Entry price: $48,350
Price as tested: $86,990
This week, we’re driving the flagship luxury crossover from the folks at Volvo, namely the 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription. I know that’s a lot of letters and numbers in the model’s description, but in this case it is necessary to differentiate from the other 90 Series SUV models.
To explain the nomenclature, T8 refers to its modern engine, while “E” denotes hybrid electric while AWD is all-wheel drive. The Inscription is the model level, in this case top-line luxury with plug-in hybrid ability. There are three XC90 trims to choose from ala Premium, Sport and Luxury and all are three row seating models.
Further, to put some readers at ease, you don’t need $86,0000 to own a top class 90 series Volvo. The entry Premium front-drive T5 trim starts at $48,350, followed by the Sport T6 at $58,600 and then up to the Luxury T8 series, which starts at $62,600. It can be confusing sorting out all the different XC90 offerings, but rest assured when you get to your Volvo dealer to drive one of these beauties all will be explained.
Volvo began building cars in Sweden in 1927 along with a bevy of industrial manufacturing including trucks, buses, marine engines and other drive systems. However, it’s the cars we’re talking here and for as long as I remember Volvo has been a highly-respected brand noted for quality, reliability and safety.
As for surviving as a company, in 1999 Ford bought Volvo and in 2010 sold it to the Geely Automotive Holdings in China, the latter which still owns the brand. Today Volvo cars are assembled in one of three places: Sweden, China or South Carolina.
Back to our XC90 T8 tester, which is completely assembled in Gothenburg, Sweden, where Volvo originated. Regardless of build location, the modern day XC90 is truly a masterpiece of innovation all wrapped in a great looking Volvo SUV wrapper. The entry Premium T5 comes with a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts out 250 horses and 259 lb. ft. of torque. It’s a fine engine that will deliver 20 city and 27 highway.
However, once you move up to an AWD Premium T6 or Luxury T8, things really get interesting. Both the T6 and top line T8 come with a special “Twin Engine” feature that starts with the same 2.0 liter turbo 4-cylinder in the T5, but Volvo engineers added a supercharger to the turbocharged engine formula and calling it their “Twin Engine” enhancement.
The turbo supercharged T6 develops 316 horses and 295 lb. ft. of torque with an EPA fuel mileage rating of 18 city and 26 highway.
Our Luxury T8 features even more innovation as a Hybrid Electric system with a new for 2020 more powerful battery pack results in more gusto by adding an additional 87 horsepower from its two electric motors. The result is a Volvo SUV with a rating of 400 horsepower and 472 lb. ft. of torque that weighs more than 2.5-tons delivering very respectable EPA ratings of 26 city and 30 highway.
Zero to 60 mph times come in at 7.5 seconds for the Premium T5, 6.6 for the Sport T6 and 5.3 for the Luxury T8 with fully charged battery in driver selectable “power mode.” Also new for 2020 is an advanced brake recharging system and the addition of rear collision alert with the standard rear cross traffic alert system. All XC90 models utilize Volvo’s 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission that shifts well and features a Start/Stop addendum and manual gear changes. The aforementioned Power Mode is one of five selectable modes that also include Constant AWD, Pure Economy, Hybrid Every day and Off-Road Rough Riding.
Being that Volvo has always been noted for building the safest cars in the world, it’s no surprise that all of the modern day high-tech safety features come standard on all XC90 trims. Be it emergency braking or even run-off road protection and mitigation, the safety features all fall under Volvo’s “Collision Avoidance by City Safety” standard feature. Your Volvo dealer will explain everything in detail when you visit.
Inside, XC90’s cabin is one of the nicest in class, and we’re talking all the big name competitors from Lexus to Mercedes to Cadillac. Both driver and passengers will welcome the ergonomically designed comfort seats that come standard with both heat and ventilation. Quality fine Nappa leather upholstery is an upgrade for 2020, and includes leather across the dash. Linear gray wood inlays enhance the experience, while drivers will also enjoy a 12.3-inch digital display while a large panoramic moonroof that complements the interior experience. Just a few of the notable features include both Apple and Android compatibility, six passenger seating (seven is available), a Crystal Gearshift Knob by Orrefors and much more.
Our tester Luxury T8 came with an entry price of $67,500, and then added an additional $19,000 worth of options. Many, like the Bowers & Wilkins Premium sound upgrade for $3,200 is not necessary unless you have the extra cash. The stereo in our tester is a 14-speaker Harmon Kardon 600 watt premium system with HD Radio, two front USB ports and SiriusXM which is part of the $6,300 Inscription option.
The Inscription option also adds all the leather enhancements, park assist, 20-inch wheels, exterior “Twin Engine” rear badge and other exterior elements; an Advanced Package adds $2,450; Luxury Package with massage front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel for $3,100; Metallic paint for $645 (very nice); Four Corner air suspension for $1,800; 21-inch Pirelli tires on impressive eight-spoke wheels for $800; Park assist pilot for $200; and finally $995 for destination. This brings the final tally to $86,990 retail.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 117.5-inches, 5,105 lb. curb weight, 13.2 gallon fuel tank, and from 15.8 to 85.7 cu. ft. of cargo space depending on seat arrangement.
On the road, XC90 is quiet, a great handler and extremely comfortable thanks to the adjustable air suspension and automatic AWD underpinnings. Overall, Volvo’s XC90 Luxury Inscription is one of the best SUVs we’ve driven and Volvo calls it “the embodiment of modern luxury.
Likes: Just about everything; a quality modern day SUV, turbo, supercharger and hybrid.
Dislikes: No strap to pull third row seat back up once folded, only two front USBs, price too high with all these options.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2020 Volvo XC90
Entry price: $48,350