Back in early 2017, Volvo asked us to “rediscover [our] passion in life” in a then new V90 Cross Country, yet while the Swedish automaker’s overall sales grew impressively thanks to plenty of freshly…

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD Road Test

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
Volvo’s V90 Cross Country is a handsome crossover wagon that might just be ideal for those not wanting to move up to a taller SUV.

Back in early 2017, Volvo asked us to “rediscover [our] passion in life” in a then new V90 Cross Country, yet while the Swedish automaker’s overall sales grew impressively thanks to plenty of freshly redesigned models and some entirely new entries as well, Canadian buyers flocked to its full lineup of SUVs instead of this tall mid-size luxury crossover wagon.

The result is the V90 Cross Country’s cancellation in our market as of 2020, this 2019 model year being its last after just three years. Along with the V90 Cross Country’s demise is the end of the regular V90 wagon too, while the beautiful and highly competent mid-size S90 luxury sedan remains in the lineup for at least another year and hopefully longer.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The V90 Cross Country has unmistakable Volvo design cues, plus beefier black bumpers, wheel arches and side sills than the regular V90 wagon.

The choice to forgo a crossover wagon for a big flagship luxury sedan flies in the face of convention, with some brands, particularly Volvo’s previous parent Ford (and it’s Lincoln luxury division), eliminating cars almost entirely, but the continuation of the S90 is probably more about maintaining a premium image than adding to the bottom line, because with only 835 combined S90, V90 and V90 Cross Country sales in its peak calendar year of 2018, and merely 295 after a 65-percent plunge in 2019, none of these cars would’ve made much of a difference to Volvo Canada’s profitability.

Standard styling elements include satin-silver bumper garnishes and Volvo’s trademark Thor’s Hammer LED headlamps.

For a bit of background, the V90 Cross Country replaced two generations of XC70 from 2000 through 2016 (it was dubbed V70 XC for the first three years), and by doing so once again brought Volvo’s renowned style, respected quality, sensible pragmatism and turbocharged, supercharged four-cylinder performance to the crossover wagon segment, while upping its luxury quotient to an entirely new level of opulence.

Anyone who’s spent time in a modern-day Volvo knows exactly what I mean, especially when equipped in one of its top R-Design or Inscription trims. The V90 Cross Country doesn’t use the usual trim nomenclatures for the Canadian market, but my tester was nicely outfitted with its Premium package and therefore, together with its generous list of standard features, is quite possibly (or should I say, was quite possibly) the most luxurious crossover wagon available today.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The 2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country comes standard with this attractive 19-inch alloys.

Then again, Audi may have something to say about that. The German brand now offers Canadian urban adventurers their all-new 2020 A6 Allroad in the same rather uncompetitive class, and while the four-ringed contender from Ingolstadt is impressive, Gothenburg’s outgoing alternative looks and feels richer inside despite costing $12,700 less.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
Sharply angled LED taillights are standard too.

The 2019 V90 Cross Country starts at a very reasonable $62,500 compared to the A6 Allroad’s lofty $75,200 price tag, and while Audi’s brand image is certainly more upscale than Volvo’s, and its turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 makes an additional 19 horsepower and 74 more lb-ft of torque than Volvo’s turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that puts out 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the Swede is slightly more pragmatic from a fuel economy perspective, with a claimed Transport Canada rating of 11.6 L/100km in the city, 8.1 on the highway and 10.0 combined compared to 11.8 city, 9.1 highway and 10.6 combined.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
Nice silver detailing and “CROSS COUNTRY” inscribed into the black bumper are just some of this model’s unique details.

The 250 horsepower V90 Cross Country T5 AWD was discontinued at the end of model year 2018, by the way, this previously the base model at $59,500, while the $84,900 Ocean Race T6 AWD also said goodbye to the market for 2019.  Now for 2019 there’s just one T6 AWD trim level, but the noted $3,900 Premium package does a good job of making it Inscription-like, thanks to features such as heated windshield washer nozzles, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, LED interior lighting, aluminum treadplates, a heated steering wheel rim, front and rear parking sensors with graphical warnings, Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self-parking, a 360-degree Surround View camera system, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, four-zone automatic climate control, a cooled glove box, heatable rear outboard seats, power-folding rear seatbacks and outer head restraints, a really innovative semi-automatic cargo cover, an integrated soft safety net to separate cargo from passengers, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, and more.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The base V90 Cross Country’s interior is truly upscale, even for a premium luxury car.

The aforementioned $62,500 base price for the 2019 V90 Cross Country T6 AWD doesn’t include $900 for metallic paint, which is included with the Audi incidentally, but the A6 Allroad only provides black and beige leather options inside, and it’s not plush Nappa leather like Volvo’s, which can be had in four no-cost optional hues including Charcoal (black), Amber (dark beige), Maroon Brown (dark reddish brown) and Blond (light grey).

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The dash and controls layout is superb, with everything falling ideally to hand.

It should be noted that despite appearing richly appointed my tester was far from fully loaded, as it was missing the $3,600 Luxury package with its gorgeous tailored instrument panel, sensational upgraded front seats with power-adjustable side bolsters, power-extendable lower cushions, multi-technique massage function, and cooling ventilation, plus manually retractable side window curtains in back. My test model didn’t have the $2,350 optional rear air suspension and Four-C Active Chassis upgrade either, and only had 19-inch alloys instead of $1,000 enhanced 20-inch rims, or for that matter body-colour bumpers, wheel arches and sills, $425 Metal Mesh decor inlays (although the hardwood was lovely), $250 black headliner, $1,500 graphical head-up display, $3,750 Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system (with fabulous aluminum speaker grilles), and $600 dual two-stage child booster seats integrated within the rear outboard positions, with all of the above potentially increasing the 2019 V90 Cross Country’s price by $18,375 to $80,875.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The V90 Cross Country’s standard digital instrument cluster is very impressive.

While that might sound like a lot for a mid-size luxury crossover wagon, consider for a moment that the 2020 Audi A6 Allroad Technik starts at $83,100 without a massage, and while it includes that brand’s fabulous “Virtual Cockpit” digital gauge package (the V90 gets a digital instrument cluster too, just not quite as configurable as the A6 Allroad’s), getting said massage, along with upgraded Valcona leather will set you back another $4,050, while adding on all of the V90’s advanced driver assistive systems will cost another $2,400. You can also add the $2,500 Dynamic package with Dynamic Steering and Dynamic All-Wheel Steering, $2,500 for Night Vision Assistant, $500 for quieter dual-pane glass, $350 for Audi Phonebox with wireless charging, another $350 for rear side airbags (some impressive stuff), and $1,000 for full body paint (already priced in to the top-tier Volvo), bringing the German model’s total to $102,650, less an expected $1,000 in additional incentives if you choose to sign up for a CarCostCanada account in order to learn everything you can before speaking to an Audi dealer (see CarCostCanada’s 2020 Audi A6 allroad Canada Prices page).

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen is easy to use and full of features.

That’s $1,000 less than a Volvo dealer is prepared to slice off of the V90 Cross Country, or so says CarCostCanada on their 2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country Canada Prices page, but considerable savings aside the Volvo should really impress anyone considering either of these two fine vehicles. They’re both unquestionably handsome from the outside, and come equipped standard with all expected LED lighting tech and brushed metal accents to dazzle owners and onlookers alike. The minimalist Audi cabin is sublime, as is Volvo’s ritzier interior, their materials and build quality never in question, the only differences being a desire to appeal to varying tastes.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The optional overhead parking monitor is excellent.

Even before sliding into the V90 Cross Country’s enveloping driver’s seat, its high-quality gleaming metal- and leather-wrapped key fob sets the tone. This said its proximity-sensing access means it will most likely remain in your purse or pocket and not be touched at all—such a shame. Once inside, Volvo covers most surfaces with premium soft-touch synthetic or optional contrasting French-stitched leather, plus gorgeous dark oak inlays across the entire instrument panel and all doors. The fancier version gets the previously noted metal inlays instead, but truly there’s enough satin-finish aluminum trim elsewhere that more metal is hardly necessary.   

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
Those who want to row their own gears will need to do so via the V90 Cross Country’s shift lever.

Key areas below the waist are soft to the touch, not so with many premium brands such as Lexus (although they sell nothing in this class), while all pillars are nicely wrapped in the same high-quality woven material as the roof liner. The ritzy details spoken of earlier include much of the switchgear that’s downright jewellery-like. Seriously, the exquisite diamond-patterned edging around the main audio knob, plus the twisting ignition controller and scrolling drive mode selector, not to mention the beautifully formed vent knobs, are gorgeous bits of metalwork, while the digital displays are some of the best in the industry.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The V90 Cross Country’s interior detailing is exquisite.

Before I continue, I must say that most everything I’m talking about is standard in Canada. Volvo even includes an impressive vertical tablet-style touchscreen on the centre stack, which in my opinion is one of the best in the business. Not only is it brilliantly clear and high-definition, with nice deep and rich colours, plus as easy use of a regular smartphone or tablet, with familiar tap, swipe and pinch functions, but it’s filled with loads of capability, making it one of the most versatile infotainment systems around. I also like that it mostly doesn’t change from one Volvo model to the next, so when you’re stepping up from an XC40 to this V90 or an XC90, you’ll enjoy the same impressive infotainment experience.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
These sport seats really hold the torso and behind in place during hard cornering.

The fully configurable digital gauge cluster is standard too, and provides a nice clear display with a slight matte finish so there’s not much glare. While configurable, I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s as versatile as Audi’s aforementioned Virtual Cockpit, being that you can’t maximize infotainment system features to turn the entire cluster into a map, for instance. Audi’s cluster reduces the primary gauges into tiny dials at each corner, whereas Volvo’s dials remain mostly full-size all the time. Still, the V90’s gauge cluster offers excellent usability in other ways, the gauges shrinking slightly when using some features in the centre-mounted multi-info display, and that area quite large and appealing with plenty of attractive graphics and most features from the infotainment system, including a detailed, colourful navigation map.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
This massive panoramic sunroof comes standard.

As impressive as its interior is, one of the V90 Cross Country’s best attributes is the superb drivetrain noted earlier. Its 315 horsepower and 279 pound-feet of torque provide spirited V6-like performance off the line and quick response for passing manoeuvres. It’s mated to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic with manual mode, but unfortunately no paddles to keep the fingers busy in the more comfort-oriented V90 Cross Country. Rather, those wanting to row through the gears must do so via the shift lever, which is no problem yet not as easy as leaving both hands on the wheel for maximum control. Then again, I almost never bothered to shift the autobox anyway, as it went about its duty with effortlessly quick gear changes needing no prompting.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The rear seating area is spacious and wholly comfortable, plus refinement is above par.

The Cross Country doesn’t provide the same level of handling sharpness as the regular V90 T6 AWD R-Design tested last year, but it certainly comes within a hair’s width of matching it. It’s 58 millimetres (2.3 inches) taller, causing its centre of gravity to raise upwards somewhat, so naturally it can’t provide the same lateral grip as the more hunkered down sport wagon, but you likely won’t notice much difference unless pushing it extremely hard, and that’s not really what the Cross Country is all about. It’s better at getting you out from within a snow-filled ski resort parking lot, or allowing for greater ease and confidence inspiring control while trekking through a muddy cottage country back road.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The removable cargo cover automatically lifts out of the way when opening the tailgate.

The V90 Cross Country is equipped with standard all-wheel drive, but no off-road mode, yet it manages slippery conditions well. I’d even be willing to venture into some light off-roading situations, such as overcoming small stumps and rocks on a logging road, for example, or wading through a shallow river bed, because that’s exactly what Volvo has promised is possible with this all-weather, all-season, multi-activity vehicle.

With standard roof rails on top, plus available cross-members, bike racks, overhead storage containers and more, the V90 Cross Country becomes an ideal companion for outdoor activities such as cycling, kayaking, camping, and more. Volvo provides plenty of other accessories too, such a $1,345 trailer hitch package with electronic monitoring and Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), allowing owners to take full advantage of this crossover’s capabilities.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
A cargo divider lifts out from the floor, complete with hooks for grocery bags.

While trekking through the wilderness, or merely overcoming the unkempt lanes in most of Canada’s inner cities, you’ll enjoy a wonderful ride, the V90 Cross Country providing even more comfort than the already impressive V90 wagon. This is a car I could drive all day long and never tire of. Together with its fabulous front seats, which are superbly comfortable and provide excellent support, there’s no real reason to spend more for the fancier massaging buckets unless money is no object.

Even more importantly for me, the driver’s position is ultra-adjustable and therefore should be perfect for the majority of body types. I’m a bit shorter than average at five-feet-eight, but my legs are longer than my torso, which can cause a problem if the steering column doesn’t provide enough reach. No such issues with the V90 Cross Country, however, that provides an ideal setup for both comfort and control.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
A webbed divider protects passengers from loose cargo that could become dangerous in an accident.

There as an incredible amount of room in back, too, with almost 10 inches in front of my knees when the driver’s seat was set up for my long-legged frame, plus five inches remained from my shoulder to the door panel, another four or so next to my hips, and about three and a half above my head. Stretching out my legs was easy, with my shoes placed underneath the driver’s seat, while comfort was increased yet more via my tester’s four-zone auto climate control that provided a useful panel for controlling each rear outboard passenger’s temperature. The heated rear seats would no doubt be appreciated for winter ski trips with the family, as would the massive standard panoramic sunroof overhead, this completely eliminating any feelings of claustrophobia that can happen for some when seated in back, but then again it seems bizarre to imagine someone feeling closed in while seated anywhere in the spacious V90 Cross Country. Aiding the V90’s open, airy experience are HVAC vents on the backside of that centre console, and more at the midpoint of each B-pillar, while LED reading lamps hover overhead. A complex centre armrest flips down between outboard passengers, complete with pop-out dual cupholders, a shallow tray, plus a lidded and lined stowage container.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
Thin items, such as floor mats, can be stowed below the cargo floor.

The V90 Cross Country’s powered liftgate lets you into the spacious cargo area, while the aforementioned retractable cargo cover automatically lifts up and out of the way. The cargo compartment, which measures 560 litres (19.8 cubic feet) behind the rear seatbacks and about 1,530 litres (54 cu ft) when the rear row is lowered, is luxuriously finished with plush carpets all the way up the sidewalls and rear seatbacks, plus of course the floor, while below an accessorized rubber all-weather cargo mat (part of a $355 Protection package that includes floor trays for four seating positions, a centre tunnel cover, and the just-noted cargo tray), my tester’s floor included a flip-up cargo divider featuring integrated grocery bag hooks. The floor can be lifted further, exposing a shallow carpeted compartment for storing very thin items, such as the carpeted floor mats while the all-season ones are in place.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
The centre pass-through is small, but certainly better than nothing.

Aiding versatility, the V90’s 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks include a small, narrow centre pass-through that’s ideal for a couple of pairs of skis, or alternatively each portion of the seatback can be dropped down flat via powered release buttons attached to the cargo sidewall. These automatically flip the headrests forward too, which incidentally can be lowered from the front to aid rear visibility as well.

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
With the rear seats lower there’s plenty of cargo space available.

If you’re currently driving a four-door sedan or wagon and not quite sure if a tall, SUV-like crossover such as Volvo’s XC90 is the right way to go, this V90 Cross Country is a good alternative. All said, I’m not going to recommend it over Audi’s new A6 Allroad mentioned throughout this review, but I will go so far as say that it measures up in all ways other than high-speed performance, and possibly prestige. Then again, Volvo has been reviving its respectability as of late, and has long enjoyed its own diehard following that would consider nothing less. Comfort is arguably better in the Volvo too, and as noted earlier this V90 Cross Country is a bit stingier on fuel. In the end it will come down to personal taste, and the ability of your local Volvo dealer to find a new one still available. If your interest is piqued, I recommend calling now before it’s too late.

Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo Editing: Karen Tuggay

Despite being well into its fourth model year, you’ll have a hard time finding a more beautifully finished, or more luxuriously appointed mid-size luxury SUV. The Volvo XC90 is exquisitely detailed,…

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription Road Test

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
This second-generation 2016-2019 XC90 has been very good to Volvo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Despite being well into its fourth model year, you’ll have a hard time finding a more beautifully finished, or more luxuriously appointed mid-size luxury SUV. The Volvo XC90 is exquisitely detailed, particularly when outfitted in its most opulent Inscription trim, which is exactly how I most recently drove it.

The 2019 XC90 on this page is fourth on my list of second-generation testers, and the second to wear Inscription badging, the other two outfitted in sportier R-Design trim, while two have utilized the 316 horsepower mid-range engine with the other duo bridled to the much more potent 400 horsepower plug-in hybrid drivetrain. This in mind, the last non-electrified XC90 I drove was way back in 2016 when this wholly reimagined luxury utility ushered in an entirely new look and much higher level of luxury for the Swedish brand, and by so doing turned Volvo’s fortunes completely around.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The XC90 looks fabulous from all angles, especially in top-line Inscription trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Volvo more than doubled its Canadian sales toward the end of calendar year 2015 when the 2016 XC90 was introduced, from 10,964 units in Q4 of 2014 to 22,507 in the final three months of 2015, while the XC90’s sales volume grew from 427 units throughout all of 2014 to 957 in 2015 and a stellar 2,951 in calendar year 2016. This said the growth hasn’t stopped, verified by the XC90 hitting a new record of 3,059 deliveries last year, making it the most popular model in Volvo’s lineup.

Yes, the XC90 sells even better than the completely redesigned XC60, the smaller two-row compact luxury model having consistently outsold this three-row mid-size contender prior to both models’ redesign. This is the complete opposite of most others in the class, incidentally, which are consistently outsold by their smaller, more affordable compact luxury SUV siblings.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The XC90 introduced Volvo’s signature “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights to the Swedish brand’s lineup, now standard on all models. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I could only hazard to guess why this occurs, because the XC60 comes closer to matching the XC90’s materials quality, refinement, electronic interfaces and powertrain options as any rival brand, and would save its would-be buyer nearly $13,000 at the bottom end and almost $12k in top-line Inscription T8 eAWD Plug-In Hybrid trim, but either way it appears Volvo SUV buyers are generally wealthier than the class average, or prefer larger, roomier, more substantive machinery.

The XC90 is a true mid-size three-row luxury crossover SUV, measuring 4,950 mm (194.9 inches) from front to rear bumpers with a 2,984-mm (117.5-inch) wheelbase in between, plus 2,140 mm (84.3 inches) wide including its side mirrors, and 1,775 mm (69.9 inches) tall including its roof rails, while providing a considerable 237 mm (9.3 inches) of ground clearance, which helps it trudge through deep snow easily.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Inscription trim gets some extra chrome and more outside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

That size makes it more than just accommodating. Its superbly comfortable front and rear seats confirm this just as notably upon first climbing inside as after a long road trip, a particularly elegant Magic Blue Metallic painted 2017 XC90 T8 Twin Engine eAWD Inscription tester having taken my partner and I out of Greater Vancouver, up the steeply inclined Coquihalla Highway and then over the 97C connector to Kelowna, BC’s wine country during the particularly warm fall of 2016, and while we took no passengers in back we hauled a fair bit of gear (including wine) in the 1,183 litres (41.8 cubic feet) of cargo space available when laying the third row flat.

That’s how I’d leave the seats more often than not if this were my personal ride, as I’d have little need for a third row now that my kids are grown, despite the nicely separated buckets in the very back accommodating my five-foot-eight frame comfortably. Volvo provides a reasonably large 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) of dedicated cargo volume behind that third row, and trips to the hardware store for building materials are doable thanks to 2,427 litres (85.6 cubic feet) of available space when both rear rows are lowered. As good as all this is, I’m even more impressed by its overall passenger/cargo flexibility, the XC90’s second row divided into thirds so that everyone’s skis can be laid down the middle, thus mitigating potential whining about who gets the three-way-warming window seats.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The XC90 Inscription’s cabin is hard to fault, wth some of the finest detailing and highest quality materials in the industry. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Yes, this Inscription model comes well packed with features, second-row seat heaters just one of many upgrades included after choosing to move past base Momentum trim. For 2019 the Momentum starts at $59,750 plus freight and fees, with the more sport-oriented R-Design coming in at $69,800, and the Inscription starting at $71,450. All three Volvo powertrains are offered in the XC90, the Momentum’s exclusive T5 displacing 2.0-litres in four cylinders and using a turbocharger to make 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the as-tested T6 adding a supercharger to the same powertrain for 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and the T8 plug-in hybrid combining a 60-kW electric motor for a grand total of 400 net horsepower and 472 net lb-ft of torque. The T6 powertrain adds $4,250 to Momentum trim, whereas the T8 will set Momentum buyers back another $10,950, while the increase from T6 to T8 will cost you $12,650 in either R-Design or Inscription trims. 

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The XC90 Inscription is the epitome of elegance and sophistication, although it provides a highly technical, minimalist approach to luxury. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

By the way, the 2020 XC90, which will start arriving at Volvo Canada retailers when this review gets published, continues to be available with the same three trim lines as the outgoing 2019 model, although a new six-passenger variant, available solely with T6 AWD Momentum and Inscription trims, provides a more luxuriously-appointed second row and easier access to the very back thanks to captain’s chairs and an aisle down the middle. The 2020 update includes a stylish new concave grille design as well, plus some less noticeable changes, all for a $1,500 hike in base price, less $1,000 in potential incentives at the time of writing. If personal savings matter more to you than getting the latest, greatest model, consider this 2019 XC90 that can provide up to $5,000 in additional incentives. Just visit the 2019 Volvo XC90 Canada Prices page at CarCostCanada, where you can also peruse through trim, package and individual option pricing, as well as find manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The XC90’s fully digital gauge cluster allows for plenty of functions within its multi-info display, including navigational mapping. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

An eight-speed Geartronic automatic with auto start-stop plus all-wheel drive comes standard across the line, although the transmission and AWD systems are unique to both conventional and electrified powertrains, the latter dubbed eAWD for sourcing all of its rear-wheel power from its electric motor.

While a person could theoretically drive their XC90 T8 on electric power alone, its approximate 30-km EV range would necessitate a very short commute with very little highway time, and after that it’s merely a very potent hybrid. Still, as long as you’re not attempting to utilize its full 400 horsepower all the time, this model’s fuel economy improves over both the base T5 and mid-range T6 powertrain from 11.3 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway and 10.0 combined for the T5 AWD, 12.1 city, 8.9 highway and 10.7 combined for the as-tested T6 AWD, to 10.1, 8.8 and 9.5 respectively for the T8.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The XC90’s overhead camera is one of the best in the business. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Despite the vehicle I tested being thirstiest on this list, it’s only worst amongst a very efficient lineup of Volvo mid-size luxury SUV trims. Comparatively the segment sales-leading Lexus RX now offers an extended three-row variant that’s nowhere near as roomy in back as the XC90, but can be had in 450h L hybrid form that’s good for the best fuel economy in this class at 8.1 L/100km city, 8.4 highway and 8.1 combined, while the same model in 350 L trim only manages a rating of 13.1 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined. Likewise, the next most popular Acura MDX does a bit better than the conventionally powered Lexus with a respective 12.2, 9.0 and 10.8, while its hybrid variant achieves 9.1 city, 9.0 highway and 9.0 combined.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Truly, the XC90’s jewel-like details are exquisite. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Both Infiniti’s QX60 and Audi’s Q7 split the conventionally powered MDX and RX 350 L results with respective ratings of 12.5 city, 9.0 highway and 10.9 combined and 12.2, 9.5 and 11.0, while, again in order of popularity, Buick’s Enclave rating doesn’t measure up to the XC90 T6 either at 13.8 city, 9.5 highway and 11.9 combined (while also not measuring up in luxury, but I included it because it represents entry-level luxury in this class).

The XC90 is next in the sales hierarchy, followed by Mercedes’ three-row GLS 450 4Matic that only manages an estimated 14.9 city, 11.2 highway and 13.2 combined (how I wish they still offered their diesel), while BMW’s new X7 is rated at 12.0, 9.4 and 10.8, which isn’t too bad for this elongated three-row X5. Land Rover’s Discovery is the only non-hybrid model to beat the XC90, but not with its base V6 that can only manage 14.8, 11.4 and 13.0, this model’s diesel just sneaking below the least stingy XC90 at 11.3, 9.2 and 10.4, while the new 2020 Cadillac XT6 (the more luxurious version of the Buick Enclave) gets an estimated rating of 13.5 city, 9.7 highway and 11.5, and the new 2020 Lincoln Aviator achieves a slightly less efficient 13.7, 9.7 and 11.6 rating.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Easily two of the most comfortable front seats in the class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Such incredible efficiency and the XC90 also outhustles many of the just-noted utilities in the base trims used to compare fuel economy (including the two hybrids, which incidentally the T8 eAWD model annihilates), its mid-range T6 AWD powertrain surprisingly strong for a small displacement four-cylinder thanks to the aforementioned turbo and supercharger combination, its zero to 100 km/h acceleration time being a very spirited 6.5 seconds, which is 1.4 seconds quicker than the base XC90 T5 AWD that manages the feat in 7.9 seconds, and only 0.9 seconds slower than the ultra-advanced T8 eAWD powertrain that scoots the big Volvo from standstill to 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The second row is spacious and comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My T6 AWD tester not only looks quick on paper, but it really felt strong off the line and even more confidence inspiring when passing slower moving vehicles on the highway, while it takes to the curves effectively too. No, it doesn’t track through quick corners or feel as generally hooked up as the sportiest of Germans in this elite pack, but it can certainly hold its own against all the rest, while it delivers one of the smoothest rides in its class combined with seat comfort that’s hard to beat.

I will refrain from itemizing every feature offered in each trim level as that would be a dreadful bore for both of us and hours of painstaking work for yours truly to endure, although those wanting all the info are free to check out my 2018 XC90 R-Design review in which you can pour over all this insufferable data to your heart’s content, and for those of us who’d rather not, suffice to say the XC90 represents good value for what’s being offered, which as a reminder includes one of, if not the most opulently attired interior in its class this side of a Bentley Bentayga, and honestly much of this Volvo’s switchgear is a helluvalot better than the big winged Brit, while all of its electronic interfaces are miles more advanced.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Adults can fit comfortably into the rearmost seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Ahead of the driver is a fully digital instrument cluster with the ability to add navigation mapping and route guidance to its centre-mounted multi-information display, amongst most other functions from the vertical, tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack. This is one of my favourite centre displays and it’s packed full with every key feature currently offered by competitors, plus one of the best overhead cameras in existence.

My tester included the awesome sounding $3,250 1,400-watt 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins optional audio system, complete with its lovely drilled aluminum speaker grilles including a tiny centre dash-mounted tweeter, but this particular XC90 didn’t include the jewel-like Orrefors crystal and polished metal shifter found in last year’s R-Design tester, c’est la vie.

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
The middle portion of the second row folds down to load in longer items like skis. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The glittering diamond-pattern metal-edged rotating dial on the centre stack was exquisitely detailed, however, as were the twisting engine start/stop switch and cylindrical drive mode selector on the lower console, while the open-pore hardwood used for the scrolling bin lids around the latter switchgear and shifter, which was also found on the instrument panel and doors was absolutely stunning, not to mention the superbly crafted contrast stitched padded leather covering almost every other surface, which was backed up elsewhere by more high-quality soft-touch composite surfacing than you’ll find on most competitors.

So next time you see someone drive by in a Volvo XC90 you may want to show a similar deference offered to Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Range Rover Autobiography owners, because they’re rolling in a similar level of luxury while doing a lot more to limit fuel usage and mitigate local emissions, plus they’re obviously intelligent enough to get all of the above for hundreds of thousands less than the ultra-utilities just noted.

As you can probably tell I continue to like the XC90 very much, and therefore highly recommend it.

If you think the auto industry has given up on cars and is only relying on SUVs to turn a profit, look no further than the thoroughly reinvigorated Volvo brand and its wonderfully renewed lineup of sport…

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD Road Test

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
This is as sporty looking as wagons get, and the new 2019 Volvo V60 delivers even bigger on luxury. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you think the auto industry has given up on cars and is only relying on SUVs to turn a profit, look no further than the thoroughly reinvigorated Volvo brand and its wonderfully renewed lineup of sport wagons and crossover-styled variations on the same five-door theme. 

The first to arrive was the beautiful new V90 and V90 Cross Country duo, both having respectively replaced the old V70 and XC70 for the 2017 model year, albeit the former hasn’t been with us for a decade or so. Fast forward to 2019 and Volvo’s wagon lineup just expanded with all-new 2019 V60 and V60 Cross Country crossover models, and thanks to Volvo’s Canadian PR team leaving the sportier of the two in my driveway for three weeks last month we’ll be starting off closer to the ground. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
A fabulous design from front to back, nothing else looks anything like a new Volvo wagon. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I suppose referencing the more conventional V60 as sportier may not sit well with those who consider a trip down a gravel road with a kayak strapped to the top of the V60 Cross Country T5 AWD a more sport-oriented exercise than fast-tracking through a curving two-lane highway at the wheel of our V60 T6 AWD Inscription, not that the former car can’t manage the latter activity quite well, or vise versa. It’s just that the regular V60 is quicker when upgraded with its as-tested turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and as noted a moment ago sits a bit lower to the ground for better pavement-hugging handling, whereas the raised ride height of the Cross Country allows for greater ground clearance when traversing less hospitable backwater roads and trails. Either way, Volvo has you covered. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The V60 Inscription’s grille is one wonderfully elegant. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I suppose this is as good a time as any to talk powertrains, being that both V60 models incorporate Volvo’s innovative 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the T5 featuring turbocharging and the T6 adding the just-noted supercharger to the mix. The former makes a laudable 258 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque for thoroughly enjoyable performance from standstill up to highway speeds and beyond via eight quick-shifting automatic gears and standard all-wheel drive, whereas the latter puts 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque down to the road via the same all-wheel drivetrain. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Volvo’s trademark “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights come standard, of course. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

By the numbers, the V60 T5 AWD allows for an energetic zero to 100km/h sprint of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph), whereas the T6 AWD cuts standstill acceleration runs down to 5.7 seconds while upping maximum velocity to 249 km/h (155 mph). 

Volvo’s T6 engine seems to make a more sporting note at full throttle than I last remember, while the zero-to-100 times quoted a moment ago feel as good as they look. The drivetrain is especially engaging when set to Dynamic sport mode via the jeweled switch on the lower console, which heightens the performance of all controls. Bend it into a sharp, fast-pace curve and the V60 immediately takes on the role of unflappable sport wagon, providing an adept level of poise that almost seems too capable when simultaneously taking in its luxurious Inscription-trimmed surroundings. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
These 19-inch multi-spoke alloys are optional, but well worth the extra thousand. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The V60’s cabin is absolutely stunning, which caused me to leave the drive mode selector in Comfort more often than not, and Eco when I was paying attention, which together with auto engine start/stop provided best-possible fuel economy at a claimed 10.9 L/100km city, 7.7 highway and 9.5 combined with the as-tested T6 AWD, or alternatively 10.2, 6.8 and 8.7 for the less potent T5 FWD, and made the most of the impressively smooth ride and wonderfully quiet cabin, ideal for such resplendent accoutrements. 

As already executed to near perfection in the crossover SUV classes, Volvo once again creates the D-segment leader for interior design and execution thanks to the highest grades of materials and the finest attention to detail. From its myriad soft-touch surfaces above the waistline and below, including plush perforated leathers, to its beautifully executed decorative metal accents and matte hardwood inlays, the V60 Inscription provides a richness and elegance that’s been sorely missing from this more compact five-door luxury category. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
An aerial view of the standard panoramic sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Then there’s comfort, which has always been Volvo’s strength. The Inscription seats are superb, and that’s even before making the myriad adjustments they allow for. The seat squabs extend forward, cupping below each knee, while the backrest side bolsters power inward or outward to fit most any body type, whether you want a snuggly hug or more relaxing support. Support in mind, four-way powered lumbar means you can position extra lower back pressure just about anywhere you want it, but surprisingly not all models the V60 competes against offer four-way powered lumbar. Then again some offer powered steering columns, which is not available with the V60, so therefore the Inscription’s two-way memory settings don’t affect the steering wheel, but if it were one or the other I’d optimize seat comfort and control. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The V60’s L-shaped LED taillights are wonderfully original. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Driver setup in mind, the V60’s tilt and telescopic steering column offers ample rake and reach for all bodily forms, my long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight medium-build frame fully capable of clasping the leather-wrapped steering wheel rim with elbows optimally bent while my legs were easily within reach yet not too crowded by pedals, while plenty of small adjustments remained for tweaking during long road trips. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
If you think the exterior design is classy, wait until you get inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Looking forward, the gauge cluster is digital, which is nothing new for the V60 that along with its S60 sibling was one of the first cars in its class to offer a colour TFT display in place of the usual analogue primary instruments. Still, this 12.3-inch driver display, upsized from the base Momentum trim’s 8.0-inch unit, is a much more advanced bit of kit than the old V60’s. In fact, it takes up all available space below the instrument hood, and even better it defaults to the navigation system’s colour map that features 3D building block graphics that are fabulous fun to watch when tooling amongst the high-rises of any downtown core. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The dash design is linear minimalism from afar, but get up close and the details are amazing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, that map can be shown over on the V60’s standard 9.0-inch vertical centre touchscreen, Volvo’s Sensus interface continuing to be one of the best in the industry. It’s not that it wows with bright colours and exciting graphics, but rather because it’s more tablet-like than any of its rivals and therefore is easier to figure out. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, all of the usual gesture controls, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, responds 50 percent faster than earlier versions, although my tester’s otherwise excellent 360-degree surround parking camera was a bit lethargic at startup resulting in fashionably late appearances after I’d finished reversing out of my driveway when leaving in a rush, and thanks to an upgrade to the $3,750 optional 19-speaker 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system provided sensational sound quality, while the satellite radio colour album cover graphics were wonderful. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The 19-speaker 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio upgrade sounds sensational and adds these beautiful aluminum door grills. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Incidentally, that B&W stereo does more than just sound good, it improves the interior design thanks to a lovely little tweeter at dash central, featuring a stylish aluminum grille, while the similarly drilled aluminum door speakers let you see through to coloured cones within. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The navigation system’s 3D map automatically builds high-rise towers within the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster when driving around downtown. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those speaker grilles are surrounded by some of the only hard composite in the entire car, the rest of each door panel soft touch synthetic from top to bottom, excepting the armrest that’s covered in contrast-stitched leather. Likewise for the centre armrest/bin lid, the front edge of the dash top, and the instrument panel just below, which is why I was a bit miffed that Volvo chose not to finish the glove box lid to the same standard, leaving it hard plastic in a segment that normally softens this surface. Volvo leaves the sides of the centre console hard plastic too, but this is more than made up for by a beautiful set of satin-silver framed matte hardwood scroll-top lids for the connectors, tray and cupholders below. 

Volvo chose not to add the same wood to the doors, but surrounding the steering column and just ahead of the front passenger are lovely sculpted sections next to an equally artistic inlay of flowing satin-silver aluminum, the V60’s interior design coming across much more zen-like than anything from Japan, or Germany for that matter. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The 9-inch Volvo Sensus centre touchscreen provides tablet-like ease-of-use and excellent functionality. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I could continue on about cabin styling, the volume dial, vent controls, rotating ignition switch and cylindrical drive mode selector rimmed in a grippy diamond-patterned bright metal that sparkles as jewel-like as in any Bentley, while those aforementioned seats are as eye-arresting as sore back-alleviating, but there are still some as yet unmentioned details to cover. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The Driftwood and metal inlays on the dash and lower console are exquisitely executed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

For one, the V60 is spacious. In fact, I think the new V60 is targeting previous V70 customers just as much as those who loved the outgoing V60, thanks to 124 mm (4.9 inches) more length overall, plus a 9.6-mm (3.8-inch) longer wheelbase that results in the most spacious rear seating area in the luxury D-segment. The new model is 51 mm (2.0 inches) lower than its predecessor too, which adds to its long, sleek visual stance, but nevertheless it provides ample headroom and legroom for a six-foot passenger behind a six-foot driver, although I wasn’t able to substantiate this claim due to my previously noted five-foot-eight height. Nevertheless, I can attest to an obvious increase in cargo space, the new V60 boasting 20 percent more than the outgoing car. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Like with other new Volvos, the V60 incorporates jewel-like switchgear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Reason enough for its growth is Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that also underpins the larger V90 sport wagon, not to mention everything else in today’s Volvo lineup other than the compact XC40 crossover. Everything riding on SPA gets regularly praised by owners and auto pundits alike, with aforementioned ride-quality and quietness given near universal accolades, so it only makes sense the V60 delivers to the same high level. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Incredible comfort and support, the V60 Inscription’s driver’s seat is ultra-adjustable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve touched on features throughout this review, but have yet to go into trim details, so without further adieu the base 2019 V60 Momentum T5 FWD starts at just $43,900 plus freight and fees, which is only $50 above than last year’s base V60 yet includes standard LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats with driver’s memory, a powered liftgate, power-folding rear seat headrests, power-folding rear seatbacks with controls in the cargo compartment, a semi-automatic cargo cover that conveniently slides up and out of the way when opening the tailgate, and much more. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The standard panoramic sunroof really opens up the V60’s cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, plenty of safety gear comes standard too, including standard City Safety automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, plus Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and more. 

Of special note, the new V60 introduces an Oncoming Braking system that, if sensing an imminent head-on collision will automatically actuate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. This is said to reduce vehicle speed by 10 km/h before impact, which could potentially save lives and certainly minimize injury. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
There’s more legroom in back compared to the outgoing V60, resulting in much greater comfort for rear passengers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t go into all standard and optional features available with base Momentum or $55,400 Inscription trim, although if interested feel free to check out my previous story that covered everything in detail, so suffice to say the latter as-tested model gets a special chromed waterfall grille, cornering headlights, fog lamps, a really nice leather-wrapped and metal edged key fob, Power Steering Personal Settings with low, medium or high assistance, the gorgeous Driftwood decor inlays, digital gauge cluster and four-way powered lumbar noted earlier, Nappa leather upholstery that’s perforated for allowing through forced ventilation up front, etcetera. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
A centre pass-through makes the otherwise 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks more versatile. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Option out a V60 Inscription T6 AWD and you can have the same $1,000 19-inch multi-spoke alloys as seen on my test car, the previously noted audio upgrade, $1,300 massaging front seats and a $1,150 graphical head-up display. Additionally, my tester included a $1,250 Climate Package with heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a much-welcome heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system that uses the Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Aid and other advanced driver assistance features to keep the V60 within its chosen lane, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass; plus an $1,800 Vision Package with the aforementioned 360-degree surround parking camera, Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, front parking sensors, auto-dimming side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
More cargo space is always a bonus, plus the rear seatbacks power down automatically via buttons on the cargo wall. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And by the way, all 2019 Volvo V60 pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can find detailed pricing on trims, packages and standalone options for every other new vehicle sold in Canada, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

The only V60 attribute that arguably outshines all of the above is exterior styling, which to my eyes makes it the best-looking sport wagon in the compact luxury D-segment, and possibly the most attractive combination of new Volvo design elements to date. I love the shape of the new grille and the way the headlamps flow rearward over the front fenders, not to mention the motorsport-inspired wing strut design of the lower front fascia. Yet most of all I like this wagon’s profile, culminating at two of the most unorthodox taillights on today’s market, the V60’s sharply cut L-shaped lenses paying obvious tribute to Volvo’s recent past, but all-new and totally unique as well. 

It won’t be hard for you to tell that I really like the look of this car, and I must admit to liking everything else about it too. It made the recent holiday season all the more enjoyable and helped ring in the first week of 2019 with style, comfort and all-round class.

Hey wagon lovers! Take a look in our garage this week. This is the entirely new-from-the-ground-up 2019 Volvo V60 in top-line Inscription T6 AWD trim, which means that it looks fabulous, comes filled…

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Volvo has completely redesigned its V60 sport wagon for 2019, making it one of the brand’s best looking wagons ever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Hey wagon lovers! Take a look in our garage this week. This is the entirely new-from-the-ground-up 2019 Volvo V60 in top-line Inscription T6 AWD trim, which means that it looks fabulous, comes filled with all of Volvo’s latest non-plug-in tech, and is one luxurious family hauler. 

It’s also really roomy. In fact, we think the new V60 is targeting previous V70 customers just as much as those who loved the outgoing V60, thanks to a substantive 124-mm (4.9-inch) greater length overall, plus a 9.6-mm (3.8-inch) longer wheelbase that results in the most spacious rear seating area in the luxury D-segment. The new model is 51 mm (2.0 inches) lower than its predecessor too, which adds to its long, sleek visual stance, but nevertheless it provides ample headroom and legroom for a six-foot passenger behind a six-foot driver, or so reports claim, while the new V60 also boasts 20 percent more cargo room than the outgoing car. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The V60’s sharp new styling might have some S60 sedan fans contemplating life with a wagon. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new V60 sits atop the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) chassis architecture that underpins the larger V90 sport wagon, not to mention everything else in today’s Volvo lineup other than the compact XC40 crossover that utilizes the brand’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, which incidentally will support a new 40 series line of cars in the near future. SPA and the models built upon it have been widely praised by auto critics like us and Volvo customers alike, while sales of new Volvo products have been skyrocketing since the brand’s transformation that started with the second-generation XC90 SUV back in 2015. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The V60 boasts a new take on Volvo’s crested grilled design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

We’re not expecting this V60 sport wagon to sell anywhere near as well as that XC90 mid-size SUV or the more recently introduced XC60 compact crossover SUV, or for that matter the new V60 Cross Country that adds a little more off-road flair via the way of a raised suspension and rugged looking matte black body cladding, but the regular V60 should provide more road-hugging handling prowess, which we’ll report on later in our upcoming road test review. Big sales or not, the V60 supplies a major dose of Volvo DNA to the entire brand. 

After all, Volvo has had a wagon in its lineup longer than most people can remember, and now that the larger V90 has been slated for cancellation in Canada (it was only ever available via special order in the U.S.), availability of this V60 is critical for keeping up the Swedish brand’s pragmatic image. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Of course, Volvo’s trademark “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Pragmatic yes, but sitting down inside replaces any such practical thoughts with feelings of pampering hedonism, being that the 2019 V60 continues Volvo’s new brand ethos of providing more luxury than any rival. We won’t tell you all of our experiences yet because we’ve only taken delivery of the car and haven’t even written our notes down, but being that it looks much like everything else from the Swedish carmaker we’re expecting to find more soft-touch surfaces, satin-silver trim, jewellery-like detailing, and genuine hardwood inlays than rivals from Germany, Japan or the U.S., while Volvo’s electronic interfaces are some of the best in the business, from its standard 8.0-inch digital driver display within the gauge cluster to the optional 12.3-inch version of those same primary instruments, not to mention its standard 9.0-inch tablet-style Sensus centre-stack touchscreen. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Top-line Inscription trim gets its own set of 19-inch alloy wheels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Volvo’s Sensus touchscreen has become our go-to example of how to do infotainment systems correctly, thanks to incorporating one of the most user-friendly and feature-filled interfaces in the auto industry. The new V60’s boasts 50 percent faster processing speeds than previous iterations used in other models resulting in quicker startup, faster response from the backup camera, much improved voice activation, and speedier navigation route calculation. The standard backup camera includes dynamic guidelines and graphics for the standard rear parking sensors, while other standard functions include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, a 10-speaker 330-watt audio system, satellite radio, a four-year subscription to Volvo On-Call that features remote start and vehicle tracking, and lastly two standard USB charging ports. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
This powered panoramic sunroof even comes in base Momentum trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The base 2019 V60 Momentum T5 FWD starts at just $43,900 plus freight and fees, which is only $50 above than last year’s base V60 despite its all-new design and upgraded everything, including those aforementioned “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps. Additional standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, metal door sill treadplates, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a three-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control with a Clean Zone Air Quality system and a humidity sensor, unique Iron Ore decor inlays, Moritz leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats with two-way powered lumbar support and driver’s memory, a 120-volt household-style power outlet in the rear console, a powered liftgate, power-folding rear seat headrests, power-folding rear seatbacks with controls in the cargo compartment, a semi-automatic cargo cover that conveniently slides up and out of the way when opening the tailgate, a metal cargo scuff plate, black integrated roof rails, dual chromed tailpipes, and more. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
These L-shaped LED taillights really help the V60 stand apart from anything else on the road. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This being a Volvo means plenty of safety gear comes standard too, so therefore all 2019 V60 trims get City Safety automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, plus Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation, as well as all the usual active and passive safety features including an airbag for the driver’s knees, front seat whiplash protection, and pyrotechnical seatbelt pretensioners in all positions front to rear. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Step inside an Inscription trimmed V60 and you’ll be entering one of the most luxuriously appointed cars in the luxury D-segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of special note, the 2019 V60 introduces a new Oncoming Braking system to the entire Volvo lineup, which if sensing an imminent head-on collision will automatically actuate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. This is said to reduce vehicle speed by 10 km/h ahead of an impact, which could potentially be a lifesaver and certainly help to minimize life-altering injury. 

Momentum trim is available with the choice of two powertrains, the first being the T5 FWD that consists of Volvo’s well-proven 2.0-litre direct-injected and turbocharged engine, good for 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the second the T6 AWD that costs an additional $4,000 for a total of $48,900 yet adds a supercharger to the turbocharged four-cylinder resulting in 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The former allows for a zero to 100km/h sprint of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph), whereas the latter cuts standstill acceleration runs down to 5.7 seconds and ups maximum velocity to 249 km/h (155 mph). 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Performance is important, but comfort is king in the new V60. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Both use a quick-shifting and highly efficient eight-speed “Geartronic” automatic transmission with manual mode to transfer power to the drive wheels. The new V60 can also be had with available Drive Mode Select that includes Comfort, Eco, Dynamic sport, and Individual driving modes, while fuel-saving and emissions-reducing automatic start/stop, that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, comes standard. The V60’s official Transport Canada fuel economy rating are 10.2 L/100km in the city, 6.8 on the highway and 8.7 combined for the T5 FWD, or 10.9 city, 7.7 highway and 9.5 with the T6 AWD, which puts it right in the hunt for top efficiency within the ultra-narrow niche known as the compact luxury D-segment wagon category. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Check out the navigation system’s 3D-building graphics found within the gauge cluster’s multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To be clear, the V60 is only up against the BMW 3 Series Touring, the least efficient 2018 model of which bested the most economical V60 by a very slight margin, while turbo-diesel and plug-in hybrid variants were even thriftier, for a price (most expect the 2019 3 Series to be even more of a fuel miser, although they haven’t shown a Touring version yet), whereas the all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon only comes with one engine and driveline so far with no fuel economy specifics yet announced. 

The V60’s Dynamic Chassis is comprised of aluminum double wishbones up front and an exclusive integral link rear suspension design featuring a transverse lightweight composite leaf spring, Volvo promising both a comfortable ride and sporty handling from this fully independent setup that we’ll report on in our upcoming review. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Volvo’s tablet-style infotainment touchscreen is one of the best in the business. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Being a niche model within a shrinking non-crossover/SUV category there aren’t any adaptive suspension options, but those choosing base Momentum trim can swap out the standard Charcoal (black) or Blond (beige) leather upholstery with sharp looking $400 City Weave plaid textile inserts in either colour, while standard Black Stone or Ice White exterior paints can be upgraded to one of nine $900 metallic finishes. Additionally, a set of $1,000 18-inch five Y-spoke diamond cut alloy wheels can be added too, while individual options include a $250 Charcoal headliner, $1,150 graphical head-up display unit, and $1,200 14-speaker, 600-watt Harmon/Kardon audio system. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Those are matte finished hardwood scrolling lids next to the 8-speed automatic’s shift lever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Momentum buyers can also add a $1,250 Climate Package that includes heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s advanced Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass integrated into the rearview mirror; an $1,800 Vision Package with a 360-degree surround parking camera, Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, front parking sensors, auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert; and lastly a $3,400 Momentum Plus Package incorporating dynamic cornering headlamps, headlight washers, fog lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access with a hands-free tailgate function that lets you open the liftgate by waving a foot below the rear bumper, the aforementioned 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Drive Mode Select, four-zone automatic climate control, navigation (that lets the cruise control access map data for adjusting vehicle speed through corners when appropriate), Road Sign Information, and more. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Twist this bit of eye-catching jewelry and V60’s advanced engine comes to life. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you opt for the T6 AWD, all of the same standalone options and packages remain, except for wheels that start with a unique set of open-spoke 18-inch alloys as standard equipment and can be upgradable to a set of $1,000 19-inch alloys, while special Amber caramel brown leather becomes an interior option. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Just how comfortable are the V60’s front seats? Come back for the full review to find out… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Moving up to $55,400 Inscription trim adds the T6 AWD powertrain as standard equipment, plus a unique chromed waterfall grille, bright metal integrated roof rails, unique 10-spoke 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, fog lamps, cornering headlights, a special leather-wrapped and metal edged Inscription key fob, low, medium or high steering assistance via Power Steering Personal Settings, Driftwood decor inlays, the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, four-way powered lumbar support, ventilated front seats, and more. 

Option out a V60 Inscription T6 AWD and you can have special $1,000 19-inch multi-spoke alloys, the aforementioned Charcoal headliner and graphical head-up display, as well as a $3,750 19-speaker 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio upgrade, and $1,300 massaging front seats. The Momentum Plus Package is no longer offered due to most of it being standard in Inscription trim, but the three remaining Climate, Convenience and Vision packages are still available. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Here’s another view of that expansive glass sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And by the way, all 2019 Volvo V60 pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can find detailed pricing on trims, packages and standalone options for every other new vehicle sold in Canada, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
How’s the room back here? Check out our upcoming review to learn more… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While Momentum and Inscription are the only two trims currently available, we’d like to think that a sportier V60 R-Design will arrive at some point in the near future, which we’d hope would add special 18-inch alloy wheels with the option of unique 19s, plus steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and slightly edgier interior and exterior design, while it would incorporate most of the same features offered in the Inscription. Likewise, we hope the V60 will also be available with Volvo’s T8 Twin-Engine powertrain that uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to increase engine output to 400 horsepower while reducing fuel consumption considerably. Additionally, the outgoing V60 was also available in factory-built Polestar trim, a car we covered in 2017 guise right here. This was a fabulous performance, so needless to say we’d love to see something similar recreated for this all-new V60. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Need cargo space? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

For now we’ll enjoy a double dose of our more luxury-oriented 2019 V60 Inscription for two weeks no less, much thanks to Volvo that provided an extra week of pampering comfort over the holidays. This will give us plenty of time to experience all of its goodness while doing our best to suss out any weaknesses (sorry Volvo). So until our full road test review arrives make sure to peruse our photo gallery above…

You can count the number of luxury sport wagons available to Canadians on one hand. Raised crossovers and low-volume plug-in electrics aside, BMW offers one true wagon, Mercedes-Benz antes up with two,…

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design Road Test

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
Need the practicality of an SUV, but want the performance of a low-slung sport sedan? Look no further than the new Volvo V90. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You can count the number of luxury sport wagons available to Canadians on one hand. Raised crossovers and low-volume plug-in electrics aside, BMW offers one true wagon, Mercedes-Benz antes up with two, and Volvo gives us the choice of another duo, one of which I recently spent some quality time with. 

I purposely slid the word “quality” into my previous sentence to highlight the incredible lengths the Swedish brand has gone to up its game when it comes to fit, finish, premium materials, attention to detail, technology leadership, powertrain advancements, and just generally providing an awe inspiring sense of occasion that at the very least measures up to its German contemporaries, and often surpasses them. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
The V90 looks sportiest in R-Design trim, plus my tester’s optional 20-inch alloys don’t hurt matters either. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester this time around was the 2018 V90 in T6 R-Design trim, which in Volvo-speak means that I had the sportiest of its three trim levels, showing second on the brand’s rung of aspirational feature sets, yet for the most part on the same level as top-tier V90 Inscription trim. 

To clarify, the V90 is offered in $60,500 base (but by no means basic) Momentum trim, $65,100 R-Design guise, or lastly as the $66,700 Inscription, and make sure you see all prices, including dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, at CarCostCanada, where I referenced these. As you can see there’s little price differentiation from R-Design to Inscriptions trims, so both can be considered top of the line. It really comes down to priorities. Personally, I’m more attracted to this sportier R-Design model, but I must admit to really liking the design of this practical five-door sport wagon no matter the trim. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
No matter the angle, the V90 R-Design looks fabulous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

A quick review of features shows you’ll be getting an impressively outfitted car no matter which version you choose, with the base Momentum including standard 18-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights with active cornering and high-pressure cleaners, fog lamps, proximity access, pushbutton start, an electromechanical parking brake, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather shift knob, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8.0-inch digital gauge cluster, Road Sign Information (RSI), adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving capability, dual-zone automatic climate control, a large tablet-style touchscreen filled with one of the best infotainment interfaces in the industry, a clear backup camera with dynamic guidelines, rear parking sensors, accurate navigation with detailed mapping, 224-watt 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, Volvo On-Call featuring remote start and vehicle tracking, active noise control, leather upholstery, heatable power-adjustable front seats including four-way lumbar and driver’s memory, power-folding rear seat headrests that flip down to make seeing rearward easier when no passengers are in back, power release folding rear seatbacks, a hands-free powered liftgate, and more. Whew! That’s a long list, and Momentum is just the base model. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
“Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Volvo never shortchanges its loyal clientele on standard safety features either, so along with Volvo’s usual tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist, ABS, usual collection of airbags including one for the driver’s knees, etcetera, the V90 comes equipped with autonomous front collision mitigation with pedestrian detection as well as a lane keeping aid, and the systems weren’t overly sensitive so they gave off no false alarms, yet came into action each time they were needed. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
These sporty 20-inch alloys on Pirelli P Zeros only cost $1,000 more and really look good while providing better handling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Autonomous in mind, aforementioned Pilot Assist won’t completely take over the steering wheel, but as a precursor to full autonomous driving it works together with the adaptive cruise control to provide short-duration self-driving in the city and on the highway, so long as road markings are clearly visible. It works quite well too, but for the time being such systems are in their development stage and therefore are more novelties than anything particularly useful. I did find it helpful during bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, however, where it when about its business quite effectively, allowing me to relax a bit more than I would normally. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
That’s one very big vertical LED taillight, ideal for grabbing the attention of cars behind when slamming on the brakes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

R-Design trim enhances styling with unique diamond-cut 19-inch alloys framing an upgraded sport suspension, a special blackened grille and trim, matte silver side mirror caps, and silk metal side window trim, while inside it gets an even nicer perforated leather sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, metal foot pedals, a full 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that’s beautifully detailed and filled with functions, four-zone auto climate control that includes a panel with controls in back, a subwoofer for the stereo, richer Nubuck leather upholstery, ultra-comfortable contoured sport seats with added side bolstering and a driver’s cushion extension that nicely cups under the knees for added support, unique Metal Mesh décor inlays, a black headliner, rear side sunshades, and plenty of R-Design branding. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
Come on in! It’s very comfortable and wonderfully luxurious in here. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t go into too much detail regarding Inscription trim, but as noted before its feature set is much the same as with the R-Design other than the latter model’s sportier theme getting replaced by a unique chromed waterfall grille and ritzier chrome elements on the outside, whereas the interior is pure class due to beautiful Linear Walnut trim and stunning perforated Fine Nappa leather. Also, take note the Inscription includes ventilated front seats, front passenger seat memory, and more. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
The quality of materials and artisanship is as good as this class gets and better than most. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

No matter the trim specified, everything comes together within a cabin that’s not only beautifully finished as noted earlier, but also supremely comfortable and ergonomically ideal. Finding the perfect driving position is easy, and that’s a big bonus for me as my shorter torso and longer legs don’t always fit within Volvo’s competitors. The V90 offers ample telescopic steering wheel reach and plenty of rake, while the seat adjustments provide more than enough flexibility for most any body type to find a good position. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
The V90’s digital gauge cluster looks great and is highly functional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The outboard rear seats are comfortable too, and especially supportive at the lower back while wonderfully sculpted with thick side bolsters similar to those up front, plus the flip-down armrest is wide and filled with pop-out cupholders as well as a handy lidded storage compartment. The large panoramic sunroof overhead offers an open and airy environment, while Volvo also provides real air via an excellent rear ventilation system that includes outlets on the backside of the front centre console plus additional vents on the B-pillars. Lastly, the three-way heatable outboard cushions noted earlier add rear passenger comfort on cold winter mornings. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
That’s one serious bird’s eye view, taken from the V90’s optional surround camera. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those rear seat heaters will be appreciated when traveling home from a day on the slopes too, and thanks to ultra-useful 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks they can be put to use while everyone’s skis are placed down the middle. Volvo also finishes the V90’s cargo area off beautifully, with a stylish metal cargo door protection plate that sits above another similar metal guard atop the bumper (this one a $155 option from the accessories catalogue), two of the nicest chromed tie-down hooks available from any luxury manufacturer, high quality yet durable carpeting most everywhere, and lastly a $215 reversible cargo mat from the accessories catalogue. What’s more, V90’s cargo cover is a technological marvel all on its own, automatically moving up and out of the way when the powered liftgate is opened, while below the strut-mounted load floor is a shallow but useful carpeted tray that sits above the compact spare tire and tools. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
With all of the unusual gear selector’s these days, the V90’s elegant yet straightforward lever connecting to an 8-speed auto is refreshing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you’re getting the idea that Volvo goes above and beyond to provide a new level of luxury to its fortunate followers, I’m glad. That’s what I’m trying to convey, and it gets even better when factoring in the driving experience. It starts with the most advanced 2.0-litre engine available today, the Swedish brand’s direct-injected four-cylinder benefiting from turbocharging as well as supercharging in order to make a stellar 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s real V6 power from a fuel-efficient four, the Transport Canada numbers coming in at 10.6 L/100km city, 7.6 highway and 9.3 combined, which is excellent considering the performance available. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
These upgraded R-Design sport seats are superb. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Aiding the powertrain is an efficient eight-speed automatic with auto start-stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, reducing fuel consumption and emissions, but to just comment on this highly responsive transmission’s wallet and environmentally friendly attributes wouldn’t be doing it full justice, as, together with the aforementioned paddle shifters, it provides engaging hands-on performance that really ups the entire driving experience. 

Improving handling and stability in both dry and slippery conditions is standard all-wheel drive, but my favourite V90 attribute is its incredible ride quality. Together with the previously noted seats, the V90’s cushioning ride is best in class, and that’s even after factoring in my tester’s $1,000 optional 20-inch eight-spoke silver diamond-cut alloys on 255/35 Pirelli P Zero performance rubber. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
Now that’s a sunroof! It’s powered too, and makes the cabin feel like a convertible. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My test car didn’t include the $2,350 available Four-C Active Chassis and rear air suspension however, which would have made it even smoother, while upping performance by automatically maintaining a constant ride height. The Four-C system utilizes the standard Drive Mode settings, which include Comfort mode, Eco mode, and Dynamic sport mode, but specifically enhances the suspension calibration of each, while the standard Drive Mode system enhances powertrain and steering characteristics, plus climate control in Eco mode. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
Rear seating is roomy and comfortable, with excellent side bolstering and lumbar support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While we’re on the subject of options, my tester also included deep, rich $900 Onyx Black metallic paint on the outside and $750 worth of sensational carbon fibre inlays inside, plus a $2,000 Vision Package featuring auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, and one of the best 360-degree surround parking cameras in the biz; a $1,500 Convenience Package with a compass integrated into the rearview mirror, front and rear parking sensors, and Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self-parking; a $3,000 Leather package featuring Charcoal leather R-Design seats and a tailored leather dash top and door uppers; a $1,250 Climate package with heated wiper blades, a heatable steering wheel, and those heatable rear outboard seats noted earlier; an outrageously good $3,250 Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system with a 12-channel amplifier, 1400 watts of output and 19 separate speakers including a tweeter on top of the centre speaker that minimizes acoustic reflection from the windshield; and lastly a $1,150 Graphical Heads-Up Display that projects speed, speed limit info, navigation directions and more onto the windshield ahead of the driver, with everything listed pushing my V90 R-Design tester’s list price up to $80,270 before freight and fees. 

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design
Need to stow gear? Look no further than the V90’s accommodating cargo compartment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

There were a few other options available, like rear entertainment, dual two-stage child booster seats integrated within the rear outboard seats, and the aforementioned suspension upgrade, but for the most part this is a fully loaded mid-size Volvo sport wagon. 

Getting back to the competition, the V90 truly only really competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon being that both are mid-size E-segment vehicles, whereas the others are based on compact D-segment models. So if you happen to appreciate the practicality of a larger five-door body style yet want the low-slung performance of a luxury sport sedan, the V90 is an excellent choice.

Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018…

New Volvo XC60 wins 2018 North American Utility of the Year

2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
The stylish new Volvo XC60 has just won the 2018 North American Utility of the Year award. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018 XC60 compact SUV’s turn to be honoured with the prestigious title.

Like the previous winner, the sharp looking 2nd-generation XC60 represents a completely fresh approach for Volvo and a much more competitive entry within the compact luxury SUV segment.

“The Volvo XC60 raises the bar for safety and driver assistance systems in compact utility vehicles, and does it in a package that exudes Scandinavian design,” said Mark Phelan, president of the North American Car of the Year Awards organization.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
A factor benefiting the new XC60 is a strong engine lineup that includes this T8 model’s 400-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Photo: Volvo)

It’s true, Volvo is one of few models in the compact luxury SUV segment to include autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist as standard equipment, while additional standard safety gear include full LED headlamps, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, a driver’s knee airbag, and more. On top of these advanced features, the new 2018 XC60 can be upfitted with automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, and new Pilot Assist, which is Volvo’s highly advanced semi-autonomous driver assistance system that manages steering, acceleration, and braking on well-marked roads up to 130 km/h (80 mph).

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
Few XC60 rivals offer standard LED headlamps, this just one of many advanced safety features that set the compact luxury SUV apart from its peers. (Photo: Volvo)

Like in previous years, the 2018 North American Utility of the Year was chosen by a jury of 60 professional automotive journalists from the US and Canada who provide content for independent print newspapers and magazines, TV and radio stations, plus websites. The results of their findings were presented at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month. The award, which also includes a Car and Truck of the Year, honours “excellence in innovation, design, safety features, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value,” stated a press release.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s standard infotainment system is large at 9.0 inches, plus it’s an award-winning system that’s been lauded by customers and industry professionals alike. (Photo: Volvo)

“We are so proud the XC60 has won this prestigious award,” said Anders Gustafsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars USA. “It is a very tough competition and we thank all the judges for recognizing the great style, technology, and engineering in the XC60. All car shoppers should take a test drive to see for themselves how great it really is.”

It appears a lot of Canadian consumers have done just that since the new 2018 XC60 was introduced in August last year. Prior to that XC60 annual deliveries had been hovering between 1,500 to 1,700 unit sales for years, but despite only being on the market for five months the new redesign helped push XC60 sales up to 2,315 deliveries for 2017. More specifically, year-over-year XC60 sales were up 41 percent in August, 140 percent in September, 290 percent in October, 264 percent in November, and 251 percent in December. The importance of this growth can’t be underestimated, as the XC60 represented 30 percent of the Swedish brand’s worldwide sales before the redesigned version arrived, so therefore the new model’s uptick in popularity will be a boon to the Volvo brand overall.

2018 Volvo XC60
This panoramic sunroof is standard across the entire XC60 line, just one of many examples of the XC60’s value proposition. (Photo: Volvo)

Part of the 2018 XC60’s appeal is its highly efficient yet powerful engine lineup. All utilize Volvo’s direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-litre “Drive-E” four-cylinder, with the base T5 version making 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The same turbo-four in T6 trim adds a supercharger for a boost to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, whereas the XC60 T8 includes the supercharger as well as identical Twin Power plug-in hybrid technology to the XC90 T8, resulting in 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. This allows the XC60 T8 to sprint from zero to 100km/h in only 5.3 seconds.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
This top-line XC60 T8 Inscription model shows how far upmarket Volvo has taken its luxury image. (Photo: Volvo)

All powertrains are made even more efficient thanks to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission featuring automated engine start/stop functionality to reduce emissions and save fuel, the technology helping the new 2018 XC60 achieve a five-cycle Transport Canada claimed rating of 10.7 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway, and 9.8 combined for the XC60 T5 AWD powertrain, or 11.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.2 combined for the XC60 T6 AWD, albeit no estimate yet for the XC60 T8 eAWD.

This won’t stop us from guessing that the smaller, lighter XC60 T8 eAWD will be slightly thriftier on fuel than larger, heavier mid-size XC90 T8 eAWD, an SUV already rated at 10.1 L/100km city, 8.8 highway and 9.5 combined. This said, when factoring in regular charging an owner could potentially drive the XC90 T8 eAWD every day without ever needing to fill the gas tank, although its official Le/100km (gasoline litres equivalent per 100 kilometres) rating is more conservatively estimated at 4.7 combined city/highway. A slightly better rating should be achievable with the new XC60 T8 eAWD.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s rear legroom is best-in-class. (Photo: Volvo)

While the new 2018 XC60’s powertrain lineup might be reason enough to earn it North American Utility of the Year status, its many other attributes combine for a truly special compact SUV. Its styling, which combines key design cues from its larger XC90 sibling as well as other recently redesigned Volvo models, also has some completely new elements of its own, while its uniquely rich interior design and execution raises the bar in the compact luxury SUV segment.

Its 965 millimetres (38 inches) of rear legroom is best in class as well, while its 731 litres (25.8 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind its 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 1,792 litres (63.3 cubic feet) of maximum luggage space make it one of the easiest to live with in its segment. Additionally, the XC60 comes standard with a convenient rear centre pass-through that lets rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable outboard seats while longer cargo, such as skis, get stowed down the middle.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60 delivers one of the roomiest cargo compartments in its class, plus the convenience of a centre pass-through as well as optional power-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Volvo)

The 2018 XC60 represents strong value as well, with additional standard features not yet mentioned including an electromechanical parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a high-resolution colour multi-information display, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, heatable powered front seats with driver’s memory, one of the largest infotainment touchscreen’s in the class at 9.0 inches, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, voice activation, SMS/text message reading and response capability, 10-speaker premium audio, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear liftgate, roof rails, and much more.

The base 2018 Volvo XC60 Momentum is available now from just $46,350 before freight and fees, while the sportiest R-Design model can be had for $56,000 and top-tier Inscription trim starts at $57,600.

Polestar, a name that was formed to conjure images of Sweden’s cold northern regions (north star, north pole) as well as achieving pole position (being in the very front at the start of a race), became…

Volvo XC60 and XC90 Polestar models good for 421 hp if you can get one

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 with Polestar Performance Optimization
Volvo’s popular XC90 can be upgraded with new Polestar Performance Optimization packages for T5 and T6 trims, but we’re still waiting on the 421-hp T8 version. (Photo: Volvo)

Polestar, a name that was formed to conjure images of Sweden’s cold northern regions (north star, north pole) as well as achieving pole position (being in the very front at the start of a race), became Volvo’s official in-house performance division in 2015 after decades of independent racing programs, concept car development, upgrade packages with performance tuning, plus full Polestar branded S60 and V60 sport models.

Now Polestar is being spun off as a standalone brand complete with a new double-V logo (kind of like this “><”), while it will also continue optimizing Volvo models under its new Polestar Engineered sub-brand, its latest creations promising to become both environmental icons and impressively quick SUVs.

2018 Volvo XC60 T6
Volvo’s new 2018 XC60 T6 can be upgraded to 334-hp with its available Polestar Performance Optimization package. (Photo: Volvo)

It all starts with some very impressive rolling stock, Volvo’s all-new 2018 XC60 compact SUV with its top-tier T8 Twin Engine power unit, and the 2018 XC90 T8 Twin Engine mid-size model, two luxury SUVs that produce 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque for claimed sprints of zero to 100km/h in just 5.3 and 5.6 seconds apiece respectively when “Power” mode is selected. While this is already impressive, the new Polestar versions pump up combined gasoline and electric output by 21 horsepower and 28 lb-ft of torque each, for new totals of 421 horsepower and 501 lb-ft.

Polestar branding
Volvo announced a separate new Polestar brand of electrified performance models, and this is the logo. (Photo: Polestar)

While shaving just 0.1 seconds from the larger SUV’s sprint time and an undisclosed (so far) amount from the smaller, lighter model (likely about 0.2 seconds for just over 5.0 seconds to 100km/h), other aspects of engine performance and gearbox functionality are improved as well, including “throttle response, off-throttle response, gearshift speed and hold,” taking the new models to “a new level of driving pleasure,” said Volvo in a press release. Volvo promises the changes will be most noticeable during everyday driving, such as when merging onto the highway, overtaking a slower vehicle or exiting a curve.

Polestar 1 Concept
This Polestar 1 rendering promises an exciting future for Volvo’s spinoff performance brand. (Photo: Polestar)

“The gearbox shifts faster,” adds Volvo, with gearshift points that have been “calibrated to utilize the optimized mid-range engine performance.” Likewise, “the gear-hold function maintains the same gear when cornering with high lateral g-force in order to avoid unsettling the balance of the car.”

“Our goal is to create usable performance in everyday driving situations for Volvo owners who want an enhanced driving experience,” said Henrik Fries, Vice President, Research and Development at Polestar when speaking about the new XC60 T8 with the Polestar upgrade. “The new XC60 has provided us with an excellent base to work on with a dynamic chassis and a state of the art powertrain. With the Polestar optimization, it makes the new Volvo XC60 a true drivers’ car.”

2018 Volvo S90 T8
In an interesting twist on the way most people see performance, Volvo’s plug-in electrified T8 models will produce the most power. (Photo: Volvo)

Separating these two specially tuned Volvos from other performance SUVs are expected fuel economy numbers that won’t anger Mother Nature. In fact, they shouldn’t change much from the less powerful variants, the XC60 T8 Twin Engine-powered SUV already achieving a claimed 10.1 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 8.8 combined, while the XC90 T8 Twin Engine gets a claimed 10.1 L/100km city, 8.8 highway and 9.5 combined, or 4.7 Le/100km combined city/highway when factoring in regular plug-in charging (or potentially zero if your daily commute is less than its 43-kilometre EV range).

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 with Polestar Performance Optimization
While all Polestar Performance Optimization packages improve acceleration and responsiveness, enthusiasts are talking most about the 421-hp T8 version. (Photo: Volvo)

While all this spells good news for Volvo’s performance fans, the hiccup has been delivery. Dealers have XC60 T8 and XC90 T8 customers waiting for the Polestar optimization upgrades, but so far the package components haven’t arrived. How long can those customers expect to wait? According to Kyle Denton, Public Relations and Events Manager for Volvo Canada, “There is no timeline set at this point.”

Considering Volvo Canada made the official T8 Polestar Performance Optimization package announcement all the way back in July, garnering a lot of news and plenty of excitement in the process, having no timeline for delivery isn’t likely the answer those customers expected to hear.

2018 Volvo XC60 T6
No matter the drivetrain and performance available, all new Volvos get exceptionally good fuel economy. (Photo: Volvo)

Of note, XC60 and XC90 customers that purchase base T5 and mid-range T6 powertrains can get Polestar optimized packages, with both models using the T5 powertrain getting a 7 horsepower nudge to 261 horsepower, and those fitted with the T6 enjoying a more significant 14 horsepower bump to 334 horsepower. Like the T8 models covered above, Volvo stresses the biggest improvements are made to powertrain and transmission responsiveness throughout the rev range.

2018 Volvo XC90 T8
The XC60 and XC90’s 2.0-litre turbo-four is available with six different tuning levels when factoring in Polestar variants. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo also offers Polestar Performance Optimization with its other models, but only its S90 and V90/V90 Cross Country models experience a power boost when applied to its T5 engine, the increase identical to the XC60 and XC90’s, resulting in 261 horsepower. The S60 and V60/V60 Cross Country T5s remain unchanged at 243 horsepower, with the Polestar upgrade only enhancing how that power is applied. Alternatively, like the XC60 and XC90 T6 models, Polestar Performance Optimization packages for the S90 and V90/V90 Cross Country T6 boost the models to 334 horsepower, whereas S60 and V60/V60 Cross Country T6 models move up 4 horsepower to 310.

2018 Volvo XC90 T8
XC60 and XC90 performance ranges from 254 to 421 horsepower. (Photo: Volvo)

As noted earlier, Polestar has its roots in motorsport. It began as Flash Engineering in 1996 under the leadership of Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) winner Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson, with the purpose of contesting Volvos in the same series, initiated by a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) built 850 Super Touring sedan. A TWR-constructed S40 Super Touring was entered in 1998, after which a Prodrive-sourced S60 S2000 hit the track in 2003.

With more than 100 STCC wins spanning nearly a decade to its credit, Christian Dahl, who originally joined Flash as chief mechanic in 2001, purchased the team halfway through 2004 and rebranded it Polestar in 2005. Polestar Racing continued to compete and win with the S60 S2000 until 2009 when a C30 S2000 became the basis for the next-generation STCC challenger, which was the same year they started modifying Volvo road cars under their separate Polestar Performance brand.

Volvo Polestar racing history
Volvo has enjoyed decades of motorsport involvement thanks to association with Polestar, this photo showing a double victory at the famed Nürburgring track. (Photo: Volvo)

The first street-spec car was the one-off 405-horsepower all-wheel drive C30 Polestar Concept in 2010, complete with a 4.6-second sprint to 100 km/h and the audacious sound of straight exhaust, followed by the S60 Polestar Concept in 2012, which produced 508 horsepower and hit 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds before attaining a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). These garnered so much interest that production cars ensued in 2013, including the S60 Polestar and the V60 Polestar.

All Polestar optimized Volvos pull from that lengthy motorsport heritage, and therefore promise stronger performance along with all the other attributes Volvos are revered for.

It should be noted that Polestar Engineered upgrades are installed at the dealer level, so you have the option of adding them at the time of purchase and including it in your monthly payment, or doing so at a later date. Either way, upping performance with the Polestar Performance Optimization package doesn’t infringe on your Volvo’s warranty.

For more information, contact your Volvo retailer.

Volvo has been very busy remaking its entire brand over the past few years. It started with a focus on powertrains, its various five-cylinders and V6s gradually replaced by a lineup of efficient direct-injection…

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
The 2017 Volvo S60 still looks good after all these years, especially in top-line T6 AWD trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Volvo has been very busy remaking its entire brand over the past few years. It started with a focus on powertrains, its various five-cylinders and V6s gradually replaced by a lineup of efficient direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinders. Pricier trims went a step further by integrating both turbocharging and supercharging into the same 2.0-litre four, while the all-new award-winning XC90 SUV even has a plug-in hybrid version of the latter.

That XC90 ushered in the second phase of Volvo’s metamorphosis, a wholesale brand-wide design that included an entirely new level of opulent luxury and future-tech feature sets. The XC90 was quickly followed by an entirely new mid-size luxury sedan dubbed S90 (replacing the S80), this model including a wagon variant named V90 (replacing the V70), plus an immediately more popular raised crossover model that—in Volvo tradition—goes by the name of V90 Cross Country (replacing the V70 Cross Country/XC70).

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
The design is sleek and elegant, while very aerodynamic. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While all of this is thoroughly exciting to anyone working for Volvo or supportive of the storied Swedish marque, the new 2018 XC60, which looks like a smaller interpretation of the XC90, will certainly become Volvo’s new sales leader when it goes on sale later this year.

This leaves the D-segment S60, currently in our garage, as well as its V60 and V60 Cross Country siblings, which I’ve reviewed previously, as the lone Volvo line yet to go under the surgeon’s knife, plus of course an entire line of subcompact cars and SUVs that have yet to surface.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
These wheels and some of the front fascia details are part of the T6 AWD upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While not as new in styling or features as the updated models mentioned, the S60 is still very worthy of attention, especially those who tend to hold onto their cars longer and therefore wouldn’t suffer from as much depreciation when the updated model arrives next year on a new modular chassis architecture that Volvo will use exclusively (the current S60 reaches back seven years to when Ford sold the brand to China’s Geely, while the Volvo V3/Ford EUCD chassis it rides upon is 11 years old—coming into use with the S80—and has been shared with many Ford and Land Rover models ever since).

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
S60 quality can’t be faulted. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The design is clean, uncluttered and especially aerodynamic, and I must admit still looks smart if not the newest kid on the block. Unfortunately it sells into a premium sector that thrives on latest and greatest, hence why newer Volvo designs have mostly seen big boosts in sales (especially the XC90) and why this one has seen its once strong market share slowly and steadily erode from a high of 3,227 units in 2002 to an initial bump of 1,519 in 2011 and then a slightly higher blip to 1,525 in 2012, both after the redesigned version hit the road, to just 657 examples last year. There’s a silver lining in all of this dreariness, however; the previous low before this second-gen car arrived in 2010 was 208 deliveries, meaning they’ve got a lot more to build upon this time around.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
A fully digital gauge package, just another surprise that continues to make the S60 special. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While it’s fair to say the exterior sheetmetal is still plenty attractive, the cabin is very high in quality and designed with one part minimalism and another button overkill, but being a fan of classic high-end audio equipment this works well for me. The majority of buttons are clustered atop the floating centre stack, still a lovely design element, and they’re positioned to make a lot of sense once acclimatized, especially the HVAC interface that’s basically a body pictograph (you don’t even need to speak Swedish to figure it out—or English).

Above that is a fully featured infotainment system with good graphics and nice contrast for good depth of colour, and while not as impressive as the best-in-class tablet-style touchscreen interface found in the XC90 and S90/V90 series, it’s quite serviceable and includes a backup camera with active guidelines as well as navigation in my top-tier T6 AWD tester.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
I still love this unique and very hands-on control interface. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even more impressive is the S60’s fully configurable primary gauge cluster. Volvo was early to adopt a feature that’s now becoming more prevalent in competitors’ higher trims, and they did a very good job on this one, plus its resolution quality is extremely good.

No matter the trim level the S60 delivers an upscale environment with superb attention to detail, very high quality padded soft synthetic surface treatments, tastefully applied satin-finished and brushed metals, and some of the best seats in the car industry.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
They’re even more comfortable than they look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ll leave my road test analysis to my upcoming review, and won’t comment too much further on the S60’s other attributes or detractors, but only add that my tester was equipped with the upgraded turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, plus AWD fed through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters.

That’s a cutting edge drivetrain considering its conservative styling, and one I’ll soon tell you all about. Come join me back here in a couple of weeks for the full review…