2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge eAWD Ultimate Bright Review

A design that stands up to the test of time


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Great driving manners, gorgeous styling holds up incredibly well, wool upholstery is fresh and comfy, interior is stunning and unique.
Negatives: Third-row seats are tight for tall adults, no DC fast charging, Google-based infotainment still needs some work.
Bottom Line: The XC90 Recharge is compelling from a design and driving standpoint, but its lack of DC fast-charging capability and still-frustrating infotainment system impede the experience.
The XC90 is a beautiful SUV, inside and out. The XC90 lineup has been one of the most successful vehicles for the brand, and it's getting ready to enter the electric era. The XC90 hasn't really changed much over the past nine years, except for the addition of a PHEV known as the Recharge last year. The XC90 PHEV uses the "Recharge" moniker even though it isn't fully electric, but that doesn't make it unworthy of the name. We drove the XC90 Recharge in its AWD Ultimate Bright trim, and you can read our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

8.6

 

The XC90 Recharge happens to be the brand's most powerful vehicle, and it shows. The acceleration is strong, and the car is very smooth. The XC90 Recharge also manages turns well and feels very composed.

Ride Quality: The XC90 glides over surfaces, especially when outfitted with the optional air suspension. It's never cosseting and not too firm. It strikes a good balance and feels solid.

Acceleration: 455 horses at the ready provide for a very quick 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. There's no lag thanks to the electric motor, and the transmission makes quick work of shifting duties.

Braking: The brakes are excellent and provide good stopping distances and pedal feel.

Steering: The precision and the effort are both pretty good for a vehicle this size. We were able to place it in corners with no problem, and it was on-center at high speeds.

Handling: The XC90 Recharge manages to handle better than its purely gas-powered sibling thanks to a lower center of gravity. It takes turns with minimal body roll and good balance.

Technology

7

 

The XC90 has the Google-based OS across all models, and it's far better than the old Sensus system, but we're still not fans of it. The system could still use improvement with its overall functionality. The small and all-too-subtle home button is still annoying.

Infotainment System: The 12.3" digital gauge cluster is crisp and uncluttered, making it very easy to read. The 9" touchscreen looks good and can be read in bright sunlight. We still have issues navigating the menus, but overall it's better than the Sensus.

Controls: Vehicle controls like climate, infotainment, etc. are operated solely through the touchscreen, which can be frustrating. It's a good thing there are physical audio controls and great steering wheel buttons.

Styling

9

 

The XC90 in all its forms is one of the best-looking premium SUVs around, even after almost 8 years without a redesign. It's handsome from every angle and looks especially good in darker paint colors that tend to highlight its curves and creases. There are also no interiors that look quite like Volvo interiors, and we're sure it inspired other brands to approach their own cabins with sophisticated minimalism.

Front: We love the way the front end looks with the scalloped grille and modest chrome details. the Thor's hammer headlights still look fantastic.

Rear: The big D-shaped Volvo taillights and the smooth tailgate surface look great together. We just wish the glass was wider. The XC90 still looks pretty tall from the back.

Profile: In blue with Bright chrome trim and huge 21" wheels, the XC90 Recharge looks very upscale. The XC90 looks premium and the styling has held up remarkably well over the years.

Cabin: We're not fans of the piano black on the steering wheel and center console, but the rest of the XC90 is lush with premium materials and original styling that doesn't copy the Germans. The stitched dash, fine matte wood, and the blended wool seats are all sublime.

Comfort

8.8

 

What a wonderful place to experience the road. The XC90's cabin is one of the best we've experienced in terms of occupant comfort, despite the smallish third row. We love the blended woold upholstery that looks and feels like nothing else. It's actually a very nice change from leather.

Front Seats: The seats are comfortable and supportive with great support and cushioning. We love the thigh bolster and the excellent 10-way adjustability.

Rear Seats: The second-row seats are good for full-sized adults and provide great support. Third-row space is lacking for anyone who's not a kid.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The XC90 is quiet and very well built. it's quiet at highway speeds, and there's pretty much no wind noise and minimal road noise thanks to great sound deadening.

Visibility: The large windows are great for visibility, as is the seating position and manageable pillar width.

Climate: We found the heating and cooling in the XC90 excellent. The big vents provide large volumes of air, and the heated seats fire up very quickly.

Safety

9.2

 

The XC90 is one of the best SUVs you can buy in terms of safety. It's moved up in the ranks over the years, and owners should feel totally at peace thanks to the great crash safety ratings and tech.

IIHS Rating: The Volvo XC90 was a Top Safety Pick+ for 2022 with good ratings in all crash worthiness testing and a superior rating in crash avoidance and mitigation testing. Only the headlights and LATCH ease of use received "acceptable".

NHTSA Rating: The feds gave the XC90 five full stars in crash tests. Its only demerit was four stars in rollover risk.

Standard Tech: The XC90 Recharge Ultimate comes with Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist and Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake, Pilot Assist Driver Assistance System with Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Avoidance with Low & High-Speed Collision Mitigation, Driver Alert Control, Run-off Road Protection & Run-off Road Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning/Lane Keeping Aid, Oncoming Mitigation by Braking, Rear Park Assist Camera, Front and Rear Park Assist, and Whiplash Protection.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7.1

 

There had to be some sacrifices due to the beautiful interior design, and the small item storage in the first row is a bit lacking, as a result. The cargo room is large enough for long trips but mid-pack in this segment.

Storage Space: The armrest isn't huge, but it can hold smaller items and a phone. The small bin in the center console is dinky, but at least the cupholders work for more than just beverages.

Cargo Room: The XC90 Recharges gies up a little bit of room in the back compared to its gas sibling. There are 11.16 cubic feet of cargo space behind row three and 64.1 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.

Fuel Economy

9

 

The bigger 14.9-kWh battery pack provides for an impressive 32 miles of all-electric range. That's great news for commuters who, if they drive conservatively, might not have to actually use gas through the work week. The XC90, however, cannot DC fast charge, which is a disappointment. It utilizes a J1772 connection and a 3.7-kW onboard charger that can add range via use of gasoline engine to recharge the battery, a slow but decent solution. Our own review period resulted in a better-than-average fuel-efficiency number.

Observed: 27.9mpg.

Distance Driven: 183 miles.

Audio

9.3

 

Our system was seriously upgraded from the already excellent 14-speaker Harman Kardon system to a pricey ($3,200) Bowers & Wilkins system that's one of the best around. For an SUV this nice, it's the perfect fit. The sound is big, crisp, and full of bass. The adjustability is also superb.



Final Thoughts

The XC90 Recharge is an excellent PHEV in terms of its luxury, driving dynamics, style, comfort, and safety. It's just hard to stomach the cost that doesn't come with DC fast charging. Volvo will build an EV version of its next-gen XC, so that's promising. Otherwise, it's an excellent PHEV to drive, as well as look at.
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