2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription
Class: Premium Midsize Crossover SUV
Miles driven: 295
Fuel used: 9.9 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 29.8 mpg
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||400-hp 2.0-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged, supercharged, 4-cyl plug-in hybrid|
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 55 MPGe combined, 27 mpg combined
Fuel type: Premium gas required
Base price: $67,500 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Inscription Features ($6300), Advanced Package ($2450), Luxury Package ($3100), metallic paint ($645), Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system ($3200), Park Assist Pilot ($200), 4-corner air suspension ($1800), 21-inch multi-spoke wheels ($800)
Price as tested: $86,990
The great: Luxurious, beautifully finished cabin; impressive acceleration with potentially outstanding fuel economy
The good: Classy exterior styling, occupant space in first- and second-row seats
The not so good: Some tedious infotainment controls; third-row seats can be cramped for adult passengers
More XC90 price and availability information
If you’re not a newcomer to The Daily Drive, then you may know our high regard for the Volvo XC90: Consumer Guide has named the 3-row premium midsize crossover a “Best Buy” ever since the vehicle’s 2016 redesign. (If you are a Daily Drive newbie, consider yourself now caught up on this point.) A roomy, high-style interior, and performance that’s pleasantly surprising given that it’s based on a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine are things that have impressed us.
Since the XC90’s last redo, Volvo has improved it in steps, adding a feature or trim variation here and there. The same measured change is carried out for 2020. There are some appearance tweaks—notably a concave-surface grille—and the Excellence model, with a 6-figure starting price that vastly outreached the rest of the lineup, has been dropped. That leaves the Inscription models at the head of the line, and it was one of those that CG editors tested.
We’re hardly strangers to XC90 Inscriptions, having sampled them as 2017 and 2019 models. We’ll direct your attention to those reviews for deeper discussion of road manners, accommodations, and features. But the ’20 Inscription we drove was equipped with an engine we had not previously tried out (at least not in the XC90), and it came with a new seating arrangement.
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The T8 plug-in-hybrid powerplant in the latest test car develops a maximum of 400 horsepower from a 313-horse turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter gas-fed four paired with an 87-horsepower electric motor. (The T6 version of the engine without the electric assist makes 316 horsepower and the turbo-only T5 variant is rated at 250.) It is paired with an effective 8-speed automatic transmission, and subject to six selectable driving modes.
The default position is “Hybrid,” which toggles between gas and electric power as needed. The 5100-pound Inscription, which comes with standard all-wheel drive, gets around just fine in this setting, and transitions between the power sources are utterly unobtrusive. “Power” is the maximum-strength formula, so to speak, calling into play both power sources for a livelier driving experience that you can feel at the accelerator, certainly, but also in crisper steering. With “Pure” mode the XC90 can be driven solely on electric power for a limited time. The battery powers the rear axle’s electric motor and conserves juice by reducing certain climate functions. With battery capacity newly boosted to 11.6 kWh (from 10.4 kWh), the 2020 XC90 T8 is projected to go up to 18 fully electric miles; when one of our testers motored off with a full charge, he covered 16.9 miles—more than half his evening commute—before the hybrid battery was drained and the gas engine took over.
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As a hybrid, the XC90 can return some charge to the battery through regenerative braking. Most hybrids have a lazy brake-pedal feel until near the end—a side effect of the regenerative capture—but the 2020 XC90 has switched to an electronic brake-control system that delivers more “natural” brake performance. With instruments showing about one eighth of charge capacity (gained through regen), the vehicle needed one hour, 45 minutes to fully charge on a 240-volt “level 2” charger. EPA estimates for gas-engine operation are 26 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway, and 27 combined. Though CG testers’ overall high percentage of highway driving barely cracked 23 mpg, one editor achieved 32.7 mpg on 55 percent city use.
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The remaining drive modes are more situational in nature. Traction-boosting “Off Road” is restricted to speeds less than 25 mph; “Constant AWD” is designed to address slippery conditions mainly at lower speeds; and “Individual” allows for customization of any of the other modes.
Inscription and Momentum models are newly available with adjustable second-row captain’s chairs, and our 2020 test model had them. The seats are comfortable (and were heated, thanks to the Luxury Package option), but lack inboard flip-up armrests—a detail we typically associate with captain’s chairs. Second-row legroom is as ample with the individual seats as with the alternative bench. A center seating position is sacrificed, but pass-through to the two third-row seats is easy. For the sake of adding cargo capacity, the captain’s chairs fold utterly flat, as do the third-row seats, but there are gaps behind and between the second-row seats that will require care for certain loads.
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With a thorough complement of options applied, the test truck came in at $86,990, and price is one of the few things about we’ve had reason to question about some XC90s. (The tester was nicely turned out from headliner to carpets.) At least we went a whole review without mentioning how annoyed we are with the Sensus infotainment system.
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2020 Volvo XC90 T8