All-new Volvo XC90 is a long overdue Swedish utility vehicle


What is it? The first redesign of Volvo's ancient and uncompetitive seven-seat SUV arrives not a moment too soon, and is also the carmaker's first truly all-new model since the brand was purchased by Chinese carmaker Geely. The new XC90 is longer, lower, and boxier, which should help with access and third-seat room, something sorely lacking in the old XC90.

Power comes from a 316-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model comes later.

Inside, Volvo is promising a more luxurious cabin, with handcrafted details, upgraded leather and real wood surfaces. A large, tablet-like touch screen dominates the center of the dash, and it replaces virtually all traditional knobs and buttons. An available air suspension lets drivers customize their ride settings or choose from five preconfigured modes.

What is new or notable? Two new safety technologies make their debut with the XC90: a system that tightens safety belts and activates energy-absorbing features in the seats if the car wanders off the road and automatic braking if an oncoming vehicle pulls in front of the XC90.

CR's take: The last XC90 we tested was slow, returned just 17 mpg overall, and had a stiff and unsettled ride. If the improvements follow in the tracks of the recently tested Volvo S60?which had impressive gains in drivability, fuel economy, and refinement?the new XC90 may be a worthy competitor.

When will it be available? Spring 2015.

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