By Birgitta Lauren
Had the pleasure of being treated to an all-day red carpet presentation and road test driving to cover the rebirthing of the VOLVO brand and launch of their brand new SUV the XC90. We drove both the T6 and the T8, the latter being a hybrid.
Birgitta ready for her test drive of the Volvo XC90.
Registration included Swedish car candy "bilar", smörgårdsbord breakfast, and a full detailed technical presentation at 7 am of the T6 before a pre-arranged gorgeous course test drive from Santa Monica, via Malibu, through Santa Barbara to Ojai on some of the most beautiful coast line, citrus orchards and vineyards before lunch in the midst of orange trees, at the Twin Peaks Ranch... They really knew how to make our drive as spectacular and vacation like, as was possible. Drivingback took us through mountainous country roads with incredible views. Who knew we had such beautiful roads here in Los Angeles? I need to explore some more... Back in Santa Monica there was another presentation of the T8 hybrid plug-in, with all its special functions, before we drove it around Brentwood, through Pacific Palisades, Malibu and back again. Finishing the day at the Swedish Austere showroom, downtown LA for dinner, “allsång med nubbe” and more show and tell of all the “firsts” features of these VOLVO SUVs, including self-parking....
Launching the XC90 will put Volvo in competition with the BMW i8, Tesla X coming in November, GL Mercedes and Q7 Audi. It has all the size, comforts, luxury of those large SUVs, and base price tag starting at $48,900 for the T6 and $68,100 for the T8 plug-in of their competition but Volvo will have the first 7 seater plug-in.
It is practical like a Volvo must be, but the smoothest ride, with very light tap on the gas pedal; you itch to floor it… as you can feel the power of a large heavy SUV and the potential speed… yet it feels like silk, with easy light steering and wheel maneuvering. Acceleration from 0-60 MPH is 6.1 seconds for the T6 and 5.3 sec in the T8.
The VOLVO XC90 surpasses the driving experience of the Mercedes, and Audi SUV’s. The XC90 is the most fuel economical SUV getting 20/25 m/g, the T8 also gets at least 15-20 miles on pure electricity and has 6 different modes to drive in, PURE electric driving, HYBRID (a little of both), POWER (best performance), SPORT drive, AWD for off road, and SAVE for extra energy saving. So no matter where you are and how you prefer to drive, you can find the perfect driving mode.
Volvo new technology gives it newfound power; some 400 HPs from a 4 cylinder engine feels like a super smooth V8. The cushy seats are custom adjustable under the knees, along your sides and for your lumbar curve for extra comfort. The AWD is designed to prevent spinal injuries when driving off road thanks to VOLVO’s research, the LG battery is placed in the middle of the chassis where the prop shaft normally go for better safety, with the electric motor on one end and gasoline motor on the other. It has a large flat touchscreen almost as large as the Tesla with a 19 speaker sound system and the Gothenburg Orchestra downloaded. You can even work it with your gloves on. It features “over the air” updates, Apple CarPlay (Google Android is coming next year), birch wood paneling, roll control and a dozen sensors to prevent accidents, 360 degree camera system, and of course Volvo’s integrated child booster cushion that is booth elevated and pulls forward for closer access to the driver, celebrating its 25th anniversary and has some 30,000 preorders. The T6 model will be available in July and the T8 in October.
My favorite “Swedish touch” of the T8 XC90 Volvo was the Orrefors crystal shift knob that with just a light finger tap shifted gears. The foot trunk opening feature is super practical, and for dog owners it has the first built-in pet cage option for the trunk. The doors open every time, although I didn’t dare attempt the self-parking Park assist feature…. Besides that would take the fun out of parking… Otherwise, the Volvo XC90 is a superior driving experience with many innovative solutions, new technology in safety features, power, speed and driving experience, and in the ultimate of luxury from Sweden. The pride and love for their work and cars showed in the executive Volvo team assembled here in Los Angeles. It is a testament to the new owner’s management of giving the Volvo team total freedom to make the best cars possible. At $69,095 for the hybrid, it’s still much less than the coming Tesla X, BMW i8, and Mercedes GL550, but the latter is not a hybrid. The Volvo XC90 will be a tough SUV to beat.
Test drive and article by Birgitta Lauren for Swedish Press.
All photos © Volvo