You are forgiven if the phrases “three-row crossover” do not precisely spike your consideration. Shopping for such a automobile is commonly pushed by a necessity moderately than a need. But luxurious automakers have accomplished an admirable job of creating these family-haulers extra interesting by stuffing them with premium supplies, hewing their steel into eye-pleasing shapes and engineering enjoyable driving experiences.

Take, for example, this Volvo XC90. A far cry from the boxy 850 wagon you keep in mind out of your youth, this Volvo delivers large doses of premium-ness in all places you look. Although it is easy to choose fault with it in a couple of areas, general this XC90 ranks extremely on our gotta-have-it checklist.

Curb enchantment, polarizing tech

One motive we just like the XC90 a lot is that it’s miles prettier than any of its competitors. It is simple for a three-row crossover to prove as a uninteresting field, however Volvo’s designers handle to drape delicate sheetmetal over the XC90’s bones in a approach that pulls the attention. On this tester, the swish Denim Blue bodywork contrasts in opposition to chrome and brushed-metal accents. Daring lighting components, with LEDs and the well-known “Thor’s Hammer” operating lights, additionally add curb enchantment. It is an understated and chic look — fairly the alternative of Volvo’s smallest crossover, the brash XC40.

The cabin reveals simply in addition to the outside, and never solely as a result of this Inscription mannequin has real walnut wooden trim and delicate, brown Nappa leather-based in all places (even on the important thing fob!) and drilled-metal speaker grilles for the non-compulsory Bowers & Wilkins stereo. A excessive seating place and low cowl present wonderful ahead visibility, whereas the large panoramic sunroof retains issues mild and ethereal (you’ll be able to, after all, occlude the sky with a powered sunshade). The management construction is one in all simplicity: only a handful of buttons on the steering wheel and some buttons under the touchscreen on the middle stack.

The dashboard stays uncluttered partly as a result of virtually all of the automobile’s controls and settings are stuffed into the 9-inch Sensus infotainment system. That sounds good in precept till you are combating to activate the heated seats or crank up the air-con proper after beginning the automobile; the touchscreen takes an age besides up and it is irritating to faucet the display with no response. The identical goes for tweaking widespread automobile capabilities, just like the stop-start system or altering active-safety settings, requiring extra tapping and swiping than we might like.

Sensus’ operation and performance is kind of divisive even amongst Roadshow workers, so we might strongly advocate enjoying with the system in your take a look at drive earlier than committing to purchasing an XC90. Personally, I discover the crisp, high-contrast graphics format simple on the eyes and useful for studying at a look whereas driving. Furthermore, I discover the association of on-screen controls simple and easy to know.

The show defaults to a four-tile residence display that all the time reveals navigation, audio and telephone data, with the bottom-most tile reserved for probably the most lately used function (e.g. gasoline economic system information, Apple CarPlay). Swipe proper to indicate a dizzying array of buttons for adjusting all the automobile’s choices, from the aforementioned security techniques to issues just like the head-up show choices. Swipe left for tiles to modify audio sources, activate apps like Spotify web radio or pull up menus for the equalizer, journey data or different automobile information. Help for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is commonplace.

Security expertise is in abundance, as is the case with all fashionable Volvos. The Pilot Help mode for the adaptive cruise management, for example, will assist steer the XC90 on the freeway. Different options embody a 360-degree digital camera, parking sensors, self-parking, precollision warning and brake, lane-keep help and blind-spot monitoring. One good contact: The place so many vehicles use strident digital beeps for these techniques’ notifications, the Volvo performs nice musical chimes for issues like parking-sensor warnings.

Like the surface, the XC90’s inside may be very fashionable however not overly difficult.

Jake Holmes/Roadshow

Loads of practicality

Driver and passenger get pleasure from ample house within the Volvo XC90, in addition to loads of house to retailer their sundries within the center-console cupholders or door pockets. Likewise, the second row presents a beneficiant quantity of room for grownup passengers to suit comfortably. These seats tilt and slide ahead simply to permit entry to the sixth and seventh seats, although the resultant hole is somewhat tight. As with lots of rivals, the XC90’s third row is stingy on knee- and legroom. You will match youngsters in right here with no downside, however regular-sized adults will begin to complain earlier than lengthy. Not less than headroom is beneficiant and there is a cupholder for every of the way-back chairs.

Cargo house suffers the identical destiny: It is somewhat cramped with all three rows of seats up, however expands dramatically when the third row is folded down, and much more so when the second row is folded flat. This XC90 has an influence liftgate with a kick-to-open operate, however in follow, solely a small proportion of kicks lead to a gap. Not less than you’ll be able to pop the hatch from the important thing fob or by simply grabbing the deal with.

High-tier highway manners

One other checkmark on the XC90’s goes to its beautiful driving dynamics — it maybe does not drive fairly so sweetly as an Audi Q7, but it surely will get fairly darn shut. The satisfaction begins with this tester’s T6 powertrain, which is Volvo-speak for a 2.Zero-liter inline-four boosted by each a turbo and supercharger. With 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque obtainable simply throughout the rev vary, you will by no means need for energy.

The turbocharged and supercharged engine may be very robust however did not all the time ship its high gasoline economic system rankings.

Jake Holmes/Roadshow

Volvo says you’ll be able to attain 60 miles per hour in 6.1 seconds, which feels plausible from behind the wheel and is definitely greater than fast sufficient for this kind of automobile. Sadly, the engine sounds somewhat gruff in its operation, particularly when pushed. The attendant eight-speed automated is usually desirous to downshift and performs its duties with out a lot fuss.

The 2019 XC90 T6 has EPA mileage rankings of 19 miles per gallon metropolis, 26 mpg freeway and 22 mpg mixed. I ended up averaging solely 22 mpg though I took a number of freeway journeys. The usual stop-start operate is somewhat tough when it relights the engine; turning it off requires swiping proper on the touchscreen and finding a small digital button.

It is value noting which you could additionally go for the XC90 with its T5 powertrain, which makes use of a turbocharged 2.Zero-liter rated for 250 horsepower. Provided with both front- or all-wheel drive, it returns as a lot as 21/29 mpg in EPA testing. A dearer selection is the T8 plug-in hybrid, which is able to enable a totally charged XC90 to drive 17 miles on battery energy alone.

The Inscription trim stage advantages from high-quality particulars like real wooden and leather-based, plus drilled-metal speaker grilles.

Jake Holmes/Roadshow

In any other case the driving expertise is greatest described as just-right. Certain, the steering is mild, however its fairly fast ratio makes dicing up the Goal parking zone simple. Although not precisely thrilling, the XC90’s dealing with stability is completely competent for such challenges as cloverleaf interchanges. With the assorted security techniques offering a watchful eye, and nice visibility out of the large home windows, day-to-day commuting barely ruffles the XC90.

The only real letdown by way of the driving expertise is the experience high quality. Prior XC90s I’ve examined have had air suspension, which has glided over tough roads with out a lot hassle. This one has the usual steel-spring suspension and is extra of a blended bag. Although usually pliant and well-judged, the experience turns into brittle and jarring over tough roads. The 21-inch wheels’ low-profile tires indubitably do not assist. Whereas not a deal-breaker, it is sufficient to make me assume I might choice my private XC90 with smaller wheels and/or air suspension.

That mentioned, the Volvo XC90 is the kind of automobile I am joyful to drive anytime, anyplace. It is simple to stay with and does lots of issues effectively; what sells it’s its all-around excellence. From design that will not bore you to a driving expertise that will not frustrate you, to a sensible inside and a full complement of security expertise, the XC90 is the type of crossover that is a pleasure to stay with day-in, day-out. It is one in all just some thrilling entrants in an typically uninteresting section.

Entry to the third row is made simpler by folding and sliding the second-row seats ahead.

Jake Holmes/Roadshow

How I might spec it

Having fallen in love with this mannequin’s look, I might must go along with a Volvo XC90 Inscription, though I am certain I could possibly be completely glad with the Momentum or R-Design fashions. That selection alone pushes my beginning worth to $60,445 with vacation spot and routinely elects the T6 powertrain (the one different choice for the Inscription is the T8 plug-in). To maintain the experience somewhat softer I might hold the usual 20-inch wheels. On high of that I might equip the Comfort ($1,950) and Luxurious ($three,150) packages, in addition to standalone choices just like the head-up show ($900), B&W sound system ($three,200) and air suspension ($1,800). That brings the XC90’s whole checklist worth to a wholesome $68,890.

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