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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge review: A fast and pricey plug-in

It sure ain't cheap, but this is a wonderfully luxurious and surprisingly fast SUV

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge review | The Road Beat

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge review with The Road Beat

Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman

If I were to tell you that one of the fastest SUVs in the world was an unassuming Volvo, would you believe me? I didn't even at first, until the first time I mashed the throttle in the 2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge Ultimate. With 455 horsepower, this plug-in hybrid moves mass in unthinkable ways not unlike Germans bearing AMG or M badges. However, speed is hardly the main attraction here, as this $87,495 is an exercise in superlative luxury while offering some flexibility with its plug-in charging capabilities.

Where the XC90 excels first and foremost is in its stylistic and qualitative execution. With its sculpted interior, this is a cabin crafted to one of the highest standards and featuring some of the best materials in any car under 100 grand. Owing to its Scandinavian heritage, minimalism is the key choice here with a homogeneous theme carried throughout inside and outside. You won't find any garish or obscene attention-getters here, but rather subtle displays of understated artistry. The sheet metal wears like a tailored suit, tightly wrapped around the chassis with no loose or hanging excess material for waste.

2024 Volvo XC90 interior

Herds of leather, suede, wood, metal, and even a crystal adorn interior details, with each contributing tastefully to the environment in well-judged measure. The metal is polished to an admirable sheen, but there's just the perfect amount of shiny metal so as not to be pretentious. Above, a suede headliner with a large panoramic sunroof complete the good vibes inside. Actually no, that's a lie, because the front seats feature terrific massagers to help take the edge off long before and after five o'clock.

Not only is performance fantastic when you hit the go pedal, but when you fully charge the XC90, you can even go out 30 miles on pure electricity, making this a viable, excellent commuter for those wanting increased flexibility over a fully-electric vehicle. In my own experience, I had the XC90 charged at most to 50% of its 19 kWh capacity, and during that time I averaged about 40 MPG before the battery was depleted. This was with the combined Hybrid mode selected, but you can also choose a Pure EV mode at reduced speeds. Either way, you get a choice here, and choice itself is a luxury. That said, after my stowed charge ran out and left to its devices, the XC90 later averaged a more reasonable and expected 22 MPG in mixed driving. So if you plug it in, expect Prius-levels of gas mileage, but if you never charge it, closer to 20 is a realistic proposition.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge Ultimate

Speaking of performance, under the hood is a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 312 horsepower mated to an electric motor for an additional 143 horses; Combined output stands at 455 horsepower and 523 pounds of torque for considerable shove. For a little four banger engine, it's exceptionally smooth and has lower noise and vibration levels than some six-cylinder units even. My most impressive takeaway was the transparent operation of this hybrid powertrain, with no shudders or shakes in use as the system automatically switches from electric to gas. There's also no real delays in throttle application, something that couldn't be said of the non-hybrid Volvo XC60 I last tested, as here the electric motor successfully makes up for and masks any turbo and throttle lag.

On the road, the XC90 rides comfortably and quietly, owing to its luxury mindset and making for a relaxing ride even without the seat massagers engaged. Even though this might be an undercover speed demon on the freeway onramps, this is no backroad stormer like aforementioned M or AMG SUVs. With its focus on comfort comes a compromise on handling, with it wallowing a bit in the corners, but never uncontrollably. The steering is accurate and with nice weighting at low speed, but on the highway I did find the steering to be slightly ponderous and rubbery feeling when making adjustments.

2024 Volvo XC90 rear seats

Other areas of improvement could be found in some of the electronics, like with a huge 12" display that somehow cannot display both the top-view and rear-view cameras at the same time. It's so helpful being able to see both and the screen real estate is certainly there. Other cars do both, so why can't the Volvo? I also noticed a couple instances where the backup camera was completely dark at night randomly. Other times it worked just fine at night, but on one drive, it was basically dark and useless.

The pretty crystal shifter operates just fine, but I had several occurrences of pressing the P button for park, releasing the brake, but the XC90 remained in drive and then lurched forward unexpectedly. This must've happened at least five times, which is why I don't like buttons engaging park without any kind of meaningful feedback. The switch for the parking brake also sounds cheap, making an audible click that seems out of place in such an otherwise serene environment. Also, the fuel range estimate can vary literally by hundreds. In one reasonably short 50 mile period of driving, the range went from an estimated 300 miles all the way to 500, and then back down to 250. How does that make any sense or logic to be that frenetic?

Volvo xc90 bowers wilkins

Another concern is the price. At Nearly $90,000 for this fully-loaded Ultimate trim, this kind of luxury comes at a steep price for what is a mid-size SUV (there's a third-row, but adults will not be happy back there). You're definitely not limited by options when spending this much dough on an SUV, with choices from Asia, Europe, and the US all having viable alternatives. The main reason to want this Volvo, though, will be for those that want a luxury item that does its business without shouting to the world. If you like your Louis Vuitton bags with the little LV logos multiplied all over it, then this isn't your kind of luxury.

For those wanting something a bit different and not wanting to fall in line with their neighbors and their matching Mercedes and BMWs, the Volvo then can be an extremely comfortable and luxurious choice that stands out by almost not standing out. The added variety of propulsion choices you have, to ever only use gasoline, or charge it at home or work, means you have options that a fully-electric SUV can't give yet or for those wary of range anxiety. It's not perfect by any means, but the luxurious nature will surely will many over.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge Ultimate review

As-tested price: $87,495

Pros: Power and efficiency; Luxurious cabin

Cons: Expensive; Some electronic concerns


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