If you ask most people what they know about Volvo, you’ll hear a lot about safety. That is true, but it’s far short of the whole story. Volvo is one of Europe’s premier luxury brands, with enough of a performance story to hold the interest of serious enthusiasts. Sweden’s leading automaker is also a tech powerhouse; while still maintaining their focus on safety.
Volvo also has one of the newest product lines in the industry. The company has refreshed or replaced its entire catalog in the last five years. Digital Trends was recently invited up to Banff, Alberta to experience the newest Volvo trims and models introduced for the 2020 model year. Instead of a traditional car review, we’ll wrap up what’s new and what you need to know about the XC60 compact and XC90 mid-size SUVs, and about the V60 Cross Country crossover wagon.
The XC60 compact five-passenger SUV is Volvo’s best-selling vehicle worldwide, and increasingly popular in the United States. The current generation has been on sale since 2017, and this year Volvo is offering the XC60 with a Polestar Engineered trim level that includes the T8 plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
The T8 drivetrain includes a 2.0-liter gasoline engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged, and then augmented with electric motors at the front and rear axles. Combined system output is 415 horsepower and 494 foot-pounds of torque. The system does not use a traditional driveshaft running down the length of the car; instead rear wheel power comes exclusively from electricity.
The Polestar Engineered trim continues with individually adjustable Öhlins dampers, a front strut support bar, and oversize 14.6-inch drilled front brake rotors with six-piston Akebono calipers. The hybrid system also allows energy regeneration under braking, but the system is so well-integrated you’ll never notice it happening. If the Polestar treatment is not your bag, an optional air suspension is available.
The 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Polestar Engineered trim starts at $72,045, including destination charge.
The mid-size XC90 SUV is Volvo’s best seller in America, and the brand’s flagship model. The 2020 XC90 has been thoroughly refreshed, with several important new features. The XC90 will be available in three trims ranging from the standard Momentum to the sporty R-Design and the luxury Inscription trim. Buyers may select the T5 engine at 250 horsepower, the T6 at 316 horsepower, or the T8 plug-in hybrid with 415 horsepower. Mechanical AWD is optional with the T5 and standard on the T6. The T8 gets the same electric AWD system as in the XC60.
The XC90 is the choice for families, and Volvo told us that the buyers of this SUV trend younger and more diverse than buyers of other models. New for 2020, the XC90 includes a six-seat option with individual captain’s chairs in the second row. This setup provides greater comfort for second row passengers and improves access to the third row.
New features also include a 1.2-kWh upgrade to the battery in the T8 driveline, now up to 11.6 kWh. A 12.3-inch digital driver information display is now standard, and automatic braking has been added to the blind spot monitoring system.
The 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription starts at $68,495, and the XC90 T6 AWD R-Design at $57,295.
Volvo is justifiably famous for its station wagons. They’ve been making them for decades, and Volvo wagons have a dedicated, almost cult-like following. For those who want cargo capacity similar to an SUV, but the ride and handling of a sedan, it’s hard to beat a wagon. Volvo bridges the gap between its sporty V60 wagon and an SUV with the 2020 V60 Cross Country crossover.
The Cross Country offers 2.5 inches more ride height than a regular V60, and it includes a specially developed chassis and suspension for improved off-road performance. Total ground clearance is 8.3 inches. All Cross Country models use the 250 horsepower T5 engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. Standard off-road tech on the Cross Country includes hill descent control, electronic stability control, corner traction control, and a new off-road driving mode that limits speeds to about 20 MPH while enhancing traction.
We took the V60 Cross Country for an off-pavement drive in the Canadian Rockies, and it behaved perfectly, as expected. Selecting off-road mode from the center console controller yielded goat-like traction and the V60 just went where we pointed it. If your destination is 10 miles up a dirt or gravel road with occasional big rocks, this is your Volvo.
The 2020 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country starts at $46,095.
We didn’t get to drive it yet, but Volvo also displayed a new V60 wagon with the Polestar Engineered treatment. The adjustable Öhlins dampers, strut bar, and Akebono brakes were all present in a lowered and deliciously menacing-looking wagon. Like the other Polestar Engineered models, the V60 will be equipped with the T8 plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The new trim is a tradeoff, though, as the T6 AWD option will no longer be available on the V60.
Volvo dropped another piece of news on us in Canada. They’re expanding the Care by Volvo subscription service. If you haven’t heard about Volvo’s subscription service yet, here’s how it works: Select Volvo models are available for a set monthly fee. You sign up for two years, but you can change your model every 12 months if you want something different. The agreement allows up to 15,000 miles per year on the vehicle. It’s like a lease, but it’s better because the subscription price includes all maintenance and insurance on the vehicle.
Prices range from $700 to $800 a month, depending on the model you choose. Volvo started with just a few models, but they’ve expanded the program for 2020. You can now subscribe to an XC40, XC60, or XC90 SUV, the S60 sedan, and now the V60 Cross Country crossover. If you pencil it out, subscribing to a new Volvo is probably cheaper than leasing or buying the car.
In addition to a more comprehensive subscription program, Volvo’s highlighting some new and existing owner benefits that apply to old cars as well as new ones.
Starting in 2020, any Volvo of any model year is eligible for free towing to the nearest Volvo dealer if it breaks down. That offer applies to a 1974 Volvo just the same as a brand new model.
There’s also an accident advisor service to help counsel you in the event of a traffic collision. The web-based app works through any smart phone and offers access to emergency services, post-crash checklists, and digital insurance claims. The system also works through Volvo’s SOS in-car emergency communications system on newer models with the feature.
Volvo offers a “pay once and never pay again” policy on repairs. After the warranty expires, if you pay to get your Volvo fixed at a dealer and the same problem crops up again, they’ll fix it for free. It’s a lifetime warranty on repairs. Of course, normal wear items like belts, wipers, and so on aren’t included.
Finally, Volvo is working up a valet vehicle pickup and delivery service that will come to your location and pick up your Volvo for service, then return it to the same location. The system has had a successful pilot program last year in the Bay Area.
Taken together, the updates to 2020 models and the new trims available show that Volvo is serious about competing in the European sport-luxury market. For example, the XC60 Polestar Engineered model with the T8 driveline beats the Audi SQ5 in 0-60 time and overall horsepower and torque. The two vehicles are comparably priced after the plug-in hybrid tax credit is realized on the Volvo. The bottom line is this: if you think only of safety when you think of Volvo, there’s a lot more there to explore.
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