Witness Volvo's unveiling of the next XC90, a step-by-step dissemination that evokes Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" miniseries trilogy. First up is the interior, which the automaker unveiled today. Volvo will follow up in the coming weeks with tidbits on safety and "interior air quality" (yes, really), with chassis and powertrain information in July and a full exterior reveal in August.
From the images, it appears the new XC90 trades on simple forms and a horizontal dashboard layout. It also ditches the thin waterfall center stack that's characterized Volvos during the past decade. Front and center is a large center touch-screen with a lot of integrated capacitive controls — concerning, given we've never warmed up to such interfaces — but large swaths of the upper dash and center console area employ upscale stitching.
Volvo says the seven-seat luxury SUV adds space for the second and third rows, with a sliding second row and individual reclining for all three positions and 40/20/40-split folding. Integrated child booster seats are optional. The stadium-style third row has "class-leading comfort" for passengers up to 5 feet 7 inches, Volvo says, and power-folding third-row seats are optional. Available four-zone climate adds zones for the left and right second row plus separate third-row climate — a convenient family feature if your passengers yammer about temperature.
Volvo promises a suite of internet-based multimedia services, and materials include Nappa leather, birch wood and Orrefors crystal for the gearshift. Ventilated, massaging seats are optional, though this isn't the first time the global XC90 has offered such features. Volvo says optional "Contour" seating offers more side support from the shoulders to the thighs.
Volvo says "world leading safety features" were key to the second-gen XC90's development. That's to be expected, given the original SUV debuted some pretty advanced features, including then-owner Ford's anti-rollover Roll Stability Control. And that SUV is still here, believe it or not. If Father Time had a new car, it might be the 2014 Volvo XC90 — now in the 12th year of its original generation, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January (wait for it) 2002. Business textbooks could file the XC90 under cash-cow case studies: The SUV outsold all other Volvos in the U.S. from 2003 to 2009. Sales are a trickle these days, but the antediluvian SUV still outsells the less-ancient S80.
Update: Volvo has confirmed that the new XC90 will be a 2016 model and go on sale in early 2015.