The Volvo XC90 was the first in the brand’s lineup that shifted in a completely new direction. Nearly 8 years on, the Volvo XC90 has seen updates to keep it relevant in a very competitive luxury SUV market.
Engine – The only engine that Volvo offers across its entire model range is a 2.0L inline-4. Everything from the S60 to the V90 to this XC90 has it. In the past it was available with both turbocharging and supercharging but since 2022, all models are now turbocharged only. For the 2023 model year, the XC90 T8 receives a slight bump in power to 455 hp & 523 lb-ft of torque. Due to the instant torque of the electric motor, there is little hesitation when setting off from a stop or overtaking traffic.
Of course, being a hybrid, it can be driven purely on the engine alone or on the electric motor. The electric only driving range has been increased to 52 km now thanks to a larger and more dense battery. Depending on how long your commute is, the 52 km range may be enough. I found myself easily doing all of my errands and only on occasion needing to use the engine.
Fuel Economy – If you drive the XC90 T8 Recharge with a flat battery, then it’ll return around 9.1 L/100km in a city and 8.6 L/100km on a highway. But with constant charging, I was able to get 2.6 L/100km.
Recharging the car can take roughly 9 – 10 hours from a normal household wall outlet and around 3 to 4 hours from a level 2 charger.
Transmission – The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth gear changes. However, they are not the fastest shifts but the electric motor fills in the gaps between shifts. So the car still accelerates midway through a shift.
Braking – The brakes of the XC90 are strong and have a firm feeling brake pedal. The XC90 also has regenerative braking and a one-pedal drive mode. The one-pedal mode provides smooth and gradual complete stops without touching the brake pedal. Once in a while it may require a bit of help when you’re slowing down and stopping on a downward slope.
Handling – The XC90 was never meant to be a sports SUV like the Jaguar F-Pace SVR for example. That said, the 275 wide tires all-round offer enough grip to let you take the three-row SUV fairly quickly around corners. Steering feel is also not too bad for an SUV of this size and class. Again, it doesn’t have the same feel as in a sports SUV but it isn’t completely numb feeling either.
Ride Comfort – This particular demo vehicle came equipped with the optional air suspension. The suspension can be adjusted for a normal ride comfort or a firm ride mode. The firm mode allows it to resist more body roll through corners but makes the ride too jarry. The normal air suspension mode is great for city streets. It provides a plush but not floaty ride.
Interior Space – Front and rear occupants have a good amount of leg and head room but if you’re an adult, the third row is not a place you want to find yourself. Space for your legs and head is extremely tight. Fold the third row however, and cargo space is very generous for this class of vehicle.
Behind the 3rd row, it has 447 L (15.8 cu-ft). Behind the 2nd row, it’s 1,183 L (41.8 cu-ft). Finally behind the 1st row, it’s 2,426 L (85.7 cu-ft).
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The cabin of the XC90 T8 is quiet. Obviously when the electric motor is providing the power, there’s only a faint whisper of tire noise that is audible in the car. When the engine has to turn on, the transition is seamless. As well, the engine itself is pretty quiet when it’s not working too hard. Under more moderate or hard acceleration, it can get quite noisy.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2023 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge is available in three trim levels; Core, Plus, & Ultimate. The Core starts at $82,650 CAD. The Plus is $87,600 CAD and the Ultimate is $93,550 CAD. None of these trim levels are eligible for government rebates here in Vancouver.
Gadgets – This demo vehicle has every feature that’s in the Volvo catalog. These include Nappa leather upholstery, heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, hands-free power liftgate, surround view cameras, head-up display, Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive, blind spot sensors, Bowers & Wilkins sound system, and much more.
One big change to the XC90’s gadgets for 2023 is the new infotainment system which is Android Auto motive based. At first glance, it looks similar to Volvo’s Sensus infotainment. It has the same four primary sections on the home screen with navigation on top, media below, phone below that, and vehicle status at the bottom. Now though, you can’t swipe left or right to access more pages. The car settings have been integrated into one settings menu and the amount of things that you can change has also been reduced. It allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but you can also access all of your personal things through the Google log in. You can also use Google Assistant by just saying “Hey Google”. Best of all, the new system loads much more quickly on cold start. The old one felt as though I was aging 20 years while I waited for the infotainment to boot up. This new one takes less than 10 seconds.
However, it’s not all perfect because the climate controls are still integrated into the infotainment screen. Yes, it is just one touch if you want to change the temperature but it’s more than one touch for everything else like changing the fan speed or direction of air. Thankfully, volume control is still a physical knob below the screen.
Interior Design – The interior of the 2023 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge has remained largely unchanged. Real wood and aluminum trim cover parts of the dashboard and center console while soft leather covers the rest. I do like Volvo’s use of carpet up the side of the center console as it reduces the use of hard plastics and gives the cabin a premium feel. A couple of things did change, however, one of which is the driver display. The graphics are different and now show a much larger navigation map. You can turn off the map but if you do that, then there’s a large black section between the speedometer and tachometer. The other change is to the sunroof controls. It is now a touch sensitive control that just requires a swipe of your finger to open or close it.
Exterior Design – While the XC90 has received a few minor exterior tweaks since 2016, it still looks relatively similar. The Thor’s Hammer DRLs are the first thing you notice. The vertical LED taillights are instantly recognizable from the back. The only major difference are the wheels which have a nicer design than previous model years.
Safety – The Core XC90 Recharge (base) has nearly every safety and driver aid feature. Moving up to the Ultimate level will add Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control, surround view cameras, and front & rear parking sensors. Every other feature like blind spot sensors, automatic emergency braking, lane keep and so on are all standard. The IIHS gave the 2023 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge a Top Safety Pick+ award with good scores in every crash test and Superior ratings for the driver and safety aids.
Warranty – The 2023 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge has a similar warranty period to its German rivals. It comes with a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle and powertrain warranty. One thing to note, I haven’t had the best experience with Volvo’s electric features as explained in my Volvo C40 & XC60 T8 reviews. This XC90 T8 also had a minor fault while it was my demo car for the week. It downloaded and attempted to install a software update over the air but it couldn’t properly install it. So, instead of notifying me through a message on the infotainment, it decided to throw a check engine light instead and made me think there was something wrong with the car. It had to go to the dealership for a hard software update, afterwhich everything was fine.
Conclusion – While the 2023 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge can be a bit temperamental at times with the software updates and some of the controls need to be physical in my opinion, this is still one of the best family luxury SUVs on the market. It does face stiff competition from the BMW X5 45e and the upcoming Lexus RX450h+ but it can still hold its ground… for now. A new generation XC90 is on its way.
Thank you to Volvo Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Volvocars.com/ca