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A slight refresh of Volvo's big and blocky XC90

October 19th, 2019 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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The XC90 has been around since 2015 or so, and merited a little refreshing. Which is what it got on the 2020 MY version which arrived here in early summer.

The style of Volvo’s biggest SUV is unashamedly massive. Hewn from a block is the thought. Big is the reality. It leads all its competitors in length, except the Range Rover. Against that it is a tad shorter, a bit less wide.

It is impressive. The distinctive headlights, with the split ‘Thor Hammer’ covers, the big grille with the trademark Volvo ‘iron’ motif showing large. There’s a ‘don’t tangle with me, I can chew you up’ attitude, if a car can have its own attitude.

When first introduced, it represented a new style theme for the Swedish maker, which has been serving it well since being rolled out in other models.

They didn’t figure on needing much for the mid-life refresh in style terms, so there’s some tweaking to the grille, new wheel designs, and a couple of new paint colours.

Not much done with the already classy interior, either. It has always had a dash design and layout that would be overkill to try and improve at this time. But you can now order three seating options, 5, 6 or 7-seat variants. The 6-seat gives two people in the centre row absolutely executive space. A new buyer does need to think hard about who their passengers will be over the next five or seven years.

I picked my review car up in the pouring rain after a couple of flights in from, coincidentally, Stockholm. Its height helped it stand out in the airport car park, for which I was grateful. I was happy, too, for the heated seats which Volvo has always provided, for the obvious climatic reasons in its home country.

The grade was R-Design, mid-range. It gives some extra detailing outside and in to suggest a more sporty feel. The grille goes black with a silk finish surround.

There are special door mirror caps, and window trim. The roof rails are black. The dual tailpipes have their own distinctive shape. Inside are special seats with extra support, aluminium pedals, and scattered R-Design motifs. There’s also a charcoal headlining, and some metal mesh decor.

There’s padded leather in abundance on the centre console, and on the dash. We’re used to the portrait format screen with iPad-style flicking between different sections. The ‘bird’s eye view’ while parking is the best in the business, thanks to high-resolution cameras and screen.

My review car had the improved 2.0 diesel powertrain, with a mild hybrid system on the 235hp unit recovering energy while braking, lowering the overall emissions. The 8-speed automatic and AWD option are standard with the review version.

It proved exceptionally quiet and smooth, and if you wanted punch it was there, but never sounded it.

This a big cruiser for the big family or other group, though they have to carry the relevant fat wallets to buy into the space.

I was curious to see would the actual fuel consumption match up with the WLTP figures offered with the car. It did, at the upper 7.5L/100km end, which I figure highly efficient for such a big car. I’d have probably got better if I’d been able to give it a few long runs, but my own time was unfortunately limited because of travel needs that week.

It would be nice if the XC90 could fly too!

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