2016 XC90 R-Design Polestar Review

Volvo XC90 R-Design

I read in another review that over coming the badge might be Volvo’s biggest hurdle with the XC90 given the R-Design model I’m reviewing here is priced from $101,000 and after a week with it they seem to be on the money given some of the comments I’ve received this week.

The XC90 has won numerous awards around the world since it’s release and really I’m not surprised on the outside it’s an extremely good looking SUV which is only enhanced more in R-Design guise.
The hammer of Thor LED headlights combine with the sporty R-Design front bar work, the side profile not only looks but it got added points from my wife for having decent size rear side window for the 3rd row seats.
The rear end design complete with dual chrome exhaust completes a good looking picture which is all tied together nicely by the 20inch alloy rims and the brilliant metallic blue paint work which is exclusive to the R-Design model line.

While it looks great on the outside the interior is rather impressive as well the leather seats  are not only comfortable but supportive as well. You get fully electric adjustment for the drive passenger front seat including adjustment for the seat base.
The multifunction leather clad steering wheel is somewhat comfortable( not quite as comfortable as other cars I’ve tested) to hold but could also be touch thicker for my liking.
The instrument panel is a TFT screen which is one of the nicest looking instrument panels I’ve seen you can also get it to display your satnav in between the speedo and rev tacho.
One annoying thing that took a bit of getting use to is the fact the digital speedo is displayed on the left hand side in the centre of the speedo instead of being in the middle of the instrument panel like most other digital speedo equip cars I’ve reviewed.
The centre piece for the whole interior is the 9in touch screen in the centre of the dash, Volvo have done away with most convention controls with every from aircon, heated seat controls and just about everything else being controlled via the touch screen.
While it did take a little bit for me to learn where everything was the system works rather good and it so easy to navigate through with a swipe of your finger.
The satnav worked exceptionally good and the sound from the 10 speaker audio speaker was awesome to say the least.
The back seat was not only comfortable but had plenty of leg and head room, while we didn’t use the 3rd row seats during the week there looked to be ample room there as well aircon vents.
My daughter specially liked the climate aircon controls for the middle row seats.
While I found the LED headlights with cornering ability to be rather excellent providing plenty vision  night.

Under the bonnet the XC90 R-Design powered by 2.0L super charged and turbo charged 4 cylinder engine rated at 235Kw and 400Nm, although this car had been enhanced by Polestar so the power has been increased 242Kw.
Now most people would think that a 2L engine is rather small to power a rather large SUV weighing over 1900kg but one step on the load pedal and you realise what a great job Volvo has done with this little engine. Volvo quotes it’s 0-100km/h time as 6.5secs and while I didn’t try to replicate it I am in no doubt that the car is capable of it.
Which means not only is the XC90 R-Design very tractable and easy to drive in traffic there is plenty of power available should you ever need it and while the exhaust note wasn’t bad down low it wasn’t the best sounding engine higher up in the rev range.
While the engine didn’t struggle at all with my normal every day commute the fuel economy did suffer though with me recording 13.2L/100km during the week. On the freeway though where you could take advantage of the 8 speed auto the fuel economy was rather reasonable although I didn’t spend long enough on the freeway to get a proper economy figure.
The XC90 also has a start stop function and there an eco function you can enable but I didn’t like the lessened responsiveness of that setting so hardly used it.
Sure you maybe able to achieve better economy figures around town but as always I don’t test cars to get extremely economy I test them the way I would drive them if I owned them.
Backing the wonderful 2.0L engine is a smooth 8 speed auto which seemed to be well suited to the engine and the shifts were rather smooth indeed.

On the road the XC90 rides rather despite the 20inch rims and being the sports orientated R-Design model.
I found it rode rather well on every surface I drove with little harshness being transmitted into the cabin, sure the other models might have more softer ride and would have handled some of the rough roads I drove on a bit better but I cant say for sure as I haven’t driven any other models.
The steering is direct and well weighted you can the steering between 3 settings but I left it on normal the whole week and didn’t have an issue.
The XC90 felt very sure footed in all conditions thanks to the on demand Haldex AWD system.
There is a control in console that allows you to change  the characteristics of your car depending on the conditions Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off road and Individual modes.
Comfort mode as it suggests gives you maximum comfort.
Eco more calibrates the engine and gearbox for lowest possible fuel consumption it also has an Eco-Coast function helps the driver utilise the car’s kinetic energy, and when the accelerator is released at speeds above 65 km/h there is no engine braking and the car rolls freely while saving fuel. This mode also turns off the air conditioning and reduces other auxiliary loads to minimise fuel consumption.
Dynamic mode is calibrated for sporty driving, with quick engine and gearbox responses. In this mode, the digital driver display changes automatically to the Sport setting to further enhance the experience.
Off road mode can be set at speeds below 20 km/h to maximise the car’s performance on poor roads and facilitate driving in difficult situations.
Individual mode allows you to create your own personal drive mode and save it in your remote key memory.

Volvo takes vehicle extremely serious and it’s no surprise that the XC90 is probably one of the safetest cars on the road and has long list of standard fit safety features Including.
City Safety: Vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist mitigation and brake support, Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision Warning, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Stability Control: Roll Stability Control, Understeer Control, Engine Drag Control, Advanced Stability Control, Corner Traction Control, Trailer Stability Assist. Frontal airbags, side airbags, driver knee airbag, second & third row inflatable curtains and whiplash protection system. Road Sign Information, Run-off road protection, Warning triangle, Hill Descent Control, Hill start assist, Integrated second row seat child booster cushion and ISO-FIX mountings.
While it scores maximum points from for the Park Assist Pilot with front and rear park sensors and bonus points for the Rear parking camera which has one of the clearest pictures i’ve seen on a rearview camera.
The only disappointing thing to me is that the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is only an option when it comes standard on some cars worth less than half the price of the XC90.

After a week the XC90 greatly impressed me there is an abundance of room, massive amounts of safety features. It rides, drives and steers well. The super  and turbo charged 4 cylinder is revelation and the ability to tune the car to suit your mood and conditions is wonderful.
The tech levels are off the clock and really need another separate article so please check back in September where I will be doing an article just the technology in the XC90.
But the main problem going by the comments I received during the week is convincing people to spend that much on a Volvo in the of the R-Design tested here $105,000 but the saving grace is the range starts at $89,990.

But take badge out of the equation the XC90 is really a wonderfully made and engineered vehicle and really should but one of the first cars you test drive if looking for a prestige SUV and I would not be surprised if you bought one without test driving others.

Volvo XC90 R-Design Polestar.
Price From: $101,950
Price as tested $105,875: Heated Front Seats ($650), Tinted Rear Glass ($850), Laminated Side Windows ($525), Metallic Paint ($1,900)
Engine: 2.0L 4 cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol with auto stop/start engine technology, Haldex Generation 5 All-wheel drive.
Power: Polestar Optimised 246kW 440Nm (Standard 235kW 400Nm)
Transmission: 8 speed Geartronic automatic with Paddle Shift

Standard Features:
20 inch R-Design 5-spoke Matte Black Diamond Cut alloy wheels, City Safety: Vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist mitigation and brake support, Cruise control, Intellisafe Surround, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision Warning. Frontal airbags, side airbags, driver knee airbag, second & third row inflatable curtains and whiplash protection system.Park Assist Pilot with front and rear park sensors; Rear parking camera.
Drive Mode Settings, Rain sensor, Power operated tailgate, Soft load ne, Semiautomatic load cover, Integrated second row seat child booster cushion.
Sensus Connect High Performance Audio: AM/FM radio, MP3, 330W 10 speakers, 9in vertical touch screen centre display, Bluetooth® (inc. audio streaming), USB, AUX and full iPod connectivity, audio controls in steering wheel, internet connectivity and in-car web apps, Sensus Navigation System with voice control.
12.3 driver digital display, CleanZone Air Quality System, auto-dimming interior and exterior rear view mirrors, Cargo area storage tray with drink bottle strap, Cargo divider with storage tray under load floor.
Power passenger and driver seat with memory, Theatre style seven seat configuration with fold-flat second and third row seats, Six-way power adjustable front seats, power lumbar support and power seat cushion extensions.
R-Design Contour seats in perforated Nappa Leather upholstery, Carbon Fibre decor inlays, Charcoal headlining, High level interior illumination, Illuminated R-Design tread plates. Gear Shift Paddles, R-Design perforated leather gear knob, R-Design carpet set; R-Design pedals, Cup holders centre armrest, third row
armrests, Four-Zone Electronic Climate Control; Third row climate control.
Hammer of Thor LED Active Bending Headlights with Active High Beam with headlight wash system, Fog lights in front spoiler, Dual integrated tail pipes
Security Keyless drive with power tailgate opening, Power child lock, rear side doors, Tempered glass side and rear windows, Electronic engine immobiliser, Leather clad remote control fob.

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