Recharge. That’s the new name for the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid model we drove last year. Otherwise, the 2021 XC90 Inscription stays mostly as is, with some add-ons to standard features such as adaptive headlamps, front parking sensors and slight interior modifications. Nevertheless, it is an incredible ride for a potential six or seven-passenger luxury SUV buyer.
Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline-four turbocharged and supercharged engine, which cranks out an enormous 400 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 472 pounds-feet of torque at 5,400 rpm. A rear electric motor and a center-mounted 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery can take the midsize luxury crossover SUV nearly 18 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. The eight-speed auto gearbox in our all-wheel drive vehicle is sprightly in any untoward situation. And the start-stop feature (auto engine stop when the vehicle halts) ensures substantial savings in fuel and weight.
The stunning crossover shows off bright chromed bars in the grille with the familiar Volvo iron mark, flanked by LED headlights and Thor’s hammer-like daytime running lights. The substantial cabin conveys an upscale aura with a 12.3-inch instrument panel decked in shimmer graphite aluminum inlays. Adult passengers have ample space for leg and shoulder room in the two rear seats.
Volvo Sensus infotainment, with a distinct vertical, 9-inch display touch screen, is essentially made up of four tiles: navigation, media, phone and user-defined. Activate one and watch it expand while keeping the other tiles visible for future use. The tailored wool blend upholstery is a nice touch from the typical leather in most luxury vehicles. Standard amenities include two-zone auto AC, 10-way power front seats, leather tilt/telescopic steering wheel, panoramic moonroof, aluminum cargo scuff plate and hands-free power tailgate.
The Chinese-owned but Swedish-made car company is renowned for safety. Continuing the tradition, the XC90 gets dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, lane departure/keep aid, blind-spot information, cross-traffic alert, rear park assist and sensors, adaptive cruise control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, three-point seatbelts for all, side impact protection, dynamic stability and traction control, City Safety (brakes automatically to help prevent a rear-end collision) also gets steer assist, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
The nearly 5,000-pound XC90 is amazingly quick off the mark, supple in traffic and a dream to drive whether you are off-road or on bustling city streets. Truly, it is a remarkable mix of style and performance.