It's been nearly 18 years, since Volvo joined the SUV wars. It was the XC90, the Swedish manufacturer introduced back then. Fortunately for Volvo, they did it right, the first time, and the XC90 quickly became a strong contender in a booming segment.
At the time, it was also, one of the few comfortable SUVs, as back then, most offerings in the segment had a terrible ride quality. To say, that the second generation picked up where the old XC90 left, would be an understatement, as this is an entirely new car.
Although, from some angles it resembles the old model, it's an entirely new vehicle, from the ground up. Built on the full-size SPA ( Scalable Product Architecture ) platform, which is said to offer significantly more protection in worst-case scenarios. Moreover, we had the even newer, face lift version of the XC90.
We now have only 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engines, for most models of Volvo ( everything from S60 / XC60 and above ). All of them include forced induction, and some of them are even twin charged, having both Turbo and Supercharger attached.
When you open the engine bay, you notice how low the motor sits. Speaking of which, our car was a D5 Mild Hybrid. This means e have an internal combustion engine - in our case, a diesel with 235 hp and 480 Nm, and then we have a small electric motor (14 hp), that is assisting the 4-banger, when it needs it the most, for example when you take off, from standstill, or between gear change.
All this works in conjunction with an 8-speed torque converter automatic, which shifts smoothly, but is not that eager to engage in more spirited driving. Nevertheless, it fits the car and its original intention - to be a comfortable and stylish SUV with good road manners. It also has enough off-road capability, if you feel a bit more adventurous.
As for interior space, the Volvo XC90 is a lot of car. As such, you get plenty of room both front and rear. You also have third row seats, which...work, but are recommended for children, or lousy friends, although why you would offer a ride to the latter is beyond me.
If cargo space is of any concern for you, you'll be glad to know that maximum cargo capacity is almost 1 900 liters with the seats down. Even with the third row seats in use, you still get 314 liters, which is still more than some small hatchbacks. Regardless, this Viking can haul quite a bit of stuff.
The new Volvo interiors, to me feel unique. For some it may be a bit minimalist, but I like how tidy everything is. The interior design is simple, and the dash is not dominated by a plethora of buttons with a vaguely suggested purpose.
The dash is easy to read and, adequately presents all driver essential information. The big center touchscreen takes some time to get used to, but for the most part, is quite intuitive. Substantial use of leather, combined with wood and aluminium give a very premium feel to the car. Some of you may not expect it, but it's quite a welcoming atmosphere.
Some of the switches are quite interesting as well. Like the Engine start button, which needs to be twisted, similar to an old school key, or the Drive mode selector which is a bit slippery, and you may end up choosing a different mode, than desired.
As for the exterior, it is a nice blend between the boxy forms of times old, and the smoother, more curvy forms of more recent models. To me, Volvo have found their definitive design, that sets them apart. This is important in times, when almost everything looks the same. Do not underestimate the power of aesthetics.
How does it drive? Much better than you would expect, from a 2.3 ton, 4-cylinder, full-size SUV. The ride wants to be comfortable above all else, but is slightly tight as well. On balance it's great, considering how much high-speed and mid-corner stability you get for a full-size SUV.
The engine pulls strong, and other than the sound, you don't feel like driving a small engine. The electric motor does a good job in assisting when needed the most. You get a continuous surge of torque, but over 3 000 rpm, things are starting to get a bit noisier. Typical for many diesel engines. Still, the power doesn't die suddenly, like in most small turbocharged engines, but instead, gradually slows down acceleration.
Some important numbers: 0-100 km/h: 7.8 seconds, Top speed 220 km/h, Combined fuel consumption: 6.2 liters / 100 km (approx 46 UK mpg), 162 g/km CO2 emissions. I managed to achieve 7.5 / 100 combined, while having a bit of fun.
Our car as equipped costs 150 000 BGN ( approx 77 000 EUR). For the price you get above medium spec, with R-Design, which gives a more aggressive look. As I previously said, that's a lot of car. So if you're on the lookout for your next full-size SUV, this is something that definitely stands out, and deserves your attention.