When a car’s redesign has been on the cards for over a decade, you’d hope the final product is pretty spectacular. So goes the story of Volvo’s much-loved family SUV, the XC90. Though the car has received a few facelifts and tweaks since its launch in 2002, it remained largely faithful to the original design. However, as new technologies become available and consumers evolve, so must their cars. With that in mind, last year saw the release of a brand new generation of the XC90; a sleek and modern interpretation of the iconic Volvo. We drove one for a week to see how it fares in 2016.
There’s no doubt the new generation of the XC90 looks the part, a contemporary 2016 vehicle. It has a really strong aesthetic, thanks in part to new LED headlights and a larger grille. With quite a few different metallic paint options to choose from, the car looks sleek and entirely modern. Ours featured the Bursting Blue finish, which certainly gave it a sharp look. Overall the 2016 XC90 has a premium aesthetic. The exterior alone is enough to catapult it into luxury car territory.
I found myself incredibly impressed by the car’s interior, even just at first glance. The first thing you notice as you get in the driver’s seat is the 12.3″, iPad-like screen in the centre. Reminiscent of the screen found in a Tesla Model S, it’s large but not overwhelmingly so. A noticeable lack of physical buttons on the instrument panel gives the front cabin a clean and minimal look, as does the entirely digital dash display.
The driver and front passenger seats are incredibly comfortable, and they feature some of the best lumbar support I’ve ever experienced in a car. Our model also had heated seats; a feature I can’t live without now! The luxuries don’t stop there though, as both the second and third row of seats prove to be really well-thought out, catering to the comfort of adult passengers and not just kids. The seats on the second row are built on individual rails, allowing them to slide back and forth independently, plus they can recline as well. A spacious third row means a couple of adults can sit back there for shorter drives and not feel cramped. The already substantial 398L boot increases its capacity to a huge 1,091L with the back two seats folded down, which they do completely flat, so it becomes the ideal car when you really need to haul a lot of stuff around.
The XC90 features Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Due to the minimal physical controls in the car, most things are controlled through the touchscreen, like temperature, media and the various safety features. Everything about it is pretty intuitive, and if you’re used to using your smartphone or tablet, you won’t have any trouble with it. Some of the features were slightly laggy at times, and you have to swipe across to access some of them too, which wasn’t the easiest when you’re trying to focus on the road. Overall though, it’s a really simple and comprehensive system. I used it in conjunction with Apple Carplay with my iPhone, which was something I really enjoyed. This allows you to access apps like Spotify or Audible directly from the car’s touchscreen, plus with the help of Siri, you can easily make or receive phone calls and hear text messages and voice mails. You can even dictate messages to your phone and have it send without ever actually touching your device.
Everything about the 2016 Volvo XC90’s interior feels premium. From the leather seats to the contrast stitch detailing, there’s no doubt it can comfortably be compared to leading luxury brands on the market.
With a 2.0L twin-charged T6 petrol engine, the XC90 certainly feels gutsy for one of the biggest SUVs around. Offering 235kW of power and 400Nm torque, the car is quick off the mark and feels no struggle from its weight and size. It proves to be a very comfortable drive through the city, where it would most likely be spending most of its time. Changing between modes is simple via the premium, chrome dial, and I found myself going between Dynamic and Sport mode quite a bit. Sport mode was really impressive; the car really utilised its excellent power, and felt more akin to driving a sedan than a SUV. Corners didn’t seem to be a problem with the XC90 either, which given its size, I initially thought may be.
I found the gear stick to be quite a bit more firm to move through than other cars I’ve driven before, which seems to be a signature Volvo feature. The car also features engine start/stop technology, a measure used to assist with fuel economy. Though it’s definitely a useful feature when it comes to saving petrol and decreasing fuel emissions, the brief lag of the engine starting again was enough to find me de-activating it more often than not.
The Wrap-Up – 2016 Volvo XC90 Review
Undeniably a car that would be best suited to a family, the 2016 Volvo XC90 would be on the top of my list of luxury SUVs to consider if I were to make the switch from a sedan. It makes for a very comfortable drive, both in its performance and in the well thought out seating design. It’s an attractive car that has very effectively shot itself into the modern, luxury family SUV market.