Long-Term Test Arrival: 2018 Volvo XC90 T6

We were all excited to welcome a 2018 Volvo XC90 as our latest long-term tester, a vehicle that we knew would be well-received after it prevailed with the most editorial team votes as not only our 2018 Top Luxury SUV, but also our 2018 Overall Top Pick.

The stretch-out room and flexibility of seven-seater, but not the massive fuel bills that often come with grace, space, and pace.

When it arrived, our distinguished silver-hued and black-leathered tester ended up being the top Inscription trim of the mid-level T6 version, which adds supercharging onto the standard turbocharging that comes with Volvo’s multi-talented 2.0L four-cylinder engine.

It’s this level of advanced heavy breathing that allows a four-cylinder engine of relatively paltry size to produce the punchy power of what in the past would have needed a healthy displacement V6, if not an even thirstier V8. The T6 tune of this engine wrangles up 316 smooth Swedish ponies for motivation, as well as a generous 295 lb-ft of torque at just over 2,000 rpm.

The Volvo XC90 comes standard with seven seats, but we’ve found that so far, it has been used largely in five-seat mode, given how quickly and neatly that third row disappears – though having those two seats in the rear is a definite bonus for family hauling when it’s time to pick up Grandma. This SUV is no Cadillac Escalade luxury tank, whether in body, engine, or MSRP size, this one starting at just under $70,000, with ours topping out at $78,415 as tested, after freight and a few option packages.

Granted, this XC90 does find itself in the same EPA size class as the Escalade – and more comparably to the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 – but marketed more to mid-size luxury SUV buyers who want the stretch-out room and flexibility of seven-seater, but not the massive fuel bills that often come with grace, space, and pace.

Even a few years after its debut, the XC90 still cuts a dignified yet modern style, its Thor’s Hammer LED lights and tight body lines all along its top fender line giving it a touch of visual drama even before getting to the massive rear taillights. Large 20-inch 275/45R20 wheels provide a touch of aggression while filling the wheel wells nicely.

But it’s inside where the XC90 truly takes Volvo into the 21st century, marking the first wave of vertically oriented touchscreens that modernized the entire ergonomic environment of the brand, and compelled folks to compare it to Tesla’s massive central vertical screen, but with some actual easy-to-use knobs for basic functions like volume and seek. There’s also a handy button to automatically lower all the headrests in the second and third row, immensely improving the view out the rear-view mirror if you’ve just carted around a gaggle of passengers.

From the driver’s seat, the XC90 has also made a very favourable impression of itself already, with welcome heated seats and steering wheel, along with cooled seats that are a blessing on hot, sticky summer days. Power is confidently generous, with plenty of reserves for highway passing, but not quite to super adrenaline-pumping levels, with Volvo quoting a 0–100 km/h acceleration time of 6.5 seconds.

Official fuel consumption figures ring in at a combined city and highway figure of 10.3 L/100 km, compared to the 11.2 L/100 km it’s currently averaging with us. We’ve also noticed that while it may be relatively efficient for a luxurious seven-seater, its requirement of 91 octane fuel and a healthy 71 litre tank capacity led to one instance of a wallet-busting $95.35 fill-up. Ouch.

But then, this is not the gas-sipping plug-in hybrid XC90 T8 version, which starts out roughly $12,000 higher when similarly equipped. That extra cost will buy a lot of fuel, so from a value perspective, our T6 Inscription long-termer seems to provide a sweet spot for healthy power, luxury, performance, and efficiency.

We’re looking forward to taking it on some long trips to deep drive on what it’s like to live with, plus we have some plans to put it against some rivals to truly see how it stacks up against some impressive market rivals as well.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Engine Displacement: 2.0L
Engine Cylinders: 4
Peak Horsepower: 316 hp @ 5,700 rpm
Peak Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm
Fuel Economy: 11.5/8.8/10.3 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 368 / 2,427 L seats down
2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Base Price $69,950
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,015
Price as Tested $78,415
Optional Equipment $6,350 – Vision Package (BLIS and Cross Traffic Alert; 360-degree surround view camera; retractable rear-view mirrors) $2,000; Climate Package $1,250; Convenience Package $2,200; Metallic Paint $900
Optional Equipment