Volvo XC90 — An SUV for the modern world

By David Finkelstein

I think it's fair to suggest that the more sophisticated the vehicle, there is an elevated number of operating control and command switches for the driver to use. This pattern has been consistent for many years. A notable illustration occurred the last time I took the time to calculate the interior switches on an upscale Mercedes S-Class.

Basically, I stopped counting after having reached some 75 or 80 control buttons. Having said that, Volvo has introduced its luxury 2016 XC90 and with the fewest number of operating switches in memory.

That's because Volvo has elected to use what appears to be a direct decedent of the popular touch pad. This innovative controller is mounted in the vicinity of the center dash assembly, thus allowing the driver to gain access and control what appears to be countless functions within the vehicles architecture with just a touch or finger swipe of the touch pad unit, no switches and buttons necessary.

The short list of features wired to actual switches includes the operation of the cars heating and A/C system,  setting seat temperature, viewing the electronic owners manual, setting the audio and satellite controls, reviewing the vehicles fuel consumption information, pairing your phone, operating the navigation system, fine tuning the vehicles lane change “radar based warnings” and lowering the rear seat head rests in order to have an un obstructed rear view.

Even fine tuning the drivers “heads up” information display is governed by the touch screen pad. Volvo says the 9-inch touchtype tablet even works if you're wearing gloves or mittens.

First introduced to consumers in 2002, the Volvo XC90 was heavily influenced by Ford Motor Company who owned Volvo at the time. Fast forward, the 2016 version is an all new product and the only thing that remains the same is the badging.

This Gothenburg, Sweden-manufactured sport utility vehicle is sophisticated on many fronts and has some of the underlining digital electronic breakthroughs that sort of "hint or tease" of future vehicles. One illustration is their most advanced semi-autonomous feature they call Pilot Assist. Its designed to automatically steer the XC90 safely, based on vehicles and conditions that surround you. You can fine-tune the driving experience of the XC90 by changing the drive mode via the center console wheel. This includes an ECO mode, Dynamic mode, Off-Road mode or Individual mode for custom calibrating steering, braking and powertrain settings.

With an all new chassis and suspension system, XC90 blends the driving experience of a sedan but with the roominess and flexibility of a large SUV. With 32 different seating combinations and hidden storage for valuables such as laptops under the load floor, the XC90 offers 85 cubic feet of cargo space.

Seven adults can fit comfortably in the vehicle with theater-type seating so everyone gets a view of the road. Independent climate controls allow second seat passengers to regulate their environment. It also includes an integrated second row center child booster seat that can easily foldaway when not needed.

This new SUV is stronger than the outgoing model but is some 200 pounds lighter. In part, this is due to advancements in hot-formed boron steel, which comprises approximately 40% of vehicle’s frame.

Powering the SUV is a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that's both supercharged and turbo charged. Its recommended to operate on premium grade fuel and is rated at 316 horsepower. Furthermore, it's electronically and mechanically mated with an advanced 8-speed automatic transmission and an AWD chassis.

XC90 shows EPA numbers of 20-mpg city/25-mpg highway. And as expected, this Volvo has a lengthy list of cutting edge safety features. A partial list includes; automatic collision avoidance, pedestrian and cyclist detection and avoidance, roll stability control, road sign information for the driver, whiplash protection system, side impact protection and numerous well positioned air bags.

The product is sold in three well equipped trim levels. The Momentum is the entry level and will be considered as the volume model. It is fully equipped with all-wheel drive, 19” wheels, navigation, 3rd row seating, leather, heated front seats, camera and power hands-free tailgate as standard. Pricing starts at $48,900.

Next is the Inscription level. Its for the drivers who prioritize a higher level of craftsmanship and materials. With all of the content of the Momentum, the Inscription includes LED lighting, 20” wheels and unique exterior trim. Inside is Nappa leather on the seats, dash and door panels, linear wood inlay, front ventilated seats and rear sun shade. Pricing starts at $54,500.

The flagship is theirR-Design. It is designed for those who want a more dynamic look and feel. It has a unique lower front and rear fascias and silk metal accents. The inside features contour seats made of Nappa leather and Nubuck, along with a leather wrapped steering wheel with gear shift paddles. The pricing starts at $52,900 for the R-Design. All versions come with the base 48 month/50,000 mile warranty coverage including complimentary factory scheduled maintenance for the first 3-years or 36,000 miles.

At road test with some additional factory options and destination charges, the MSRP was $66,705.00.