Hybrid Review: 2021 Volvo XC90 and XC60

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Nov 302021
Volvo Cars XC90 Recharge
Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 AWD.

By Andy Stonehouse

After an exciting time in the sizeable Volvo V90 Wagon last fall, I had expected the real, actual SUV version of Volvo’s full-size automobile category to seem impossibly huge, ponderous, and disconnected—kind of like a Swedish Chevy Tahoe. This was not the case with the XC90, except it also was. It’s smaller sibling, the XC60, was more fun to drive.

Volvo’s Flagship SUV, the XC90

XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid

XC90 Plug-In Hybrid Inscription T8 – Seat Configuration

The XC90 is indeed a long and impressively styled and sculpted vehicle, with marvelous details and a very striking set of optional 21-inch glossy wheels to tie it all together. From the outside, it’s a little more obvious that it contains three comfortable rows of six or seven seats where the passengers at the very back get leg room, cargo bins and full amenities.

The newer XC90 T8 Recharge, the 400-horsepower plug-in electric hybrid version of the SUV, belies its moderately grand scale when planted in the driver’s seat. The ride height is more equivalent to a small SUV from other brands, while the cabin does feel broader and more open thanks to the extra head space.

As for that ultra-fancy Recharge hybrid system—my Inscription-level T8 started at $69,750 but was rounded up to a slightly gasp-inducing $81,690 with a gigantic list of options including a $3,200 Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system—well, you get what you pay for, for the most part, though impressive mileage you do not and will not get.

Volvo has emphasized pure power here and the 400 horsepower and 472 lb.–ft. of torque are more Porsche-like, at least on paper, especially with just a 2.0-liter as the main gasoline power source—turbocharged and supercharged to make 313 horses on its own, before the electric boost kicks in.

What I did notice more than anything, besides a pretty mediocre 24.2 overall MPG (it’s rated at 27 combined highway and city MPG by the EPA), was a lot of odd noises, gurgles, inconsistent power delivery and an operating experience that clearly was going to take some getting used to. Even the Orefors crystal gear shifter knob required multiple taps forward or backward to officially get into gear; the learning curve there was a little steep.

Cruising along in the XC90 was no problem, though the gas/electric power handoffs were a little jagged. Properly charged, in warm weather, with the wind blowing the right direction, you are said to have a full … 18 miles of all-electric range?

That’s disappointing, to say the least, especially since it’s such a classy and dignified vehicle, with razor-sharp suspension. It’s stunningly outfitted in leather seating, a fantastic stereo and hand-stitched console, and dash and door inserts that are even more beautiful than in the V90.

The vertically-oriented Sensus navigation/touchscreen system used to seem enormous before Ram started putting full flatscreen TVs aboard their trucks. Volvo’s is easy to use, with a purist simplicity embodied by one knob.

The XC90’s Spritely Sibling, the XC60

Volvo XC60 Recharge

If you’d like a hybrid experience that actually delivers, the one-size smaller XC60 Recharge, base priced at $61,000 and tested at $71,340, channels that very same powertrain into a more sprightly, responsive and semi-decent mileage kind of situation.

Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 IP display.

Besides the slightly hovercraft-styled reality of the vehicle’s four-corner air suspension system, which set itself down on top of curbs when I parked a couple of times, the 60 seems like a more practical use of the electrified platform. That air system is also helpful if you do want to go lightly off-roading, as it will give you significant lift when you want it.

It’s still 400 horsepower, it’s still got just about 19 miles of full-electric range, but I found it easier to push the mileage into the 30-MPG range, depending on how hard you drive it.

All that electric boost shows up more tangibly here and adds extra oomph to what I believe is one of the most pleasant crossovers of its size category— like the 90, it’s super stylish, comfortable and still utilitarian, with a little less of the pure mass.

It’s also more devoid of the shudder, the ambiguity and the disconnected feeling as the hybrid shifts and blends between electric kick and regular gas-engine wallop.

Design is fantastic, from its ultra-anatomical, perforated leather seats and the cream-colored cabin. The dash is low and flat and the A-pillars thin, though the boxy, oversized side mirrors can get in the way of some visibility, and rear headrests can be automatically dropped to provide clearer rear vision.

Rear seating will still accommodate most passengers, though the cabin is a bit more plain back there, with B-pillar mounted air conditioning and heating vents. You’ll also find reasonable storage space (63.3 cubic feet, total), though the under-deck space is largely used up by batteries and the air bottles for the optional lift system.    

Sí: One of the classiest, most attractive and least gawd-awful-gigantic full-size SUVs around, loaded with technology, and simply wonderful to just sit aboard. The kind of car you wish you would get when you grow up.

No: Volvo’s ambitious and aggressive move to an all-electric fleet might start with hybrids, but an almost $82,000 hybrid that gets 24 MPG isn’t impressing anyone.

Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Golden, Colorado. All photos are stock, not as-tested.

SUV and Wagon Launch: 2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar, V60 Polestar and Cross Country, and refreshed XC90

 Launches  Comments Off on SUV and Wagon Launch: 2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar, V60 Polestar and Cross Country, and refreshed XC90
Oct 222019
L to R: 2020 Volvo V60 Polestar, V60 Cross Country, XC60 Polestar and XC90
Original three-point seat belt.

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

2020 XC60 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

2020 V60 Cross Country
2020 V60 Polestar

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

2020 XC90 Inscription

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.

12.3-inch digital display.

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.

Back-up camera displayed on the nine-inch touchscreen.

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.

Reviews: 2016 Volvo XC90 R-Design

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Jun 072016

2016-05-17 19.40.19

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.

2016-05-17 19.39.56The 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.

2016-05-17 19.41.36The 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 2016-05-17 19.39.11include 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.

2016-05-17 XC90.licPricing for the 2016 Volvo XC90 starts at $49,895. The as-tested pricing for the 2016 R-Design came to $67,155.


: 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.


Expect More Trucks and Green Vehicles in 2016

 Noticias  Comments Off on Expect More Trucks and Green Vehicles in 2016
Feb 232016

CHICAGO (Feb. 11, 2016) – Nissan TITAN will be available in 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations with three cabin configurations – Crew Cab, King Cab and Single cab – and three bed lengths – 5.5, 6.5 and 8 feet. Similar to TITAN XD, TITAN will be available in five trim levels – S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve. The TITAN will be powered by Nissan’s 5.6-liter Endurance® V8 gasoline engine capable of 390 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine will be mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. A V6 gasoline engine will also be available (details to be announced at a later date).

What brings journalists en masse to Chicago in the middle of winter? The largest auto show in the country, the Chicago Auto Show, that’s what, and this year’s reveals reflected a truck and big SUV resurgence, while at the same time, new green car initiatives.

Gasoline prices remain at an all-time low and that’s good news for truck and SUV buyers. Nissan brought forth two big bruisers, the all-new Titan half-ton and the 2017 Armada.

Last year Nissan introduced the award-winning 2016 Titan XD, powered by an all-new 5.0-liter V8 Cummins turbo diesel engine. This year the gasoline-powered version of the Titan (above) took center stage in Chicago. Powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine and built on a separate chassis from the TITAN XD, it’s also 14.7 inches shorter.

2017 Nissan Armada

2017 Nissan Armada

Similarly, the all-new Armada will be powered by the new 5.6-liter V8 engine and matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission for better fuel economy.

The handsome full-size SUV will come with an extensive list of available safety and convenience features, like Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Backup Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Intervention and Blind Spot Warning, among other features. An eight-inch display, navigation, and heated front seats will be standard. Both the Titan half-ton and Armada will go on sale this summer.

The 2017 Ram Power Wagon.

The 2017 Ram Power Wagon.

Ram followed suit with its off-road monster, the Power Wagon. Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4×4 Crew Cab, the 2017 Power Wagon receives all-new exterior and interior design elements. Seeking its own design statement, Ram abandons the crosshatch grille on the new Power Wagon for the one featured on its half-ton off-road sibling, the Ram Rebel.

2016-02-11 14.37.38

Pacifica Hybrid.

FCA also showed the hybrid version of its all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Revealed last month in Detroit, the Pacifica replaces the Town & Country. A segment first, the hybrid will deliver an estimated range of 30 miles solely on zero-emissions electric power. New available technology will also include a Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum cleaner.

While the Pacifica goes on sale this spring, the hybrid version should go on sale in the second half of 2016.

Available in dealerships now, the 2017 Hyundai Tucson receives a fresh exterior design and LED lighting signatures, plus additional infotainment, convenience and safety technologies, including Drive Mode selection with Sport, Eco and Normal settings. Brandon Ramirez, senior product manager, unveiled the refreshed versions of the 2017 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.

Kia Niro.

Kia Niro.

Expanding its green vehicle line-up, Kia introduced the 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle. The all-new Niro hopes to find a niche between the hybrid-electric vehicle and CUV segments, achieving a combined fuel efficiency rating of 50 mpg. It joins Kia’s green car line-up that includes the Soul EV, Optima Hybrid and 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid that also made its global debut in Chicago.

2016-02-11 15.32.57

Volvo XC90.

Finally, Volvo’s all-new XC90 continues to collect accolades winning MotorWeek’s 2016 Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year award. It’s the first utility vehicle to win the top honor in the 34-year history of the awards. To date, the XC90 has been named the 2016 North American Truck of the Year, the CUV of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association, and the Family Car of the Year by the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

“The XC90 brings Volvo firmly into the luxury space and fully represents the company’s new direction,” said Dean Shaw, vice president, Corporate Communications, Volvo Car USA.

Launches: Volvo Introduces the All-New XC90

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Jul 162015

2015-05-21 vxc90fro

When Volvo first launched its sport utility vehicle (SUV), the XC90, more than ten years ago, I was there. Fast forward to 2015 and Santa Monica, California, and I’m back for the launch of the all-new 2016 XC90. Highly acclaimed when it was first introduced, the latest version takes the SUV to a new, more luxurious level.

Like its predecessor, the XC90 captures attention from its design. It bears the “new face” of Volvo that includes a new grille with a prominent iron mark and revamped headlamps with the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” design cue.

XC90-0197Competing in the premium SUV market, the XC90’s interior will be its ace in the hole. Scandinavian aesthetics, combining beauty and utility, abound, from the diamond cut metal around the control knobs, to the tablet-inspired nine-inch touch screen above the center stack where drivers can control the entertainment, climate, telephone, and navigation systems, or Sensus interface. Sensus can also access a wide selection of cloud-based applications.

Center stack display with a 360 back-up camera view.

Center stack display with a 360-degree back-up camera view.

On the plug-in hybrid version of the XC90, the gear lever is made of crystal from Orrefors, the Swedish glassmaker. It’s simply stunning.

Yet, with all this bling, there is one exception. Oddly, the tilting and telescopic steering wheel has a manual control rather than electronic.

The leather seats are configured to mimic the shape of the human spine to seat seven passengers comfortably and safely. The second row seats slide, as well as recline. Volvo’s innovative integrated child seat is optional as is a massage function.

Standard features like a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital and configurable gauge cluster, and a separate climate control system for the rear seats further enhance the interior.

If the interior is the ace in the whole, then the XC90’s engine lineup is its royal flush.

2015-05-21 20.51.07True to Volvo’s commitment of utilizing four-cylinder engines exclusively, the XC90 offers two versions, one for its gasoline model, the T6, and the other for the world’s first seven-seat plug-in hybrid, the T8. Don’t let the numbers, six and eight, fool you. They only imply the kind of performance the T6 and T8 deliver, 316 and 400 horsepower, respectively from their supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder powertrains. Wow.

The EPA estimated fuel economy for the T6 is 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The plug-in hybrid should get an estimated fuel economy of 59 mpg equivalent (mpge) that includes a 17-mile range on electric power. Both are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The all-new Volvo XC90 - seven-seat interior overview

The all-new Volvo XC90 – seven-seat interior overview.

Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway and outlying areas, the XC90’s performance and handling was truly impressive, even more so with the Dynamic mode engaged. Drivers can also choose Comfort, Eco, and Off-road driving modes.

Known for advances in safety, e.g. the integrated child safety seat, Volvo equips the XC90 with the latest collision avoidance systems—run-off road protection and auto braking at an intersection—as well as all-wheel drive with instant traction control.

The blind spot information system, parking sensor, 360 surround view (back-up) camera, and lane keeping aid are available as part of optional packages. At least one of these systems should be standard, especially on a Volvo.2015-05-21 volvoxc90

Still, the new XC90 won’t disappoint Volvo fans and more than likely, will win a few more.

Pricing for the XC90 T6 and T8 starts at $49,895 and $69,095, respectively.