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Volvo’s XC90 Recharge – THE SWEDE SPOT

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Volvo’s XC90 Recharge – THE SWEDE SPOT

Volvo’s XC90 Recharge


Having started on a BMW showroom in 1979, my retail career had wound around – and down – several avenues before landing at Autobahn Volvo’s showroom in Fort Worth. Volvo was one of several franchises in the Autobahn family, which included Jag-u-ar, BMW, VW and Land Rover. At that point Volvo wasn’t exactly a stepchild in the lineup, but neither was it the bright, shiny diamond. This was around 2002, Volvo loyalists were put off by Volvo’s abandonment of the straight edge in its product portfolio, while those interested in a sporty sedan inevitably chose something with a more athletic demeanor. All of that dynamic (or lack thereof) changed with Volvo’s introduction of the XC90 SUV. If only I had been around Autobahn (there was a disconnect between the Volvo manager and my idea of  management) to make some money from it.

First shown at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2002 and made available to the buying public later that year, the all-new XC90 was a revelation to both fans of Volvo and the growing fans of the crossover category. It was upright and spacious, but not truck-like. (Although notably, the new XC90 was the Texas Auto Writers ‘Truck of the Year’. That vote resulted in a new SUV of the Year category in subsequent Truck Rodeos.) And it was sold at an accessible price point within its near-luxury subset.

This 2nd-gen XC90 debuted in 2014, and has been little changed since. But in a way not unlike your correspondent, it really isn’t showing its age (yeah, right…) as it rounds out its first full decade. Its posture is upright, but the sheetmetal is just soft enough to avoid the angularity of your folks’ 245 wagon. Plenty of greenhouse allows you and your five passengers – spread among three rows – to see out, while its footprint is tidy, and the vehicle’s overall length of 195 inches should fit in most garages. And notably, most road or mountain bikes will fit in the back with the second and third row seats folded.

The seats in our press vehicle were both comfortable and, not incidentally, gorgeous. The brown leather was a perfect contrast to our XC90’s silver metallic exterior. And like the V60 Cross Country that preceded this crossover test by just a couple of weeks, the front buckets supply both a comfortable cushion and adequate lateral support. When not enjoying the comfort of the seats you can stay informed via the digital dash presentation and will be only mildly confused by the XC90’s infotainment screen, which – like so many others – inevitably requires two or three steps to accomplish what analog controls once did in one.

As you’ve read and I’ve written, consumer response to the plug-in hybrid has surged while interest in battery electrics – i.e., full EVs – has flattened. And the XC90 Recharge drivetrain may be one of the best of that bunch. Its 455 total horsepower is derived from 312 horses up front and a 143-horsepower battery-powered motor in the rear. Car and Driver’s test team reached 60 in but 4.5 seconds, and while in their testing they didn’t achieve the estimated 36 miles of all-electric range, those results are inevitably variable. I didn’t test the XC90’s 0-60, but can tell you that the ride-and-drive in all-electric mode fluctuates between serene and sublime. In our around-town errand running we rarely had to tap into the Volvo’s gas tank, and that keeps running expenses down to what it cost your dad to drive the 245.

If there’s a hitch in this git-along, it would be – for me – trying to decide between the XC90 Recharge and its V60 Recharge counterpart. The XC90 provides the higher hip point that more drivers favor, while the V60’s lower center of gravity and planted suspension supply what enthusiasts – you know, DRIVERS – prefer. Although there’s a real difference in cargo capacity with the seats folded, both platforms are spacious, hauling most of what anyone rationally will wish to carry. If you need more space, rent it.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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