Question: What do you get when you team the Swedish with the Chinese? Answer: An exceptional crossover SUV.
The 2016 XC90 is the first vehicle developed by Volvo since the Chinese company Geely took controlling interest in 2010, and it bodes well for the future of a Sino-Swedish Volvo. The all-new Volvo XC90 in Crystal White Metallic features a top-of-the-range twin engine and elegant 21-inch wheels with 8-spoke diamond-cut rims. (Volvo Car Group) Kirk Bell Tribune Newspapers. Under Chinese ownership, Volvo redesigns the XC90 SUV to appeal to a global upscale family-minded market.
The redesign was long overdue. Volvo introduced the XC90 as a 2003 model and hasn’t updated the structure ever since. The 2016 XC90 is 5.5 inches longer, 4.4 inches wider than the outgoing model, and it rides a wheelbase that is stretched almost five inches. The styling is also new, taking on a boxier, but more modern and decidedly upscale look.
The high-end appearance extends to the interior, where the XC90 is every bit as luxurious as rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Volvo calls it a “Scandinavian Sanctuary,” and it is highlighted by real wood and metal trim, standard Nappa leather upholstery, diamond-cut metal controls for the ignition switch and volume knob, and in the T8 plug-in hybrid model, a crystal gearshift knob.
The infotainment system is even more impressive. Instead of a horizontal screen like almost every other vehicle on the market, Volvo’s new Sensus system uses a vertically-oriented screen that’s about the size of an iPad. The screen is divided into four tiles, with the controls you are more likely to touch located on the bottom where they are easier to reach. The climate controls are at the very bottom, essentially constituting a fifth tile. When one tile is chosen it gets larger, and the others get smaller but are still visible. The system works like an iPad, too. It has pinch and stretch controls, and you can swipe left or right to access deeper menus. We grew accustomed to it in our limited exposure. However, infotainment systems prove themselves over time by being glitch-free and easy to use on a daily basis, so the jury is still out on Sensus, but our initial impression is very favorable.
Volvo also makes great use of the new model’s larger interior space. The front seats are thinner than those of the last generation, but they still deliver best-in-class comfort. The second-row seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, and the center seat is especially useful. It includes a built-in child booster seat, and it can be moved backward and forward up to 5.5 inches by a second-row occupant or by a parent from the front seat. That’s ingenuous.
Moving the second-row seats a bit forward opens up enough legroom for adults to fit in the third row, but headroom back there will be too tight for anyone over 5 feet, 6 inches tall. Both the second- and third-row seats fold flat to open up a generous 85.7 cubic feet of cargo space, but the XC90 will be most useful for people and cargo with the third row folded. In that configuration it has 41.8 cubic feet of cargo volume and room for five. With all the seats up there is a tight 13 cubic feet for cargo.
The XC90 is also competitive with its European rivals in terms of road manners. It rides on the brand’s new Scalable Product Architecture that comes standard with all-wheel drive. Though large, it drives smaller than its size, with nicely weighted, direct steering. The front suspension is a desirable double-wishbone setup, while the rear features a somewhat odd transverse leaf spring. All models we drove, however, featured the $1,800 air suspension that provided a good balance of responsive handling with a smooth ride, even with the available 21-inch wheels. The SPA platform will underpin several Volvos in the future and it should serve those models well.
Article care of Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/sc-cons-0702-autoreview-volvo-xc90-20150625-story.html)