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Volvo XC90 Performance

Test drivers report that the redesigned 2016 Volvo XC90's engine provides ample power, and its transmission is smooth and responsive. They add that T8 plug-in hybrid models feel even more powerful. Reviewers say the XC90 feels well-controlled through turns, and its steering is quick. They're also impressed with its strong, responsive brakes. The XC90's fuel economy estimates are excellent for a midsize SUV.

  • "Married to a polished eight-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive, the T6 delivers the no-drama, easygoing authority that you'd expect from a brand that's more closely aligned with comfort than sport." -- Car and Driver
  • "Both the T6 and T8 versions were surprisingly capable on the road. With predictable and responsive steering, the XC90 never behaved like the big SUV it is." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2016 Volvo XC90 moves a notable step beyond the vehicle it replaces on every dynamic level. Matching a lighter but stronger SPA structure with a new double-wishbone-front/multilink-rear chassis setup tuned to deliver a sportier character with better overall isolation, the new XC90 is more nimble, responsive and controlled whether you're under cruising down a freeway or negotiating of bit a twisty 2-lane." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The thoughtful, non-traditional aesthetic is mirrored in the driving experience as well, and in a way that stays true to the brand and the buyer of the brand. Said another way, I've always appreciated how Volvo cars blend good power with confident, but not knife-sharp handling, and really reasonable levels of noise, vibration and harshness in the cabin - not the most sporting members or respective classes, but not slouchy either. That's all true of this XC90." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The redesigned 2016 Volvo XC90 comes equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine that reviewers agree is strong, drawing comparisons to the power output of some larger V6 engines. The all-new T8 plug-in hybrid is powered by the same engine, along with an electric motor, and automotive journalists report that it's even quicker. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that reviewers say shifts seamlessly and quickly. The XC90 gets an EPA-estimated 20/25 mpg city/highway, which is impressive for the class. According to Volvo, plug-in hybrid models have an electric-only range of up to 35 miles. When using both gas and electric power, Volvo estimates that the XC90 plug-in hybrid has a combined fuel economy rating of 50 mpg.

  • "We'll forgive the spin because the new engine delivers. It's both supercharged and turbocharged and suffers virtually no lag. The T6 accelerates to 62 mph in a factory-measured 6.5 seconds, not bad for a 4,600-pound crossover. The even heavier T8 gets there in 5.9 seconds." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "On the road, the T6 is as quiet as a church mouse, with no spooling up or turbine sounds out of the engine's turbocharger or supercharger. The diminutive 2.0-liter 4-cylinder behaves like a 3.5-liter V6 with ready torque across the engine speed range, and there are more than enough gears to handle any driving situation." -- AutoTrader
  • "The transmission shifts through the eight gears almost imperceptibly, without lingering in any gear longer than needed, and it takes very little time to get the large SUV up to speed." -- AutoWeek
  • "There's no in-gear passing power, so even modest acceleration starts with a pause as the gearbox shifts down and boost builds." -- Car and Driver
  • "In the default Comfort mode, the power feels just more than adequate for the size and bulk of the vehicle, but dial into Power mode, and it comes alive. The power curve builds steeply as revs increase, and the transmission smartly and smoothly swaps gears along the way. The all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels, is invisible to the driver as it routes power to the ground as conditions require." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Auto writers say the fully redesigned Volvo XC90 offers a comfortable ride and composed handling around corners. The steering is quick and offers good road feedback, they add. Reviewers are very pleased with the XC90's brakes, noting that they're strong, with good pedal feel and are responsive on both gas-powered and hybrid models. All-wheel drive is standard on the XC90.

  • "The cabin remains blissfully silent on the highway and the ride quality is both compliant and reassuring. Our ultra-smooth Spanish test roads weren't adequate for testing the SUV's abilities, so we sought rougher pavement and dirt roads. Even then, the XC90 remained poised and confidently tethered." -- Edmunds
  • "Where the wide highways of my test drive tuned to mountain climbing roads, the XC90 acquitted itself decently, with quicker than average steering and reasonable roll control. Don't misunderstand me, there's not a lot of joy to be found by pushing hard on switchbacks, but my guess is that the crossover/SUV set will find the driving style 'fun enough' by some margin." -- Autoblog
  • "At 4,581 to 5,165 lbs (depending on configuration), the XC90 is no lightweight, but it handles nicely, thanks to a new suspension setup. Optional air suspension improves the handling even further. Variable assist electric power steering provides excellent road feel. I liked the way that steering effort increased with speed, which allowed for extremely stable performance on the highway." -- Forbes
  • "Powerful, easy-to-modulate brakes further instill confidence at speed. The T8 is particularly impressive considering it's constantly blending regenerative and friction braking." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The steering stays relatively light at high speeds, but there is a reassuring feeling of stability, with the road surface filtering through to our fingertips to a comfortable degree. The new electric power-steering system is nicely weighted, and it transfers the weight of the car around in a manner that's easy to predict." -- AutoWeek
Review Last Updated: 6/1/15

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