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March 23, 2020

Interior design and technology – Volvo XC90

Launched in 2015 – and subtly refreshed last year - the second-generation Volvo XC90 comes teeming with semi-autonomous and connected car features. Continuing QUBE/just-auto's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this family all-rounder SUV.

Launched in 2015 – and subtly refreshed last year – the second-generation Volvo XC90 comes teeming with semi-autonomous and connected car features.  Continuing QUBE/just-auto's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this family all-rounder SUV.  

There are three trim levels to choose from: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. Our press review R-Design arrived with a number of optional treats, including panoramic sunroof, Parking Camera 360-degree Surround View and a winter pack (heated windscreen, steering wheel, washer nozzles and a headlight cleaning system). There is a pretty hefty price to pay for this equipment though. While an entry-level XC90 starts at around £53,000, the R-Design on test, including options, is just over £71,000.

Almost button-free cockpit

The tablet-style nine-inch touchscreen conveys the non-critical information. In making the distinction, Volvo calls this the 'now and whenever' approach, reflecting the importance of the information that is displayed. The touchscreen, flanked by a pair of vertical chrome air vents, can also be operated wearing gloves. The responsive screen is also used to set the radio, phone and navigation as well as pleasures such as the Bowers & Wilkins sound system.  Starting the engine requires just a twist of a quirky on/off switch located on the centre console.

The interior is cloaked in soft leather with handcrafted details such as diamond-cut controls for the start/stop button and volume control.

The leather seating is also easy on the eye, blending inlays with a perforated look and contrasting stitching. The second row features three individual seats that can recline. Seats in the third row are slightly centred to offer occupants a theatre-seat-inspired view forward. Second and third-row seats can be folded individually and liberate 1,868-litres of loading space when all folded flat.

Creature comforts

While the XC90 was the first Volvo to offer Apple Carplay integration, it is now also compatible with Android Auto. The Sensus infotainment system has gone through multiple updates in recent years, all of which have been adopted into this model.

The voice-activated control system works in tandem with the touchscreen. We used it to operate functions such as changing the cabin temperature, inputting an address in the sat-nav or changing radio stations. Although a little hit and miss, it generally worked fine.

Rear seat occupants will welcome the four-zone climate control during the summer months. A separate air-conditioning unit for the third row is standard or optional depending on the market.


Incorporated across the Volvo range is its 'Sensus Connect'. This cloud-based service allows the driver to find and pay for parking from the car, find a restaurant, stream favourite music and a few more things besides. The driver can also have text messages read out loud without removing their hands from the wheel.

Also falling under the auspices of Sensus Connect is Volvo On Call allowing drivers to communicate directly with their car via an app to lock, unlock, check fuel levels, locate and check the mileage on the car.  It is also possible to start the engine remotely using an app.

As part of Volvo's Sensus technology, In-car delivery is a relatively new service that allows online orders to be delivered directly to the boot of any Volvo. Using the carmaker's On Call service, In-car delivery allows single-time access for depositing items such as groceries or dry-cleaning in the boot of a parked car. It essentially turns a car into a preferred delivery address. And the S90 can be used as a wi-fi hotspot via an integrated modem and SIM card with mobile data allowance.

Advanced driver assistance systems

In terms of active safety technology, the XC90 now offers drivers help with steering on both the City Safety and the Blind Spot Information System. City Safety with Autobrake is still the only system on the market to recognise pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. The Oncoming Lane Mitigation system first introduced on the XC60 is now also available on XC90, while the Cross Traffic Alert technology now includes autobrake.

Parking assistance – parallel or perpendicular – is available on the flagship model. Such effortless parking manoeuvres are based on information from 12 ultrasonic sensors dotted around the car. The 360° surround view is enabled by four concealed fish-eye cameras – one cleverly integrated into the Volvo badge on the front grill, one integrated in each of the door mirrors and the other fitted above the rear number plate.  Aptiv supplies the camera and radar equipment.

On balance, we appreciate the minimalist interior and Scandinavian influences dotted across the cabin. The tablet-style touchscreen with a three-swipe menu system was simplicity itself to use complete with a shortcut home button. The effortless gear selector and powered tailgate also make it easy to live with.

And finally, it is worth noting that Volvo Cars reported a dip in sales momentum last month, with global volumes down 8 per cent, compared with the same period last year, as volumes were impacted due to continued sales pressure in China as a result of the coronavirus. Yet Volvo Cars' SUVs maintained steady growth with total SUV volumes reaching 27,518 cars sold, accounting for 69.2 per cent of the company's total sales. In February 2020, the XC40 was the top-selling SUV, followed by the XC60 and the XC90. Volvo Cars' Recharge line-up of chargeable Volvo models also saw an 88.4 per cent jump in February sales compared with the same period last year. Recharge is the overarching brand name for all chargeable Volvo models with a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain. The model year 2020 XC90 entered production in May 2019 at the Torslanda plant in Sweden.

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