2021 Volvo XC90 Review

2021 Volvo XC90 - The large, spacious 2021 Volvo XC90 AWD SUV Recharge T8 Inscription hybrid is easily driven.


Price: $69,750 to $81,890 (with options)

Pros: Luxurious. Roomy. Fast. Superb air suspension. Good handling. AWD. Off-road abilities. Safety features. Attractive options.
Cons: Tall entry. Awkward start/stop console control. Tight third-seat. Awkward start/stop engine control.

Bottom Line: Deftly designed luxurious, fast mid-size Crossover/SUV.

Volvo calls its popular XC90 a "crossover," but it's really a big, roomy all-wheel-drive hybrid SUV that competes with top SUVs, especially in Recharge T8 Inscription trim.

Many consider the XC90 to be attractive. It doesn't look ungainly, but most large SUVs are essentially a big box to provide the passenger and cargo room demanded by buyers. Bright chrome bars in the grille, chrome window trim and nifty dual integrated tailpipes liven things up here, along with the (optional) 21-inch multi-spike alloy wheels. But If you want a head-turner, get a classic low-slung 1954 Austin-Healey sports car.

A gas/electric power setup delivers 400 horsepower and 472 pound/feet of torque. The 0-60 time is a claimed 4.9 seconds. Whatever. It's definitely fast. This thing accelerates much like a big, awesome turbocharged Bentley sedan I drove several years ago. Top speed is said to be 140 m.p.h., but is held down to about 115 m.p.h.for U.S. driving.

The 8-speed automatic transmission adroitly handles the power delivery, and there are various driver-controlled modes, ranging from Constant AWD, Pure Electric, Hybrid Everyday and Power. Hybrid is the way to go most of the time. I didn't have a chance to drive off road with the AWD, but the XC90 AWD is said to do pretty well in the rough.

The firm steering is quick, and handling is remarkably good for such a tall (70-inch) high, 195-inch long vehicle. Roadability is helped by items including electronic stability control, large wheels and the AWD. I was surprised at fast I could drive through curving on-and off- freeway ramps with no tire squeal or annoying body lean.  

Of course, it predictably takes extra effort to climb in, and front doors are heavy. But all-around visibility then is good, and large outside power mirrors help driver visibility and fold in when the vehicle is parked.     
The 2021 XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription I tested had comfortable room for four 6-footers, or for 5 in a pinch-besides a third-row seat for several children or still-growing pre-teens.

The cargo room under the hands-free power hatch has a low, wide opening for those fast airport loads, and the third-row seatbacks can be flipped forward for more cargo room. They're heavy and thus call for extra effort to move.

The interior is downright lavish with top-quality materials. Its items include a fully digital gauge cluster, Nappa leather upholstery on heated/ventilated supportive front seats (second-row seats also are good), 4-zone climate control, easily used 9-inch coordinated touchscreen infotainment system, 12.3-inch digital driver display, USB ports, inductive smartphone charging, premium sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, (optional) heated steering wheel and a laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade. However, the start/stop engine console control can be awkward to use. Why not just a push-button start?

Other Inscription features on my test vehicle included option packages that added to the various base prices I kept encountering in my research, with a bottom-line price, including freight, of $81,890 on its Monroney label.

An $1,800 four-corner air suspension provided a cloud-like ride over poor road surfaces. It's easily worth the money. A $750 Climate package contained heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

It was no surprise that my Volvo XC90 Recharge TA Inscription was loaded with safety features. They included a blind spot information system with steering assist and cross-traffic alert with Autobrake, Pilot Assist with a driver assistance system featuring adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance and high speed collision mitigation, driver alert control, run-off road protection and run-off road mitigation, lane departure warning/lane keeping and "oncoming mitigation by braking." There also are front, side and curtain air bags.

In all,Volvo has done a fine job with this vehicle.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.