2019 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Review

If you are looking for a safe, comfortable and stylish, three-row SUV that seats seven passengers, Volvo’s 2019 XC90 may be the right SUV for you. The MSRP of the 2019 model I drove for a week was $66,300. However, Inscription Features, Advanced Package and Luxury Package that included front seat massage and heated steering wheel, Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System and destination charges, brought the retail price to $85,690.

Thumbs up: Classy interior, comfortable seating, spacious cabin.

Thumbs down: Average mileage on gas only, unintuitive infotainment system, engine noise.

The XC90 interior is in a word, elegant. With its quintessentially Scandinavian smart and functional design, the XC90 has a near perfect aesthetic trifecta. Leather and real Walnut wood trim give it a sleek and upscale cabin. The XC90 not only looks good, but it also feels good. One morning I drove 120 miles up the California coast in a continuous stretch and with the XC90’s comfortable and supportive seating, that drive was a breeze, feeling more like 20 minutes instead of the actual nearly two hour ride.

As I am vertically challenged, I very much appreciated the tall cabin height. This gave me great visibility, always a welcome vehicular attribute. This coupled with large side mirrors and back up camera display made cruising a pleasure. Plenty of legroom made my six-foot husband happy and extremely comfortable as a passenger on long drives and while stuck in traffic.

When I first saw the wonderfully enormous touchscreen I started to fall deeply in love. Resembling a large, vertical I-pad ­– and as size absolutely matters in this regard – my heart went a flutter. However, like most intense-at-the-beginning love affairs, my warm affections were relatively short lived. It was a bit slow to start up and since features were on several screens, I had difficulty quickly finding what I needed. As there are more days of sunshine than clouds in Southern California, I also found the chrome trim around the screen a tad annoying since there was some glare kickback.

Volvo is well known for manufacturing Uber-safe vehicles. Since its 1959 introduction of the three-point seatbelt, innumerable lives have been saved. Indeed Volvo has pledged to make its cars so safe that by 2020 it believes its vehicular fatalities will be relegated to the history books. This is naturally a tall, but most welcome order.

In keeping with this mandate, the XC90 has an entire laundry list of excellent safety features including lane keeping aid, front seat whiplash protection system (WHIPS) and surround view camera which shows a bird’s eye 360-degree view of potential hazards. Clearly no one ever wants to think of car wrecks. However, if one ever has to happen in this lifetime with me in it, given Volvo’s history, its intense commitment to passenger safety and the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration’s five-star crash rating of the XC90, I would definitely want to be in a Volvo if that unfortunate event came to pass.

This T8 model has a plug-in hybrid powertrain. With a combined 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque, there was certainly plenty of sass while on the road. That said it was not quite as smooth as one would like when transitioning between engines and was generally a bit noisy. Acceleration was pretty zippy, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds. The brake pedal though had an oddly pliable feel to it and a protracted passage to completion both of which I found distracting.

Volvo XC90 R-Design – model year 2016

On gas only, the XC90 gets a combined city and highway driving of 25 mpg. Using gas and electric ­– with a charge time of three hours – this Volvo will get 58 MPGe on combined city/highway. Using electric only power, the XC90 will travel 17 miles. ­

The ability to seriously schlep is par for the course with an SUV of this size. And it will be a piece of cake with the XC90 whether you’re carting family, friends or the fruits of Costco capers. When using all three rows of the XC90’s seats, there is an impressive 15.8 cubic feet of cargo space. If the third row is folded, an enormous 85.7 cubic feet of cargo space becomes available. With that kind of available cargo real estate, to boost their bottom lines, big box retailers may consider providing XC90 drivers a personalized parking space!

The 48-month/50,000 new car limited warranty coverage is consistent with what is available with the purchase of most vehicles of this caliber.

Amid the somewhat crowded luxury SUV market, Volvo’s XC90 is a superb choice for those needing space, both for passengers and cargo. The elegant interior will satisfy the most discerning stylish purchaser and the safety features for which Volvo is famous mean you can feel secure with your family and friends in tow. While the hybrid feature provides mileage that’s good for the environment, other luxury SUVs in this sector may be preferable both for ease of use and performance.

Julie L. Kessler is MoneyInc’s Travel & Luxury Editor and writes travel stories for various major media outlets. She is also an attorney and legal columnist based in Los Angeles and the author of the award-winning book “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com

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