My first drive opportunity in the 2016 Volvo XC90 was in a T6 Inscription model. This is the top-end trim level, and it felt very much its place the moment I sat behind the wheel.
It’s clear Volvo has paid a great deal of attention to the interior design of their new products. Here, they’ve brought rich looking and genuine materials with the leather trims, the aluminum elements and in there’s crafted feel of its switch gear.
Front and center is a one of the most innovative infotainment and vehicle interface touch screen systems on the market. Turned to a portrait orientation, it replaces the wide array of chicklet buttons that used to line a Volvo’s dash.
And while many automakers have attempted to replace real buttons and knobs with a touch screen, I think Volvo has really pulled it off here with an interface that works well and is very thoughtfully laid out in both graphics and menus.
In fact this part of the Volvo XC90 deserves its own 15 minute video, which I’ll do another day when I have more time with the vehicle. Suffice it to say, it’s one of the best. And the sound from its Bowers and Wilkins audio system is just amazing.
The rest of the interior is versatile in its design in addition to being beautiful to look at, as it can seat up to seven with three rows. Though the third row is snug an most likely for children, the second row offers plenty of adjustments and room for its passengers.
Our XC90 T6 featured Volvo’s 2.0 liter Drive-E supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a powerplant just named to the Wards 10-Best engines list. It offers a lag free 316 horsepower that moves this thing quite well. Standard with all-wheel drive, it comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The engine does sound like a four-cylinder which for me at least takes getting used to in a larger and more expensive vehicle like this. It is however refined and smooth enough that it isn’t entirely out of place.
Handling is crisp and supple. Even with its optioned 21-inch wheels the suspension absorbed most shocks and jarring moves without transmitting them harshly into my seat. Steering is light and reasonably precise in its feel.
You can customize the driving experience of course with the console mounted drive selector, which has four pre-set modes; Comfort, ECO, Dynamic and Off-Road – each self explanatory I think. And there’s a custom mode where you can set your own preferences.
In my drive I was impressed with its overall feeling of quality and sophistication, with a character all its own. This is to say that next to competitors from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus, it cannot be at all considered a copy-cat or also ran.
As tested the one I drove was well optioned with sticker price of $66,000. You can spend more, but note the XC90 T6 does start at $48,900.