Where Luxury Meets Saftey In Total Harmony
Volvo is one of those brands that in the past has been an anti-status symbol for an anti-consumerism movement. Those educated, environmentally aware people who were green, long before being “granola” such was considered in vogue. Volvo, with its very strong Scandinavian heritage, has been a symbol of safety, a producer of staid though somewhat dull vehicles, this is about to change. Yes the God of the Saftey is about to become a sex symbol.
This past winter’s North American Auto Show in Detroit, there was a lot of buzz about their XC90 model, to the point where as the Cars.com’s media party celebrated it with a Best Of Award. This Fall after attending the Automotive News Marketing Seminar, and hearing from Bodil Eriksson, Vice President, Product, Marketing and Communication for Volvo Car USA, who spoke about the expectations from many that Volvo would be extinct by the end of the 2000 recession.
Instead, the company has built on its strong heritage of safety, adding luxury to safety as a selling point instead of raw performance, which has been how automakers have sold cars for years. Resulting in a surge in the popularity of their vehicles, with reported brand sales ever since. With that, we got the chance to get behind the wheel of several of Volvo models, including the XC90 T6 AWD Inscription for a week. And we were duly impressed with the vehicle being safe and luxurious instead of spartan.
Still, a quite sensible vehicle that any self-respecting anti-consumer, “Volvonist” would feel comfortable in, though maybe feel a twinge of guilt for liking the heated steering wheel, and massaging seats with cushioned leg extensions. Though the XC90 is large, it does not feel that way from behind the wheel. While the 20 to 25 mpg on premium fuel may not be impressive in other vehicles, for this full-size SUV, it is not bad!
When it comes to engine size, the Europeans are challenging our American idea that a big car means a big engine, and a big engine means plenty of power. Volvo has not sacrificed power on the XC90, and others that use this same powerplant. Volvo has attached both a turbocharger and a supercharger to their 2.0 Liter inline 4-cylinder premium gasoline fueled engine, coupling that to a capable All-Wheel Drive system through a flawless 8-speed Geartronic™ Automatic Transmission, we found the XC90 had more than enough get up and go, even for those drivers who are used to 8-cylinders in an SUV. The XC90 averaged 21 mpg during normal driving, and we would expect higher with more highway time. The only complaint was the noise of the engine, similar to that of kitchen hand beaters being run at high speed, which reinforced the fact that there was a small engine under the hood.
Inside the XC90 behold plenty of luxury touches, from the leather seats to the nicely trimmed linear walnut inlaid dash and console, highlighted by aluminum trim with ambient light throughout the cabin.
The large center display screen is one of the best out there, easy to see and use, especially while driving. It presents a wealth of information from entertainment options to the vehicle’s mechanical information, you can even pull up the owners manual if desired.
Seats are where the Scandanivan automakers have always done a great job. Making them comfortable and for long periods of time, and the seats on this XC90, front and back continue this tradition.
The built-in child’s seat in the center of the rear bench is a simple and very family friendly feature, as is the optional 3rd-row seating, which while not the most spacious, still offers comfort for smaller passengers. Though the Volvo purists may find the ventilated massaging seats a bit of a reach. Though many find a heated seat and steering wheel most welcome on those frosty days, no matter if you are in Sweeden or in the state of Maryland.
The dashboard keeps you informed, and the graphical heads up display provide excellent information to the driver, as well as it is easy to see, which is rare if you wear sunglasses with progressive lens. While most of the vehicle information shows up on the center display, basics like Pilot Assist with adaptive Cruise Control, a semi-autonomous driving feature that we found useful in city traffic.
Volvo has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to safety, and the XC90’s has it in its DNA. Today, safety is more than seatbelts, whiplash protection, and airbags, much more. With Lane-keep and departure warning, low-speed pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection, Run-off-Road Mitigation, and detection as well as collision detection systems, provide a strong sense of safety. Active bending headlights that follow the movement of the front wheels, and light where you are going, not just straight ahead of the vehicle is very reassuring especially in low light situations.
All of this safety and luxury comes at a price. The sticker on our XC90 T6 AWD Inscription test vehicle, with delivery, was $72,805, we also got behind the wheel of a T8 E-AWD Excellence with a $105,895 sticker earlier this year, and were quite impressed with both vehicles. While the plug-in hybrid provided better fuel economy, it also had some opulence items such as crystal gear shift knob by Onefors®and matching crystal glasses in the rear center console, that were way beyond the ideals of any anti-consumer who would have bought a Volvo in the past.
After a week of driving this XC90, we were sad to see it leave, and would consider it. Check out any current discounts that Volvo may be offering, along with any buying services your credit union, membership club or association membership benefits may provide.