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The Volvo XC 90 handles very well, more like a car than a large SUV

Dale JohnsonThe Volvo XC 90 shows that a large sport utility vehicle can be luxurious and get good fuel economy.

This Recharge T8 AWD Extended Range model has a 2.0 litre supercharged and turbocharged engine and an electric motor, producing 455 combined horsepower. It’s all-wheel drive and has an eight-speed transmission.

It’s rated at 9.2 litres per 100 km in the city and 8.6 litres per 100 km on the highway. It’s a plug-in hybrid, which means it can be recharged either at home or at a charging station. It can go in pure electric mode for 58 km.

It’s a large vehicle, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,984 mm (117.5 inches) and stretching 4,953 mm (195 inches).

The interior is gorgeous, and the fit and finish are extraordinary. The console-mounted gear shifter knob is Orrefors crystal.


A few things make this Volvo less than perfect


The interior pampers the driver and passengers

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Everything is laid out logically, there’s lots of headroom, and the visibility is excellent out the back and sides. It’s tall and spacious.

The stereo is excellent, and no wonder – it’s a $3,750 Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system. The famous Volvo seats make for a very comfortable ride.

And it handles very well, more like a car than a large SUV.

But there are a few things that make this Volvo less than perfect.

While many hybrids outperform their gas-fired relatives, this hybrid model’s acceleration is adequate but certainly not outstanding. Rival automakers offer six- and eight-cylinder power plants, while Volvo has a four-cylinder engine.

The navigation screen is not as intuitive as many others on the market. And changing a radio station is a mystery, with the answer no doubt somewhere in the owner’s manual.

When I went to adjust the seat using the knob at the side of the seat, the map on the navigation screen suddenly changed to a display of the seating system.

I prefer other makes where there are buttons underneath the display screen to press to select, for example, map, seats, climate or media.

Another quirky thing I noticed was that the speedometer was in kilometres per hour, but the digital display showed miles per hour. No doubt there’s a button somewhere to get both to display the same measurement system, but I couldn’t find it.

As a test drive vehicle, it’s not quite as easy to just hop in and drive compared to many other vehicles.

There’s lots to love about the XC-90 plug-in hybrid: the tasteful, comfortable, extraordinary interior; the feeling of safety; and the smooth, quiet and wonderful ride.

The downsides? The navigation screen is not intuitive. Maybe if I took the time to read the entire owner’s manual, it would explain things. But just hopping in and driving makes one realize this is far less intuitive than many other vehicles on the market.

This tester was the top-level Inscription model and starts with a suggested list price of $90,000. This one was loaded with options, including the Lounge Package ($1,700), which includes massaging front seats; the Climate Package ($1,000), which includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats; and the Advanced Package ($1,850), which includes a heads up display and 360 camera. Other goodies pushed the as-tested price up to $103,150.00.

The ride is smooth and quiet, the interior pampers the driver and passengers, and there’s plenty of room for people or things. But don’t just hop in and drive away; read the owner’s manual carefully before setting out, and be content with not rushing with a power train designed for economy rather than speed.

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.

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