SUVs

Volvo launches new mild hybrid trims alongside refreshed XC90 SUV

It'll build upon an electrified lineup that already includes plug-in hybrids.

Volvo

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.

Perhaps the most notable upgrade for 2020 is the addition of a new mild hybrid trim, which will carry a new B badge, living alongside the T6 and T8 variants from before. This mild hybrid setup adds regenerative braking to the mix, and Volvo believes it can improve fuel efficiency by up to 15 percent, although we haven't seen any new EPA estimates just yet. It will likely be a more cost-effective method of electrification, as the T8 mild-hybrid variants are also Volvo's most expensive.

The changes are subtle, but they're there.

Volvo

There's some other new tech to take in, too. Steering assist is now available in conjunction with its autobrake and blind-spot monitoring safety systems. The XC60's Oncoming Lane Mitigation system is also available on the XC90, and its cross-traffic alert system can now automatically apply the brakes to avoid an accident. Android Auto compatibility has finally been added to its Sensus Connect infotainment system, too.

Volvo will expand its B-badged mild hybrids to other Volvo models in the near future. The automaker said it'll start with the XC90 and XC60, but it'll likely make its way to just about every other new Volvo model in the coming months and years, too. That said, Volvo hasn't supplied a timeline for this rollout, so it's unclear exactly when that will happen.

There's other tweaks in the works, too, including an expansion of its plug-in hybrid tech to every model Volvo produces, including the compact XC40. It also upgraded its current PHEVs with a new battery that should boost range by 15 percent or so. The brake-by-wire tech from the new mild-hybrid system has also been added to T6 and T8 PHEV variants.

The 2020 Volvo XC90 goes into production in Sweden this May, so it should land at dealerships later this year. Pricing has not yet been announced, but that should happen closer to the car's on-sale date.