The XC90 is Volvo’s largest vehicle and the automaker’s most popular vehicle in the U.S. with room for six or seven passengers in three rows of seating. This stylish luxury crossover comes loaded with amenities and tech, as well as all of the safety features you expect in a Volvo. I’m test driving the plug-in hybrid version, called Recharge, that has an all-electric range of 18 miles. The XC90 is also available with a traditional gas-powered engine.
Base Price: $69,750
As Tested: $81,690
Mileage: 55 MPGe electricity + gasoline/27 mpg gas only
The XC90 was refreshed for 2020 and gets some additional updates for 2021.
The trims on the plug-in hybrid are Inscription Expression, R-Design and Inscription. On the gas-powered XC90 the Inscription Expression trim is called Momentum. All XC90s come standard with all-wheel-drive, except the T5 that has standard front-wheel-drive and available AWD.
You’d probably expect a large vehicle like this to have a V6 but the XC90 is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. There are three versions of the engine, dubbed T5, T6 and Recharge (previously known as T8).
The T5 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The T6 gets a turbocharged and supercharged version of that engine to generate 316 horses and 295 pound-feet.
The Recharge uses the T6 engine and adds an electric motor and battery pack. It has an all-electric range of 18 miles. Total output is a considerable 400 hp and 472 pound-feet of torque. All engines are teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
With those 400 horses, the Recharge has plenty of power. It can hustle off the line and effortlessly get up to freeway speeds for merging and passing. Steering is responsive. The transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. Visibility is good all the way around. The Recharge feels so peppy and agile that it can be tough to remember that you’re behind the wheel of a large three-row crossover. There is some body lean when cornering, and you may notice large bumps—those are the only downsides.
The Recharge has good fuel economy for a three-row crossover. EPA ratings are 55 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with gasoline and electricity; and 26 mpg city, 28 highway and 27 mpg combined with just the gas engine. I got 37 mpg during my week with a combination of electric and gasoline, and a mix of city and highway driving. I was usually able to get about 20 miles of all-electric range. Once the battery is depleted, the XC90 functions as a conventional hybrid.
Charging the battery takes about 2.5 hours with a Level 2 charger and six to eight hours with a regular 110-volt household plug.
The interior is upscale and elegant with a clean design. Materials look and feel great and every stitch is perfectly placed. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Adults in the first two rows have plenty of room. As is usually the case, the third row is best suited for kids. There’s room for six or seven passengers, depending on whether you choose the optional captain’s chairs in the second row.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, rearview camera, four-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, heated front seats, Nine-inch Sensus Connect touchscreen infotainment system, 12.3-inch digital driver display, navigation, 10-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, four USB ports (including two USB-C ports), wireless charging pad, panoramic sunroof, and adaptive LED headlights. Volvo’s Care Key is also standard which lets you set limits for the vehicle’s top speed.
Available features include 360-degree camera system, 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, air ionizer, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, integrated booster cushions, head-up display, and ambient interior lighting.
Volvo’s Pilot Assist is standard which uses adaptive cruise control and lane keeping system for semi-autonomous driving. Other standard driver assistance tech includes blind spot monitor, forward collision mitigation, lane keeping system, rear cross-traffic alert and rear automatic braking.
The tablet-like Sensus infotainment system can take a while to figure out. There are a lot of menus and submenus. Even common functions such as climate are controlled through the touchscreen, which can be frustrating. At least there’s a volume knob, and the system looks great with its sharp graphics. It responds quickly to touch commands.
The XC90’s boxy shape provides decent cargo room. There are 11.2 cubic feet with all three rows of seating in place, 49.6 cubes with the third row folded, and 80.3 cubes with both rows folded. A hands-free liftgate is standard. The optional air suspension can be used to lower the vehicle’s ride height, making it easier to load large and/or bulky items.
Stylish and elegant three-row crossover
Several powertrains including a plug-in hybrid
Plentiful standard tech
Lots of safety features
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Infotainment system could be more user-friendly
My tester starts at $69,750. The Lounge Package is $1,700 and adds Backrest Massage front seats and Nubuck headliner. The Climate Package is $750 and adds heated windshield wiper blades, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel. The Advanced Package is $1,500 and adds a graphical head-up display and 360-degree surround-view camera. Metallic paint is $645. Integrated center booster cushion is $300. Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system is $3,200. Four-corner air suspension is $1,800. Air Quality with Advanced Air Cleaner is $250. 21-inch eight-multi-spoke Alloy wheels are $800. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $81,690.
Stylish, luxurious, comfortable, versatile, spacious, good fuel economy, and loaded with tech and safety features, the 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge checks all the boxes when it comes to a luxury family hauler, and you can go up to 18 miles on all-electric power.