VOLVO XC90 DUAL-BOOSTED FOUR FEELS LIKE A STOUT SIX
By JAKE LINGEMAN
Turns out the 2017 Volvo XC90 is just the right size for a golf trip up to northern Michigan with the boys, three golf bags, six travel bags and a cooler -- everything we needed and some stuff we didn’t.
So we had three guys, three golf bags and the rest of our luggage, but I don’t think a fourth would have fit. I folded down the third row and we basically stacked it to the ceiling. We had plenty of room to stretch out in the front though, and the massaging seats were a blessing after 54 holes of golf. Besides the massage, the front seats have bolster, lumbar and under-knee adjustments, which made the 3.5-hour drive a breeze, there and back. The huge sunroof lets in a ton light, and with it and the windows open, it was like driving in a convertible.
The XC90 has always been a good highway cruiser, but this new one is like the purest expression of that form. The adaptive cruise control works great, though these systems always seem to leave a little too much room in between cars, and the Pilot Assist “semi-autonomous” drive mode kept me between the lines most of the time. I say most of the time because I played with it on the way home, and a few times it didn’t quite see the road markings and a few other times it kept bouncing me back and fourth between them. Eighty percent of the time, it worked every time. The driver just has to hold his or her hand on the wheel, and make an adjustment once in a while.
The central screen, about the size of a small iPad, takes some getting used to. There are a couple of main screens, and everything else branches off of those. Once I understood the central home button, it helped. By the end of our trip there, I had it down pat. The sliding and pinching motions are nearly as good as a new smartphone, while the optional $2,650 Bowers & Wilkins radio is plenty loud, and crystal clear.
Even in comfort mode, the XC90 was stiffer than I expected. Part of that comes from the 21-inch wheels, and probably partly from the air suspension, but still, this is far from plush or floaty. It’s a little loud over potholes and train tracks. However, it does make it more fun to drive for an enthusiast. The steering is quick, and I think it became quicker as the modes got sportier, but there isn’t a lot of feel.
The superturbo four -- yes, it has both a supercharger and a turbocharger -- makes this XC feel way quicker than I expected. In sport mode, it feels like a strong V6 or a weak V8, seriously. And the throttle is sensitive, so a little stab will make this thing jump forward, and it'll pull until it starts to lose power at 6,000 rpm. The transmission is just OK. Most of the time it shifts perfectly, but sometimes it hiccups or goes into gear harder than I expected. I didn’t mess with the auto stick.
I love the new front-end look on this XC and was surprised that more people didn’t notice it. I mean, c’mon it has “Thor’s hammer” daytime running lights -- we’re talking Mjolnir baby, Mjolnir! The profile and rear still feel like classic Volvo though, which is good.
I don’t know if $72,000 is too expensive, but it seems steep. The base XC90 SUV can be had for about $52,000, which is a big chunk less. The only things I’d miss from the Inscription package are the vented front seats and the power adjustments. The Vision package could probably be ditched, as could the Convenience package, if you could still get the Pilot-Assist/adaptive cruise control, because that makes this feel like a spaceship. If you could get into it for less than $60K, I think it’s a great deal for a gorgeous three-row SUV.
Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-reviews/2017-volvo-xc90-t6-inscription-drive-review-gorgeous-and-nearly-autonomous#ixzz4RPtCKQC3