Our Volvo XC90's Touchscreen Takes Its Swede Time

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2016 Volvo XC90
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

CARS.COM — Some things that are big but get moving quickly include offensive linemen and grizzly bears. Something that's big but slow to get moving is our long-term 2016 Volvo XC90's touchscreen that controls the climate, entertainment and phone connectivity, among other functions.

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Several editors have noticed that the system seems to feel slowest when you first get in the car. I timed it over the course of several months, getting in the XC90, starting it up and then changing the climate settings and the radio. I timed the system by using the slow motion feature on my iPhone 6 and replaying the videos, checking the time on the time stamp.

The results show that it could take anywhere from a laggardly 24 seconds to a blazing fast 1 second, though around 7 to 10 seconds was the norm. Interestingly, the fastest responses to the screen inputs occurred when I was changing the climate system's fan speed. The slowest inputs occurred across all range of functions and sometimes even the fan speed took a long time to respond. Our editors' experiences bear this out:

"I spent a lot of time in the XC90 [recently] and I still think the backup camera view should load quicker on the screen; it takes much longer than other cars (or it feels that way, at least.) Also, I had trouble switching Pandora stations — I had to hit the screen a few times to get it to register and switch stations," Jennifer Geiger, assistant managing editor, said.

Geiger's comments about having to touch the screen multiple times to get a response also resonated with Mike Hanley, senior research editor.

"Just recently, I was in the XC90 and went to adjust the seat heaters, and I was getting a lot of screen lag to the point that I was accidentally making selections on the screen that I didn't want because it was so slow to respond," he said. "It reminded me of a laptop getting a background update; everything looks fine on the surface, but there are significant delays when you try to do anything because all of the processing power is being used."

Joe Bruzek, our road test editor, summed it up this way: "You can hit the heated seat or select Reverse for the backup camera and the screen sits there with a blank, dumb, empty look until it eventually catches up and cycles through whatever buttons you hit. I imagine it's probably best to wait and not hit anything to avoid the succession of catch-up commands, but sometimes it's flippin' cold outside and you want those heated seats to start warming up immediately."

Interestingly, while we have noticed other glitches, the screen lag is virtually nonexistent after the XC90 has had a chance to warm up and get going. None of our editors reported a pronounced lag when driving the XC90. Maybe, like any other athlete, the XC90 just needs a good warmup.

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Former assistant managing editor Bill Jackson manages the Research section, and he enjoys triathlons and cross-country skiing.  Email Bill

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