2020 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD: safety, luxury in an SUV

Uff da.

What better vehicle to be driving to deal with Snohomish County’s first bout with winter than the 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription luxury SUV.

Fate smiled on my Scandinavian heritage in a big way, as Volvo’s flagship model transported me to and from work, and on various errands, without hint of a slip. And why wouldn’t it? The Swedish automaker has been building these vehicles for decades for that very eventuality.

XC90 is a mid-size SUV with three-row seating that can accommodate up to six adults in comfort. My tester was a plug-in hybrid version with a range of over 400 miles and combined gas mileage in the mid-20s.

Powered by a 2.0-liter, super and turbocharged, direct-inject engine (and 87-horsepower electric motor) mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the combination delivers 400 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque. In a pinch, the vehicle can run a short distance on all-electric power.

The refreshed XC90 for the first time offers customers Volvo’s advanced kinetic energy recovery braking system. Coupled with its existing internal combustion engine, it creates a new integrated electrified powertrain that offers drivers up to 15 percent fuel savings and emission reductions.

Volvo has branded itself as one of the safest cars on the road. And the XC90 is nothing, if not loaded with safety and security attributes. An Intellisafe suite of driver assistance features comes standard, including collision avoidance by City Safety, pilot assist with adaptive cruise control and distance alert, oncoming-lane mitigation with steering assist, blind-spot information system, and cross-traffic alert with autobrake.

All this, together with a safety cage that forms the core of the passive safety technology, underlines Volvo Cars’ unwavering commitment to developing the safest cars possible. The XC90 was surefooted in the snow and ice, and it would take driver stupidity (or more than likely, another driver’s stupidity), to get into trouble.

While the weather outside was frightful, inside the Volvo XC90 was delightful. Let’s start with the heated steering wheel, Nappa leather heated (and ventilated) front seats with backrest massage, heated rear seats, gray ash wood décor, Bowers & Wilkens premium sound, 360-degree surroundview camera, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth with audio streaming, panoramic moonroof, to mention a few.

The exterior is a far cry from the outdated Volvo box on wheels of yesteryear, benefiting from a strong stance with a subtle, timeless quality and balanced proportion. A metallic, off-white coat of paint almost blended with the snow, and 21-inch multi-spoke wheels made a nice accent.

More than anything, it’s the attention-to-detail and little things that add up to big things that make the Volvo XC90 special. One example is the Swedish crystal gearshift knob. Others are the tailored dashboard, laminated moonroof with sunshade, and interior illumination.

Pricing for the 2020 XC90 starts at $48,350 for the T5 Momentum. The T8 plug-in hybrid starts at $67,500. The XC90 is built at the Torslanda plant in Sweden.

Base Price: $68,445

Price As Driven: $86,990

Destination charge is included in the base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.

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