Road Test: 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid

Road Test: 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid

Efficiency, Safety, and Luxury in One Seven-passenger Package

The 2016 Volvo XC90 is a handsome, luxurious, comfortable, fuel efficient and expensive large crossover. All-new, it’s a huge step forward for the Chinese-owned Swedish brand. Also all-new is a plug-in hybrid model–the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid.

The old model, which was based on former owner Ford’s platform, is replaced by an all-new Scalable Product Architecture, which allows Volvo to build multiple cars off of the same structure, saving development time and expense.

The Family Test

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid,hybrid

Room for seven–or five and luggage

To test this true seven-passenger ride, I loaded my family into it. My wife and I rode up front, my older son and my daughter-in-law sat in the third row (yes, it fits adults) and, in the center, were my other adult son, my seven-year old granddaughter in the optional built-in booster seat, and my two-year old granddaughter, in an easily attached child seat.

During the work week, I commuted daily, enjoying the incredible Bowers & Wilkins optional audio system. It puts out 1,400 watts of power through 19 carefully located speakers. You can set it for three different “rooms,” including the Gothenburg Concert Hall.

Three Levels of Volvos

XC90s come in three trim levels: Momentum, Inscription and R-Design. Momentum is the “base” car, but it’s full of good stuff. The Inscription, like my Crystal White tester, is the luxury model, with many extra touches, exemplified by the Orrefors Swedish crystal shift knob. The R-Design is the sportiest, swapping, for example, the Inscription’s walnut trim for a metallic motif.

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid,interior

Like an iPad at your side

Inside, a nine-inch center touch screen replaces numerous buttons. It’s essentially a dash-mounted iPad. Dauntingly complex at first, it became easy and responsive after a few days. Its home layout is four stacked horizontal bars, including navigation, media, phone and another one you select. I normally filled that with the fuel economy and powertrain monitor. Swipe up and down and left or right to expose other settings and options.

Volvo Plugs In

The regular gasoline car is a T6, but my tester was a T8, the world’s first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid SUV. All XC90s share a potent 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that uses both super- and

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid

For the first time, Volvo plugs in

turbo-charging to put out 313 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The T8 adds an electric motor and a battery pack to deliver limited electric-only motoring and a total of 400 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque. I drove my 18-mile commute entirely on electricity once, but normally achieved just under that. The center screen shows graphical and digital statistics, and where the power is flowing.

Hybrid system settings are Hybrid, the default mode, which switches back and forth from fuel to charge. Pure mode means all-electric. Power mode combines the motor’s instant torque and the gas engine’s horsepower to provide V8-level performance. Save mode lets you retain the battery charge for later use.

An EV range in the teens is typical for many plug-in hybrids—and remarkable for a 5,059-lb. vehicle. The EPA gives it a 53 MPGe rating (compare that to other battery vehicles). In pure EV mode, it’s much better. Gas-only delivers 25 MPG. My tester averaged 22.7 mpg over 63 hours and 1,578 miles, including previous journalist loans.

Green scores are 7 for Smog and a split number for the Fuel Economy/Greenhouse Gas rating—7 for MPG and an 8 for CO2.

Safety Equipment, Of Course

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid, safety

Safety equipment surrounds the XC90

The XC90 is loaded with safety equipment. The metal front-seat seatbelt tangs are engraved with “Since 1959” as a reminder that Volvo invented seatbelts. The IntelliSafe Safety Technology includes rollover protection, various electronic controls to keep the car in the lane and a safe distance from other cars, automatic braking under some conditions, and much more.

For collision avoidance, the XC90 uses a radar and camera unit that can automatically brake the car when another car comes through an intersection. It helps eliminate collisions with cyclists and pedestrians. The four-way, 360-degree camera helps you avoid hitting things, and also makes it a snap to park perfectly by providing a bird’s eye view. There’s automatic parking assistance, too, if you’re not good at parallel parking.

The supremely comfortable and supportive Volvo seats are now mounted on slimmer frames for more interior space; they are also very protective in case of an unavoidable collision. The gorgeous leather in my Inscription model was a traditional Volvo orange-brown; it smelled great, too.

Pricing for the T8 starts at $69,050. My tester, with the $3,500 Inscription level upgrade, plus a raft of safety, convenience and style packages and features, came to $84,005. That’s a big price tag, but this car is a truly incredible experience.

The XC90 T8 was named Green Car Journal’s Luxury Green Car of the Year, and is part of what is a welcome resurgence for Volvo, a brand with a historic commitment to safety. Today’s Volvo features the latest technology and now, a greener way to move a family of seven.

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

First Drive: 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid

First Drive: 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid

Volvo Steps Up with its Flagship Wagon

2016 Volvo XC90 T8

This model marks Volvo’s move into new territory (with a familiar package)

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)

2016 Volvo XC90 T8,plug-in hybrid, technology

Not the first Volvo to plug in, but the first with electric range

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.

Deep Technology

2016 Volvo XC90 T8, funtionality, storage

Room for seven and luggage–this Volvo hauls

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.

Pricing

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

2016 Volvo XC90 T8

It’s a high-riding wagon in the Volvo tradition

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 Ride

2016 Volvo XC90 T8, styling

New look for a new direction

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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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.