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Best of 2016: Volvo XC90

2016 Volvo XC90

2016 Volvo XC90

Best of 2016: Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90’s Best Of 2016 win can be summed up in one word: execution. What’s too often lost on shoppers is how varied the performance and effectiveness of features can be among models that seem to be equally equipped. On paper, the XC90 looks like most luxury SUVs, distinguished mainly by its stately exterior styling and a list of active-safety features above and beyond what competitors offer, such as collision avoidance and protection in additional scenarios, like when turning in front of an oncoming vehicle. Get behind the wheel, however, and you encounter distinctive styling and high quality in everything from the look of its materials to the feel of its few mechanical controls. A single central control screen that incorporates almost all vehicle functions could reasonably give a consumer pause, but Volvo’s execution adds value rather than subtracts it. From the moment you start to explore the touch-sensitive screen — a technology as likely to frustrate you as please you in other vehicles — it’s clear Volvo has done it right. It responds immediately, its menus are clear and its functions easily understood. Despite all this computerization, the gear selector remains a conventional lever; unlike many competitors, Volvo hasn’t set out to fix what wasn’t broken.

Expectations are also exceeded by the impossibly small 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which delivers in spades through the innovative use of both a supercharger and turbocharger, providing both spirited acceleration and exceptional gas mileage. Air-spring suspensions are common among luxury vehicles, but few provide the comfortable ride enjoyed in XC90s equipped with the 4-Corner Air Suspension, a stand-alone option available on all trim levels that erases the otherwise punishing effect of wheels as large as 22 inches. Finally, the XC90 delivers as a family vehicle, with a standard airy panoramic moonroof and the ability to accommodate three child-safety seats in the second row, which helped the SUV earn almost straight A’s in our Car Seat Check. Another bonus, Volvo offers an integrated booster seat as a reasonably priced stand-alone option. Once known merely as the safe-car company, Volvo has transcended. The 2016 model year is clearly its finest hour, and the XC90 its finest product. With the Cars.com Best of 2016 Volvo XC90, it’s consumers who win.