Volvo XC90 aging gracefully

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Andrew Muzamhindo

The XC90 does a great job of hiding its age, in a segment where spectacular new models are permanently being churned out.Bearing in mind it came out in 2014, the XC90 still holds up its head as a sophisticated and resolved luxury SUV that can stage a good fight to the more mainstream luxury players. It is certainly worth consideration, but it is a bit tardy now. It is still a goodie, though. Volvo came up with the R-Design within the XC range.

It is a sporty design. It has a two-litre diesel engine with a slight bump in power and torque of 173kW/480Nm to 177kW/500Nm. That might not be enough for diesel heads looking for oomph from the R-Design.
The R Design comes with a bigger 12,3-inch infotainment display, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, nappa leather seats, and lots of R-Design details inside and out.

There is some additional safety gear in this specification, as well: blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear autonomous emergency braking.
The engine in question here is a 2.0-litre, twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel that makes 177kW and 500Nm running through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels. Official fuel use is listed at 5,9L/100km. It is a small engine pushing a fairly large vehicle so consumption is on the high side.

On the plus side, that small motor combines well with the eight-speed gearbox for daily driving duties.Power delivery is sometimes less than smooth as the gearbox picks a ratio to deliver the go-forward you are looking for. It is a rare occurrence, however. The D5 driveline gives the XC90 an all-important air of refinement, with enough poke for most situations.

If diesel is not your thing, you can opt for a turbocharged and supercharged two-litre petrol T6 R-Design motor, which is good for 246kW/440Nm.

The interior is one that grows on you in the long term. There are plenty of quality touches and finishes around the place, and the general ambience of simplicity works in terms of practicality and aesthetic. There is plenty of refinement on offer in the cabin. R-Design specification gives you flash bucket seats that look racy, but are supportive and comfortable. The simple overall design works well, and is nicely finished off with some quality touch points.

The infotainment display, measuring in at 12,3 inches’ worth of portrait goodness, has been a good companion over the long term. It is easy to get your bearings, despite having only one button. Swiping and prodding are responsive, and feel natural. The important boxes of digital radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and native navigation are all ticked. One favourite element about this display is the crisp and detailed 360-degree camera system that it portrays.
The XC90 is certainly a big vehicle, but good visibility, light steering and this great camera system make it easy to navigate into and out of parks and other tight spots.

Which is a good thing, because those 22-inch wheels are going to hit the gutter well before any tyre does.And if you do not feel confident, there is also a self-parking function for reverse, parallel and perpendicular moves. Surely, it would be difficult to butcher a park in this car.

The display is also bolstered by a digital instrument binnacle, which has a variety of adjustable displays at the ready. It is functional and practical, along with adding that premium feel to the driving experience.

Looking and feeling good is one thing, but the fact that seven adults can fit in with relative comfort gives a nod to the available space of the XC90’s cabin. The least comfortable is probably the person in the middle of the second row, but once again it is equal to other SUVs and passable for short trips.

Since it has air suspension and 500Nm low in the rev range (1500–2500rpm), the Volvo will not particularly suffer from carrying between 550 and 600kg of human beings aboard. For a family SUV, this is an important point.

The Volvo plays to its traditional strength of safety well, with the full suite of active and passive safety technology accounted for. Like all modern Volvos, the XC90 has a well-tuned safety system. The semi-autonomous driving mode, Pilot Assist, is also impressive in its accuracy and ease of use.

Apart from the fuel economy not reaching the same frugal figures compared to competition, it is difficult to raise any stern finger against the XC90.
andrew@muzamhindo.com

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