Volvo XC90 B5 2020 UK  (webcaar)

Volvo XC90 B5 2020 UK (webcaar)

A pure electric version of the company’s seven-seat flagship SUV might be a long way off, and a plug-in powertrain remains the preserve of the T8 TwinEngine, but now even entry-level cars get a 48V starter motor/generator and small battery. The system assists the 2.0-litre engine under acceleration and regenerates power under braking, which Volvo says can help cut down on emissions over the outgoing, combustion-only car, and gives real-world fuel economy a boost too.

Updated Volvo XC90

Our car is the B5 petrol: a 2.0-litre four cylinder, available exclusively with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission, but not to be confused with the slightly pricier B5 diesel. That’s also a 2.0-litre four-pot, but prefers to drink from the black pump. 

There are no visual clues as to which is which, with both sporting the same mildest of mild facelifts as the rest of the range, and there’s little to separate them in performance terms, the petrol taking an extra tenth of a second to reach 62mph and having an ever-so-slightly lower top speed.

Updated Volvo XC90

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This is no magic bullet, though. The XC90 is still a big, heavy SUV, and while it feels responsive enough in a straight line, the engine has to work much harder here than it did in the smaller XC60 we drove earlier in the year. It’s a little more vocal under load, and fuel economy is rarely that impressive. Our testing rarely saw figures top 30mpg, even on more relaxed motorway cruises. Compare that to the high 30s we saw from a similarly-equipped B5 diesel, and it’s clear which version provides better value for money at the fuel pump.

Updated Volvo XC90

That’s a shame, as otherwise this powertrain suits the XC90’s premium nature. It starts smoothly, is unobtrusive at slower speeds, and in traffic the start/stop system is very subtle. Momentum trim does without the optional air suspension, but even on passive dampers the ride is well-judged across most surfaces. Only particularly rough B-roads are felt to a major degree inside the cabin.

Updated Volvo XC90

This isn’t a car that needs to be pushed, and doing so reveals light but slightly disconnected steering and a gearbox that can feel a little sluggish at times. Momentum-spec cars don’t come with paddle shifters, and while the gear selector does at least let you take manual control, there’s little incentive to do so.

Instead, better to appreciate the Scandinavian charm of the XC90’s cavernous interior, which is light and well-appointed even at the entry-level. The digital instrument cluster is comprehensive, as is the 9in portrait touchscreen, but it is relied upon for a few too many functions – it better integrates climate controls than rival systems, but using it still requires taking your eyes off the road. Calling the Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control ‘semi-autonomous’ feels a little disingenuous too, but its lane-keeping abilities do manage to put optional systems from certain rivals to shame.

Updated Volvo XC90

webcaar

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