Talk about timing! One year after I brought you the 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid, I find myself back in Volvo’s flagship SUV once again. Only this time it’s a 2021 model rebranded as the “Recharge T8”. Recharge is the umbrella for Volvo’s hybrid and electrified range.
There are notable new standard updates for 2021 including Volvo’s new Care Key, new USB-c ports, and yay for standard wireless charging.
My test model’s sophisticated Savile Gray Metallic hue is also new for 2021. It really sets off the optional and stylish 21-inch multi-spoke Diamond Cut Alloy wheels on my test model. Volvo’s hallmark “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights are unmistakable up front. Headlight high pressure cleaning is another standard new feature for 2021.
The XC90 makes a great impression with its stately looks. The Inscription features chrome bars on the grille and chrome window trim. You’ll find dual integrated tail pipes in back and on top, roof rails and a power panoramic sunroof.
Driving the XC90 Recharge feels great thanks to the powertrain. It’s twin-engine plug-in hybrid e-AWD powertrain combines a 2.0-liter super- and turbocharged engine with a rear electric motor. Combined, the system delivers a terrific 400-horses and an impressive 472 lb.-ft of torque (one of the benefits of a hybrid system). It’s paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with stop/start that can be disabled.
Power is perfectly matched to this large and heavy SUV. Acceleration is great both off the line and on the highway. My model’s optional 4-corner suspension is outstanding, delivering a smooth, confident and supremely comfortable ride. It’s also a very quiet ride as well.
Charging is easy with the provided 110v/220v charging cable that hooks up to either a standard home outlet or public charging station. Level 2 charging will charge your XC90 in 2.5 hours.
The interior of the XC90 envelops you in a calm oasis. It’s spacious, well-designed and full of premium soft-touch materials from the dash to the door panels. It blends genuine black ash wood inlays, leather, crystal and metal masterfully.
My model’s Inscription Amber leather upholstery is not only rich and sumptuous-looking, it’s also incredibly comfortable. (Wool upholstery is also newly available.) The 10-way power heated and ventilated Comfort front seats are very customizable with both power side cushioning and lumbar support, as well as seat cushion extenders. You access the optional massage function via controls on the side of the seat, which brings up the massage programs on the infotainment screen.
There is a special treat exclusive to the Inscription trim - an illuminated, handmade, Orrefors crystal gearshift. The center console also houses the controls to turn on the engine and select various drive modes: Hybrid (default), Pure, Power, Comfort, AWD, Individual and Off-Road.
Technology also shines in the XC90. The responsive Sensus Connect 9-inch portrait style touch screen is where you control almost everything. Swipe between menu pages to access controls to drop the 2nd-row headrests and turn on and off certain features. A Hold and Charge function allows you to keep the current battery charge for later use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard. The backup camera and optional 360 degree camera view is exceptional. Other connectivity features include Bluetooth, built-in WIFI hotspot and two front USB-Ports plus two new standard USB-C ports in the rear.
A bright, easy to read 12-inch digital driver display with navigation spans the area above the steering wheel. The driver display is featured on the right side, instead of center screen.
The XC90 is a roomy three-row, and yes, the third row actually fits two adults. The XC90 Recharge Inscription seats seven and four-zone climate ensures everyone is comfortable. The second row has a bench seat and an optional integrated center booster cushion is designed specifically to safeguard children while buckled up (see Volvo for usage guidance). Sun curtains shade 2nd-row passengers and there is a nice drop down center console. The second row slides back and fold-down for access. A power folding option for the 2nd- and 3rd-rows is on my wish list. Cargo space is ample and accessible with a hands-free power liftgate.
Volvo also spoiled me with a few options. An optional $3,200 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system delivers incredible, immersive sound with exceptional clarity.
A Lounge package provides the seat massage and a nubuck headliner (which I think adds a lot to the interior.) An Advanced package adds a great heads up display and fantastic 360-degree view camera. A Climate Package adds heated steering wheel, rear seats and heated windscreen washers to keep washer fluid from freezing.
Safety and Driver Assist
Volvo gets major points for its safety systems. Volvo’s City Safety driver- assist technology is among the best systems in the industry. Park assist is newly standard for 2021.
It’s Pro Pilot semi-autonomous “hand-on-the-wheel” system, which works on highways at up to speeds of 80 mph, is also one of my favorites in the industry.
There are some new safety features as well for 2021. Top speed is limited to 112 mph as part of Volvo’s commitment to reducing speeding. A Care Key is now standard. It allows you to set a top speed for any driver, say you have a teen in your household with a new driver’s license.
The XC90 is unquestionably a premium SUV packed with quality materials, excellent design and terrific technology. New standard features, exceptional safety and luxurious packages make it, in my opinion, every bit worth the $81,690 price tag.
2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription eAWD
- What I liked most: Its luxurious interior; 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Sound System; Crystal Gear Shift Knob; Performance.
- What I would change: Add power folding 2nd and 3rd row seats.
- MSRP: $69,750 base price; total MSRP with transportation $81,690.
- Fuel Economy: 55 MPGe Combined electric; 27 MPG Combined gasoline.
- Official Color: Savile Gray Metallic ($645).
- Odometer reading when tested: 1,809 miles.
- Weight: 4420–5170 lbs.
- Final Assembly Location: Gothenburg, Sweden.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Tire Repair Kit.
- Length-Width-Height: 195” long/ 84/3” wide (mirrors included)/69.9” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gallons. Filler on passenger side/plug-in outlet on driver side.
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 pounds.
- 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge in a few words: A hard-to-resist luxury SUV that beckons with its luxury, technology and impressive hybrid powertrain.
- Warranty: 48-Month/50,000 mile Limited Warranty Coverage; 144-month Corrosion Protection “Unlimited Mileage”; Volvo On-Call Roadside Assistance
- Manufacturer’s website: Volvo