- The 2016 Volvo XC90 is set to arrive in U.S. showrooms in April 2015.
- It is lower, longer and wider than the current model and it is the first Volvo model built on the company's newest vehicle platform.
- Volvo says a well-equipped XC90 with the standard V6 engine will be priced at around $48,900.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden— The 2016 Volvo XC90, unveiled this week in Sweden, is as much about the relaunch of the company as it is the debut of a new SUV.
In the 13 years since the debut of the original XC90, Volvo has passed from Ford ownership into the hands of the Chinese conglomerate, Geely. This is the first fruit of that partnership, a whole new model that no longer relies on the Ford parts catalog. As one senior insider put it, this is Volvo's "all in" model. Failure is unthinkable.
Volvo had originally intended to launch its new era with an S90 sedan, but three years ago the decision was taken to concentrate instead on the SUV. "The SUV is the new heartland of Volvo," CEO Hĺkan Samuelsson told Edmunds. "Our world has moved on from wagons to SUVs."
Following a public display at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2016 XC90 will reach U.S. Volvo dealers next April, where it will go head-to-head with the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Audi Q7.
SUV buyers tend to be a conservative bunch so it's no surprise that Volvo has played it safe with the XC90's styling. The rear-end treatment is instantly familiar, but the nose shows off the new face of Volvo, a look previewed on a series of showcars.
The prominent grille features a revised Volvo badge, while the T-shaped "Thor's Hammer" daytime running lights will be a signature of all future models.
What these images above don't really show is the change in proportions. The new model is lower, wider and longer than before, with an elongated hood that gives it a more planted stance. Although Volvo is yet to release the official dimensions, the Swedes confirm the SUV is sized between the BMW X5 and Volvo Q7. Even the wheels will measure up to 22 inches.
The XC90 is built on Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which is exclusive to the brand. In modified guise it will also underpin the forthcoming S90 sedan and V90 wagon, and the replacements for the XC60, S60 and V60, all of which will debut within the next four years.
All these models will also benefit from Volvo's new interior design philosophy. Gone is the plethora of buttons that dominated the fascia of the old model. They will be replaced by a fully integrated and WiFi-enabled touchscreen display system, similar to that found in the Tesla Model S. Volvo's interior designers boast the dashboard now has just eight buttons, compared with an average of over 30 for rivals in the premium SUV class.
The XC90 will eventually be offered with either five or seven seats. The latter is likely to prove the most popular option, offering a third row capable (says Volvo) of accommodating passengers up to 5-feet 7-inches tall.
In the best Volvo tradition, the seats are exceptionally comfortable and the quality represents a major step forward. There are some nice details too, including a crystal glass from a local Swedish glassmaker set atop of the gear shifter and the option of a 1,400-watt, 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system.
Volvo has taken the bold step to offer the XC90 with four-cylinder gasoline engines only. The entry-level offering at launch will be the 316-horsepower T6, which is both turbocharged and supercharged. Topping the range is what Volvo calls the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. This adds a rear-mounted electric motor to deliver a combined output of "around" 400-hp and a 0-62-mph run of 6.5 seconds.
Volvo claims this is the world's first seven-seater plug-in hybrid. An entry-level front-wheel-drive "T5" is likely to be added later next year.
As you'd expect from Volvo, the new XC90 includes numerous safety systems and it's claiming two world firsts. "Run-off road" protection identifies when the car has left the road and tightens the safety belts to hold the occupants in place. The seat frame then compresses to minimize the vertical forces acting on the driver's spine. The second "first" is an automatic braking system that alleviates the risk of the driver pulling out into the path of an oncoming car at a junction.
Exact pricing and specifications will be announced nearer the on-sale date next spring but Volvo says a XC90 T6 AWD will have a starting price of around $48,900. That price would include navigation, 19-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof as standard equipment.
There will also be a First Edition series limited to 1,927 cars in homage to the year Volvo was founded (1927). Individually numbered, these vehicles will boast a specification that ticks just about every box on the options list, including nappa leather trim and air suspension. Fitted with the 316-hp T6 engine, the First Edition is priced at $65,900 and can be ordered online beginning 10 a.m. ET, September 3 for delivery next April.
Volvo expects 500 First Editions to be sold in the U.S.
Edmunds says: It's an impressive looking SUV on paper and it should be. The original XC90 has been on the market for 13 years now, so the new version can't come soon enough.