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2016 XC90 shows off Volvo's future (pictures)

The all new XC90 seven-passenger SUV from Volvo marks a reinvigorated company, cut free from Ford in 2010, and now working under the auspices of Geely, a Chinese automaker.

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Wayne Cunningham
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Volvo considers its XC90 SUV its most important car, and the 2016 model its most important generation to date as it marks a new era for the company. This generation of XC90 is built on a new platform developed by Volvo, which it calls Scalable Product Architecture.

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Where past XC90s have employed a svelte design, this new generation adds apparent bulk, giving it a tougher look. The front-end is more truck-like while the sides incorporate a strong belt-line.

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In many ways, the new XC90 looks like a fairly conventional SUV. Volvo, however, fits it with a wealth of new technologies. In the US, it will be offered in either gasoline or plug-in hybrid form, both with all-wheel-drive.

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A panoramic roof has become de rigueur in the automotive industry.

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Volvo has always highlighted safety, and the new XC90 will include the latest driver assistance features. Along with Volvo's City Safety feature, which automatically brakes to prevent low-speed collisions, the car will also hit the brakes to prevent turns into the path of fast-moving traffic.

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Volvo redesigned its badge, which it calls the Iron Mark, losing the blue accent previously used.

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LED parking lights take on this form, which Volvo calls "the Hammer of Thor." It also looks like this car has LED headlights, although Volvo has not released full details about front lighting yet.

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Volvo will offer wheels up to 22 inches.

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The plug-in hybrid version of the XC90 can drive for up to 25 miles on electricity before having to fire up its gasoline engine.

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The base XC90 will come with a 2-liter four cylinder engine using a turbocharger and a supercharger to produce 316 horsepower. The plug-in hybrid version adds an electric motor to the mix, with total output, according to Volvo, of 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. European customers will also get the option of a diesel engine.

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Room for seven passengers is a key attribute of the XC90. Volvo notes that the third-row seats are designed for people up to 5' 7" tall.

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The seats use a new space-saving design becoming popular throughout the automotive industry.

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In the US, navigation will come standard in the 2016 XC90. The car will use Volvo's new Sensus infotainment interface. Volvo also promises the XC90 will be Apple CarPlay-compatible.

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Volvo has not released transmission details yet, but this elegant shifter includes standard PRND drive mode settings, along with the ability to manually select gears.

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Volvo continues the theme of elegantly designed drive controls on the console for engine start and the parking brake.

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These gauges appear to be analog in the photo, but they are actually virtual gauges shown on an LCD. Volvo calls it an "adaptive digital instrument cluster," meaning it will show different themes depending on the drive mode. The XC90 will include a head-up display for driver-critical information.

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Volvo redesigned its Sensus infotainment interface for the XC90, adopting a portrait-style touchscreen similar to that in the Tesla Model S. The touchscreen adds infrared sensors so it will work for drivers wearing gloves. Volvo refers to each function shown on the screen as a tile.

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Volvo turns to Scandinavian neighbor Nokia for navigation, implementing the company's Here maps. Fellow Swedish company Ericsson provides the cloud platform on which the navigation system runs, suggesting an online system. Unlike the home screen, the navigation tile is expanded in this photo.

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At a touch of the phone tile, the screen expands to show the paired phone's contact list, complete with associated photos. Buttons for call history and a keypad sit to the left.

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With an active call, the screen shows large buttons for each function, making it easy for the driver to accurately select them.

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Volvo shows the expanded screen for audio from a Bluetooth streaming source. As in other newer cars, the Bluetooth connection allows full music library browsing and selection. A list of recent audio sources are stacked on the left, which could be convenient, but Volvo does not show how a driver browses all audio sources in the car.

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Volvo detailed the premium sound system for the XC90, which uses 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers, a 1,400-watt Harman 12-channel amp, and digital signal processing software from Dirac Research. Volvo notes that the "Concert Hall" audio profile reproduces the acoustic qualities of the Gothenburg Concert Hall in Sweden.

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The impressive list of Bowers & Wilkins speakers details seven Nautilus tweeters, seven midrange speakers, four cone woofers, and an air-ventilated subwoofer built into the architecture of the car. One tweeter sits front-and-center on the dashboard, what Bowers & Wilkins refers to as its "tweeter-on-top technology."

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