Volvo Steps Up with its Flagship Wagon
Volvo has been on the edges of the mainstream for some time, an intermediate-size manufacturer with a dated image and uncertain future. The 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 marks a new direction and stakes out new ground for where Volvo says it wants to go. It does it with style and technology. We had a chance to briefly drive Volvo’s new plug-in hybrid crossover wagon recently and came away impressed.
Volvo has been promoting itself as a luxury carmaker for several years, but, to be honest, we were skeptical. The hardware seemed dated and even the new models didn’t seem to take the brand into Mercedes-BMW territory. Volvo appeared to be on the verge of becoming a niche player for Swedish car enthusiast—or station wagon enthusiasts—in both cases a diminutive group in the vast automotive market.
A Statement of Technology & Style
The 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 (the later alphanumerics designating it as a plug-in hybrid, the T5 and T6 models do not plug in—or have as powerful of an engine)
finally delivers on the promise of luxury—and takes things a step further by offering the first electrified Volvo. The T8 features an interior that can go head-to-head with the best from Germany or Japan with touches of walnut, crystal and Nappa leather throughout. It’s not surprising the interior was named one of the 10 Best by Ward’s Magazine.
The exterior styling is an update on what’s now the “new classic” Volvo—well-proportioned wagon looks with a sense of motion missing from recent offerings from the brand. It remains instantly recognizable as a Volvo, yet has shed the straightjacket of older design approaches.
Then there’s technology. Start with the most obvious—Volvo is offering a plug-in variant of its most popular model. The result is a seven-passenger wagon with about 17 miles of EV-only range from its small 9 kWh battery and EPA ratings of 24 city/27 highway/20 combined when running on gas alone. When the plug-in power is factored in those numbers are boosted to an MPGe of 53 city/54 highway, well into the 2025 goal set for cars in the U.S.
The power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is turbocharged and supercharged, combining with an 87-horsepower electric motor to produce a total of 400 horsepower. The output more than backs up Volvo’s claim that “four is the new six” when it comes to powerplants.
The plug-in technology is only the tip of the proverbial Swedish iceberg when it comes to the technology offerings in the XC90. The suite of advanced technology standard or available on the XC90 definitely makes it at-home in the luxury CUV/SUV class.
The XC90 has three basic packages:
- Climate Package – heated windshield washer nozzles, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and windshield.
- Convenience Package – park assist, front park assist, lane keeping aid, Homelink, adaptive cruise control with pilot assist, Compass (an interior rear view mirror), 12V power outlet and grocery bag holders.
- Vision Package – 360° surround view camera, blind spot information system, cross-traffic alert.
As you might expect, with all of these technologies piled on, the Volvo will virtually drive itself as well as any other SUV on the market. Given Volvo’s long safety focus, you can be sure the technologies have been thoroughly vetted before they are installed for the public.
The 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 is the top-of-the-line XC90. The model line starts out with the front-wheel drive T5, a five-passenger model with a lower-horsepower version of the turbocharged (no
supercharging) 2.0L four-cylinder. Pricing starts at $43,950. Next up is the T5 all-wheel drive model at $45,950 and the T6, an all-wheel-drive seven-passenger model with the same engine.
The T8 comes in three trim levels:
- Momentum – $68,100
- R-Design – $70,000
- Inscription – $71,600
The 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 is the halo car of the Volvo brand. That designation is altogether appropriate since it’s stuffed with luxury and technology, delivers a smooth and powerful driving experience, and retains (or maybe regains) some essential Swedish elements of style. Like some all-wheel drive Ikea machine, it embraces function while putting a stamp of grace on the whole package. We can’t wait to get a chance to spend some more time with this car.
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