The ultimate Volvo XC90 makes a luxury statement
CHATHAM, MA – Large, quiet, well-behaved and relatively fuel-efficient, the Volvo XC90 B6 AWD Ultimate mild-hybrid three-row SUV provided an enjoyable week of driving during a remarkably mild New England winter.
Living with the Volvo for a week was easy – the SUV did everything it was supposed to do comfortably, without any drama.
Electric boost and regenerative braking
All 2023 Volvo models are equipped with some version of the electrified powertrain, from fully electric (BEV) to hybrid electric (HEV) to plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) to mild hybrid electric (MHEV) like the version I drove. .
The heart of the powertrain remains an internal combustion engine (ICE), a 2-liter turbocharged, double overhead cam, single-cylinder four-cylinder. Adding boost from the battery-backed 48-volt electric starter/generator means the total unit delivers 295 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
The alternator’s functions include starting the vehicle, which is particularly useful on restarts when the stop/start system has done its job, and slowing the vehicle down through regenerative braking. This activity also recovers braking energy to recharge the system battery.
The system delivers on its promise of smooth driving characteristics, pulling strongly from a stop, and again without any drama (Volvo says it can do 0-60 mph in a quick 6.4 seconds).
The rest of the powertrain includes an eight-speed automatic transmission that feeds into the all-wheel drive (AWD) system paired with a Driver Mode selector (Comfort, Polestar Engineered, for a more performance-oriented, off-road stay).
A very nice touch is the excellent fuel economy of the three-row, seven-seat SUV. My heavy driving (mostly without the stop/start system activated — I find it annoying, though mild-hybrid EV versions are less annoying) returned 24.9 miles per gallon, nearly three miles more than the federal EPA rating of 22 mpg combined (20 mpg combined, 20 city, 26 highway).
Air suspension and ventilated disc brakes are a feature of the XC90 platform
A major option ($1,800) is the four-corner air suspension that helps provide a comfortable, controlled ride with solid handling characteristics. Additionally, ground clearance can range from 8.3 inches for easier entry and exit from the cabin, as well as more aerodynamic highway travel (better fuel economy) to 8.8 inches of ground clearance for improved handling off-road and on poor road surfaces. .
A unique feature of the Volvo XC90 is its ability to ford through water up to 17.7 inches deep (at walking speeds).
The anti-lock brake system (ABS) features 14.4 x 1.2-inch ventilated rotors up front and 13.4 x 0.8-inch rear.
Comprehensive advanced driver assistance system in Volvo’s safety tradition
The list of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is comprehensive, which is to be expected in a high-end Volvo like the XC90 Ultimate. This suite of safety-oriented features includes: Blind Spot Information System with Steering Assist and Cross Traffic Alert with Automatic Braking; Collision avoidance featuring low and high speed collision mitigation, vehicle/pedestrian/cyclist/large animal detection and driver alert control; Off-road protection and off-road mitigation; lane departure warning/lane keep assist; Next relief by braking. Rear parking assist camera with front and rear parking assist, and a 360-degree surround view camera.
The head-up display helps the driver keep his eyes on the road, enhancing safety as high-powered headlight washers do.
The seven-seater’s Nappa leather interior has been carefully designed and is familiar to owners of other recent Volvos.
The seats are heated front and rear, and the front ones feature ventilation and electric adjustment with memory (lumbar, cushion extension and lateral support are also electrically adjusted).
The automatic climate control system has four zones to cover all seven possible occupants in the three sections of the SUV.
In the middle of the dashboard is a 9-inch color touchscreen, which is the heart of the car’s infotainment and control system. The system includes navigation via Google Maps; Google Assistant; Google Play Store, plus smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The version I sampled came with the optional Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system ($3,200). Unfortunately, it lost its potential — I wasn’t able to really experience its full benefits while behind the wheel, but the audiophiles I know vouch for the company’s reputation for high-quality, cutting-edge sound.
The other luxurious, decadent but very comfortable feature of this SUV was the centerpiece of the Lounge Package ($1,700) – the front seat backrest massager. While I was driving on the highway, the seat started dancing on my back, and it was amazing.
The ultimate Volvo ICE SUV
Three rows, 25 mpg, luxury that oozes from every pore and Volvo’s safety heritage contribute strongly to the 2023 Volvo XC90 B6 AWD Ultimate earning its name within the Swedish brand’s range.
Base price is $68,200 and with the options listed plus a $1,095 destination charge, the as-tested price came to $76,995, very competitive with three-row premium/luxury SUVs.
Volvo SUVs are different from others in their class, with unique features and controls. They’re comfortable, quiet, perform well, and are packed with safety features. Overall, a solid choice among the crowd.