You know me. I love an underdog.
The anti-establishment animates my brain, and drives many posts here on Remarqed.
Which is why on occasion, a new vehicle announcement thrills me more than usual. This week, Volvo announced the replacement for its aging top-of-the-line SUV, introduced back in 2002.
The XC90 is one of the Swedish marque’s home runs, riding a wave of truck-mania in the US and elsewhere for the last two decades, along with models it was often compared to, like the Acura MDX, Mercedes ML, and BMW X5.
Those models have grown into buffer, more luxurious fittings over the last few years. Volvo itself has transitioned from Ford ownership to Chinese firm Geely, which injected it with some much needed love and cash-flow. The brand plans to update current models and introduce new models at an increasing rate, with cycles preferably less than every 12 years. This is imperative if it is to be competitive.
As such, Volvo sees its 2016 XC90, which will be released for sale next Spring, as a bellwether of the brand’s positioning against its peers, in a general sense. It is the most luxurious model the brand has ever produced, focusing on materials, comfort, and contemporary Swedish design.
Without getting into the technical details, I think the XC90 will be fantastic. Just from looking at it, Volvo enters a different realm of cool that is typically reserved for Range Rover and Jaguar.
The exterior is on one hand generically muscular. On the other, it is the most aggressive Volvo to date. I say bravo.
The interior is the same story, from one angle looking Jeep-esque. Not necessarily an evolution of Volvo’s current interior look. However, its details are carefully considered, from leather stitching, to matte open-pore wood, turned aluminum switchgear, and Orrefors crystal on the gear selector. Uhh, yes…!
Per Volvo tradition, the new model also builds on an extensive safety resume, with a new pavement-exit sensor that will tighten seat belts for potential a rollover or imminent conflict with a tree. It only triggers at high-speed though, so no need to worry about turning onto an unpaved drive on purpose.
There will also be an unprecedented Bowers & Wilkins stereo system with a dash-mounted tweeter, intended to envelop passengers without hurting their eardrums.
Autoblog has an excellent overview of the new model, its engine choices, and interesting new features here.
Things haven’t always been easy for Volvo. Its Swedish sister company Saab met an ungraceful end at the hands of GM, and Volvo’s brand has been better-known for indestructible teenage bumper cars than sexy A-listers.
With the introduction of the new XC90, Volvo sets a design and quality standard that will hopefully lead the coming years’ new and refreshed models, including a new S90 sedan (to replace the S80). But, it will retain Volvo’s unique flavor of graphics, dynamics, and orthopedic seating.
Look for its “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights on a street near you soon.