Fast Take: 2020 Volvo XC90

Words by: Adam Allen

What is it?

C’mon people! You know what this is. In these SUV-obsessed times we live in, the XC90 has been on everyone’s radar since its debut in 2015 to unanimous praise by both the motoring press and public alike. It instantly became one of the must-haves in the three-row luxurysegment thanks to its compelling styling, gorgeous interior and Volvo’s relentless commitment to building the safest vehicles on sale today. Volvo is touting the 2020 edition as a midcycle refresh of sorts, but that’s a bit misleading- the Swedes have been constantly and incrementally fettling with it for the last five years. Massaging seats, upgrades to the company’s Pilot Assist II suite of driving assist technologies and hardware upgrades to the Sensus infotainment system meant to make it respond more crisply (although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of that upgrade, at least in our experience) round out the highlights. The big news this time around are a collective tweaking of exterior flourishes including the grille, wheel designs and front facia as well as a new six seat option as featured on our tester. The T8 hybrid flagship gets a slightly bigger battery which allows for a little more EV driving than before and the braking system is vastly improved over the disconcertingly artificial version of the past, which makes good on our biggest gripe when we drove that one a few years ago.

What’s like inside?

It’s the same as it ever was, really. Earlier we used the adjective ‘gorgeous’ to describe the environs inside the XC90, although you could have used ‘exquisite’ or ‘decadent’ interchangeably- those would be ample descriptors too. Don’t take our word for it- line up the XC90 against the heavy hitters in the segment and somehow the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 look a little outgunned by the precocious Scandinavian. You simply will not find any evidence of Volvo cutting a corner or using inferior materials. The whole Swedish design ethos is on full display, and its as refreshingly uncluttered as it is striking. We cannot allow ourselves the miss the opportunity swoon about Volvo’s pretty much perfect perches no matter where you happen to be sitting inside the XC90, nor could we overlook our appreciation for the way our favorite tunes were artfully reproduced by the audio system.

What’s it like to drive?

Like the interior, the driving experience has not evolved much since the XC90 hit the streets. The air suspension is still a mandatory option from where we sit, doing a good job to keep body motions succinct and taming the degraded ride quality that results from such large wheels and tires (or avoid the issue altogether by ordering one of the smaller wheel sizes are available-just saying.) The engine and in-house 8-speed automatic play nicely with one another, but we wish the XC90 sounded happier going about its business- the exhaust note is a bit coarse which should come as no surprise as the super and turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder has its work cut out for it motivating such a large and heavy vehicle. That in turn has a negative effect on efficiency, although it must be said that trips heavily favoring highway driving do return excellent fuel economy. It won’t egg you on towards exhibiting any socially irresponsible behaviour, instead delivering an air of quiet confidence no doubt helped by the feeling of solidity and many sensors and cameras constantly looking out for the well-being of you and your passengers.

Why you should care:

Like we said before, the world has gone gaga for SUVs and the those who simultaneously abhor minivans and enjoy the finer things in life are patronizing this segment more than ever before which, in turn, makes the XC90 the source of much welcome attention. The subtle changes for 2020 will only make the XC90 that much more attractive to prospective buyers. While we have firmly established that it’s a handsome conveyance both inside and out and more finely executed than many of its competitors, we think the moist convincing case the XC90 makes for your hard earned dollars is on the window sticker; it costs a whole lotta scratch less than some of the other SUVs in this realm your likely shopping for. So while the XC90 has a bunch of new stuff available on its 2020 model, much has stayed the same since it first put rubber to road five years prior. Take one for a drive and you will agree that that’s not a bad thing at all.

2020 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription – Specifications

  • Price as tested: $86,850
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5-passenger SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged inline-4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 316 @ 5,700 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 295 @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 2,154 kg (4,750 lbs)
  • Observed fuel economy: 14.2L/100 km (17 mpg)