The 2017 Volvo XC90 may have the most beautiful interior available in any SUV. It's all Scandinavian textures and minimalist elegance. You know, matte wood, brushed metals, tailored upholstery and not too much of anything. In a world of excess, it's a restrained environment. It's practically a sanctuary. It's even, dare we say it, tasteful. And the exterior is pretty Downtown Stockholm groovy too.
But there's also every conceivable luxury aboard. Turn up the volume on the Bowers & Wilkins 19-speaker sound system and the whole car seems to quiver with music. Computers monitor practically everything, and the seats are more comfortable than anything in your house.
Volvo has taken the big leap and committed itself to powering all its vehicles with four-cylinder engines going forward. The standard XC90 powerplant is a 2.0-liter member of Volvo's new ?Drive-E? engine family that features direct injection, variable valve timing, and a turbocharger. It's rated at 250 horsepower. Higher trim XC90s get a version of the 2.0-liter Drive-E with a supercharger and a turbocharger that, despite its dinky dimensions, is rated at 316 hp. And if that's not enough, Volvo is also offering a plug-in hybrid version that supplements the twin-charged four with an electric motor for a total of 400 hp. Diesel versions are available in Europe but haven't yet made it to the United States.
An eight-speed automatic transmission makes use of the power no matter how it's generated and feeds either the front wheels or all four of them depending on trim levels. And there are numerous XC90 trim levels, ranging from the T5 Momentum to the T8 Excellence.
The basic front-wheel drive XC90 gets an EPA rating of 24 mpg combined (22 mpg city/26 mpg highway). The plug-in hybrid version will run up to 14 miles on electricity alone and knock out the equivalent to 54 mpg combined when operating in that mode. With the gas engine whirring, that drops to 25 mpg.
Volvo's tradition of leading-edge safety continues with this second-generation XC90. There's a frontal collision detection system that, combined with automatic braking, should prevent some disasters. The seat cushions are energy absorbing, the seat belts are self-tightening and new for 2017 is a lane departure system integrated with automatic steering to keep the XC90 on the road at all times. There's also a semi-autonomous driving mode which lets the XC90 pilot itself at up to 80 mph.
Despite the XC90's strong points, there are many other solid choices out there. No market segment is more crowded or more competitive than that for luxury crossovers. Make sense of it all by starting with Edmunds.com.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.