You are forgiven if the phrases “three-row crossover” do not precisely spike your consideration. Shopping for such a automobile is usually pushed by a necessity somewhat than a need. But luxurious automakers have carried out an admirable job of creating these family-haulers extra interesting by stuffing them with premium supplies, hewing their metallic into eye-pleasing shapes and engineering enjoyable driving experiences.
Take, as an example, this Volvo XC90. A far cry from the boxy 850 wagon you keep in mind out of your youth, this Volvo delivers massive doses of premium-ness in every single place you look. Although it is easy to choose fault with it in a couple of areas, total this XC90 ranks extremely on our gotta-have-it checklist.
Curb attraction, polarizing tech
One cause we just like the XC90 a lot is that it’s miles prettier than any of its competitors. It is easy for a three-row crossover to end up as a boring field, however Volvo’s designers handle to drape delicate sheetmetal over the XC90’s bones in a manner that attracts the attention. On this tester, the sleek Denim Blue bodywork contrasts towards chrome and brushed-metal accents. Daring lighting parts, with LEDs and the well-known “Thor’s Hammer” operating lights, additionally add curb attraction. It is an understated and chic look — fairly the alternative of Volvo’s smallest crossover, the brash XC40.
The cabin reveals simply in addition to the outside, and never solely as a result of this Inscription mannequin has real walnut wooden trim and delicate, brown Nappa leather-based in every single place (even on the important thing fob!) and drilled-metal speaker grilles for the non-obligatory Bowers & Wilkins stereo. A excessive seating place and low cowl present glorious ahead visibility, whereas the huge panoramic sunroof retains issues mild and ethereal (you possibly can, after all, occlude the sky with a powered sunshade). The management construction is one among simplicity: only a handful of buttons on the steering wheel and some buttons beneath the touchscreen on the middle stack.
The dashboard stays uncluttered partly as a result of nearly all of the automobile’s controls and settings are stuffed into the 9-inch Sensus infotainment system. That sounds good in precept till you are preventing to activate the heated seats or crank up the air-con proper after beginning the automobile; the touchscreen takes an age in addition up and it is irritating to faucet the display with no response. The identical goes for tweaking frequent automobile capabilities, just like the stop-start system or altering active-safety settings, requiring extra tapping and swiping than we might like.
Sensus’ operation and performance is kind of divisive even amongst Roadshow workers, so we might strongly advocate taking part in with the system in your check drive earlier than committing to purchasing an XC90. Personally, I discover the crisp, high-contrast graphics structure simple on the eyes and useful for studying at a look whereas driving. Furthermore, I discover the association of on-screen controls easy and easy to grasp.
The show defaults to a four-tile residence display that at all times reveals navigation, audio and cellphone data, with the bottom-most tile reserved for probably the most not too long ago used characteristic (e.g. gas economic system data, Apple CarPlay). Swipe proper to indicate a dizzying array of buttons for adjusting all the automobile’s choices, from the aforementioned security programs to issues just like the head-up show choices. Swipe left for tiles to modify audio sources, activate apps like Spotify web radio or pull up menus for the equalizer, journey data or different automobile data. Assist for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is customary.
Security expertise is in abundance, as is the case with all fashionable Volvos. The Pilot Help mode for the adaptive cruise management, as an example, will assist steer the XC90 on the freeway. Different options embrace a 360-degree digital camera, parking sensors, self-parking, precollision warning and brake, lane-keep help and blind-spot monitoring. One good contact: The place so many vehicles use strident digital beeps for these programs’ notifications, the Volvo performs nice musical chimes for issues like parking-sensor warnings.
Loads of practicality
Driver and passenger get pleasure from ample area within the Volvo XC90, in addition to loads of area to retailer their sundries within the center-console cupholders or door pockets. Likewise, the second row provides a beneficiant quantity of room for grownup passengers to suit comfortably. These seats tilt and slide ahead simply to permit entry to the sixth and seventh seats, although the resultant hole is just a little tight. As with loads of rivals, the XC90’s third row is stingy on knee- and legroom. You may match youngsters in right here with no downside, however regular-sized adults will begin to complain earlier than lengthy. At the very least headroom is beneficiant and there is a cupholder for every of the way-back chairs.
Cargo area suffers the identical destiny: It is just a little cramped with all three rows of seats up, however expands dramatically when the third row is folded down, and much more so when the second row is folded flat. This XC90 has an influence liftgate with a kick-to-open operate, however in observe, solely a small proportion of kicks lead to a gap. At the very least you possibly can pop the hatch from the important thing fob or by simply grabbing the deal with.
Prime-tier street manners
One other checkmark on the XC90’s goes to its beautiful driving dynamics — it maybe would not drive fairly so sweetly as an Audi Q7, nevertheless it will get fairly darn shut. The satisfaction begins with this tester’s T6 powertrain, which is Volvo-speak for a 2.Zero-liter inline-four boosted by each a turbo and supercharger. With 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque accessible simply throughout the rev vary, you will by no means need for energy.
Volvo says you possibly can attain 60 miles per hour in 6.1 seconds, which feels plausible from behind the wheel and is actually greater than fast sufficient for such a automobile. Sadly, the engine sounds just a little gruff in its operation, particularly when pushed. The attendant eight-speed automated is usually desperate to downshift and performs its duties with out a lot fuss.
The 2019 XC90 T6 has EPA mileage rankings of 19 miles per gallon metropolis, 26 mpg freeway and 22 mpg mixed. I ended up averaging solely 22 mpg regardless that I took a number of freeway journeys. The usual stop-start operate is just a little tough when it relights the engine; turning it off requires swiping proper on the touchscreen and finding a small digital button.
It is value noting which you can additionally go for the XC90 with its T5 powertrain, which makes use of a turbocharged 2.Zero-liter rated for 250 horsepower. Provided with both front- or all-wheel drive, it returns as a lot as 21/29 mpg in EPA testing. A costlier alternative is the T8 plug-in hybrid, which is able to enable a totally charged XC90 to drive 17 miles on battery energy alone.
In any other case the driving expertise is greatest described as just-right. Positive, the steering is mild, however its fairly fast ratio makes dicing up the Goal car parking zone simple. Although not precisely thrilling, the XC90’s dealing with steadiness is completely competent for such challenges as cloverleaf interchanges. With the assorted security programs offering a watchful eye, and nice visibility out of the large home windows, day-to-day commuting barely ruffles the XC90.
The only real letdown by way of the driving expertise is the journey high quality. Prior XC90s I’ve examined have had air suspension, which has glided over tough roads with out a lot hassle. This one has the usual steel-spring suspension and is extra of a combined bag. Although typically pliant and well-judged, the journey turns into brittle and jarring over tough roads. The 21-inch wheels’ low-profile tires indubitably do not assist. Whereas not a deal-breaker, it is sufficient to make me assume I would possibility my private XC90 with smaller wheels and/or air suspension.
That mentioned, the Volvo XC90 is the kind of automobile I am joyful to drive anytime, anyplace. It is easy to dwell with and does loads of issues properly; what sells it’s its all-around excellence. From design that will not bore you to a driving expertise that will not frustrate you, to a sensible inside and a full complement of security expertise, the XC90 is the type of crossover that is a pleasure to dwell with day-in, day-out. It is one among only a few thrilling entrants in an typically boring phase.
How I would spec it
Having fallen in love with this mannequin’s look, I would need to go along with a Volvo XC90 Inscription, regardless that I am certain I could possibly be completely glad with the Momentum or R-Design fashions. That alternative alone pushes my beginning worth to $60,445 with vacation spot and routinely elects the T6 powertrain (the one different possibility for the Inscription is the T8 plug-in). To maintain the journey just a little softer I would maintain the usual 20-inch wheels. On high of that I would equip the Comfort ($1,950) and Luxurious ($three,150) packages, in addition to standalone choices just like the head-up show ($900), B&W sound system ($three,200) and air suspension ($1,800). That brings the XC90’s whole checklist worth to a wholesome $68,890.