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2020 Volvo XC90 hybrid: A safety-focused luxury SUV with a touch of green Featured

Posted On Wednesday, 19 August 2020 01:27 Written by
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The 2020 Volvo XC90 hybrid, apart from its touchy infotainment system, has everything a family could want in a luxury SUV. The 2020 Volvo XC90 hybrid, apart from its touchy infotainment system, has everything a family could want in a luxury SUV. Photo courtesy of Volvo


As the inevitable, industry-wide move toward eco-friendly cars continues, all brands and all segments are getting into the green mode with more hybrids and electric offerings.

Volvo is on this bandwagon too, offering two SUVs in plug-in hybrid modes: The XC60 (mid-size) and XC90 (full-size).

I recently drove a 2020 Volvo XC90 hybrid and I’m back with a full report on what it has to offer for luxury buyers seeking the best high-end but environmentally friendly vehicle.

The XC90 hybrid I tested featured seating for 6 passengers, but you can also opt for a 7-seat version. Be aware though, that the third row is pretty small, and not for adults.

It features an attractive and comfortable interior that all families will enjoy. From the sharp wood inlays that accent the design, to the high quality materials used throughout the vehicle, there is nothing that isn't high end in this vehicle. And most importantly, it’s quite roomy and has excellent storage options and versatility.

The exterior design is also very sharp with Volvo's unique, shapely and bold design that is generally eye-catching. The wheels are another visual standout.

A panoramic moonroof with power sunshade is a feature that will jump out at you and be appreciated in the summertime. Seating features Nappa leather upholstery that is comfortable even on longer rides, and the front seats are both heated and ventilated.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels quite comfortable, you get keyless entry, and loading the groceries is easy with a foot-powered hands-free power tailgate.

Much of the luxury boosts come from the Inscription trim-level features, including: Tailored dashboard, power cushion extensions on the front seats, interior high-level illumination, Front Park Assist, and a 600-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with 14 speakers.

You can even get massaging front seats, one of the key hallmarks of a truly luxury vehicle.


When you're driving a high-end luxury hybrid like the XC90, you quickly lose your preconceptions and forget about all the slow little hybrid cars holding up traffic on the roadways because they can’t get moving.

This is a whole different class of hybrid, and gets you going very fast, it's also extremely agile for its size, and offers a truly enjoyable driving experience in all scenarios. 

One aspect that takes a bit to get used to is the unique gear shifter. which looks very elegant in its design.

Noise is very minimal in the vehicle due to the hybrid setup, to the point where you wouldn't even know that the vehicle is turned on. Thankfully, it does give you a warning if you try to leave the car while it is still running.

Zero-to-60 time was  just over 5 seconds, impressive for a hybrid vehicle, especially one this size (it weighs in at over 6,600 pounds). The drive mode options allow you to decide how you want to experience the ride. Options include Pure Eco Drive (for maximum mpg, but the most boring), standard Hybrid Everyday Use, a powerful Sporty driving mode (my favorite), and the rougher Off-Road driving. This allows for customization, depending whether you are on the open road, or in traffic, or off the beaten path.

The XC90 features impressive handling and is responsive to driver input. An optional four-corner air suspension will improve the experience. Towing capacity on the XC90 is 5,000 pounds.

The 2020 Volvo XC90 hybrid features a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged direct injection engine, which is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with start-stop technology. It also features eAWD (electronic all-wheel drive) and electric power-assisted steering, plus advanced electronic stability control.


Safety is an area where Volvo has for many years led the way in the auto industry. True to form, Volvo has packed basically every single safety feature possible into the XC90. The list is long and includes the features I’ll detail below, but just know that you and your family will be safer than they would be in almost any other vehicle when they are in the XC90.

Before I delve into safety, let’s talk about the sound system. This is a major highlight, especially the concert hall feature which allows for brilliant, echoing sound that complements many types of music, but the chance to revert to studio sound for other types of music where it sounds better. This level of audio versatility is hard to find.

Technology-wise, the overall infotainment system remains the one point about the XC90 that can be truly questioned. It has a busy design, too many options, and is overly complicated. It also struggles sometimes to understand voice commands.

Connectivity remains a strong point in this vehicle with plenty of connections including USB ports, Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi hotspot, plus smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A mobile app allows you to remote-start the vehicle.

The infotainment is showcased on a 9-inch integrated Sensus Connect touchscreen, which features Sensus Navigation Pro, an accurate and strong-performing navigation system.

Getting back to the safety element, you will have Collision Avoidance by City Safety, which detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. You also get Run Off Road Protection and Mitigation, a helpful Rear Park Assist Camera and Rear Park Sensors.

The Blind Spot Information System is very effective, and features steer assist and cross traffic alert with auto brake. And as we march toward autonomy, for now you will get the Pilot Assist Driver Assistance System with Adaptive Cruise Control, a step along the way.

Other safety options include a 360-degree Surround View Camera and Head-up Display.

Safety equipment also includes a vast array of air bags throughout the vehicle, side impact protection system, whiplash protection system in front seats, a unibody high-strength steel safety cage, and child safety locks in rear doors.


When using gasoline only, the Volvo XC90 is officially listed as offering 27 miles per gallon. In my experience, I experienced a real-world number of 23 miles per gallon, several miles off the mark.

When you charge the XC90 hybrid, you can go up to 18 miles on battery power alone. So if you take relatively short drives most of the time, or have access to charging stations where you travel, you may have to use gas very rarely.

The official electricity + gasoline rating is 55 MPGe, a decent number considering the size of the vehicle. 

My test vehicle was a hybrid model that was decked out, and came in just under $87K. The hybrid’s base price starts about $67K, and the standard, non-hybrid XC90 starts around $49K. For most people, the jump up to the hybrid model is probably not worth the cost. But it’s a nice option if you can afford it.

Warranties offered on the XC90 include a 48-month, 50,000-mile limited warranty, 144-month Corrosion Protection with unlimited mileage, and Volvo on call-roadside assistance. You also get complimentary Factory scheduled maintenance for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.


Outside of its complicated infotainment system, the XC90 is a simply awesome luxury family vehicle, and the plug-in hybrid version brings a green element to the mix. Even if you don’t want to go for the hybrid and its hefty price boost, the standard XC90 is still an excellent vehicle and more affordable than some of its competition in the large luxury SUV market.

Families seeking a high-end, green, roomy and safe SUV will be very happy with the XC90, which stands up strong against everyone in the luxury segment — including Audi, Benz, BMW, Lincoln and Land Rover offerings.

----- can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Volvo XC90 hybrid 
  • Price as tested: $86,790  
  • Best feature: Sharp design, fuel savings, safety features  
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Families seeking a high-end, green-friendly, roomy and safe SUV  
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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