Volvo used to evoke images of a stodgy, somewhat reserved driver – not concerned with a form of luxury, but happy to drive a boxy, safe car that would go forever. Oh, how times have changed! Over the last decade, Volvo has completely reinvented themselves by keeping the safety and adding some industry-leading luxury and a heaping helping of refined design. The result is that it’s no longer your (grand) father’s Volvo, it’s now ranked among the best of the best in terms of luxury, technology, design, and safety. Take this 2019 Volvo XC90 as an example!
Reliability has always been a hallmark of the Volvo brand, often touting 300 or 500-thousand mile examples in advertisements and even a handful of million miles. But our test XC90 with about 8k miles on it had a bit of a snafu as the charging system quit working. Volvo quickly corrected the problem, but it’s a bit foreboding in a vehicle with this much technology crammed into it. The technology makes everything about the Volvo easy to use, and contributes to its unparalleled safety – but we hope it doesn’t mean more trips to the shop.
All that aside, our 2018 SUV of the year winner is just as good as ever. A few small refinements and additional features complement the 2019 Volvo XC90 with even more functionality, such as a touchscreen climate control system for rear seat passengers. The Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system is even better than we remember, and even though it’s a little pricey it’s absolutely worth the money if you’re an audiophile like me.
With an overall price tag of $70k, our test vehicle had just about every option. From the B&W stereo to the Pilot Assist driving aids to the adjustable air suspension, there really aren’t many more features you can cram into one of these. And make no mistake, that’s a lot of money even for a top-of-the-range and best-in-class three-row SUV. That being said, if you can afford one, I suggest you give it a hard look next time you’re in the market.
The twin-charged 2.0-Liter powerplant (both supercharged and turbocharged) is a delight, squeezing out tons of torque and power from small displacement. That means exceptional highway mileage of 29, which is amazing for a vehicle this size and with the performance it has. City mileage isn’t quite as great at 21, and with my heavy right foot I was averaging near that in mostly city driving, but overall it’s incredibly efficient for its size. If you want more, you can get the T8 Hybrid version, with even more power and efficiency.
Beyond the safety and semi-autonomous driving technology, the infotainment system is still the industry leader. Clean, simple and easy to navigate menus dominate the platform with an easy to use interface that anyone can get used to. There are minimal buttons on the dash, which helps with the clean, and somewhat spartan Scandinavian design. That doesn’t mean it’s not attractive. The materials are chosen and the fit-and-finish present is also industry leading. Fine wood veneers, aluminum trim and knobs, supple leather and hand stitching dominate the extraordinarily luxurious interior.
Make no mistake, even when you consider the German luxury brands, this is one of the best interiors in the industry. When you combine that with a handsome exterior, class-leading technology, and efficient powertrains, you really end up with a vehicle that’s completely shifted its place in the market. No longer the boring, safe option – now Volvo / 2019 Volvo XC90 is the luxurious, technologically advanced and still safe. Even though they have pushed the date back a bit, Volvo’s goal is to have zero deaths or seriously injured occupants in their new vehicles in the near future. Combine that with the peerless luxury they are outfitting their vehicles with, and you really have one of the shiniest stars of the automotive industry.
Special thanks to The Volvo Group for providing the 2019 Volvo XC90 for our review