Volvo XC90 Recharge: All part of the plan

2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge 1

What is it?

Hybrid technology is becoming a way of life in the automotive world and ranges from the everyday car to ultra luxury.

Somewhere in between lies Volvo and their hybrid SUV “Recharge” offerings.

The big ‘un, the seven seater XC90, is now partially electrified and available as a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEV.

It’s part of the Chinese owned Swedish brand’s move to a pure hybrid range over the next few years, starting from mid-2021.

Gone will be anything purely petrol, to be replaced by Plug-in Hybrid, petrol/hybrid and pure EV.

The brand will move to these drives for all vehicles, including the entry level XC40 SUV through to the top of the range XC90 Recharge as tested.

Volvo Australia has confirmed the current plans have a mild-hybrid (non-PHEV) S60 and V60, with the XC40 getting the three versions (mild-hybrid, PHEVand EV) — with XC60 and XC90 being the two hybrid options.

By 2030 the range is looking to be pure EV.

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What’s it cost?

Complete with a solid list of standard equipment and extras, it’s $114,990 or $120,715 driveaway.

A substantial list of options include a $600 Climate Pack, ideal for colder European climes, that heats the rear seat, steering wheel and front window washers.

The centre row headrests fold electrically and have a tag of $275, along with charcoal Nappa leather seats for $2950.

Metallic paint is comparatively expensive at $1900.

We say comparatively as similar sized vehicles from other brands we’ve driven are around a third of that ask.

It’s the standard equipment list that makes up for the rest of the price, including what Volvo is famous for — safety.

City Safe is the name Volvo gives their package and includes: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision Mitigation and Brake Support.

Intellisafe Assist comprises: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) including Pilot Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake (CWAB) including Queue Assist; Lane Keeping Aid, Distance Alert and Speed Limiter function. 

Intellisafe Surround is built around Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA) and Rear Collision Warning, and of course there are airbags aplenty.

 A nifty and, for many parents we’re sure, peace of mind addition, is the extra brightly coloured key fob that can be set as a speed limiter.

If Junior or Juniorette are parading their driving skills, the fob can intervene and limit their velocity to a preset parental determined limit.

This backs up Volvo’s self-declared safety initiative in locking in 180km/h as v-max.

A centre of dash touchscreen works like a tablet; swipe left, right or vertically for information, menus, and settings.

Unfortunately it’s a fingerprint magnet, and quickly at that.

It does, however, play host to smart apps like TuneIn and Spotify, plus houses the controls for the home theatre quality Bowers and Wilkins speakers.

Drive is engaged via Volvo’s crystalline look rotary switch in the console, with a drive mode rotary dial for Hybrid, Off-Road and Sport driving styles.

The Four-C Active Chassis suspension is airbag adjustable and the body visibly and physically moves when powered on and off, and when the off road mode is selected.

A driver LCD screen contains mainly dials for speed and the drive’s information, with fuel, battery level and expected range.

Roomy is what you’ll find when the doors are opened, especially for head room thanks to an overall height of 1773mm and front seat room of 1051mm. The third row is up to 923mm.

XC90 has changed in certain ways since the first model was released well over a decade ago, but there is still hints of the brand’s famous boxiness in the design.

This means shoulder room is also very good, with 1465mm and 1435mm for the front two rows.

Cargo space? You could fit a rock band, their equipment, roadies, and . . . ahem . . . accessories with room to spare.

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What’s it go like?

There is some serious hustle and bustle available for the XC90 Recharge.

Power is courtesy of a 2.0-litre petrol engine which is double charged — turbo- and super-charged that is.

Peak power is 246kW, while maximum torque is 440Nm and available from 2200 to 4500 rpm.

The sprint, and it really is a sprint, to 100km/h takes just 5.5 seconds.

The 8-speed auto is as fine as you’d need.

Backing this up is 65kW and 240Nm from the battery system.

Given a 2300kg plus weight when loaded up, there’s some performance available.

Economy then becomes the next part of the equation, with Volvo quoting 2.1L/100km from the 70.0-litre tank on a combined cycle.

HOWEVER . . . the battery is good, on a full charge, for just 35km.

In Europe that’s fine. In a city like Sydney, with the road system and stop-start suburban or long haul freeways, that 35km just isn’t enough.

The battery quickly depletes and is taken to a level that is just above empty.

There is a setting that allows the petrol engine to become a generator, topping up the battery as it also drives the car.

But, in any case, we still saw a quite respectable 6.4L/100km as our final figure.

Charging the battery is simple.

Open bag stored in the cargo section. Extract the two metre long charge cable. Press flap on front left fender. Press in the “nozzle”. Plug into mains power. Have several cups of tea. Press unlock on key fob. Remove cable. Pack away. Enjoy.

Ride quality has that somewhat artificial feel that airbags have.

It’s compliant enough but there’s that sense of something non-spring related that damps out the lumps and bumps.

Body motion is minimal but what there is has that mechanical feel, not the gentleness as such of springs compressing. 

The massive 22-inch diamond cut alloys are wrapped in Pirelli 275/35 P-Zero rubber, making for plenty of footprint on the road.

But that’s nitpicking in what is a truly delightful vehicle to drive.

Torque from the 2.0-litre T8 engine is stupendous, signalling other drivers it may wear a Volvo badge — but their days of being outrun by a snail are long gone.  

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What we like?

  • Volvo badge no longer means staid, pedestrian, average
  • Power plant gives a heavy SUV much needed pizzazz

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What we don’t like?

  • Battery range, for now, isn’t Aussie friendly
  • Slightly frightening costs for options

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The bottom line?

Although pricey and so off the radar for many, the fact Volvo has planted the Hybrid seed in its top of the range vehicle tells the story of their future.

The drivetrain is as flexible as you can get and powers or poodles the XC90 Recharge with equal aplomb.

And it’s kinda devilish fun to see the expression of other drivers as a 2.3 tonne Volvo flashes past. Safely, of course — it is a Volvo, of course.

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CHECKOUT: Volvo XC40 PHEV: Power for ‘bloody’ now

CHECKOUT: Promising start — Volvo puts the brakes on


Volvo XC90 Recharge, priced from $114,990
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 8.5/10
  • Safety - 10/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 8.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10