Volvo’s flagship SUV in India is the XC90 and in its latest iteration, it gets some new features and new exterior shades, but the design and styling remain the same. And this is particularly good, for it retains its mature demeanour with sheer elegance. Peculiar highlights like the Thor-hammer-shaped DRLs and tall tail lamps continue to shine on this big SUV with neat proportions.
The addition of more features to an already established cabin has further enhanced this package. Volvo has focused on bringing in new features like an updated air purifier, a heads-up display, a 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins audio system, connected tech, and an Android-powered infotainment system with in-built Google services. You can log in with your Google ID, access all systems, including home automated systems, download more apps from Google services, and play music directly without having to connect your phone or Android Auto as on other systems. Apple phone users would, however, require a cable to connect to CarPlay.
Moreover, the latest Volvo app helps to lock/unlock the car, precondition your vehicle, and provides 24-hour support, among many other features. What’s more, the instrument cluster has also been upgraded with integrated maps and looks likeable, but it could have been a bit more customisable.
Nonetheless, safety-wise, there’s no compromise as it’s paramount to Volvo. Apart from the usual support systems like seven airbags, pre-tensioners, whiplash protection, hill hold, auto wipers, 360 camera, updated park assist system, etc., there are more notable features. These include a blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alerts, rear impact warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping aid with steer assist, and more, which worked flawlessly with clear road markings.
The cabin still remains posh with soft leather adorning the seats and dash. This comes along with contrasting matte inlays and brushed aluminium surfaces. There are full-sized bottle-holders and even cup-holders in a cabin that remembers your seat adjustments for that perfect driving position. I still felt a bit disappointed that no updates were made for the second-row occupants. Given the good space and comfort, this one could have pampered with massaging seats or at least kept the rear passengers entertained with some screens. These aren’t captain seats, but a bench and thankfully with slide, recline, and even fold flat function.
Now, although third-row access continues to be tedious, two medium-sized adults can fit in with enough shoulder room. But the lack of under-thigh support will discourage them from spending hours here on a long journey. Yet, there’s adequate luggage space even with all three rows up. And then, folding down the split seats provides enough versatility to fit in the luggage of different sizes and shapes.
Powering this 2023 Volvo XC90 is the existing 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with a mild-hybrid system. It produces 296bhp and 420Nm which is sent to all wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a very silent mill and its refinement levels can convince anyone vouching for a diesel powertrain. The tachometer needle mostly hovers between 1,500 to 2,000rpm, which is quite good for the vehicle to move around in the city or easily cruise at highway speeds.
Yes, there’s an off-road mode which can be activated through the screen but only at low speeds. Otherwise, it gets no particular drive modes. It tries to be in the highest gear possible and if need be, drops down a cog or two when you stomp the throttle. You might feel the absence of paddle shifters, but there’s the option of shifting manually through the cog-lever (showing up M on the driver’s display). But then, drive mode or D is the most suitable and apt one as it intelligently keeps the engine at low revs. Besides, the engine noise is not at all audible inside the cabin unless you rev the engine post the 3,500rpm mark. Moreover, the throttle response is almost instantaneous and helps it catapult from 0-100kmph in 8.14 seconds, which is fantastic for such a burly SUV.
Now, the infotainment screen gets all driving aids including steering assist, lane keeping aid, and others, along with an option to get the steering firm or not. This steering firm feature does weigh up with the increase in speed but still remains fairly light at city speeds. And in case you feel the steering assist is too intrusive, you can switch this assist off from the main screen. It’s a big SUV, but quite manageable for that effortless parking.
A ground clearance of 238mm is good and improves to 267mm with the off-road mode on, which enables the air suspension to raise the car. This not only clears any obstacles but insulates the jolts from our pot-holed marred roads with ease. The 20-inch wheels further help in clearing small potholes and with 275/45 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, grip levels are remarkable. Overall, the ride in this XC90 is pretty sorted as there’s no continuous movement of passengers, thus offering a comfortable experience throughout.
Volvo is giving every reason to consider the XC90 over its rivals. Be it the sober looks, refined yet powerful engine, smooth transmission, spacious cabin, safety-tech, or even enticing service packages. Then, there’s an optional three-year service scheme at just Rs 75,000 that covers regular maintenance and even wear-and-tear costs. Not to mention, the carmaker’s service network is still expanding with a new warehouse in Mumbai sourcing and offering spares within the country. Quite some reasons to consider this Scandanavian over the Germans in a similar price bracket like the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE/S, and the BMW X5.
Pictures by Kapil Angane
Keyword: Volvo XC90 B6 Ultimate facelift — First Drive Review