2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription AWD: An Inspirational Change [Review]

Santa Monica, CA – Volvo, the Swedish automaker was founded in 1927 and was sold to Geeley, a Chinese company in 2010. Volvo however operates autonomously, and continues to be just as focused on superior safety technologies as it ever was, but safety features and equipment are not Volvo’s only area of concentration. Fresh new and appealing design elements inside and out, are showcased in the latest all-new SUV models – the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD, which will be available in three levels of trim, and the Volvo XC90 T8 AWD Twin-engine plug-in Hybrid, the first such Hybrid SUV to offer 7-passenger seating, which is scheduled to bow later this fall. The XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in electric hybrid is powered by Volvo’s 2.0 liter supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E engine and a rear axle electric motor, the T8 can achieve 394 horsepower and 0-60 MPH in just 5.7 seconds. Three operational modes provide performance and flexibility: Hybrid; Pure Electric with a range of 17 miles; and Power mode, which combines the energy of both the ICE and electric motor.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price hp/ lb-ft
2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription AWD $48,900. $66,705. 316 @ 5,700 rpm / 295 @ 2,200-4,500 rpm
EPA Rating As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 20-mpg city / 25-mpg highway Not tested


The Volvo XC90 luxury SUV was first launched in 2002 and has undergone an evolutionary development process ever since – up until now. Enter the 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD with its three trim models, all of which are powered by a 2.0-liter, 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Supercharged and Turbocharged in-line four-cylinder engine with an integrated (SFI) ignition control system that makes 316 horsepower at 5,700 rpm while developing 295 pound feet of torque in a range from 2,200 to 4,500 rpm. The transversely mounted front engine mates to an AW TG-81SC eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission that meters motive energy to all four wheels. The turbocharging is constant, with supercharging automatically activated as needed.
External dimensions along with the mechanicals are shared by all trim levels: The Momentum trim is expected to be the volume sales leader, starting at $48,900. All models tested were Inscription models, which begins pricing at $54,500, followed by the T6 AWD R-Design that starts at $52,900. A special First Edition model T6s (individually numbered from 1-1,927 commemorating the 1927 start up) priced starting at $65,900. sold out online in 47 hours after its release. Add a $995 Destination and Handling charge to all models. All trim levels of the XC90 T6 are AWD only. The T8 Twin engine plug-in Hybrid model will start at $70,000. when they go on sale in the fall.
The new exterior design face marks the beginning of a new chapter in the company’s history, reflecting the direction of future design, infused with a range of new technological advancements and incorporating the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology. The new Volvo XC90 is the first vehicle to feature the company’s more prominent “iron mark”, with an arrow aligned with the diagonal slash that appears across the new grille treatment. This coupled with the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights signals the direction of future generation Volvos. The XC90 also displays a larger, elegantly sculpted hood along with a prominent beltline and pronounced shoulders that connect to a new rear light design and a wider rear stance. Bold new wheel designs range from 19 to 22-inches.
The interior is the most lavish to date for any Volvo, featuring a tablet-like touch screen control console that serves as the nerve center of an all-new in-car control system called SENSUS, which is virtually button-free, enhancing the cabin’s ambience. The digital craftsmanship and layout may best be described as a stack of flexible ‘tiles’, each displaying a key functionality. Information, navigation and media are high up and easy to check, while Phone controls, application icons and climate controls are positioned low, easy to reach and touch. When a tile on the touch screen expands on interaction, the others are compressed but remain visible and instantly accessible.
The all-new Volvo XC90 can be specified with a four-zone climate system featuring individual settings for occupants in the front seats and in the second row. A separate air-conditioning unit for the third row is standard. Volvo Cars’ CleanZone air purification system has been improved by adding a new carbon filter.

The top-of-the-line audio system in the XC90 features a 1,400 W Class D amplifier and 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers. It also includes one of the first air-ventilated subwoofers in a car, turning the entire interior space into a giant subwoofer.
Handcrafted details and rich materials including Nappa leather and wood trim elements. Controls have been modified with a diamond-cut pattern for a more organic and tactile feel. The new XC90 enhances Volvo’s reputation for superior seating comfort by offering innovatively designed seats that also happen to free up interior space for passengers both in the second and third seat rows, helping to make the new XC90 a genuine 7-seater. The full seat core consists of an ergonomic shape resembling the human spine. A host of adjustment possibilities makes it possible to create an ideal seating position. The new seats are available with adjustable side bolsters, seat cushion extension and massage, as well as heating and cooling capabilities.

The second row features three individual seats with recline adjustment. A sliding function may be used to create more legroom for passengers in the third row – or to increase loading space. An integrated child booster cushion in the centre seat is optional. Third row seats are centered for an offset visual path around second row headrests and complete the theatre staging.

Driving dynamics serve up the smooth, solid ride of a premium SUV, but with a blend of sharp handling and response. The chassis is completely new, fore and aft, with a double wishbone front suspension and a new integral link rear axle that features a new composite transverse leaf spring. The XC90 may also be equipped with an electronically controlled air suspension that provides a choice of five modes.

For the North American press introduction, only production version Inscription model Volvo XC90 T6 AWD units were provided – all with Black Onyx metallic finished exteriors and Amber and Charcoal interiors with linear walnut inlay trim elements. The Inscription models tested started with the Momentum model as a base, priced at $48,900 and added the Inscription features package priced at $5,600 with: LED headlights with Active Bending lights and Thor’s Hammer DRLs, Illuminated tread plates, high-level interior illumination, Silver Matte front grille, lower door molding with Inscription logo, integrated aluminum roof rails, Inscription alloy wheels, Nappa leather upholstery, Nappa leather dash and upper door panels, ventilated front seating, power side support and power cushion front seats, linear walnut wood inlays, rear side door sun curtains, Nappa leather key fob and Inscription badge; the Vision Package priced at $1,600. With Blind Spot info system, & cross-traffic Alert, 360 degree surround view camera, automatically-dimming inner and outer mirrors, and retractable rear view mirrors,; the Climate Package with HUD priced at $1,950. With heated rear seats, steering wheel and washer nozzles and graphical Head Up Display; the $1,800 Convenience Package, with Park Assist Pilot, Front Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise control with Pilot Assist, Lane Keeping Aid, Homelink, interior rear-view mirror compass, grocery bag holder, and Cargo area 12V power outlet; Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound system priced at $2,500; metallic paint for $560; 2nd row center booster, $250.; 21-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels, $750.; 4-corner air suspension, $1,800. and $995 Destination charge. A Momentum Plus Package is available, featuring lighting and wood inlays. There are also a couple of Accessory packages for which pricing was not given: the Rugged Luxury and Urban Luxury accessories.
SUMMARY: The 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD for all of its newness in both styling and technology will become the oldest Volvo model by 2018. For now however, it showcases features that render it as “King of the Hill” in terms of safety and security including: City Safety Collision Avoidance system, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection and Avoidance, Run-off Road Protection, Roll Stability Control, Lane Departure and Road Sign Information, Driver Alert Control, Unibody high strength steel safety cage, seven three-point safety belts with pretensioners, inflatable curtain Head Impact Protection, Side Impact Protection system with Driver and Front passenger dual chamber side impact airbags, Driver and Front passenger dual stage supplemental Restraint system including Driver Knee Airbag, Whiplash Protection in Driver and Front Passenger seats, Child Safety Locks in Rear Doors, Tire Pressure Monitoring system and LED DTRLs. Also included are two world first safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and auto brake at intersection capability.
This all-new iteration XC90 T6 is the most visually appealing Volvo SUV produced to date. It is also the most comfortable and the best handling. It drives more like a luxury sedan, but with sporty attributes. The cabin ambience is not only luxurious, it is highly functional as well. Flexible seating configurations provide a high level of versatility, and the laminated Panoramic Moonroof with power sunshade gives a spacious, open-air feeling.

The Eco, Comfort and Dynamic (make that Sport) modes offer a wide variety of driving applications to appropriately fit specific scenarios, and the controls may be changed on-the-fly,
In the final analysis, The 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD SUV is a winner in any of its trim levels, and it’s destined to compete admirably and no doubt highly successfully in a very competitive field. Think of it as a Scandanavian Sanctuary that certainly represents a huge advancement in status and capability over the very first Volvo model – the 1927 PV4 4-door sedan model that the Swedes lovingly refer to as “Jacob”.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription AWD a Buy It! For an extremely safe, versatile and attractive crossover/SUV.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

Base Price: $48,900.
Price as Tested: $66,705.

Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Supercharged and Turbocharged in-line four-cylinder with
integrated (SFI) ignition control system.

Horsepower (bhp): 316 @ 5,700 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 295 @ 2,200-4,500 rpm

Transmission: AW TG-81SC Eight-speed Geartronic automatic.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / AWD

Suspension: Front – Short/Long Arm Double wishbone, coil springs, hydraulic
shock absorbers,stabilizer bar and Air Suspension System.
                     Rear – Integral axle with transverse composite leaf spring, hydraulicshock
absorbers, stabilizer bar and Air Suspension system.

Brakes:      Power-assisted four-wheel discs with ABS, EBD, and Electronic Brake     Assistance.

Tires:          Pirelli Scorpion Verde 275/40 R21 A/S mounted on 8-spoke alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 117.5 inches

Length Overall: 194.8 inches

Width: 84.3 inches

Height: 69.9 inches

Curb Weight: 4,394 lbs.

Turning Circle: 37.07 ft.

Fuel Capacity: 18.8 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 20-mpg city / 25-mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: 0.29

0 – 60 mph: Not tested.

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.