A good car is one that makes its purpose clear and then lives up to what it says it will do without disappointment. By this measure, the Volvo XC90 is a good car. More than any other seven-seater, the XC90 excels at being a comfortable, practical, desirable family wagon.
It needs to be. The new model replaces a much-loved first-generation car that sold for twelve years. Since its 2003 launch, the original XC90 found 15,000 Australian buyers, with Volvo selling more than two hundred a month at the 2007 peak.
Even for a European car, twelve years is an age between models. The new XC90 has been in development for half a decade. A major delay resulted from Ford’s sale of Volvo to the Chinese conglomerate Geely, in 2010. A 2013 release ballooned to a September 2015 launch.
Concerns about quality under the Chinese haven’t been realised. Instead, Geely have been overseen Volvo’s resurgence, pouring funding into the brand’s fledgling Scalable Product Architecture, the modular platform underpinning the next wave of Volvos, including the XC90.
The result is impressive. The XC90 is Volvo’s first pitch out of the premium class into the luxury segment. Specification is up, but pricing shifts accordingly: the new base model, called Momentum, leaves little change from $100,000. That’s more-or-less identical to a four-cylinder BMW X5 with seven seats, though it’s the Volvo that is more comfortable and generously equipped. And once it arrives later in the year, Volvo will ask about $130,000 for a fast petrol-electric engine.
Key specs (as tested)
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Volvo XC90 2023: patent images suggest facelift; ‘EXC90’ electric variant to be sold alongside Embla
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