More than 90 years ago, Volvo began with a focus on safety that continues to today. This year marked the sixtieth anniversary of its game-changing three-point seat belt (right). The brand also stands out for its distinctive Scandinavian interior design that combines beauty with function. For 2020 Volvo expands its list of desirables with vehicles that accentuate performance, on and off the road, namely, the all-new XC60 Polestar, V60 Polestar, and V60 Cross Country plus a refreshed XC90 with available seating for six. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) had the chance to test drive several of these new models at the recent launch in Banff, Canada.
2020 XC60 T8 Polestar
The test models were powered by a variation of the Volvo’s innovative powertrain that features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or twin engine that is either turbo or turbo and supercharged, paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Surprisingly powerful, the four-cylinder can produce 250, 316, or 400 horsepower, depending on the model, but maximum power comes from the Polestar plug-in hybrid, Volvo’s performance trim, with 415 horses and 494 lb.–ft. of torque. That’s right, it’s a hybrid.
Speed limits along Canada’s highways did hinder the chance to fully appreciate the XC60 Polestar’s power, but on a test track, its Antilock Braking System with Electronic Brake Distribution and Electronic Brake Assistance
was on full display. Accelerating at full throttle, we were told to slam on the brakes to appreciate their control. The Polestar practically stopped on a dime, without swerving or skidding.
The sporty SUV retains Volvo’s distinctive technology, like the Sensus Connect infotainment system with a nine-inch vertical touchscreen display and 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, but the black leather interior on the test model and bright gold seat belts, brake calipers, and Bowers and Wilkins stereo speakers added boldness and sportiness. The door panels, however, were less finished, revealing something you rarely see on a Volvo, plastic.
Pricing for the 2020 XC60 will start at $41,150. The as-tested price came to $73,490.
2020 V60 T5 Cross Country
Powered by the same engine as the XC60 Polestar, the V60 Polestar plug-in hybrid will spice up the wagon segment with its aggressive good looks and performance. At the launch, however, we drove its sibling, the all-new V60 T5 Cross Country and as the name implies, it’s meant to wander.
Introduced in 1997, the 2020 version is the second generation of the V60 Cross Country. The all-new version includes All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and five standard Drive Mode settings—Comfort, Off-road, Dynamic, Eco, and Individual.
The Off-road setting in particular was put to good use at the launch, optimizing the engine and gearbox for better traction and setting the Electronic Stability Control to Traction/Sport, as the Cross Country climbed to the top of a ski slope at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, where lunch was served.
As a wagon, the Cross Country offers versatility as well with 50.9 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded.
The 2.0-liter with 250 horses and 258 lb.–ft. of torque powered the test model.
Pricing for the 2020 V60 wagon starts at $41,290. The as-tested price for the Cross Country came to $58,990.
2020 XC90 T8 Inscription and T6 R-Design
For the 2020 model year, the award-winning XC90 has been completely refreshed, including a new concave grille and a six-seat option, allowing for easier access to the third row of seats. It also offers some of the interior accents that have emerged on its siblings since its redesign in 2016, namely driftwood-inspired accents made of Grey Ash that first appeared on the XC60 and woolen accents for the door panel that premiered on the XC40.
At the launch we drove two 2020 XC90 models, the T6 AWD R-Design and the T8 AWD Inscription plug-n hybrid, both stand outs in their segments, but that Orrefors crystal shiftknob (left) on the T8, slightly modified for 2020, added extra wow factor as did the average fuel economy of 46.9 mpg on the test drive. The 2.0-liter super and turbocharged twin engine and electric motor combined to produce 400 horsepower and 472 lb.–ft. of torque. The similar 2.0-liter on the T6 R-Design achieved 316 hp and 295 lb.–ft. of torque.
As an added bonus, every XC90 includes the blind spot monitoring system as a standard feature.
Pricing for the 2020 XC90 starts at $48,350. The as-tested prices for the T8 Inscription and T6 R-Design were $86,990 and $74,735 respectively.
All four models included the City Safety suite of collision avoidance technology, like Forward Collision Warning that brakes automatically if the driver does not brake or steer away to avoid other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, plus Volvo’s signature large animal detection system.
Semi-autonomous systems like Pilot Assist help with steering, acceleration at speeds up to 80 miles per hour and braking but still require the driver to keep his or her hands on the wheel. New for 2020, the driver will feel a haptic response on the steering wheel if Pilot Assist is disengaged. During the drive, the temptation was strong to let go for a bit and see how it managed without hands on the steering wheel. It drove flawlessly but not for long, sounding a warning to retake the wheel.
While Volvo on Call, a multifunctional app that can lock and unlock doors, among other functions, is standard on all models, it’s not available in Puerto Rico. These models also complete the lineup that qualifies for the Care By Volvo program, the national flat rate, and all-inclusive vehicle subscription program.
Refreshed, improved, or all new, these models expand the Volvo lineup to appeal to performance and off-road enthusiasts, with the added bonus of Volvo safety features and Scandinavian design.