After sitting out the 2015 model year, Volvo's flagship crossover returns with cleaner styling and renewed emphasis on interior luxury. Most significant is an efficient new four-cylinder engine that's more than capable of motivating the XC90 and a load of passengers.
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2016 Volvo XC90 Overview
What's New for 2016
The XC90 has been completely redesigned.
Choosing Your Volvo XC90
The previous XC90 had been on sale for more than a decade, so the new model brings major improvements in most areas. While it still looks exactly like a Volvo should, the big crossover is now pleasantly modern, with crisp and assertive styling that lends a premium air to the whole package.
Like all crossovers of this size, the XC90 seats seven passengers, and there's more room than before in the second and third rows. All seats carry shock-absorbing cushions to enhance occupant protection. Cargo space has increased as well, maxing out at 86 cubic feet.
The use of a 2-liter four-cylinder engine in a full-size luxury crossover will certainly raise some eyebrows -- that is, until you look at its output. Thanks to turbocharging and supercharging, the engine produces 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. According to Volvo, going from zero to 60 mph takes 6.6 seconds, which is actually faster than some V6 crossovers of similar size.
Every XC90 gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, selectable driving modes and all-wheel drive.
Along with the new design comes some novel trim levels: the base Momentum, sport-flavored R-Design and high-lux Inscription.
All models are eligible for a handful of option packages:
- The Convenience package adds a bevy of safety technology, including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, an automatic parking system and front parking sensors. A power-folding third row and grocery bag holder are also part of the deal.
- There's also a Vision package featuring power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, a surround-view camera system, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
- The Climate package adds heat functions to the second-row seats, steering wheel, windshield and washer nozzles. A head-up display can be added to the package at additional cost.
Volvo also provides a number of individual options, including an adaptive air suspension, a power-folding third row and a 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system.
When equipped with the Plus package, the Momentum provides the best overall value in the line. Whether to upgrade to beyond that -- $4,000 extra for an R-Design or $5,600 for an Inscription -- boils down to how expressive you want your XC90 to look and feel.
2016 Volvo XC90 Review
Volvo's seven-passenger crossover gets a top-to-bottom redesign this year with obsessive attention to interior quality and fuel efficiency. We think this long-awaited rebirth puts the XC90 back in contention with the best of its class.
Pricing and Equipment
Like the XC90 itself, trim levels are all-new this year:
- The base T6 Momentum stickers at $48,900, which includes things like navigation, a panoramic sunroof and a collision mitigation system. The $1,900 Momentum Plus package adds wood trim, digital instrumentation and upgraded lighting throughout.
- At $52,900, the T6 R-Design brings sportier trimmings such as specific 20-inch wheels, front sport seats and paddle shifters.
- The $54,500 T6 Inscription gets a high-lux interior treatment and special styling touches.
All trim levels are eligible for a $1,600 Vision package with a suite of advanced safety technology, and an $1,800 Convenience package featuring adaptive cruise control and a self-parking system. The Climate package ($1,050) adds heating to the rear seats, steering wheel and windshield.
All trim levels carry a turbocharged and supercharged (yes, both!) 2-liter four-cylinder, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Output is terrific for an engine of this size at 316 horsepower. The XC90 accelerates just as well as many competitors with larger V6 engines. (The hybrid version of the XC90, dubbed T8, is reviewed separately.)
Performance highlights include:
- All-Wheel Drive: It's standard on all models, along with an off-road driving mode.
- Steering/Handling: We found the XC90 surprisingly nimble for a large crossover. It negotiates curves without drama, and is no more challenging to handle than your average passenger car.
- Fuel Efficiency: You can expect 20 mpg around town and 25 mpg on the highway, outstanding figures for a 4,600-pound vehicle with all-wheel drive. The XC90's Eco driving mode pushes efficiency even further, albeit at the expense of performance.
- While the 2-liter engine offers an admirable balance of power and efficiency, it can't compete with the V8 engines offered in some competitors.
- Volvo recommends premium fuel for XC90, which takes some of the luster off its efficiency.
Like the XC90 itself, trim levels are all-new this year:
- With its tall windows and massive sunroof, the XC90 feels large and airy on the inside.
- This year's redesign brings a giant leap forward in interior design and refinement. High-quality materials, tastefully arranged, result in a rather splendid environment.
- Interior color choices are limited to all black, or black with neutral or beige upholstery. That's a far cry from the designer palettes we're used to seeing on many competing vehicles.
- Power-folding rear seats are not offered. You'll have to shove them down yourself.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The XC90's interior transformation is evident from the moment you open the door. We don't normally see this level of inner elegance in a vehicle that starts at under $50,000.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The R-Design doesn't offer anything extra in the way of actual performance, and the Inscription is purely a style upgrade. From our perspective, that makes the base Momentum the most logical choice.
The Bottom Line
If you've been wanting a luxury crossover, but not the typical glitz and thirst, the new XC90 will seem like it was built just for you.
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