By Cars.com EditorsSeptember 30, 2015
About the video
It's been 13 years since the original XC90 debuted, and it's only had a few updates since. The 2016 version is the first full redesign we've seen - and it's a doozy. Watch the video for more.
(engine revving) Most people think of Volvo as a pioneer of car safety. They actually pioneered the three row luxury SUV too. The original XC90 debuted in 2002 and was a sales hit. But it's been 13 years since then, the car's only had a few updates.
This is the first full redesign we've seen, and it's a doozy. Now we could spend a lot of time talking about the elegant exterior of the new XC90. From the aggressive wheels to the big grill, and especially these LED headlights that look like Thor's hammer. But this SUV is a technological marvel that seems to do the impossible. It crams in a bunch of tech, and it makes it easy to use. You wouldn't expect a vehicle this big to be powered by a small engine, but that's what you have here. It's a four cylinder, but it's supercharged and turbocharged to produce 316 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque. It's seamed to an eight speed transmission that definitely doesn't feel sporty, but you have plenty of power to pass. And all wheel drive is standard, but the handling isn't quite up to a Porsche when you're taking on an on ramp. The ride however, is really impressive. But this tester we have here has optional air suspension that makes even the 21 inch wheels feel comfortable over those hard bumps on the road. There is a drive mode that makes the XC90 sportier, but I found the added acceleration wasn't worth the trade-off in a much rougher ride. Mileage is rated at 22 miles per gallon combined. 20 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway. But I struggled to hit 19 in normal driving over the weekend. Still slightly better than the competition, however. We haven't seen a base model yet, but this top line inscription model is just stunning inside. It has upgraded leather seats and wood trim, where the base model has a metal trim along the dash. And there's some stuff that's just downright fancy, like the metal around the start switch and this gorgeous wood cover to the cup holder. You might get the hydrated 'cause you can't bear to open it. The centerpiece of the cabin is this touchscreen right here, which controls everything from navigation to climate control. Now it's very easy to get a system like this wrong, but Volvo did such a good job, well, I'm surprised. It's set up like an iPad with a physical home button, and you can also pinch to zoom in and out of the map. But it's really the system's clarity and how quickly the commands work that set it apart from other systems from Cadillac and Acura. I'm generally not a fan of climate controls being housed in systems like this, but the temps, fan speed, and even the fan direction are pretty easy to use. One weird thing though, is that if you hit the climate button while backing up, the camera actually disappears, which doesn't seem very safe. Oh, but check out the clarity of that backup camera. This test model is also equipped with an optional $2,500 Bowers and Wilkins sound system. It's a surround sound system with 19 speakers, including a subwoofer. And sometimes I don't like the actual surround sound in a car, but this one is phenomenal. If you're gonna buy a luxury SUV, you might as well get the $2,500 sound system to go with it. The comfort level up front is obviously quite high, and it's not so bad in the second row either. Especially since the seats slide and recline. There's also a ton of space underneath the front seat for your feet. The third row is obviously gonna be a little tight. Not so easy to get into for a full size adult, but teenagers and younger shouldn't have a problem back here. It's also nice that Volvo has vents in all three rows standard to keep everybody cool. The cargo area is also on par with the rest of the class, whether you have the third row in place or folded flat, like we have here. Pretty much one of the only things we didn't really like about the XC90 was this gorgeous leather key fob. What didn't we like? Well, the buttons are on the side of the fob, and they're really hard to hit. A lot's changed since the XC90 first came on the scene. Back then, it started around $34,000. Now $50,000. The inscription model, $55,000, and as equipped with all the options it has, $67,000. So it's certainly not the most affordable three row crossover you can find, but it does come with some nice standard features like all wheel drive, panoramic sunroof, and navigation. Well, come on. We know everyone is gonna opt for those Thor headlights. (upbeat music) (trunk slamming)