What’s New for 2020: Volvo

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew for 2020
As part of an AutoNXT series highlighting specific automakers’ substantive changes for the 2020 model year, this time we set our sights on Volvo. The Swedish company has come a long way since the early days of the 20th Century when it created boxy sedans and wagons that were all about safety, and the carmaker — now owned by the Geely Holding Group of China since 2010 — continues its evolution with updated vehicles for the 2020 model year. Safety is still a hallmark of the Volvo brand, but the latest models are stylish, luxurious and powerful. The automaker recently invited members of the media to sample model-year 2020 Volvos including refreshed versions of the XC90 flagship SUV, the high-performance Polestar-Engineered XC60 and the updated V60 Cross Country.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVolvo XC90
The XC90 came on the scene about 17 years ago, marking Volvo’s entry into the growing U.S. crossover market. The flagship SUV entered its current generation for the 2016 model year, leading the way for a completely new design language that has since carried through the entire Volvo lineup. The most noticeable element of this new look are “Thor’s Hammer” style headlights that give Volvos a unique appearance, day or night.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUpdated Design
For the 2020 model year, the XC90’s overall style remains the same; however, there are noticeable exterior updates. The front grille now features a concave design that has a more premium feel thanks to the two-color inlays and chrome accented frame. Front and rear bumpers have also been restyled, and the XC90 gets updated wheel designs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSix-Passenger Seating
Also new for 2020 is an available 6-passenger configuration in the XC90 which replaces the second-row bench with individual bucket seats. Not only does this provide a more comfortable seating area for second-row passengers, access to the third row is easier and passengers relegated to that aft row get a welcome increase in legroom. Previously, riding in the second-row bench of an XC90 carrying a load of luggage plus a passenger in the third row felt a bit claustrophobic — the additional space around the bucket seats alleviates that nicely.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAdditional Standard Features
Other changes for the new model year include standard roof rails, new exterior and interior colors and standard 19-inch wheels. All XC90s are equipped with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster in front of the driver, as well as the Sensus 9-inch vertical display screen found throughout the Volvo lineup. We had the opportunity to test out two variants of the XC90 — the sportier T6 R Design with Polestar Performance software and the top-of-the-line T8 E-AWD Inscription.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePolestar
Quick note about Polestar — Polestar is the performance arm of Volvo (like M for BMW and AMG for Mercedes). However, Polestar has recently become a standalone brand separate from Volvo, with plans to produce high-performance electrified vehicles. At least for now, the Polestar name will continue to be used in the Volvo lineup; however, once Polestar-brand models begin arriving in showrooms later this year that designation for Volvo models might change.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePHEV Inscription
The top-level XC90 is the plug-in hybrid T8, and our test vehicle was the luxurious Inscription trim. The T8 features a rather unique powertrain —under the hood resides a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine teamed with a powerful electric motor. Total output for the hybrid system is 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. For 2020 the battery size has been increased to 10.4 kWh, which should improve electric-only range over the current 19 miles.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFully Loaded
Fully loaded with features such as Nappa leather trim, heated and cooled massaging seats and a premium Bowers and Wilkins audio system, the price on our test vehicle came in at $86,990. Most of our drive in this high-end crossover was on the highway where the XC90 excels. The ride is quiet and smooth, and the massaging seats could have kept us driving all day without a problem. Volvo continues to have seats that are among the most comfortable on the market. Power from the hybrid powertrain is plentiful — accelerating to highway speeds is easy, as is quick passing. When cruising with little load on the power unit, the internal combustion engine will shut off if there is enough charge to use the electric motor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAlmost Autonomous
The XC90 also features adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist — not quite autonomous driving, but it comes close. With these features engaged, the XC90 maintains its speed until it approaches a slower vehicle in the lane, at which time it will pace that vehicle, keeping a set distance behind. In addition, the car will steer around curves on its own. Volvo says this is not designed as a hands-free driving system — if a driver removes hands from the wheel, a warning comes up in 15 seconds and the system will shut off shortly after if no steering input gets detected.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceR Design
At the press event we also spent time in the XC90 T6 R Design. The R Design treatment gives the XC90 a sportier look, substituting chrome with black trim. Most prominent is a new black grille as well as gloss black treatment to the window trim, mirror caps and roof rails. Our test vehicle was also equipped with the stylish 22-inch wheels — which looked great, but unfortunately didn’t ride as smoothly as the standard 20-inchers. Total price of the XC90 T6 R Design test vehicle was $74,335.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePolestar Light
The XC90 T6 utilizes the same unique powertrain as the T8, but without the added benefit of the hybrid system, so total output is 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Our test vehicle was equipped with Polestar Engineered Optimization software — Polestar light, if you will. Although this does not change hardware (suspension, transmission, engine), it does provide better response by improving midrange power and torque, and results in a slightly quicker time to 60 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceXC60 Polestar Engineered
Volvo has also added a completely new version of the XC60 midsize crossover for the 2020 model year — the XC60 Polestar Engineered. Based on the XC6 T8 plug-in hybrid, the Polestar Engineered version gets a bump to 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque, making it the sportiest in the Volvo crossover lineup.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePerformance Features
In addition to the power boost, the Polestar Engineered XC60 gets adjustable Ohlins dampers, a Polestar Engineered front strut bar, Akebono brakes with gold calipers and black-chrome integrated tailpipes. This special XC60 also receives the same black exterior treatments as the R Design and stands out with its gold seat belts.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick Start
The XC60 Polestar Engineered is certainly quick. Although we wouldn’t call the acceleration response crisp, the XC60 PE certainly moves off the line quickly with the aid of full-time all-wheel drive that always engages fully at launch.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick Stop
Applying full brakes from close to 100 mph (on a closed course) produced no drama — the XC 60 stopped quickly in a perfectly straight line with ease. Handling is also quite good; however, like the XC90, we found the 22-inch wheels make the ride a bit harsh.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceV60 Polestar Engineered
Volvo is also offering the V60 wagon with this same Polestar Engineered treatment, including the added performance and styling updates.Unfortunately we didn’t get any time behind the wheel in this high-performance wagon.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceV60 Cross Country
Even though we did not drive the high-performance V60, there was opportunity to get behind the wheel of the new V60 Cross Country. Volvo has offered raised-clearance Cross Country wagons since the introduction of the V70 XC in the late 1990s — coincidentally, about the time that Subaru introduced the Outback with the same idea. Like that original, the V60 Cross Country offers an alternative to the crossover in a more stylish package.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOff-Road Ready
Like most crossovers, the V60 Cross Country has full-time all-wheel drive, but is not meant for extreme off roading. However, 8.3-inches of ground clearance and the ability to wade through almost a foot of water give the wagon more than enough capability for most consumers. The V60 Cross Country is also equipped with a unique suspension, hill-descent control, corner traction control and a special Off-Road driving mode.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWell Equipped
The V60 Cross Country is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 250 horsepower. The specific vehicle tested was equipped with extras including 4-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, LED fog lights, and a Bowers & Wilkins audio system for a total price of $56,990.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGoing Down
We had the opportunity to drive the new Cross Country down a twisty, rough and rocky dirt road from the Eagle’s Eye restaurant that sits at 7,700 feet in Golden, British Columbia, Canada. Even though the road was quite rough, we found the ride surprisingly comfortable without any jarring motion. Overall the V70 is more than capable of handling this level of off-pavement driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHill Descent Control
The V60 Cross Country’s hill descent control works quite well for holding speed even on loose, steep descents; however, the speed cannot be adjusted. Adding throttle disengages the system; removing throttle input aggressively re-engages the hill descent, which can be a bit disconcerting.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThe 2020 Volvos
With updates across the board for the XC90, as well as new models in the V60 Cross Country and the new Polestar Engineered XC60 and V60, Volvo has made some significant improvements for the 2020 model year. These and the rest of the 2020 Volvo lineup are arriving in showrooms now.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
R Design.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
R Design

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
R Design.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Versatile cargo space.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
R Design

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Signature taillights make the XC90 easily recognizable.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Plug-in Hybrid.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Drive Mode Selector.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Third row in the XC90 is accessible and usable.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Almost all controls in the Volvos are activated via a touchscreen.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Digital gauge display.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC90
Volvo XC90s ready to go in Banff, Alberta.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Gold brake calipers stand out.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Black trim accents complement white paint.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Acceleration testing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Acceleration testing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Polestar badge on the rear.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Gold calipers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Sculpted design.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Dual exhaust.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Closed-course testing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
22-inch wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Manually-adjustable Ohlins dampers can be accessed under the hood.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
Polestar Engineered front strut bar.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
On top of the mountain.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
Properly accessorized.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
Stylish wagon.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
Heading down the mountain.

Tagged under

Luxury

Auto Art: Exclusive, Extraordinary Cars in Seattle

Rally for SAM Overlooking Seattle's Ell…

Read more

SUV

Safest SUVs in America

IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Sport-utility veh…

Read more

Enthusiast

Ferrari SF90 Stradale: First Look

Most Powerful The most powerful product…

Read more