Recharging in the Volvo XC90 PHEV

by Petrol Mum

Volvo is guided by the purpose of providing freedom to move in a personal, sustainable, and safe way. This purpose is now more important than ever with many people looking at their vehicle not just as a mode of transportation, but as an extension of their whole life.

A recent survey by Allianz showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic Australians have been using their cars as a quiet place to relax away from house, to concentrate or take work conference calls or for escaping from the kids and family. Plus there was an added feeling of being safe from infection while travelling in our cars.  

Having a vehicle that you can tailor to your individual preferences certainly makes a huge difference when you are spending so much more time in it. The Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in hybrid certainly has this covered with many aspects of the interior being configurable from the 12.3” driver digital display, head-up display to the perfect driving position.

The front seats have power adjustment in every direction with three memory positions to save your ideal setting. My XC90 had the optional Nappa Leather Perforated Comfort seats with ventilation ($2,950), so I could enjoy heated and cooled seats. The cooling worked as well as most of the other vehicles I have driven with this feature, which is not all that well. The seat heating can also be combined with the excellent massage function for an all-round relaxation experience. There are five massage settings to choose from including Swell, Tread, Advanced, Lumbar or Shoulder and for each of these you can select your intensity and speed.

Want some music to further extend the personal relaxation experience? Your media options include FM, DAB, Bluetooth, USB or iPod and the sound is excellent from the premium Bowers and Wilkins sound system that has a total of 1400W delivered to 19 separate high-end speakers including two automotive innovations: a unique open-air sub-woofer and a tweeter-on-top centre speaker. This system allows you to select your preferred sound experience as well. Would you like Studio, Individual Stage, Concert or Jazz Club? Either played though all the speakers, just the fronts or just the rears; great if you are trying not to wake sleeping children in the back of the vehicle.

This is all controlled via the configurable central 9” vertical touch screen display that allows full Smartphone connectivity, Internet connectivity and in-car web apps. Charging for your Smartphone can be done via the wireless charging pad in front of the cup holders, the two USB ports under the arm rest or the 12V outlet at the front of the centre console. The Sensus Navigation System can be accessed through the touch screen or with voice control. But the voice control was not working on my XC90 and this was because of the type of key I was using, more on that further on.

Overall the XC90 cabin is a relaxing place to be thanks the materials used and the colour palette that has been applied. The steering wheel is lovely to hold and has a clean design and I liked that the voice control button had an androgynous face on it rather than a masculine-looking face like many other car brands.

Seating flexibility is another aspect where the XC90 offers a high degree of personalisation with the second row having a 40/20/40 split folding mechanism and the option to move each seat forward and back individually. This increases space because the passenger’s shoulders are not touching and may allow three car seats to be installed. The second row has two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points and the centre seat has a built in booster seat as well. The booster is suitable for children at least 97cm tall and between 15-36kg, but it is quite firm to sit on according to my children and would be only comfortable for short journeys.

With the second row seat fully back there is enough head and leg room for two adults to comfortable sit here, but it does get a bit tight for leg room if you need to sit forward to accommodate a third row seat passenger. The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two small drink bottle holders in it and there storage in the door cubbies for larger drink bottles. To keep the sun out of the eyes of young children there are built-in manual blinds on the windows.

The optional Climate Pack ($600) fitted to the XC90 I drove meant the two outer second row seats were heated as well (also includes heated windscreen washers and heated steering wheel). This XC90 comes standard with four-way climate control meaning second row passengers can set their own individual temperatures with central air vents and vents in the B-pillars as well. The previous issue I had with the XC90 relating to the noise from the rear air speed did not occur this time. There are two USB ports under the central vents and I liked that there was a permanent rubber mat over the transmission tunnel to prevent carpet wear from children constantly trampling over it.

To access the third row you have to manually fold the second row seat forward and pull the lever on the shoulder of the seat to lay it forward and this means that the seat could not have a car seat installed on it. There is a plastic step for where you tread to get into the third row and a removable carpet mat covering the foot well area for easy cleaning. The third row seats do not have any child seat restraint points and there is not enough head or leg room for adults so they would be best suited for your tween-sized children.

The third row has air vents in the C-pillars and under the second row seats and with the large back windows it doesn’t feel claustrophobic back there. There are drink bottle holders and a storage area on the rear wheel arches, but no USB points.

With the third row seats in place there is enough room in the boot for five school bags or a small weekly shop. It’s also worth mentioning that when the third row seats are in use the cargo cover needs to be removed and if it is kept in the boot it takes up a lot of room. So if you are going to use the third row seats permanently it would be best to leave it in the garage.

For a much larger boot area that will accommodate a pram and the weekly shop, the third row seats can be lowered and if required the second row seats can also be laid completely flat. Being Volvo there are of course plenty of thoughtful details in the boot as well like the fold up partition that would prevent your grocery bags from falling over or the shallow storage area under the boot floor where the cargo net is stored. The cargo net can either be installed behind the second row seats or front row seats and the boot has four tie down points as well to securely store luggage.

The boot has gesture open and close, which is great for when you have your hands full, and it can also be opened/closed from the key fob, using the buttons on the boot or the button in the front of the cabin. The rear of the XC90 can also be raised and lowered using buttons in the boot to make it easier for you to reach in.  

From a sustainability perspective, the XC90 is powered by a four-cylinder 2.0 litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor. The internal combustion engine has 246kW of power and 440Nm of torque. With the electric motor adding 65kW and 240Nm on top of that and enables 32km of pure electric driving when the battery is fully charged. There is ample shove too meaning this 2,300kg+ SUV will do 0-100km/h in just 5.5 seconds. There are multiple drive modes to choose from including constant AWD, Pure Eco Drive, Hybrid Everyday Use and Polestar Engineered. I spent most of my time in Polestar Engineered meaning I was never going to achieve the official combined fuel use figure of 2.1L/100km.  My use for the two weeks I drove the XC90 was 9.7L/100km and this is almost 3.0L/100km better than the petrol-only XC90 I previously drove.

By 2025 Volvo are aiming for 50 percent of the cars they sell to be pure electric, and the rest hybrids and by 2040 they aspire to be climate-neutral across their full value chain, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The safety features of Volvo vehicles is well renowned and these were abundant on the XC90 I drove. The comprehensive Intellisafe Assist system has Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) including Pilot Assist , Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake including Queue Assist; Lane Keeping Aid, Distance Alert, Speed Limiter function. The Intellisafe Surround system includes Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision Warning and Emergency Brake Assist. This is combined with the 360o view reversing camera and 360o sensors.

My XC90 also had a striking orange key fob, which designated that this key was a Care Key. This key enables owners to pre-set and lock in the top speed of their car before the driver gets behind the wheel. The technology is designed to reduce the risk when handing the keys to relatives who may be less familiar with the car, or to younger drivers who are less experienced behind the wheel. It may also be the reason I was not able to use the voice control as previously mentioned and this is something Volvo are looking into.

Plus there are safety systems that hopefully you will never have to use like City Safe that has Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection and Intersection Collision Mitigation and Brake.  Passive safety includes Frontal Airbags, Driver Knee Airbag, Side Impact Protection System with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash Protection System. The XC90 has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and with a score for passenger safety of 37.0 out of 38 (97%) for adult occupant safety and 43.0 out of 49 (87%) for child occupant safety.

All new Volvos now come with a five year/unlimited km warranty, which includes 24 hour road side assistance. The Hybrid battery has an 8-year warranty and like all lithium batteries, the ones used by Volvo will experience gradual capacity loss with time and use. Loss of battery capacity due to or resulting from normal gradual capacity loss is not covered under the Volvo new car warranty.

You can purchase an upfront service plan that covers scheduled servicing for the first three years or 45,000km, whichever comes first and for the XC90 this costs $1,500 or a plan that covers the first five years or 75,000km is $2,500.

The Volvo XC90 range starts at $90,990 and the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid starts at $114,990 and as tested the XC90 I drove was $120,715 (all of these prices exclude dealer delivery and on-road costs). Volvo vehicles have both a safe physical and mental space for people to recharge in thanks to the driving environment Volvo have engineered and the overall company philosophy they have implemented. Visit your preferred Volvo dealer to learn more.

ProsCons
A relaxing driving experienceLack of leg room in second row when third row is in use
The vehicle safety systems Voice control did not work with Care Key
Added boost from the electric motorLimited dealer network

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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