Never been tested on it, but I’m sure I could be blindfolded and still identify a new Volvo out of a lineup, just by opening and closing one of the doors. The clues would be construction so solid that opening and closing takes more than the usual effort, and the door’s audible thump when closing. There’s a slight suction overtone to the thump, assuring that an airtight seal has taken place.
Two 2017 Volvos crossed my path in recent weeks, the XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription, and the V90 Cross Country T6 AWD.
The XC90 is a midsize premium sport utility vehicle with seating for seven. It has the increased ride height SUV fans are so keen on, and also provides the cargo carrying flexibility that defines an SUV.
The Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription is a plug-in hybrid powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged gas engine in the front and an electric motor at the rear. Together they produce an exhilarating 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque, with an average fuel economy equivalent of 54 mpg.
The hybrid system, which directs power to all four wheels, is assisted in its duties by a silky eight-speed automatic transmission.
XC90 tackles twisty roads as if it were a car. Not a hint of sway. All-wheel drive helps ensure stability when roads are wet or white.
Solidity and sophistication come together inside the XC90 T8 passenger cabin trimmed with wood, metal and even crystal. Quiet and comfort are givens. Volvo refers to the XC90 interior as “a true Swedish sanctuary” and it sure was for this writer of Swedish descent.
My tester was piled high with standard features as well as $17,960 in optional items. Too many things to list here. Naming features NOT found on the car would be easier, but thinking of any would be a struggle. To give you some idea, the front seats don’t just heat and ventilate, they also massage.
As for information and entertainment, the XC90 has Volvo’s Sensus system with a 9-inch touchscreen interface that combines car functions, navigation, connected services and in-car entertainment applications such as Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn. The touchscreen is like an iPad or other similar tablet, with multiple screens and finger-swiping operation. Volvo describes it as intuitive, easy and fast. Calling the system intuitive is a stretch, but after some experimenting and referring to the instruction manual, eventually it can be easy and fast.
The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a unique version of the V90 wagon, designed and outfitted for off-pavement capability. Not rough off-roading, just more challenging conditions than the regular V90 would be happy with. It has seating for five and nearly 54 cubic feet of cargo space.
There is one trim level, the T6 AWD, powered by a slick 2.0 liter turbo- and supercharged engine generating 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and has an engine start-stop system to boost fuel economy. The city/highway/combined EPA rating is 22/30/25 mpg.
Like the XC90, the V90 comes with a generous supply of standard features in safety, technology, comfort, convenience and luxury categories. My tester was endowed with optional items totaling $7,750, including a 360-degree camera, heated washer nozzles, parking assist, and a $3,200 Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system so good it’s worth buying the car for.
Power, performance, ride and handling are above reproach, as is the interior’s styling and build quality.
The 2017 Volvo XC90 and V90 Cross Country both offer Volvo’s City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology with adaptive cruise control and run-off road mitigation. With these technologies in play, the car can drive itself for short distances, although drivers are encouraged to be at the ready by having a hand gently on the wheel. As we transition toward fully autonomous cars in a state where picking up or looking at a cell phone while driving is illegal, it’ll be fun watching drivers who are tooling along with no hands on the wheel.
2017 VOLVO XC90 T8 E-AWD INSCRIPTION
Base price, including destination charge: $70,895
Price as driven: $88,855
2017 VOLVO V90 CROSS COUNTRY T6 AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $56,295
Price as driven: $64,640
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.