Price: $69,750 to $81,890 (with options)
Pros: Luxurious. Roomy. Fast. Superb air suspension. Good handling. AWD. Off-road abilities. Safety features. Attractive options.
Cons: Tall entry. Awkward start/stop console control. Tight third-seat. Awkward start/stop engine control.
Bottom Line: Deftly designed luxurious, fast mid-size Crossover/SUV.
Volvo calls its popular XC90 a "crossover," but it's really a big, roomy all-wheel-drive hybrid SUV that competes with top SUVs, especially in Recharge T8 Inscription trim.
Many consider the XC90 to be attractive. It doesn't look ungainly, but most large SUVs are essentially a big box to provide the passenger and cargo room demanded by buyers. Bright chrome bars in the grille, chrome window trim and nifty dual integrated tailpipes liven things up here, along with the (optional) 21-inch multi-spike alloy wheels. But If you want a head-turner, get a classic low-slung 1954 Austin-Healey sports car.
A gas/electric power setup delivers 400 horsepower and 472 pound/feet of torque. The 0-60 time is a claimed 4.9 seconds. Whatever. It's definitely fast. This thing accelerates much like a big, awesome turbocharged Bentley sedan I drove several years ago. Top speed is said to be 140 m.p.h., but is held down to about 115 m.p.h.for U.S. driving.
The 8-speed automatic transmission adroitly handles the power delivery, and there are various driver-controlled modes, ranging from Constant AWD, Pure Electric, Hybrid Everyday and Power. Hybrid is the way to go most of the time. I didn't have a chance to drive off road with the AWD, but the XC90 AWD is said to do pretty well in the rough.
The firm steering is quick, and handling is remarkably good for such a tall (70-inch) high, 195-inch long vehicle. Roadability is helped by items including electronic stability control, large wheels and the AWD. I was surprised at fast I could drive through curving on-and off- freeway ramps with no tire squeal or annoying body lean.
Of course, it predictably takes extra effort to climb in, and front doors are heavy. But all-around visibility then is good, and large outside power mirrors help driver visibility and fold in when the vehicle is parked.
The 2021 XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription I tested had comfortable room for four 6-footers, or for 5 in a pinch-besides a third-row seat for several children or still-growing pre-teens.
The cargo room under the hands-free power hatch has a low, wide opening for those fast airport loads, and the third-row seatbacks can be flipped forward for more cargo room. They're heavy and thus call for extra effort to move.
The interior is downright lavish with top-quality materials. Its items include a fully digital gauge cluster, Nappa leather upholstery on heated/ventilated supportive front seats (second-row seats also are good), 4-zone climate control, easily used 9-inch coordinated touchscreen infotainment system, 12.3-inch digital driver display, USB ports, inductive smartphone charging, premium sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, (optional) heated steering wheel and a laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade. However, the start/stop engine console control can be awkward to use. Why not just a push-button start?
Other Inscription features on my test vehicle included option packages that added to the various base prices I kept encountering in my research, with a bottom-line price, including freight, of $81,890 on its Monroney label.
An $1,800 four-corner air suspension provided a cloud-like ride over poor road surfaces. It's easily worth the money. A $750 Climate package contained heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
It was no surprise that my Volvo XC90 Recharge TA Inscription was loaded with safety features. They included a blind spot information system with steering assist and cross-traffic alert with Autobrake, Pilot Assist with a driver assistance system featuring adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance and high speed collision mitigation, driver alert control, run-off road protection and run-off road mitigation, lane departure warning/lane keeping and "oncoming mitigation by braking." There also are front, side and curtain air bags.
In all,Volvo has done a fine job with this vehicle.