Heavyweight Volvo XC90 is quick

·3 min read

Jul. 31—If luxurious accommodations and striking looks are on your mind, you can add the Volvo XC90 to the wish list. It also impresses with three-row seating for up to seven passengers.

Our tester for the week was the top-of-the-line XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription powerhouse rated at 455 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine including a larger 143 horsepower electric motor. Its electric and gas engine combine for athletic acceleration, something many large SUVs lack.

With current gas prices around the $5 mark, the 2.5-ton XC90 will manage a 35-mile daily commute on electric power bringing a smile as you pass gas stations. The T8 delivers 26 miles per gallon once electric power is depleted.

For all its heft, the zero to 60 mile-per-hour sprint was recorded in a respectable 5.1 seconds. In our independent testing, we liked the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission reminiscent of BMW's Steptronic gearbox, delivering a multi-drive mode experience.

The XC90 is available in three subsets: base T5 with front wheel drive, mid-range T6 and T8 Recharge with prices ranging from mid $50,000s to upper $80,000s — the latter giving pause for some luxury SUV buyers. Depending on option packages, the midsize XC90 can be ordered with base Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trim levels.

A full menu of driver assist packages is included with every XC90 including run-off road protection and mitigation, blind spot alerts, adaptive cruise with full stop and collision avoidance.

The XC90 is a substantial highway performer with instant acceleration for passing. We did notice corner leaning under power but overall performance was good. Braking is strong and an available air suspension system is on the firm side.

The familiar Volvo exterior with rooftop tail lamps remain along with bright chrome bars in the front grille and chrome window trim. In case you are wondering, the standard high-pressure headlight cleaner moves to the option column and a redesigned rear bumper now hides exhaust tips.

The XC90 rear storage area is mammoth outsizing most competition with 21.6 cubic feet behind third row upright seats extending to nearly 50 cubes with the second-row seats upright and more than 80 cubes with rear seats folded. Not so up front, where small cupholders and scaled down trays are more for center console looks than functionality.

The Swedish automaker offers a plethora of standard Inscription trim features included in the $84,090 sticker price. Choose from wool blend or leather upholstery, power adjustable side seat support, lumbar, cushion extension, sun curtain rear side windows and 20-inch alloy wheels.

If the standard 14-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system does not satisfy, there is a $3,200 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins system that will. Other packages offer massaging front seats, heads-up display and suede headliner.

We had a few gripes with the XC90 including voice control issues not recognizing navigation directions, trouble operating climate system adjustments and failure to setup its HomeLink garage door opener.

Overall, we'd give the Volvo XC90 a passing grade and include it in rival test drives including Mercedes GL, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at lenscarcorner@comcast.net.