Many consumers would love to have the energy efficiency of a battery-electric vehicle, but the realities of life have them worried about range. This is especially true for families who take longer trips, or who might pull a trailer. To meet those needs, Volvo now offers its largest luxury SUV, the mid-size, seven-passenger XC90, with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. This model delivers the benefits of an EV for around-town driving, and the versatility of a gas-fueled SUV when needed.
The XC90 Recharge uses the same T8 hybrid drivetrain as past XC90 hybrids, offering 400 total system horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. This makes the hybrid XC90 by far the most powerful XC90 you can buy. With a full charge, you can expect about 18 miles of pure electric operation. That's enough to get most people to and from work without using any gasoline, and if you have a charging station at work, your EV range will be even farther.
The hybrid engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, while the rear wheels get their own direct-drive electric motor. The system combines to give you the traction and handling of AWD without a mechanical connection between the front and rear wheels. The XC90 is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds with this drivetrain, and you can load 1,210 pounds into the XC90 with the rear seats folded down.
But the XC90 is a luxury vehicle first. The 2021 model has every safety and convenience feature that Volvo offers, as well as supremely comfortable seats. You can get the seats heated and ventilated, of course, and automatic massage is an option. The seats are upholstered in fine leather, or you can get cloth according to your preference. In the second row, you can choose an adaptable three-across bench seat format or twin captain's chairs for a six-passenger model. The third row is smaller, seating two people.
Volvo's Sensus infotainment package is displayed on a nine-inch touchscreen mounted vertically, high in the center of the dash. The Sensus screen responds to horizontal and vertical swipe gestures to get you to the functions you need quickly and easily. It's a complex system, but it's easy to learn. Climate control features and vehicle settings are also accessed through the screen. In front of the driver, there's another screen that mirrors important information, and there's an optional head-up display that can be added as well.
On the road, the XC90 Recharge is delightful. It's a big SUV, but the hybrid drivetrain delivers the power where and when you need it. The ride is smooth, quiet, and comfortable. If you spend a lot of time in your vehicle, the XC90 will treat you right, especially if you opt for the massage package.
Finally, if safety is a concern, the XC90 is a Volvo, and among the safest vehicles on the road. A full set of advanced safety features is included. The bottom line on the XC90 Recharge is that it brings the best of modern EV technology together with a premium luxury SUV and gives you the best of both worlds.
2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge
Base price: $63,450
Price as tested: $75,490
Type: Mid-size SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter plug-in hybrid (400 hp, 472 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 55 MPGe, 27 MPG on gasoline
Overall length: 195 inches
Curb weight: 4,460 pounds
Final assembly: Gothenburg, Sweden
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.