The In­scrip­tion reads: ‘You have a lot of money’

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - war­ren.brown@wash­post.com

It’s the op­tions — the ex­tra stuff that sup­ports the trim name, “In­scrip­tion.”

If you want the op­tions, okay. You will get a great ve­hi­cle, prob­a­bly one of the safest and best-look­ing sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles avail­able in the U.S. auto mar­ket. If you skip the “In­scrip­tion” trim and set­tle for the base XC90 Mo­men­tum, still okay. You get an ex­cel­lent, el­e­gantly crafted SUV for about $45,000-plus.

It is up to you — your wants, your need for un­ques­tioned com­fort and pam­per­ing on the road, that sort of thing.

So, you want the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD (all-wheel-drive) In­scrip­tion, the sub­ject of this week’s col­umn? Be pre­pared to spend. It starts at $51,600.

The ac­tual In­scrip­tion trim pack­age — which in­cludes items such as ac­tive bend­ing head­lamps (which lit­er­ally fol­low and il­lu­mi­nate your turns on dark roads); lin­ear wal­nut wood in­lays; Nappa leather dash­board and up­per door pan­els; and other good­ies — adds an­other $5,600.

A fully loaded XC90 T6 (six to seven seats) AWD In­scrip­tion in­cludes a “vi­sion pack­age” with a 360-de­gree sur­round-view cam­era and blind-spot warn­ing ($1,950); “cli­mate pack­age” with heads-up wind­shield dis­play ($1,950); “con­ve­nience pack­age” in­clud­ing front and rear park­ing as­sis­tance ($1,800); “luxury pack­age” in­clud­ing back­rest mas­sage in the front seats; a Bow­ers & Wilkins 19speaker pre­mium sound sys­tem ($2,650); a four-corner air sus­pen­sion ($1,800); up­graded 21-inch di­am­e­ter, 8spoke di­a­mond al­loy wheels ($750); ex­te­rior metal­lic paint ($560); a sec­ond-row cen­ter booster ($250); and, of course, a fac­tory-to-dealer ship­ment charge ($995).

Your fi­nal cost for the max­i­mum In­scrip­tion badge is $72,805. Do you re­ally need all of that stuff? No. Those op­tion-loaded, up­graded badges are the rea­son the av­er­age fi­nal price for all new ve­hi­cles sold in the United States has risen to $34,000, above the fi­nanc­ing com­fort of most house­holds in this coun­try. It is not as much man­u­fac­turer greed as much as it is con­sumer ap­petite for ex­tras.

The ex­tras aren’t all a bad thing. It is how you spend the money. For ex­am­ple, items such as blind-side warn­ing and for­ward-col­li­sion mit­i­ga­tion could save your life. An ex­pen­sive pre­mium sound sys­tem can’t.

You can al­ways spend more. There is, for ex­am­ple, the XC90 AWD Ex­cel­lence, which can cost in ex­cess of $100,000 com­pletely trimmed. Or you can still stay above the base Mo­men­tum and spend a bit more for the sporty XC90 R-De­sign. Is it worth it? It de­pends. The XC90 T6 AWD In­scrip­tion is not the best ve­hi­cle for drive feel and han­dling. It is pow­ered by a su­per­charged and tur­bocharged (forced air, two ways) four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine (316 horse­power, 295 pound-feet of torque). It moves nicely, but I pre­fer smaller, more nim­ble ve­hi­cles such as a Kia Op­tima or Lexus ES 350, es­pe­cially with a four-cylin­der or six-cylin­der en­gine.

But the XC90 T6 AWD In­scrip­tion is an over­all au­to­mo­tive dream. You get be­hind its wheel and don’t want to leave. The ve­hi­cle lit­er­ally pam­pers you, en­folds you in a tech­no­log­i­cal womb. It should. You’ve spent nearly $73,000.

VOLVO

War­ren Brown

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