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Volvo XC90: Head of the Class

September 2014, by Tariq Kamal - Also by this author

Volvo’s first SUV made its North American debut in the 2003-MY and wasted no time in collecting industry awards, devoted families and a significant presence in the fleet market. After more than a decade in service, the first-generation XC90 will soon step aside in favor of a fully redesigned 2015 model.

The 2014 model’s range of available engines will coalesce into a single gasoline powerplant and, at some point, a plug-in hybrid. The new XC90’s 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged inline four is expected to deliver 316 horsepower (hp).

The plug-in version will up the ante to 400 hp by combining the 2.0 with an electric motor that will engage the rear wheels. A diesel powerplant and additional gasoline engines are rumored to be in the works, but those options could be confined to overseas markets.

The new car’s exterior and interior have been completely overhauled. The grille retains its predecessor’s oversized badge and diagonal slash but takes on an upright, “waterfall” appearance. T-shaped daytime running lights bisect the headlights horizontally, creating the impression of sleepy, half-closed eyes.

Specs for the 2015 Volvo XC90.
Specs for the 2015 Volvo XC90.

The OEM describes the cabin as the most luxurious design for any Volvo. Soft wood and leather surround hyperfuturistic, button-free controls, a tablet-style, high-definition touchscreen and an Orrefors-brand crystal-glass gear lever. New seats were designed to free up legroom for second- and third-row passengers, while a 19-speaker sound system and air-ventilated subwoofers keep their feet tapping.

An Urban Luxury package will add polished 21-inch wheels and color-coordinated stainless-steel details and front and rear skid plates; the Rugged Luxury kit will feature 22-inch wheels, matte black exterior trim, illuminated running boards, integrated exhaust tips and stainless steel skid plates.

The new XC90 wouldn’t be a Volvo without a fleet manager’s ransom in active and passive safety features. Two new systems will prevent drivers from running off the road or turning in front of an oncoming vehicle.

The OEM says the latest version of its CitySafe automatic braking system will be able to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in daylight and at night by the time the 2015 models hit the streets.

The 2015 Volvo XC90 is due in showrooms sometime next spring. Prices are expected to start in the $42,000 range to remain competitive with the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.

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