To call the second-generation 2016 Volvo XC90 an award winner doesn’t really capture this Sport Utility Vehicle’s (SUV’s) success. With more than 110 global awards so far, including the 2016 North American Truck of the Year, the XC90 is quite simply, a hit.
Latino Traffic Report was first introduced to the new 2016 XC90 at the launch in 2015. I recently test-drove the 2016 XC90 T6 R-Design and after a week in the vehicle, I can report that my first impressions from the launch were spot on.
The appeal of the R-Design begins on the outside with the XC90’s streamlined silhouette and distinctive design cues, like the T-shape in the LED headlamps, referred to as “Thor’s hammer,” a lower front spoiler, a distinct front grille, and metal mirror side covers.
It’s on the inside, however, that the XC90 pushes Scandinavian design, combining luxury with utility, to its full effect. Catching immediate attention is the nine-inch tablet-sized center display where most of the vehicle’s control functions, e.g. music, climate control, navigation, are stored. A known proponent of preserving knobs for better utility, I can say that this application is the exception to my rule. Using the same sliding motion for a phone or a tablet, I found most of the functions I needed. I did have trouble with radio presets but that was because I was looking for the wrong word. Presets are found under the “library” tab and once selected it reveals every station, terrestrial or satellite, and I scrolled through them quickly and easily to select presets. One low-tech feature I was happy to find was the CD player in the center console.
The next innovation worth noticing is the 12.3-inch instrument cluster, which is completely digital on the R-Design. There is no hardware surrounding the speedometer or tachometer, and while you can scroll through to find information like tire pressure and average fuel economy, a center screen displays a digital navigation map—all XC90 T60s come with a six-month subscription to Volvo’s Sensus Connect navigation system. Other features specific to the R-Design include perforated Nappa leather on the seats and key fob, and perforated leather on the steering wheel and shift knob, and illuminated tread plates, to name a few.
Another cause for applause is the XC90’s powertrain, namely the 2.0-liter four-cylinder super and turbocharged engine that produces 316 horsepower and 295 lb–ft of torque. Offering plenty of oomph the engine is matched to an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. The EPA estimated fuel economy for the XC90 R-Design is 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. I averaged 20.7 mpg.
Nothing defines a Volvo better than safety. Standard safety features on the XC90 include the City Safety collision avoidance system, Volvo On Call with remote lock/unlock and vehicle tracking, lane departure warning, and rear park assist and camera. The test model included the Vision Package ($1,800) with the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Cross Traffic Alert.
Additional creature comforts include heated front seats, Sirius satellite radio, a hands-free tailgate, four-zone climate control, and keyless entry and drive.
For its part, the R-Design enhances the SUV’s sporty nature with bolstered leather seats that hug the driver and front passenger in place, but tend to grab hold when climbing out.
Finally, the fit and finish truly sets this SUV apart from the competition. Diamond-cut effects on knobs like the Adjustable Drive Mode (the R-Design included Sport, Comfort, Eco, Individual and Dynamic modes) and Start/Stop added elegance as well as a little sparkle.
Sí: The all-new XC90 is as intelligent as it is beautiful with a groundbreaking powertrain, tablet-inspired infotainment screen, and excellent fit and finish.
No: Essential safety features like BLIS and Cross Traffic Alert should be standard on a Volvo.