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2020 Volvo XC90 T8 e-AWD Inscription Review

Amy Plemons | December 12, 2019
2020 Volvo XC90 T8 e-AWD Inscription Review

This week I’m behind the wheel of the refreshed for 2020 Volvo XC90, Volvo’s flagship SUV, and not for the first time. I spent a brief time driving the T8 e-AWD Inscription at an off- road course at the recent 2019 TAWA Texas Truck Rodeo, an event focused on evaluating all-wheel-drive capabilities. Ever since getting a taste of it, I’d been hoping for more time behind the wheel. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long before once again sitting in the XC90’s comfy Nappa leather driver’s seat.


The top-of-the-line XC90 Inscription is a three-row SUV that impresses from its well-crafted and executed design, luxurious interior and roominess to its exceptional technology, wow-worthy optional audio system, and outstanding driver assist features.


The XC90 offers several powertrains, this one being the most powerful in the lineup, the T8 e-AWD. The hybrid-electric combines a 2.0-liter super and turbocharged engine with a rear electric motor. The combo nets 400-horsepower and 472-lb.-ft. of torque both of which make for great driving dynamics and power in an SUV that weighs just over 5,000 lbs. It’s mated to a great performing 8-speed automatic. It also has impressive all-wheel drive capability as I discovered while evaluating it on the aforementioned off-roading event I attended earlier this year (where it was awarded Mid-Size Luxury SUV of Texas.) It handled the course elements beautifully and would no doubt capably handle a trip to a mountain ski cabin or lake house in the woods.

Ride and Drive

You can choose from four drive modes: Pure (Eco drive), Hybrid (for everyday driving), Power (sportier driving, my favorite) and Off-Road. The XC90 handles well and offers a great turning radius, making it easy to maneuver. It’s very quiet in the cabin and offers a smooth ride thanks to its suspension. The optional four-corner suspension enhances the ride further. Stop/Start is standard.


My test vehicle’s Birch Light Metallic hue is new for 2020. You’ll find a redesigned front end highlighted by Volvo’s concave grille and THOR’s hammer LED headlight design. Exterior features on this sleek and sophisticated-looking SUV include roof rails and a panoramic sunroof along with a rear spoiler and dual integrated tail pipes. This model rides on optional 21-inch wheels which look great.


The XC90 Inscription features a premium, multi-textured interior that includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Nappa-leather seats and new for 2020 ash wood inlays along with a soft-touch tailored dash and door panels. The Nappa leather heated front-seats are 10-way power adjustable and the Inscription trim adds front seat thigh extenders and ventilated front seats.

A new for 2020 crystal gear shifter is a gorgeous addition to the center console and looks pretty at night when it’s illuminated. The center console also houses the drive mode select, an electric parking brake and brake auto hold. Two USBs are housed in the center console bin.

This is an SUV that offers comfort and roominess for all. Both the second and third rows offer nice leg- and expansive headroom. Most importantly, this is a third-row than can seat adults, not just children. You get four-zone climate in here, and there AC vents in the third-row, as well as cup holders.

The XC90 offers good visibility, a giant standard across-the-lineup panoramic sunroof and great interior lighting at night.

Technology and Audio

Technology more than impresses in the XC90. The top-of-the-line trim’s 12.3-inch digital tachometer with center navigation is exceptional. It’s bright and easy to read with the driver info display on the right hand side since the map takes center stage. The tachometer also displays speed limit signs and driver assist features along with hybrid charging and fuel information.

The 9-inch portrait style infotainment touchscreen houses Volvo’s easy-to-use and very responsive Sensus system with high-quality color graphics. It’s one of my favorites in the industry. You swipe between screens in between driver assist features, the home screen with audio controls, and a screen for apps. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. It’s also where you control the oh-so-comfy massage seats.

An optional Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system is off-the-charts incredible. It provided amazing sound, with multiple speakers, a dash-mounted tweeter-on-top center speaker, and a number of different settings that include studio and concert, my favorite.


This XC90 seats 6 passengers, with no second-row middle seat, but it can be configured to seat 7. The power seats fold down easily in both the second and third row, and the third-row seats fold-flat. A hands-free power tailgate opens up to a total of 85.7 cubic-feet of cargo capacity and the XC90 can tow up to 5,000 pounds.


The XC90 comes with impressive standard driver assist technology. It includes Collision Avoidance with Pedestrian and Large Animal Detection, Run-off Road Protection and Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Rear Park Assist and Rear Parking Sensors, along with Road Sign info. Standard driver-assist features also include blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.

One system to point out is the standard Pilot Assist with cruise control, one of the best semi-autonomous driving systems I’ve come across yet, though as with all systems at this stage of development, you need to keep both hands on the wheel or you’ll receive a warning.


This vehicle, as equipped, comes with two packages and multiple options.

A Luxury Package ($3,100) includes:

  • Massage front seats
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • Heated Rear Seats
  • Headliner in Nubuck, Leather Grab Handles & Sun Visors

An Advanced Package ($2,450) includes:

  • Full LED Headlights with Active Bending Lights
  • Headlight High Pressure Cleaning System
  • 360 degree Surround View Camera
  • Head Up Display

Additional options include:

  • 4-corner suspension ($1,800)
  • $3,200 Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system ($3,200)
  • Park Assist ($200)
  • 21” 8-Multi-spoke wheels ($800)
  • Metallic paint ($645)

What You’ll Pay

A base model T8 E-AWD Inscription stickers for $67,500. Options on this vehicle take this particular model to $86,990.


So is this particular XC90 worth its near $90K price tag? For all the luxury, comfort, technology and convenience features you get in this quiet-riding, roomy and driver-assist packed SUV, I vote yes.

2020 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription

  • What I liked most: Its luxurious, leather, multi-textured, well-designed interior; Bowers & Wilkins Sound System, Technology, Crystal Gear Shift Knob, and exceptional roominess.
  • What I would change: Not a thing.
  • MSRP: $67,500 Inscription T8 base price; total MSRP with transportation $86,990.
  • Fuel Economy: 55 MPGe Combined electric; 27 MPG Combined gasoline (Click here for EPA info).
  • Official Color: Birch Light Metallic.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 5,828.
  • Weight: 5,105 lbs.
  • Final Assembly Location: Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Spare Tire: Temporary Tire Repair Kit.
  • Length-Width-Height: 194.9” long/ 84.3” wide/69.9” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons. Filler on passenger side/plug-in outlet on driver side.
  • Towing Capacity: 5,000 pounds.
  • 2020 Volvo XC90 in a few words: A well-crafted, stylish 3-row SUV that offers exceptional premium luxury and comfort to all who enter its comfy confines.
  • Warranty: 48-Month/50,000 mile Limited Warranty Coverage; 144-month Corrosion Protection “Unlimited Mileage”; Volvo On-Call Roadside Assistance
  • Manufacturer’s website: Volvo
Tags: 2020 Volvo XC90 T8, Volvo, Volvo XC90, New Vehicle Reviews
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