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The History and Evolution of the Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 made its first appearance on the scene at the 2001 North American International Auto Show strictly as a concept car. The manufacturer was unsure how the new crossover SUV would be received and they wanted to get an idea of the reaction it would elicit within the public. Overwhelmingly, it was applauded to the degree that Volvo felt comfortable in moving forward with their plans to move it into full production. The official unveiling occurred at the North American International Auto Show in 2002. It received the expected warm welcome as the latest mid-sized luxury crossover vehicle. In the long parade of new crossovers, the XC90 became one of the best sellers in America first, then throughout the world. Volvo wisely tested the market by releasing an earlier teaser of the prototype for the vehicle before putting it into full production. The brand commenced with full production at the Torslanda, Sweden factory in August of 2002.

The first generation of the Volvo XC90 (2002-2016 P2)

The first generation of the mid-size luxury crossover SUV was presented in a 5 door SUV style with a front engine and front wheel drive layout. The XC90 featured a first in safety technology with the introduction of the new model's Roll Stability Control. This is the vehicle that was chosen for the premiere of the new technology. It was considered to be quite innovative at the time when many new types of technology were being developed and perfected. Two trim choices were available in the 2003 model which launched in North America. It came in an entry level 2.5 T that was equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five engine that generated 208 horsepower with 236 lb-ft of torque. It was paired with a five-speed automatic transmission.

The T6 was the other alternative that was powered by a 2.9-liter win-turbocharged inline-six motor that cranked a generous 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The T6 was only available with an AWD system while the 2.5T came with the choice of a standard front-wheel drive or an optional AWD system.

Updates in 2005

The 2005 XC90 received a new Yamaha V8 engine in the form of a 4.4-liter Volvo with an output of 288 horsepower in the first couple of models produced, then Volvo upgraded it to 311 horsepower with 325 feet of torque. They sold more than 40,000 XC90 cars in North American in 2005.

2007-2012 Facelifts

An update was granted the 2007 model of the XC90. It received a restyling of the front and rear along with changes to the interior. The 3.2-liter straight-six cranking 235 horsepower replaced the 208 horsepower straight-five in the XC90's base model for the United States sales. It was paraded before the public in April of 2006 at New York's Auto Show.

It got more updates in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. In 2009 a new logo was added to the rear with wider gaps between the larger lettering. The 2010, a new logo was added to the front grill. In 2012 new tail lights took the spotlight with LED illumination but only on non-entry level models. 2013 saw a cosmetic refreshment including LED runninng lights for daytime, new taillights, body color bumpers, silver trim in place of the black plastic trim and rocker panels.

First generation special edition

The first generation of XC90s came out in a special version called the Ocean Race in 2005. If featured a unique blue color with a special interior trim and leather interior and contrast stitching. Only 800 of the limited edition were produced.

Volvo XC90 Second Generation (2014-current)

A peculiar thing that happened in between the first and second generations of the vehicle is that some of the variants of the first generation continued on through 2016, while the second generation began in 2014 with the SPA.

Second generation models replaced the first generation engine sizes 2.5 L turbocharged I5, the 2.9 L twin-turbocharged I6, the 3.2 L SI6 I6, 4.4 L V8, the 2.4 L turbodiesel I5, and the 2.4 L turbodiesel I5. These were respectively paired with a 6-speed manual, a 4 speed AWD automatic, a 5-speed automatic and a 6-speed automatic. They came in 2.0 liter Drive E Turbocharged inline 4s, twin-charged I4s, a twin-charged I4 in a hybrid electric, a 2.0 L turbodiesel I4 or a 2.0 L Drive E twin-turbo diesel I4. The SPA technology in the second generation reduced the overall weight of the vehicle, improved safety, and fuel efficiency.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6R

The new Volvo XC90 will be powered by a 2.0 liter four cylinder mated with an eight-speed Geartronic transmission. The chassis has been redesigned with a double wishbone front suspension along with an integral link rear axle all made of lighter materials. A host of interior upgrades marks the new generation featuring touch-screen display, Wi-Fi hotspot, electronically controlled air suspension with five modes, steering wheel controls, voice control, cloud-based apps, navigation, and a state-of-the-art infotainment system. The 2016 XC90 won North American Ccar and Truck/Utility of the Year at the Detroit Motor Show along with numerous other recognitions.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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