2016 Volvo XC90: An SUV with Style, Practicality, Efficiency, Safety and More [Review]

2016 Volvo XC90 T6

The redesigned 2016 Volvo XC90 brings a new level of sophistication and style to European carmaker’s product line of SUVs and wagons. All-new from badge to backup camera, the 2016 XC90 is the first plug-in hybrid SUV that offers three rows of seating for seven. Seriously loaded with technology, active and passive safety systems, and a style unique to the Swedish automaker, Volvo’s mid-size SUV delivers a premium package with superior efficiency that leaves a lasting impression.

2016 VOLVO XC90 T6 AWD
Engine Power Torque Transmission MSRP Price as Tested Fuel Economy
supercharged & turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder 316 hp 295 lb-ft 8-speed automatic $52,900 N/A 20 city /
25 hwy



The 2016 XC90 successfully adapts luxury sedan styling cues to a large crossover vehicle. The front leads with a lower-set grille inspired by the Volvo 1800 sports car and available LED lamps with elements shaped like Thor’s hammer create a unique visual impact. The characteristic taillights, which extend all the way up the D-pillar, retain the recognizable curve that accentuates the shape of the rear quarter panels. Whether viewed from the front, side, or rear, the 2nd generation XC90 has great presence from any angle.

2016 volvo xc90

Against competitors like the slab-sided and shorter Acura MDX, the Volvo XC90 comes off surprisingly well–and it’s not until you get close to it, or see it next to another car, that you realize just how large this crossover is. And since many choose the three-row crossover as a minivan-avoidance measure, it’s important to note that the XC90 avoids looking like that oft-dreaded people-carrier by not have a chopped hood or tall roofline.


The interior of the Volvo XC90 can best be described as elegant and nicely appointed, especially with the upgraded Bowers and Wilkins 19-speaker premium sound system. Beautifully sculpted with many modern features, the interior exudes a lush appeal and quiet comfort. Ten-way power front seats, inspired by Wegner lounge chairs, feature supple leather, adjustable high contour side bolsters, and lumbar support.

2016 volvo xc90 interior

Designed to be thinner, lighter, and featuring a deformable bottom in the event of a crash, the seats are the most comfortable seats anywhere and everyone who rode in the XC90 had nothing but praise for them. The thin design not only saves more than 200 pounds, it also allows more space for the second and third row passengers. Now full-size adults dispatched to the 3rd row can sit comfortably with some reasonable legroom.

The center console stack, which features a big 9-inch diagonal screen, is angled slightly favoring the driver position. Scandinavian minimalist design exerts a strong influence that features simple, flat surfaces and just enough buttons to get things done. The marriage of Nappa leather, aluminum and wood trim with everyday functionality was executed to near perfection. Impressive was the jeweled knurling on the “Engine Start” knob and “Drive Mode” select wheel. Everywhere your hands land, there is a natural, responsive surface with a fit and finish at refined levels.

Volvo’s Sensus system operates in similar fashion to Tesla’s Model S infotainment/navigation system. Like an iPad, the controls operate with swipes, taps, and pinches. The simple and elegant design eliminates the need for too many buttons that make the center console look busy and complicated. The touchscreen has infrared sensors, which means it can be operated in cold weather with your gloves left on. The interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. While in motion, many of the more common commands can be executed by using the steering wheel controls or by voice commands. A deeper dive into the features available through the touchscreen rewards the user with more custom features and functions.

The optional 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system looks elegant and sounds spectacular. B & W sound engineers were involved in the early stages of the XC90’s development and a lot of nuances designed into the crossover’s interior make the audio system hugely entertaining. This system is customizable to your personal taste and I especially enjoyed the sound emulation mode that recreates the acoustic character of Gothenburg Concert Hall in Sweden. The sheer power, smooth dynamics and excellent detail will inspire you take long road trips so your entire music collection can be enjoyed.

Driving Impressions

Volvo is offering two versions of the redesigned 2016 XC90: the T6 and T8. The T6 AWD, which is on sale now, delivers 316 horsepower from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that has both a supercharger and turbocharger. Power is sent to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system. The T8 AWD twin-engine plug-in hybrid is due to arrive around October of this year and is a complex engineering marvel that aims towards efficiency by using an 87 horsepower (65 kW) electric motor to drive the rear wheels. Packaged in the center tunnel, normally filled by the AWD-system driveshaft, is a 9.2 kilowatt lithium-ion battery that can drive the stylish SUV 17 miles on battery power alone.

2016 volvo xc90

The T6 model moves nimbly for a mid-size luxury SUV with 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph performance is quite admirable with time of 6.1 seconds. The plug-in hybrid T8 model has a combined power rating of 400 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. Early numbers from Volvo claim the T8 is slightly quicker and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

The XC90 is not equipped for off-road rock crawling, but it is fully capable of getting through slick muddy roads and keeping its composure in snowy weather. Road-holding is quite good and the big crossover doesn’t drive like a school bus. The SUV’s size becomes most apparent when trying to place the XC90 in narrower streets or when parking it. Thankfully, the available Park Assist Pilot can perform the parallel and perpendicular parking duties with precision. In the end, the XC90 performs triumphantly for its mission as a safe family transporter.

For what it’s worth, the XC90 has great all-around visibility and the door-mounted side view mirrors are positioned to allow a sight line when aiming for a turn. You won’t find any nasty blind-spots when you’re looking around, but it’s important to note that the 360-degree Surround View camera works best as a supplement, not a substitute, when moving the SUV in reverse.

2016 volvo xc90

My observation after a day driving the T6 matches closely with the combined EPA estimate of 22 MPG. Drivers who have much lighter feet than me can achieve 25 mpg driving on the open highway and 20 mpg with city driving. Unfortunately, my test drive in the T8 was too short and didn’t allow enough time to evaluate the plug-in hybrid’s MPGe or MPG performance.

Buy-ItOn the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy It,
  • Lease It,
  • Rent It,
  • or Forget It,

I give the 2016 Volvo XC90 a “Buy it! rating simply for its exquisite exterior design, flawless performance of its T6 powertrain, the interior’s classy balance of excellence and conservatism, and leading safety features that do more to assist the driver than intervene with abrupt safety measures.

2016 VOLVO XC90
T6 AWD T8 AWD Twin Engine Plug-in Hybrid
Engine Supercharged and turbocharged inline 2.0L 4-cylinder Supercharged and turbocharged inline 2.0L 4-cylinder
Electric Motor N/A 65 kW (87 hp) driving the rear wheels
Power 316 hp @ 5700 rpm 400 hp (combined)
Torque 295 lb-ft @ 2200 – 4500 rpm 472 lb-ft (combined)
0 – 60 mph 6.1 sec 5.3 sec (preliminary)
Fuel Economy (MPG) 25 hwy / 20 city / 22 combined 59 MPGe city (preliminary)
MSRP (excludes destination charge) $48,900 – $54,500 $68,100 – $71,600
Warranty 4 years / 50,000 miles 4 years / 50,000 miles
Free Maintenance 3 years / 36,000 miles 3 years / 36,000 miles

Stay with us and watch Emmie’s “First Drive” review of the 2016 Volvo XC90 crossover SUV.