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2017 Volvo XC90 has style, safety features to battle luxury titans Featured

Mar 02, 2017 Hit: 346 Written by 

The number of people who can afford three-row luxury SUVs is not a large one, but it’s a market with some of the most intense competition in the industry. Battling for those big bucks is never easy, with so many strong products available, and loyalty is hard to sway.

 

One automaker doing its best to compete in this niche segment is Volvo, whose flagship XC90 SUV has stepped up its game this year to compete with the big boys as well as it can.

So what does Volvo bring to this battle of luxury SUVs? … Bold but not extravagant Scandinavian design, elegant look and feel, strong engine performance and handling and tons of space … though some issues with the tech system do hold it back from true greatness (more on that later).

 

 

LOOKS

There are multiple versions of the XC90 available, with seating ranging from four to 7, depending on the setup you choose. The four-seat setup is reserved for the $100K+ Excellence trim level (which aims for a limousine feel and is seeks to compete with the Range Rover Autobiography in that ultra luxe price range). Most XC90 buyers will likely choose the 7-seat layout, which is what I would recommend.

The exterior of the XC90 is rugged looking but not intimidating. It’s more of a “Let’s go explore the mountains” look; not a “Get out of my way” look that you might find elsewhere. The interior of the XC90 is spacious, quiet, and luxurious -- with a sharp design overall and no lack of high-end materials all around. Whether it’s wood, leather or beyond, the designers of the XC90 made a good impression.

 

Comfort, even on longer drives, is not an issue; and legroom and storage room abounds in the XC90 (85.7 cubic feet with back two rows down). Back row can be a bit tight, though, so save it for the kids.

 

Last but not least, some versions of the XC90 offer a massage function on the front seats -- to make your drive that much more enjoyable.

HOW’S THE RIDE?

The Volvo XC90 is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, offering either 250 or 316 horsepower (depending whether you get the turbocharged version, or the turbocharged and supercharged version). It features an 8-speed automatic transmission.

If you’re thinking green, a plug-in hybrid version is also offered.

 

The XC90 weighs more than 4,000 pounds, so it’s not super swift. But it’s still a strong and powerful ride, handles well, and performs in bad weather -- as I had the opportunity to test. You feel confident driving it no matter what’s outside the windshield. And its rugged nature means a short trip off the beaten path won’t be anything to worry about.

FWD and AWD versions are offered, and the XC90 can tow up to 5,000 lbs.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

First, the bad news: The tech/infotainment setup in the Volvo XC90 is a bit wonky, with a huge vertical touchscreen in the center that was not always user-friendly, to put it kindly. Compared to the many other smooth and easy-to-use systems out there on luxury vehicles, Volvo is lacking and needs to catch up.

On the plus side, you can opt for a high-end booming 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system that will not leave you disappointed.

In terms of safety, Volvo always impresses. Among the standard features is front collision detection and automatic braking (which no doubt has saved many lives over the years considering how many people are distracted drivers). Even if you try to turn in front of a vehicle, the brakes will apply -- which is very cool.

Other safety option include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and intervention, and the option to have a child booster seat built into the center row.

 

Safeguards are in place for an accident, such as self-tightening seat belts to limit injuries. And Volvo is a leader in self-driving vehicles, so you’ll even get the chance to use a semi-autonomous mode on the XC90 called Pilot Assist 2. While this technology may still scare some people, it’s here and only growing. Pretty soon many of us will have the chance to kick back and let the car do the driving for us -- if you’re into that sort of thing.

PRICE
The Volvo XC90 starts around $45K, and can go up to $100K+  if you want to go full-force with the luxury trimmings and setups. Among the main competitors for the XC90 are the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Audi Q7, among others. Some of them are in a similar ballpark in terms of base price (Acura, Infiniti), but others will cost you a bit more (Audi).

 

BOTTOM LINE

The 2017 Volvo XC90 is an innovative, safe, luxurious SUV with lots of space and cargo room, that will work well in all types of weather. It’s a strong competitor in this niche category of vehicles, and is only hampered by the its lackluster infotainment/tech system.

 

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.


Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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