Luxury brands know how to charge. The previous XC90 could be had for $70,000 late in the model’s life. Now it’s $89,950 because, well, they can get away with it. For now. As with the Audi, options are expensive: metallic paint ($1750), Nappa leather ($2950), 21-inch alloys ($2825), panorama sunroof ($2950). Our test car totalled $113,150.
If you’re in the market for an XC90 you know by now the T-shaped LEDs in the headlights are said to have been inspired by Thor’s hammer (they weren’t — Volvo came up with the idea afterwards). It still looks the business. The highlight is the iPad-style central display screen, which works with pinches and swipes. But don’t leave the showroom before proper instructions. You don’t want to learn on the move.
This 2.0-litre turbo diesel (165kW/470Nm) is a sweetie. It has much more punch than you might expect, although is not as powerful as the Audi’s. With an eight-speed auto it gets off the line smoothly and slips into the most efficient gear. It’ll suit most buyers’ needs.
A five star safety rating and a raft of standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking. Oddly, the brand that built its reputation on safety still charges extra for some safety items. The “driver support package” (360-degree camera, head-up display, radar cruise control with lane keeping, distance alert and rear collision warning) is $4000. And while the XC90 has seven airbags, including head protecting “curtains” that run the length of the cabin, it does not have seat-mounted airbags that protect the ribs of second row seat occupants (as in the Q7).
The XC90 drives much better than the previous model. Driven in isolation, the new model is fine. But a lap around the block in the Audi will demonstrate the Volvo still has room for improvement. Could I live with the way the XC90 drives? Absolutely. Just one word of warning, though: avoid the optional air suspension on the Volvo at all costs. It drives better with the regular suspension.