Buyer's Guide Drive and Review Luxury SUVs and Crossovers

(Go Flat Out Review) 2017 Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum: As Scandinavian As A Volvo Can Ever Be

If you are interested in purchasing a Volvo XC90 and other Volvos, scroll down to see more details. 

Volvo is a Swedish luxury car brand that has always been synonymous with safety in mind, bringing innovations such as the 3-point seatbelt we now use today. We’ve witnessed plenty of good looking cars from the Swedish brand, and as a matter of fact, many won’t argue that Volvo’s entire line-up are all blessed with good looks, and a great sense of sporty driving dynamics in their more youth oriented cars such as the V40, S60, V60 and XC60, while those that cater to an older demographic have a great sense of comfort, such as the S80 (now replaced by the S90) and this, the Volvo XC90. Unfortunately for Volvo, the brand has not enjoyed the massive attention that its German rivals receive, and maybe, just maybe, we believe the XC90 will finally lead Volvo to have the attention it deserves.

Exterior

The XC90 is the first Volvo that carries the brand’s new design language, and it’s a great looking one at that. Premiered by the Volvo Coupe Concept back in 2013, Volvo’s new design language has been designed to evoke contemporary Scandinavian design. It begins with the upright front design, which brings a more imposing face than the usually sleek competition with raked designs. The new face for Volvo also includes the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights embedded into the adaptive LED headlights, which evokes confidence and authority to any onlooker.  The hood dome has been enlarged, which brings aesthetic and more importantly, safety improvements, as it means that when the XC90 hits a pedestrian, the hood can serve as a cushion. The side profile is dominated by the typically wide shoulders that a modern Volvo usually carries, and at the back, typical with any Volvo SUV or wagon, LED tail lights follow the XC90’s bold rear silhouette.

Interior

The interior is a game of Swedish minimalism, where less clutter means more desirability. Volvo has pulled out all the stops when designing the interior. As a matter of fact, it was the interior that Volvo first revealed to the public weeks before the XC90’s global debut. The interior is richly made, with almost an absence of hard cheap feeling plastics, with every touch point  by plush soft touch plastics, leather, wood and/or aluminum. Everything feels solid and premium, and is truly deserving for a car of this caliber. The absence of buttons has meant that everything has been moved towards the large 9-inch touch screen, which is (literally) as big as an iPad Air’s screen. The seats, meanwhile, are really comfortable to sit in while stuck in EDSA on hours’ end. Volvo has a reputation for making some of the most comfortable seats of any car, period, and aiding its ergonomic design are a wide range of adjustments for both the driver and passenger. At the second row seats, the climate controls are located in the middle behind the front central armrest, which are not actually buttons, but capacitive touch points that continues the button-less interior theme of the Volvo XC90.

Space and Practicality

The Volvo XC90 has been designed as a true 7-seater SUV, which means that even the third row seats can fit 2 adults, and we believe them. While not spacious for our tall height (5 foot 10 and 5 foot 11), we wouldn’t mind sitting back here because space is decent, which means smaller adults or kids won’t have any complaints in the back. Volvo claims that the third row seats have been designed to sit 5 foot 7 tall people comfortable, and we won’t argue with them for that. Fold down the rear seats and you get a huge trunk to spare. There are plenty of storage spaces inside, and one neat thing about the glove box is that, it opens via a touch sensor when you swipe your hand across the aluminum trim on the dashboard, which, again, continues the button-less theme of the XC90’s interior. Space in the second row is excellent, with 3 full size adults feeling completely fine. There’s a small hump in the middle of the floor, but the outer footwells are so large, there’s enough space for everyone’s feet. Interior space is further aided by the large glass area, which brings in plenty of light, providing the occupants an airy feel.

Features and Safety

Immediately noticeable upon stepping into the vehicle is the large 12-inch TFT LCD gauge display, which is standard on all XC90 variants. Complimenting this LCD display is another large 9-inch LCD touchscreen system that houses the Volvo Sensus infotainment system. The tactile feel of the screen is similar to that of an iPad, complete with an oleophobic coating (which makes fingerprints easy to remove). Anyone who has used any high end tablet in their lifetime will treat the Volvo Sensus system as second nature. There’s little learning curve, as the swipe, pinch, and scroll gestures are unchanged from what one would experience in a tablet. The system comes equipped with Apple CarPlay, while Android Auto will soon be available. Apart from the multimedia systems, there’s electronic seat controls, trunk, automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive LED headlights, and more.

Being a Volvo, there’s plenty of safety kit as standard such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Warning, and Volvo’s City Safety, which is a standard feature on every single Volvo, but apart from these now garden variety advanced safety systems, Volvo has innovated a feature wherein the XC90 will put a lot of tension in the seatbelt in order to hold you in place if the vehicle detects the car going away from the road unintentionally. This continued innovation in the field of safety is part of Volvo’s goal of eliminating deaths in a new Volvo by 2020. Ditto to the small engine bay for such a large car, because this enables the XC90 to have a large front crash absorption structure, reducing the risk of death in a head-on collision.

Powertrain

The Volvo XC90 we have here is a D5 Momentum variant, in which the D stands for diesel. Don’t ask us on why it’s 5, because we don’t even have any idea why. The new XC90 is powered by a new plethora of Drive-E engines, and what we have here is a 2.0 liter twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine, which, on size, does not sound much, but due to the turbochargers, it produces a beefy 225 hp and a meaty 450 Nm of torque, which is sent via an 8-Speed Automatic through all four wheels. Want a large V8 engine for this large SUV? Look elsewhere. The fastest XC90 is a plug-in hybrid variant, which we don’t get here in the Philippines. The other engine option is a 2.0 liter Drive-E turbocharged and direct injected petrol engine.

How It Drives

Notice that throughout all the review, we’ve mentioned Sweden for quite a number of times. Instead of trying to be all German-like with its sporty but comfortable driving dynamics, or tire-shredding blistering performance, the XC90 steps back and does not pretend to be one. Instead, it’s a very comfortable SUV that, if you treat it correctly based on what type of vehicle it is, will reward you with such a wonderful driving experience. We prefer sporty and great handling cars regardless of category, but it’s refreshing to be able to enjoy driving a car in a relaxed pace this time. The overall theme for how this thing rides and drives is the practice of restraint. You won’t enjoy throwing this XC90 into hard corners, though body control is predictable, as the XC90 does not pitch and dive under hard braking or acceleration. The front uses a double wishbone suspension geometry, but the rear has a unique suspension set up. It employs a mutli-link geometry, but instead of coil springs, the multi-link suspension uses leaf springs. Sound archaic? Somehow, because leaf springs are what you’d typically find in heavy duty pick up trucks and commuter vans, but because of the suspension geometry, it is able to provide excellent ride characteristics, without feeling floaty. Plus, the rear suspension won’t sag as much if the XC90 is fully loaded with 7 people.

As this is pretty much a city drive, we are not able to fully evaluate how the car behaves out on an open stretch of road or highway, but luckily, we were able to test the XC90 in its different driving modes. In normal mode, in moments where overtaking is needed, some careful planning is needed, because the 2.0 liter diesel engine takes time for the turbos to spool up, and the 8-Speed Automatic does not help the case either. It’s a turbo engine, so there’s definitely some lag before the engine and transmission responds when suddenly mashing your foot. In normal driving situations, however, the engine and gearbox are well matched to deliver a smooth power delivery. Somehow curing the lag when suddenly making the XC90 launch forward is by switching the drive mode into Sport mode, however, Sport mode seems to be too touchy at times when driving in the city.

On The Downside

If a sporty SUV is what you’re after, then the Volvo XC90 is not your type of SUV. The BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne still remain the most dynamic choices, and if it’s image and presence that you’re after, the Range Rover Sport carries plenty more of it. While we’re on the subject of image, I find it odd not being able to see an image of what’s behind me in this XC90, because, ladies and gentlemen, this P6,495,000 large luxury SUV does not come equipped with a rear view camera. Okay, sure, it’s got plenty of sensors and a diagram in the Volvo Sensus screen to complement it, but if it’s something standard in some sub-P1 million vehicles, I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be standard in something that costs more than 6 times more. This are just nitpicking though, as I can live without the rear view camera, since the all around visibility is great, aided by the said plethora of sensors.

Verdict

Volvo has been chasing after the Germans by trying hard to be the Germans. While it’s great that many of their cars are good looking and sporty to drive depending on the model you’re choosing, it’s the Swedish values that make up a Volvo in the first place. We’ve been raised to be the best of ourselves, and the Volvo XC90 applies that human value we have been taught by our parents and teachers, and if the sales numbers and massive growth Volvo is experiencing overseas is any indicator of its success, then I think Volvo has nailed it with the new XC90. Too bad that Volvo has always been underrated here in the Philippines, because Volvo certainly deserves more attention in our market. It’s about time we’ve seen more Volvo XC90s in the streets of the Philippines, because the XC90 is one heck of a good large SUV that can carry 7 people in comfort and safety that only a Volvo can deliver.

More Photos

Price: P6,495,000

Our Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★★
Practicality:  ★★★★★
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★☆☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

Overall: 4.1 out of 5

Special thanks to Volvo Alabang for providing us the Volvo XC90 D4 Momentum. If you are interested in this Volvo XC90 and other Volvos, contact Glenn Janson for more information. 

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