In the words of that spiky-coiffed British rocker Rod Stewart: “You wear it well.” Stewart didn’t know it at the time, but he could have been crooning about Volvo’s ever-young XC90 SUV.
Hard to believe that this three-row, rugrat-hauler arrived on the scene way back in 2015. See it today, and it still looks as fresh and flawless as a Christie Brinkley or Jen Aniston.
Back then, it was hard not to be wowed by the XC90’s sleek and simple Scandinavian design, with all those defining features like the Thor’s Hammer headlights, the cascading rear lights, and distinctive grille.
The tall-bodied Volvo wasn’t just a pretty face. Seven years ago, the XC90 was light years ahead of the game when it came to engine downsizing.
Back then, it only came with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines that boosted their power courtesy of turbocharging and supercharging, plus a high-output electric motor for hybrid efficiency.
Fast forward to now and I’ve just spent a blissful week in the company of Volvo’s newest XC90 flagship, the 2022 T8 Recharge, priced from $73,195, or $84,095 very nicely loaded.
As for that Recharge name, Volvo is making things just a little confusing here by using the title for both its PHEV gas-electric plug-in hybrids, as well as its fully electric models.
Right now, the full-electrics are limited to the compact XC40 crossover and its C40 coupe-like sibling. But that’s going to change dramatically with Volvo’s commitment that half its model lineup will be all-electric by 2025, and fully electric by 2040.
Until there’s an all-electric XC90, this latest T8 Recharge makes a fine alternative, with its focus on feisty performance and fuel-sipping efficiency.
For 2022, it actually ditches the supercharger element, sticking only with turbocharging. But some clever tuning increases the power of that 2.0-liter four-cylinder by 55 horsepower to a muscular 455 horsepower.
Added to all this is a more powerful electric motor at the rear, juiced by a bigger 18.8kWh battery pack. Not only does this add 143 horsepower to the mix—up from 87 horsepower—but it also nearly doubles the electric-only range of the big Volvo to 36 miles.
Now, most owners whose daily driving mainly consists of commuter runs to the office (remember those?), school drop-offs, or grocery shops, will rarely hear the XC90’s gas motor fire-up.
The only negative here is that, for now, the Volvo isn’t compatible with DC fast-charging. So, no quick top-ups while you top-up with a Starbucks.
But all this extra oomph really does make this big, family-friendly Volvo a blast to drive when electricity meets gasoline power.
Step on the “gas” when red light turns to green and the XC90 moves quicker than a New York bag snatcher. The 0-to-60mph sprint now takes a mere 4.5 seconds, with acceleration out of a freeway on-ramp, or past lumbering 18-wheelers being equally rapid.
And this high fun factor is aided and abetted by the Volvo’s rapid-fire-shifting eight-speed automatic controlled by that quite-stunning crystal-glass shifter on the center console.
On the road, the XC90 is a super-refined cruiser, with only a hint of four-cylinder engine “drone” under hard acceleration.
Inside, the XC90 is just as brilliantly designed and equipped as
it has always been. You sit in the most-comfy, most-supportive front seats ever created—no exaggeration— and gaze at a sea of chalky-white perforated leather and sleek, open-pore wood.
Yes, that third row is best suited for the kids, but fold it and the middle-row flat and enjoy a load space capable of swallowing a mountain of IKEA flat packs.
Of course, the XC90 Recharge is a stepping-stone to Volvo’s electrified future and is being overshadowed almost daily by the new crop of all-electric SUVs coming to market.
But until that happens, here is still the best-of-the-best, mid-size hybrid crossover you can buy. Just ask Rod.