Volvo XC90 Hybrid

The 2018 Volvo XC90 benefits from a handsome, sculpted look that goes much deeper than the sheet metal. Nowhere is this more obvious than under the hood, where the goals of improved fuel economy and improved power are seemingly at odds with one another. Power comes from a 2.0L engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged. The result is an almost unbelievable 318 horsepower with fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. All of those numbers are up significantly since 2014, when the XC90 was still powered by a larger, less powerful 6-cylinder engine, showing just how effective Volvo's engineers have been in maximizing both power and fuel economy.

All-wheel drive is standard on the Volvo XC90 and an 8-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. The hybrid powertrain takes the same impressive 2.0L, but adds an 82-horsepower electric motor at the rear axle and a crankshaft-mounted generator for a 400-horsepower total, along with 472 foot-pounds of torque. The hybrid battery rides mid-ship to keep its effect on handling minimal. It features an energy-reclaiming braking system like other hybrids and similar to the standard XC90 Drive-E, the SUV comes with automatic engine stop-start.

The XC90 is offered in four trims: Momentum, R-Design, Inscription and Excellence. All but the Momentum are offered with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, with that system being the only way to propel the top-of-the-line Excellence. The base Momentum comes with plenty of luxury features, as is generally expected in this class. Standard items include heated windshield washer nozzles, 4-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power adjustable and heated front seats, power rear headrests, a panoramic power sunroof, a navigation system, a rearview camera and backup sensors, a power tailgate, 19-inch wheels, a lane departure warning system and satellite radio with a 6-month subscription. The R-Design trim has a sportier personality. Setting it apart are numerous exterior and interior upgrades to add just a little bit of flair to the XC90. Standout features include 20-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust pipes, a unique front grille, LED headlights, aerodynamic upgrades, sport front seats, paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, sport pedals and aluminum inlays. The Inscription model includes exterior chrome accents, Nappa leather upholstery, vented front seats, aluminum roof rails, rear sunshades and a dash accented with walnut and leather. Finally, the top-of-the-line XC90 Excellence takes luxury SUVs to a new level with a premium placed on rear seat comfort. Unlike the other trims, the Excellence is powered exclusively by the hybrid drivetrain. It has only four seats, but rear occupants are treated to their own heated and cooled massaging function. There are also airline-style fold-out tables, along with a small refrigerator. A Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system provides the tunes, while a solid crystal shift knob replaces "ordinary" materials like aluminum, wood or leather.

The XC90 wouldn't be a Volvo if it didn't offer world-class, innovative safety systems. In addition to features like lane keep assist and blind spot warning, Volvo's Pilot Assist II driver assistance technologies allow the XC90 to steer and brake autonomously at speeds up to 80 mph, while its City Safety suite provides features like run-off road mitigation and large animal detection.

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Editors' First Take

Volvo has not been shy about its aspiration to electrify its entire lineup within the next few years, and it's taking another step toward that goal with the release of a refreshed SUV and a new line of B-badged mild hybrids.

Volvo on Friday unveiled the refreshed 2020 XC90. The XC90 may still feel fresh, but it actually pioneered the current design language seen on all new Volvos, and it's been kicking around since 2015, so it was time to add a bit of freshness.

The automaker kept the refresh limited on the visual front. The exterior is just a little different, with Volvo throwing in some new wheel designs and paint colors, in addition to a new grille and other subtle adjustments. The interior is entirely unchanged, save for the addition of a new six-seat configuration and the introduction of wool-blend fabrics. Otherwise, it's the same XC90 as before… until you start digging deeper.

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