The 2018 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, tasteful.
But there's also every conceivable luxury aboard. Turn up the volume on the optional 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins 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 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 turbocharged engine family. The T5 version is rated at 250 horsepower. Higher-trim XC90s get a version of the 2.0-liter Drive-E with a supercharger and a turbocharger that 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.
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 the trim level. And there are numerous XC90 trim levels, ranging from the T5 Momentum to the T8 Excellence.
Volvo's tradition of leading-edge safety continues with this second-generation XC90. There's a forward 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 2018 is a lane departure system integrated with automatic steering to keep the XC90 on the road at all times. There's also a semiautonomous driving mode that lets the XC90 pilot itself at up to 80 mph.
Despite the XC90's strong points, you'll find many other solid choices out there. No market segment is more crowded or more competitive than that of luxury crossovers. Make sense of it all by starting with Edmunds.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.