foreign designed/assembled car instead of a Marysville special so it should be a bit more than MDX’s realistic pricing).

            “Volvo’s 4 is faster and more powerful as well.”

            True but this is a whole new platform and motor, the truth is it may bomb hard both in resale and reliability we just don’t know yet. Acura’s MDX simply won’t, it will deliver consistent beige service well out of warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            Alex L. Dykes

            28-Cars-Later, the platform is new but the engine and transmission aren’t. The transmission has actually been around for a while as it is Aisin design that was created in coordination with Toyota/Lexus. Toyota owns 30% of Aisin but essentially controls the company via other indirect ownership paths, so you can also consider this a “Toyota transmission.:) It was first found in the RX F-Sport with the 3.5L V6. So far there have been many fewer issues with the Aisin 8=speed than the ZF 9-speed that Acura is now using. I like the ZF 9HP a great deal but I have to admit it is not as smooth as the 8-speed and because of the design it is unlikely it ever will be. The engines themselves have been in production for over a little over a year world wide in essentially all of Volvo’s products and initial quality seems excellent on that front.

            That said, obviously overall reliability is not Volvo’s strong suit. I expect drivetrain reliability to be excellent, but I expect reliability in other areas to be below average based on Volvo’s history and the Euro luxury segment in general. Expect software issues with the new systems, possibly air suspension issues (typical with any air suspension) and possibly City Safety software issues as well.

          • 0 avatar
            genuineleather

            Alex, most MDXs are Tech models, which are $48k FWD and $50 w/SH-AWD, less any discounts and cheap leases (given that MDXs have three year residuals close to 70%, virtually all the leases are cheap).

            The Volvo might cost similar money (though I would argue it’s more w/similar equipment), but depreciation will make the actual cost of ownership no cheaper than it’s pricier German rivals.

            It’s nice-looking, but this thing’s got “Swedish Touareg” written all over it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the lengthy reply Alex. One year of engine production isn’t long enough given the incredibly complex nature of the technology in it to judge reliability, at least IMO. However I didn’t realize the transaxle was already proven. I have an Aisin Warner in my 240, my thumbs are up to their transmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            One year after the Oldsmobile Diesel came to market it was still considered one of the best engines ever introduced by GM, if not the best diesel in the world. This puts Alex’ reviews in perspective. One must know whether or not an opinion is backed by any level of expertise, and I thank him for this insight.

            https://books.google.com/books?id=Uc8DAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=Popular+mechanics+Oldsmobile+diesel+owners+survey&source=bl&ots=aGDCDXLyAh&sig=vu2-Qod5t5BWfH91uetLC1rlYKY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3HJeVfKWGI6uogTn8IGgBQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Popular%20mechanics%20Oldsmobile%20diesel%20owners%20survey&f=false

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @Alex regarding supposed excellent drivetrain reliability of this super-turbo charged frankenmotor: the odds are very much against this being a durable or reliable engine, its simply a matter of the number of components and just how stressed an engine of this displacement is in order to make that much power.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        This thing STARTS at $61 K in Canada….Fawk!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Do you think the average soccer mom know how many cylinders her SUV has? I don’t think so. They just know that “it has good pick up” or it doesn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Which this won’t, because the engine is tiny to meet fuel regs. But is she gonna drive it that way? No, she wants V6 acceleration – like something as lowly as the Odyssey has.

      • 0 avatar
        cbrworm

        I don’t know about average, but my wife swears she will never own another 4cyl car again. Her last car was an ’04 Audi A4, in her mind it was too slow off the line, therefore all cars must have 6 cylinders or more. So she doesn’t know much, but she knows that she doesn’t want another turbo 4.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Just imagine the glorious Lemons racer potential down the road; these will lower the bar(pit?) to new depths.

    • 0 avatar

      1) The DNA pattern is specific to the Excellence China-only model that Alex was talking about with the specialized back seat…that’s not a picture of the standard XC90.

      2) I don’t think North Americans pay much attention to cylinders. The 328i/528ki are doing just fine, the C250 is doing just fine, as are the A4 and A6. Yes, those aren’t direct competitors, but unless you’re a car freak I’m not sure people will know the difference.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        1) That’s a fair point, and I’m glad it stays in China!

        2) These brand-whore tiny engine things you list are doing well because of a) lease payments being cheap/affordable and b) the badge on the front. The XC90 is has neither of those things.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m actually seeing a good number of 320i units driving around. Most of the 5-Series’ I see driving around are 535i units, OTOH. But let’s not forget that for the first year of the F10 5-Series (2011), the 528i used a naturally-aspirated I6 carried over from the E60. They didn’t start using the turbo-four in the 5-Series until MY2012.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Everyone in charge of infotainment at Acura should be shown this system with their eyes forced open like in Clockwork Orange. How is it that HMC, with INFINITELY more money at their disposal than little old Volvo, is SO utterly INCOMPETENT at even a passable infotainment system, while Volvo can nail it pretty much perfectly?

    No smirking Infiniti and Lexus, you’re almost as bad.

    • 0 avatar

      Well bloody said.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, Volvo’s design sensibilities are such that they never would have designed anything like the current Honda/Acura setup, whereas Acura—in particular—has for the last several years prided itself in having more dashboard switches and complexity than a NASA control center. The whole car, really, just gives off a clean, stately vibe, and having a simple, well-executed infotainment system is a big part of that. And let’s not forget the fact that Volvo is a struggling company that really needed to put its best foot forward.

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        Volvo is still the company though that until their Sensus system arrived a few years ago had literally the worst NAV/infotainment system in the entire industry, and they were still using it when the XC60 launched. It was so bad that you had to keep a little wireless remote in the console for the passenger to be able to use the system at all.

        Now the worst system in the industry, especially for near luxury and luxury brands is definitely the Acura double screen. It’s just a complete and utter mess. You could sort of forgive Volvo when they were so bad because they’re such a small company. Honda has zero excuse.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, I was *offended* by how bad the computer UX in the Crosstour was, when I was shopping around. Like, somehow they managed to suck more than Toyota, which I’d thought was pretty bad before I saw Honda’s trainwreck.

      Volvo impressed me, even more than Audi, which was the runner up.

      (BMW and Mercedes were more than acceptable, but not as awesome.

      I ended up getting a barely-used XC70.)

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I like this car a lot. I have always had a soft spot for Volvos since my first car which was a 240 wagon. I always shop Volvo every time I am in the market. And I always come to the same conclusion. I cannot justify the price of most of the vehicles I have looked at in the past. This…however, looks absolutely beautiful. Perhaps a little down on power, but very desirable. I will throw this caveat in, every time I read about the engine offerings, I have to think to myself that they are bleeding those poor 2 liters of every drop of power possible with the high option engines. I think I would only consider the base 4 cyl turbo. Things can AND DO go wrong as you add all that complexity.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      Haven’t seen this car in person yet obviously but I am worried it is going to continue the current Volvo pattern of being a bad value new and a fantastic value CPO a year later.

      /Of course this is great for me but bad for Volvo in the long term.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have similar thoughts, although in your case with your S80 that platform was introduced in 2006 and the motor originally 2007. This is a new platform and new motor in the same model year, I’d be wary of a CPO “value” on something just introduced.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_SI6_engine

        • 0 avatar
          MPAVictoria

          For sure. And I am not buying a new car anytime soon anyway. Fun to speculate from the sidelines though. ;-)

          Personally I think if every model in the Volvo lineup was about 10%-15% less new they would start to make sense as a value proposition. Slot in just over Buick and just under Audi. Market to the people who used to buy their cars in the 80s and 90s.

          Anyway this new XC90 sounds great so maybe it will be a success.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    It looks like a nice vehicle, but I just can’t get past the 4-Cyl engine. It’s not a good fit. That thing is going to rev and rev and rev to go at a decent speed and it’s going to tank fuel economy which I assume is the point of putting it in.

    I liked the last gen XC90, I looked at a new one in 2011. Interior and space were good, V8 and T6 were good. The split-tailgate though, that was a deal-breaker. I didn’t want to have to deal with extending my body over that thing to access the trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      CH1

      Old school thinking. The 4-cyl produces more horsepower and torque and at lower rpm over a wide range than the 4.4l V8 in the previous generation XC90. Furthermore, with the new 8-speed transmission, the 4-cyl is at only ~1700 when cruising in top gear at 65 mph, versus 2500 rpm for the V8.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Its also supercharged and turbocharged IIRC. If their I4 could lose the crutches and give me 2/3rds of that in natural aspiration I’d be impressed.

        • 0 avatar
          CH1

          The primary advantage of V8 over a 4 is in NVH. It makes little sense to me to give up 1/3 of the horsepower and torque, especially in 2-1/2 ton vehicle, while increasing (via higher revs) the NVH disadvantages of a 4.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I love love love love high output turbos but have come to appreciate the simplicity of a larger displacement NA engine in practical use and longevity. Of course this is a generalization and there are bad examples of both.

      • 0 avatar
        cheeky.monkey

        That’s not entirely correct — the 2005-2011 Yamaha V8 was rated for 311hp/325lb-ft, so it had a bit more torque than the new 4-cylinder.

        • 0 avatar
          CH1

          The V8 has 325 lb-ft at only one rpm, 4000. The new 4-cyl has 295 lb-ft from 2200 all the way to 5400 rpm. So the 4-cyl has more torque at most engine speeds; especially in the important 2000-3500 rpm range, as well as above ~4700 rpm.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The curve on the Yamaha V8 shows it making 265 lb-ft at 2000, 295 lb-ft at 3000, and 302 lb-ft at 5000.

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            But this is the Internet, and EVERYONE with a keyboard naturally knows so much more than the engineers who design 21st century automobile engines!

  • avatar
    iMatt

    That screen shot of the tablet computer dashboard just makes me shake my head. It’s fitting the next photo is that of a crash.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Been thinking about getting the last generation one as a replacement for the wife’s car. I’ve heard not the most reliable but they made them for so long might they have worked out the bugs for the last few years. How wrong is my thinking?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Fairly! They become money pits after a few years. You’ll spend almost as much as a German car. And for God’s sake avoid the V8.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2.5-liter low-pressure turbo I5 was pretty reliable on the pre-facelift models, as was the later 3.2-liter I6 on the post-facelift models. The Yamaha-sourced 4.4-liter V8 was hit-and-miss (mostly miss), but the early T6/GM 4-speed combo is absolutely the one to avoid, as it had very high transmission failure rates (worse than the early-aughts Honda V6 woes). If you find one that has been maintained, you should be okay, honestly. And the pre-facelift ones are cheap enough that the risk in buying a decade-old European vehicle won’t be that big.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I see a lot of discouraging interior trim fails on the XC90 as well. Things you don’t see happening on German cars.

        Button finish wearing off. Center arm rest leather bunched up from use. Door panel skins peeling/glue fail. Trim around windows fading.

        • 0 avatar
          slance66

          Yes. Trim problems. Window switches and other items wear and fail in Volvos in a way they don’t in German cars, or Accords for that matter. It’s annoying.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It’s also entirely unacceptable in a “luxury” vehicle, when even something cheapo from Korea doesn’t have that problem.

          • 0 avatar
            BrunoT

            Two 2011 + Volvos and zero interior trim issues so far. The XC90 is 12 years old.

            BMW! Had two 5 series and had numerous bulbs go out, switches fail, indicators fail, and the interior door handle even broke off in my hand.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          A bunch of the interior trim on my gf’s 2004 S60 was failing pretty bad by the time it was sold last summer. Like you said the plastic ‘rubberized’ covering on trim was peeling off very readily, the leather was quite worse for the wear, center console lid/cover was broken. The whole car felt kind of tired at 115k miles. Needed some front end work (tie rod ends, spring perches), I fixed a broken window regulator (just a small plastic piece that serves as a mechanical fuse, thankfully), and the dash pixels were going crazy (resoldering of a few boards as I read on forums). Also had an incurable airbag light, again a resoldering/replacing of the correct module would have fixed things. Exterior wise, black plastic trim was quite faded, and the weatherstripping trim was cracked and rapidly falling to pieces around the windshield.

          To its credit, the car had absolutely amazing quality paint and zero rust and minimal paint chipping after fairly complacent ownership. Engine and transmission were totally fine (she had the base NA 2.4 motor).

          So overall not a horror story, but it still left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I always recall how quickly the S40 had these kinds of issues as well.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Not to mention they had some persistent no-start issues earlier on that had something to do with injector wiring as I recall. Atleast by 2004 the auto transmissions weren’t lunching themselves.

            My friend had a “NedCar” 2001 S40 (nee Mitsubishi Charisma). It drove nice enough with the 1.9T 170hp engine, but boy the front fender corners were rotted out as unseen on any Volvo since the ungalvanized 240s of the early 1980s. Ouch. Very un-Volvo. 20 mpg on premium around town was no treat, at least that number improved to upper 20s on the highway.

          • 0 avatar
            BrunoT

            Go ask VW owners how that’s gone for them. A 2.4 prev gen S60 was not exactly a luxury car.

    • 0 avatar
      jdowmiller

      I’ve owned a 2007 since 2011. While I have a two-car garage, I prefer to park it in the driveway and it receives full Southern sun. I’ve experienced not one of the interior issues proclaimed by other posters here who I’m assuming do not actually own this vehicle. Perhaps they are confusing the late-90s, early-2000s interiors slapped together when Volvo was experimenting with soy-based materials. The 3.2 in the XC90 is a robust, if uninspiring, unit that delivers poor mileage – 18.5 or so no matter how or where I drive. It seems prone to oil pan gasket leakage so in lieu of a $700 R&R, I stow a $20 container of oil in the hatch. I experienced several mechanical issues around the 80,000 mile mark that were repaired under an extended warranty. These repairs included a power steering pump, control arms and other assorted front end bits and pieces. It is a very heavy vehicle and the front end seems to wear prematurely. Im up to 115,000 and have had no other issues since then. The interior is supremely comfortable and the stock sound system is excellent. It performs it function – to unobtrusively transport humans in comfort and safety – so well I considered picking up one of the last new ones at a steep discount but now can’t find any.

  • avatar

    This is an interesting vehicles because it’s closer to the soft-sprung minivan-replacement crossovers like the MDX, QX60, Enclave and MKT in terms of architecture, but Volvo is positioning it to compete with fancier SUVs like the Q7, X5, and even the GL-Class. Will this be a successful venture? I think so.

    As for those of you who are worried about Volvo’s quality slipping due to its Chinese ownership, I think it far more likely that Geely will try to imbue its cars with Volvo characteristics and build quality than that Geely will turn Volvo into a lowest-bidder brand to squeeze more profits.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I was gonna compare it to the GL in my rant up there – until I checked the MB site and saw the astronomical starting price on that thing. I continue to fail to see the appeal of the GL.

      • 0 avatar

        You see a lot of well-off, dual-six-figure-income families driving GL-Class’. But it’s a well-kept secret that the *real* wealthy person’s mode of choice is the E-Class wagon, especially in AMG guise.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I’d really rather have any of the other options. It’s just too expensive and problem-prone, and -everything- is an optional extra.

          I thought the real wealthy person’s choice was the Land Cruiser!

      • 0 avatar
        BrunoT

        Its appeal is that of a wealth-display. For some people that’s all that really matters.

        • 0 avatar
          baggins

          My dad’s got a 2010 MBZ GL. I drove it on a wine tasting trip with me and 7 other adults crammed in. Handled and drove like a charm loaded to the gills. Tons of room for the driver. I’m 6.4 225, so that’s a real plus.

          Its a pretty nice ride, and costs no more than a Escalade.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      It depends on what you mean by architecture. The Q7 is in many ways over there with the MDX/QX60/MKT/XC90 if you want to look at things in terms of balance. With the engine hanging out in front of the front axle, it feels much more front heavy than the Volvo. If you’re talking about suspension design, then the double wishbones put the Euro entries including Volvo in a separate category. If you talk about interior quality, again the Euro entries are on their own. If you talk options, then the architecture is more Euro than the others as well with available air suspension and luxury features you don’t see on the others. The driving dynamic of the XC90 is quite different from the QX and Enclave which are boat-like. The XC90 is sharper than the MDX and MKT, and I would not describe any of the XC90s as “softly sprung” including the air suspension model actually.

      • 0 avatar
        Mieden

        Q7 shares its platform with the Cayenne, so decent balance was baked in from the beginning. The engine doesnt “hang out front” in typical Audi fashion. It has a pretty decent 52/48 weight distribution.

  • avatar
    CH1

    Alex, City Safety on the new XC90 works at all speeds, as well as in the dark.

    31 mph (50 km/h) is the maximum speed difference at which a collision can be avoided completely. At higher speed differences, speed will be reduced but the collision will not be avoided.

    Overall, a very good review.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    It’s nose looks puggly, LOL!

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Unlike what they did to the V60 (and compared to pretty much every other CUV/SUV these days), I like that they kept the greenhouse relatively boxy and windows big. Good visibility is one of the most important safety items you can get, and way too many manufacturers have forgotten this.

    Is the V/XC70 next?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The great thing about Alex’s reviews is that I know the verdict without having to read them.

    Here’s this one (I didn’t read it):

    Tastefully & uniquely styled

    Comfortable interior

    Nice ride & NVH levels

    Decent technology

    Premium price is warranted

    Overall, at least a B+ in its (admittedly narrow) segment, and closer to an A-

    • 0 avatar
      saabophile

      Why are you commenting if you haven’t read it? Typical DW, “every thing is bad and I know because I didn’t even bother to read it.” If you did read it you’d know he said it was me-too styled, class leading technology, value priced and an A+

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      This is more a factual observation than any mean-spirited criticism (though interpret the facts as you will):

      Alex Dykes is the spiritual successor to John Davis of Motorweek, where no vehicle reviewed gets less than an overall grade of B, and most obtain a B+ or higher grade (Alex even went so far as to state in the aftermath of his Acura RLX review that if it were $10,000 less expensive, it would warrant an A or A+).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hey speaking of which I’m always gonna keep the last two years of the large RL, 2010 and 11 or whatever, in the back of my mind as a used buy. I saw one a couple days ago in a gold color, and I noticed its rarity and relative gracefulness in motion.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        You appear incapable of understanding the difference between critique and criticism, DW.

        Criticism, often performed under the “pursuit of truth,” is something usually done for its own sake. Manhood, Honesty, Truth.. whatever capital letter exists in your value system, which is somehow being violated by Dykes’ reviews.

        Critique is more nuanced. Though difficult to grasp for quick draws, critique does not necessarily involve criticism. It entails drawing out the qualities of something and putting them in conversation with contextual others. You don’t walk away with “yea” or “nay” – you walk away with “i see, A would be better off with product Z, but B would be better off with product X for the following reasons.”

        On top of it, Alex is smart to call a handling “better for comfort instead of spirited driving.” WE ALL KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS IN A HEARTBEAT. If he said “handling sucks” the manufacturer might get upset and deprioritize him. We suffer lack of reviews. I am not sure what you gained in the process.

        You are very different from BTSR in that he is enthusiastic while you nag. But like him, you are very quickly approaching the point of having nothing to add to the conversation. Despite your knowledge. Is that who you want to be?

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Joyful reading!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    At this price point, I’m sure most will be leased. This is a good thing, as if my experience with owning a 2007 XC90 is an indicator, expect some repairs for strut towers around 50k miles, oil consumption and pricey brake repair work.

    I would be most concerned about the transmission, as way too many XC90’s have had issues. Mine was not part of the more well known issues, but it never really shifted smoothly from 1-2 and 2-3, and it too was an Aisin unit.

    I crawled around the new one when it was at the LA Auto show and Volvo made huge steps forward with interior quality. Much better materials.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    What a beautiful vehicle… I say this longingly as i was in the market for XC90 couple years ago due to 3rd kid, but as XC90 was a bit too tight, we ended up with gently used Lexus LX470. As a multiple Volvos owner in the past (including more recent models) i can confidently say that this is the only European brand i’d consider owning. I’m not going back to VW or BMW as those were more trouble then they were worth….

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      I should also mention that one of the things i loved about Volvos is the aftermarket support and ease of working on.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I was looking at the Volvo Accessories page for my XC70, and staggered by the way they actually make the install manuals public.

        Even for, say, the camera add-ons, including “cut a hole, after measuring here and here from these edges”.

        I have no intention of a DIY install – especially since it needs a software update – but it’s nice to see, and useful for things that don’t need software.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Just a couple of days ago I saw my first new XC90 in the wild, a T8 with manufacturer plates. In person, the exterior design has much more presence, grace and beauty than photos are able to convey.

    “configured to a similar price, the Volvo will likely win” why is it that this critical point is so often relegated to a qualifier, when it really demands to be a major point of comparison between competing vehicles. Is a ~20% price difference really so insignificant? Kudos to Alex for not relegating it to a mere asterisk or hiding it in parenthesis.

    “… worrying thought it may be another 12 years until this XC90 gets redesigned”. If the original design is a dogs dinner to start with, there’s no question that’s an issue. Volvo was certainly handed good fortune by so much of the competition chasing ugly design fads that the old XC90 still looked handsome after 12 years.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I spent a lot of time in this thing at NAIAS and the interior is absolutely sublime. Every surface, every material, every piece of switchgear is borderline flawless. It’s just beyond reproach.

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    Of course it’s a game-changer, Alex. Volvo has been effectively without an entry in this segment for the equivalent of a full design cycle. This is the most profitable segment they could be in, and they didn’t have anything to sell at non-discounted prices. It also happens to be the most universally press-lauded Volvo ever. When they/if they also add an entry level vehicle (S/V 30?) they might actually double their sales volume and achieve some economies of scale at dealers.

    The XC90 is a well equipped vehicle as a base model and makes a lot more sense in the market in that form. It undercuts the Germans in price and gives them a run for their money. As a $70K plus techno experiment not so much.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    So the T8 or X5 35i ?

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I hope they sell a ton of these. Sick and tired of looking at the MDXs everywhere.

    Maybe this is the New 240.

  • avatar
    This Is Dawg

    That interior is gorgeous in its simplicity. I can’t tell if that is because I really like it, or its just much less of a mess from basically everyone else’s.

    As for the gauges in the picture, I assume 53.3mpg was instantaneous while coasting? That kind of average mpg wouldn’t be a mention, it’d be a headline.

  • avatar
    bastula

    Alex,

    Does the new XC90 really have red rear turn signals? If so that’s quite unfortunate. Volvo was one of the last good brands that kept safety as it’s number one priority. That may have ended with this change. I wonder if they could have used the same amber in red LEDs like the pre-LCI 7 series.

    Same thing was disappointing when a few years ago, Mercedes decided to randomly make their clear/silver rear LED turn signals flash red instead of amber for no other reason than aesthetics.

    Times are changing.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    This will be an interesting test case where the “bigger” engine option has more FWD-bias than the “smaller” one.

  • avatar
    MisterScott

    Putting a deposit down on one this week. I am getting it loaded white with the dark tan. I am coming from a 2012 BMW X5 with the 5.0 v8 and M-Sport package that is fun but fatiguing to drive. This will be my commuter car. I have been shopping the MDX and Q7 for a long while. No more BMWs and the Infiniti is just plain ugly. I was incredibly impressed with this during my test drive. Even my wife who rolls her eyes at my vehicular ADD was impressed. When I told her I was going to put a deposit down she said good call.

    The interior is spectacular. Would like some other options on the dash TFT display. The infotainment is lightening fast very intuitive. The B&W audio system sounded fantastic. Performance was good to very good given my expectations were mentally managed given the car I am coming from. I am just glad I won’t be spending 2500 bucks every 20k miles or so on tires and dodging potholes in Denver like I am dodging land mines.

    Now I just have to wait four months to get one. Dang it.

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