(Contributing Editor: Susan Frissell)

 

Thor cast lightning and thunder upon the Earth throwing his boomeranging hammer from the skies above. But he moved through the heavens by a chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Not even one horsepower pulled the mythological Norse God of Thunder.

 

Today, Thor can trade in the goat cart for an imperially impressive Scandinavian flagship crossover SUV made by the peninsula’s last volume luxury carmaker: the Volvo XC90.

 

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WHAT: 2018 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription AWD flagship luxury sport utility vehicle, into 2nd MY replacing ancient 13 year old 1st generation P2 platformed XC90 Classic.

Standard Power (T5): transverse intercooled turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 250 hp/ 258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm + 8-spd. torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + (optional) Haldex IV all-wheel drive.

Optional Power (T6): transverse intercooled supercharged, turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 316 hp/ 295 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm + 8-spd. torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + Haldex IV all-wheel drive.

A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The 1st Volvo vehicle to sit atop the Geely Volvo Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) modular platform. It replaces a first generation XC90 which, though trendsetting at it’s launch, was overdue for a remake at a ripe old age of 10 years.

Grille-ing Lesson: Low slung hoodline, accented by split creased side valleys, flowing into low rise concave vertical slat hexagonal grille;  Inboard arrow shaped slim wrap-around LED headlamps; “Thor’s Hammer” alternating white DRLs/ amber flashers; Chrome trimmed lower front fascia corners filled with dark lattice work;  Low front corner LED foglamps;  Simulated brushed finish lower center skid plate;

High belt-line with beveled crease; Sharp raked windshield; Lower aluminum striped body cladding; Matching satin finish greenhouse bezel and roof rails; Door mounted wing mirrors for improved forward cornering view;  2nd Row doors “A” split windows; Smooth thin D-pillar followed by Hoffmeister kinked liftgate;

Deep and canted liftgate window; Long “S” LED tail-lamps outline rear kink; Thinner lower bumper cover with mid corner reflectors; Simulated brushed finish lower center skid plate;

Summed-up: As provocative as luxury fastback SUV’s without the garishness.

WHY: The luxury crossover SUV re-thought for the 21st Century.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Summer 2017

WHERE: Volvo new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Torslanda, Sweden

WHERE TO: available Haldex all-wheel drive, e-varies front/ rear traction from 90/ 10% – lockable at maximum 50/50%, rear e-clutch differential limits the slip; Selectable and Driver customizable Off-Road modes aided by ABS descent control; 8″ clearance = Inclement weather beater & light off-roader;

HOW ROADWORTHY: Drive-E = low speed crankshaft driven supercharging +higher speed exhaust waster gate turbocharging, each liquid intercooled, with brief turbo overboost = Always abundant shove; Delays in power delivery should be assigned to the 8-speed Aisin planetary transaxle laggard torque converter lock-up;

Credit Volvo for retaining a traditional rowing transmission selector lever over contemporary toggle types; Thor’s descendants hammered both aluminum twist-action ignition switch & barrel driver mode selector into modern art;

Haldex IV permits enough understeer before assigning up to 90% of torque to the rear wheels with vectoring; Disconcerting Concert: the engine utters in a domestic rather than wild feline vernacular.

A feather among 3-Row luxury crossover SUVs; E-adaptive damping smooths washboard wheel hop; Optional rear air-springs swallow most imperfections; However there is wallow in hard turns and dive in braking; Road feel is mostly left to the imagination;

Utterly reliable Pilot Assist 2 semi-autonomous Level 2 driving, offers competent lane control even on freeway bends; Short brake pedal travel is countered by inconsistent modulation, not helped by single piston sliding disc calipers;

HOW FAR: 22 combined miles per gallon; 500 highway miles

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: 5 Occupant 2+3 seating; Optional Row 3 = +2 adults around town, early teens on trips;

For Comparison’s Sake:

  • 117.5″-inch Wheelbase ≈ Audi Q7;
  • LxWxH: 4.7″ <, 2.8″ <, 1.4″ > Audi Q7
  • Maximum cargo capacity: 20% > Audi Q7
  • 1st/ 2nd/ 3rd Row legroom: 0.8″ <, 1.1″ <, 1.2″ > Audi Q7

HOW USEFUL: 40/20/40 split 2nd Row w/ flat fold seat backs; 50/50% split folding Row 3; Integrated 2nd Row Booster seat;

Cargo area 12V outlet; Mouse-fur lined, damped action glove box; +1 Above segment average cargo capacity  Power liftgate; Sub-cargo floor management;  Cargo area power load height adjustment; Split sliding 2nd Row seat cushions; Flat folding 40/20/40% split 2nd Row tilting seatbacks; dual 3rd Row storage bins; +1 View from tall greenhouse, low sloping hood and lower door mount wing mirrors; Tow Rating: 5000 lbs.

-1 Manual 2nd Row Seat back fold & cushion slide; -1 No 3rd Row remote power or cable folding; -1 Small door pockets; -1 Limited cockpit wireless device storage in shallow center armrest bin; –1 No overhead console sunglass bin; -1 Distant reach to smaller glove box;

HOW SAFE: 10 airbags; IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; Bird’s Eye view Rear camera; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control, Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning, Auto parking brake hold;  City Safety pedestrian avoidance; Auto high beam headlamps; Heads-Up display

Partial Autonomous Driving: Pilot Assist 2; Full-adaptive cruise control; Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision avoidance braking;  Active Park Assist; +1 Permits 23 seconds of hands/ foot free driving.

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Heated, cooled, 12-way power front seats, w/ torso bolsters & knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; Massaging front seat backs and cushions;  4 power windows w/ full up/ down express; 4-Zone auto climate control w/ auto front seat heating/ cooling, steering wheel heating; 2nd Row door manual sunshades; Power retracting rear headrests; Door puddle lamps x 4; Panoramic power moon-roof; +1 Cocooning, cradling fatigue eliminating seats; -1 Manual tilt/ telescoping steering wheel;

Cool Gizmo(s): 9.2″-inch LCD Digital Drive Display w/ configurable LCD twin gauges Aft front center console 2-Zone 2nd Row climate & seat heating LCD haptics touch controls.

Details Done Right: Aluminum inlays & switch-gear; Linear open-pore walnut wood veneers & center console bin shades; Contrast stitched, perforated Nappa & Nubuck leather seating, upper door panels & dash-top; grab-handles & headliner; Full dashboard & door panel ambient LEDs; Two-tone leather helm; B&W Nautilus dash top aluminum bullet tweeter speaker – Yellow Kevlar door speakers glare through aluminum covers.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Light grey mesh cloth headliner;

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: 9″ vertical tablet-style, pane-swipe, touch LCD infotainment screen, Script text entry;  Rotary audio volume dial, selection, defroster & Home screen switches ; Voice recognition command hands-free communications; 3-D HDD GPS navigation; Subscription based Sirius XM radio & TravelLink; Sparkling sibilant, taut 19 speaker, 1400 Watt Bower & Wilkins audio; Android Auto + Apple CarPlay;  Sensus Connected Apps: 12V x 3; -1 USB x 1 (2 less than in S90 sedan!!)

HOW MUCH: $72,805 = as tested 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

WHAT’S MISSING: Improved exhaust sound, 2nd Row USB ports; Remote 3rd Row seat folding releases.

ANY COMPETITION: Acura MDX: +1 V6, value, reliability; Audi Q7: +1 turbo V-6, handling, cabin IT; Infiniti QX60: +1 V6, 3rd Row access & space; Lexus RX350 L: +1 Value, reliability; Mercedes-Benz GLS 450; +1 turbo V-6, Level 2.5 autonomous driving, cabin space;

FINAL WORD: Chariot fit for Thor, his kids: Magni, Modi, Thrud, his wife, Sif, and his folks: Odin & Frigg.