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2020 Volvo XC90: Luxury Meets Sporty

By Sue Mead, November 16th, 2019

If you're enamored with sport utility vehicles, you'll like what you see with the updated 2020 Volvo XC90 lineup. It's been completely refreshed and is now available with a six-seat variant that makes it easier to get into the third row.

Manufacturer photo: The XC90 is Volvo's flagship SUV.It carries the proud and confident face of Volvo's design language, along with classic Volvo styling cues
Manufacturer photo: The XC90 is Volvo's flagship SUV.It carries the proud and confident face of Volvo's design language, along with classic Volvo styling cues

No longer boxy, some Volvos are downright sexy and the 2020 XC90 R-Design slips into that description. It has eye-appealing sporty looks both outside and in, with unique styling details and colors on the exterior along with 20-inch standard wheels; its Scandinavian designers have adorned the seats with perforated Nappa leather upholstery and added metal mesh aluminum inlays inside.

Volvo says its award-winning XC90 is its most-popular model and draws its youngest and most diverse buyers; most have an active lifestyle and are looking for a vehicle with all-weather capability. Many are millennial parents with young families.

Volvo's safety reputation is also appealing to its owners. Well-established as a world-leader in safety, the Swedish automaker patented the three-point safety belt in 1959, was the first manufacturer to use side-impact airbags, and pioneered and advanced a long list of occupant and pedestrian safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and daytime running lights. Large animal detection has now been added to the roster of imprints that will make the vehicle stop when they appear on a roadway.

The XC90's refresh gives an attractive and confident stance to the large-bodied, three-row family hauler. A newly created concave grill features an updated Volvo Ironmark logo. Restyled front and rear bumpers and updated wheel designs bring a fresh and catchy look and feel. Full-LED headlights feature active-bending lights to help see around corners. Gloss black window trim, mirror caps, and an integrated roof rack replace the matte silver options and bring more personalized choices.

Manufacturer photo: The XC90 is Volvo's flagship SUV.It carries the proud and confident face of Volvo's design language, along with classic Volvo styling cues

The Scandinavian-designed cabin has a fresh, open ambiance, and is highlighted with natural materials. The gear lever is made of Orrefors crystal and diamond-cut controls adorn the start/stop button and drive mode control, located on the center console between the driver and passenger seats. Several new leather and wool blend colors and finishes are available.

I drove the R-Design trim on a 125-mile-long drive through the Canadian Rockies: Its 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged, direct-injected engine pumps out 316 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. My favorite features were the sport shift paddles, selectable drive modes, and Volvo's all-wheel-drive system that's been engineered with "Instant Traction," that brings a rapid-fire response of torque and traction.

Its double wishbone suspension and optional 22-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires gave good grip on dirt surfaces on high-elevation mountain terrain along my route. Air suspension added dynamic comfort, automatic leveling, and ride-height adjustment. Of note, the XC90 can tow up to 5,000 pounds and has 9.4 inches of ground clearance.

The R-Design trim offers a choice between a 600-watt Harman Kardon sound system that delivers premium audio through 14 speakers or a Bowers & Wilkins 1,400-watt setup with 19 speakers. Other goodies include a 10-way adjustable driver seat, keyless start, four-zone climate control, a 9-inch tablet-like touch screen control console, along with steering-wheel controls and a voice-control system.

Redesigned seats have adjustable side bolsters, as well as seat cushion extension and massage. The second row features three individual seats with recline adjustment; a sliding function brings more legroom for the passengers in the third row or increases loading space. An integrated child booster cushion in the center seat is available.

Manufacturer photo: The XC90 is Volvo's flagship SUV.It carries the proud and confident face of Volvo's design language, along with classic Volvo styling cues

Specifications

Base price $56,100 (as tested: $74,735)
Curb weight 4,394 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type turbocharged 4-cylinder
Epa mileage rating 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.8 gal.
Horsepower (net) 316 at 5700 rpm
Overall length 195 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 295 at 2200 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 6/7-passenger AWD SUV
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