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Auto Corner Review: Volvo XC90

17 June 2017  

Volvo XC90 - maturity, refinement and innovation.

2016 Volvo XC90

Personality: A veteran lawyer winning the trial of the decade

Best Gizmo: All the technology packed into the center stack

Most Annoying Feature: The underpowered engine

MPG:  22 overall. 20 in the city and 25 on the highway

Performance: Adequate at low speed. Don’t look for massive acceleration at highway speeds, however.

Cars we smoked at stoplights: A Chevy Volt and a Nissan Pathfinder

0-60: 6.1 seconds as tested

How Fast Is That? I think we have made it clear…not that fast

How Much? Base price is $48,900 but you can easily reach almost $70,000 with the inscription level and options

What option should I splurge on? The Pilot Assist feature if you deal with traffic or long commutes

Serious Contenders? BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, and the Audi Q7

Breaking through the glass ceiling…a cliche appropriate for the accomplishment  achieved in the Volvo XC90. Maturity, refinement, and innovation are not overnight developments. Exceeding the most critical expectations and transcending to new heights, the Volvo becomes a fierce, albeit underpowered, competitor for German rivals.

Sporting a minor refresh for the current year, the XC90 is Volvo’s response to the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE. With luxurious interior appointments, well balanced technology, and superior handling, the Volvo drips with the sweat of fierce competition showing rivals it belongs on the same court.

From the exterior, the XC90 appears low, aggressive, and suited more for suburbia than any muddy field or dirt road. The signature Volvo grill merges with LED lighting swept back to a low hood-line and an abrupt windshield. With an 112 inch wheel base and large rims and tires, the XC90 ensures onlookers are as impressed with the exterior as owners are of the whole package.

Under the hood, the XC90 uses a brand new four-cylinder engine with both a turbo and a super-charger to pump out an amazing 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. With a towing capacity of 5,300 pounds and a zero to 60 time of 6.1 seconds, the seven passenger vehicle seems a little under powered at times. One place you won’t be disappointed? The gas pump. Extremely efficient for a vehicle of this size and weight. 

From the captain’s seat, technology and luxury merge to provide safety, sophistication, and an insane amount of leather. Here is the deal…in the 90’s we had virtually no technology in cars. Then, in the 2000’s we were installing clunky tech. You remember how the GPS navigation menu was virtually unusable, right?  We have finally arrived in tech heaven with seamless integration, my friend. Gone are the days of confusing menus and non-existent continuity. Just as Apple helped launch the smartphone into every hand, the Volvo merges the convenience of technology with an easy to use all-around experience. From the heads up display, voice activated controls, and large, center stack screen, everything is a button or command away.

Rear occupants have plenty of gadgets as well. With window shades, personal temperature controls, and an overabundance of safety features, they are able to stretch their legs and glance up at the stars with the extra-large moon roof.

Choosing a trim level is a fairly easy task with only three different options. The XC90 Momentum is the base model with all the amenities you would expect from an entry level luxury vehicle. Upgrade to the XC90 R-Design to receive LED headlights and a host of other external enhancements. The XC90 Inscription gains the best of all worlds — sport and luxury — as well as all the options imaginable such as ventilated seats in the front.

If there is one feature that stood out above all, it would be the Pilot Assist. If you pack on the miles with a commute, do yourself a favor and splurge on this feature. It maintains lane control and performs well staying away from the car in front of you. It can even handle stop-and-go rush hour traffic in the big city, drastically reducing your commuting fatigue.

Is it the perfect car? No. It is drastically improved from other Volvo experiences? Yes. They really launched a fierce competitor to their rivals and receive a big thumbs up when it comes to the driving experience and fuel efficiency. 

John Kehlenbeck

Each month John Kehlenbeck tests a worthy car. From the mundane stats of zero-to-60 time all the way to the incredibly important aspects of a vehicle, like cup holder location and bluetooth integration, Kehlenbeck dissects the details to give you the information you actually care about.

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