2016 Volvo XC90

2016 Volvo XC90

Episode 3509
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a really all-new Volvo to sample. And, for a while we were having doubts whether Volvo would ever get around to addressing their large but aging XC90 crossover. Well, not only have they gotten around to it, but they’ve turned it into a potential luxury-class hall of famer.   

13-years have passed since Volvo made its mark in the burgeoning three-row luxury crossover segment with the first XC90. But, over all that time, newer rivals have seriously dampened the “nine-0’s” sales. So the all-new, 2016 XC90 has certainly got its work cut out for it.

That first 2002 XC90 proved to be the right vehicle at the right time. And, at least visually, this stylish second-gen 7-seater looks like it scores again.

It’s wagon-ish two-box shape is familiar enough to be easily pegged as a Volvo, but like your Aunt that took a mysteriously long vacation to South America and came back looking younger than ever, it’s clear there’s been a lot of work done here. 

But we all know it’s what’s inside that counts; and impressively, the XC90’s interior has transformed from utility grade to flagship material. The layout is smooth, simple, and not muddled at all. Very few traditional buttons or knobs remain; but the few that do, are the right ones. 

A tablet-like Sensus touch display dominates the center stack. It’s arranged more vertically than horizontally, like a Tesla S, and its use is very intuitive. 

As in every Volvo we can remember, the front seats are a highlight; offering great levels of comfort and support. That’s also true for the sliding and reclining second row, and even the still adult capable third row. Plus, features like the built-in child booster seat are still far and above class typical.

And, even with Volvo’s latest change of ownership, the brand’s commitment to safety hasn’t wavered. The XC90 is packed with enough safety features to keep even worry warts at ease. 

Indeed, our car’s automatic braking system worked perfectly in our crash barrier test. The available self-parking system also worked better than most.

As for its actual utility factor, the XC90 can carry plenty of goods.13.0 cubic feet worth behind the third row seats, 41.8 behind the second, and 85.7 behind the first. And, for ease of loading there’s a hands-free power liftgate.

All XC90s are equipped with advanced all-wheel-drive, 8-speed automatic transmission, but somewhat surprisingly, only 4-cylinder power. But, the 2.0-liter I4 in our T6 is both turbocharged and supercharged for 316-horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque.

And, you forget it’s a 4-cylinder after just a few minutes behind the wheel, as it provides effortless power. Even the automatic stop/start is seamless, and it can still tow 5,000 lbs.

Regardless, we still think an inline 4 may be a tough sell in this segment. Though the forthcoming plug-in hybrid T8, with the boosted 2.0 plus an electric motor for 400 total horsepower, will certainly be a Volvo differentiator. 

The more time spent driving, it becomes clear that this vehicle is built for family vacations over long distances. It’s extremely quiet and solid. Rough roads and slick pavement do nothing to upset it.

There’s a very natural feel to the electric power steering, and through the cones we were mostly impressed with the XC90’s sporty firmness. The rear suspension features a Corvette-style transverse leaf spring to eliminate cargo-robbing coils and shocks. A full air suspension is also available. 

As for acceleration… truly the little engine that could, this 4-banger picks up the XC90’s 46-hundred lbs. and delivers it to 60 in a swift 6.5-seconds. The ¼-mile is over in 14.9-seconds at 94 miles-per-hour. 

Plus, T6 Government Fuel Economy Ratings are still 20-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged a very good, for its nearly full-size demeanor, 26.0 miles-per-gallon of Premium. The Energy Impact Score is an average one at 15.0-barrels of annual oil consumption with CO2 emission of 6.6-tons.

Choices in this segment are indeed plentiful, but base pricing of just $49,825 means the XC90 T6 is highly competitive.

Lavish interiors, sporty attitudes, and sophisticated powertrains are just the price of entry into the high end crossover segment. So, how does the 2016 Volvo XC90 expect to get back on people’s short list? Well, by providing all of that and more, in the way that only Volvo can, with top notch safety, otherworldly comfort, and family extra-friendly features; all wrapped up in unmistakably Swedish style. We are very impressed!

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0 liter I4
  • Horsepower: 316
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 14.9 seconds @ 94 mph
  • EPA: 20 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 6.6 tons/yr
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 1

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Still A Miata, And That’s A Great Thing

Episode 4340
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the cool little Mazda MX-5 Miata arrived for 1990, it immediately triggered a host of imitators and sparked a genuine global roadster revival. While that fad has faded, America’s love affair with the MX-5 has stayed strong. And, we’re pretty sure we know why!

The 2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata is probably one of the most recognizable cars on the road, and it has a way of putting a smile on our face every time we see one, not to mention any time we get a chance to hop behind the wheel. The Miata concept really hasn’t changed drastically over the last three decades, proof that Mazda got the formula right from the beginning.

Rear-wheel drive, minimal weight, tight suspension, willing engine, superb manual shifter, simple folding top, and just enough creature comforts to make long drives as pleasant as carving up backroad twisties.
An overload of power has never been part of that equation, and many may still decry the lack of horsepower, but just a reminder, this car was meant to rekindle the spirit of British roadsters from the 1960s that were a pure joy to drive, and had engines half as powerful as what the Miata works with today, which is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail

A six-speed manual transmission remains the standard; you must upgrade to top Grand Touring trim to even get the available six-speed automatic. And it all works together to deliver a joyful driving experience that few other vehicles can match.

The exterior design has gotten more purposeful and less cartoonish over the years; new for this year is updated lighting which now incorporates the LED DRLs into the headlight assembly, as well as a more cohesive design for the full LED taillights, plus some fresh wheel choices.

Continual upgrades under the skin too, with a new asymmetric limited-slip differential for all manual-equipped Miatas. Its purpose is to minimize oversteer, and if you think that means it’s less fun, you’d be wrong.

The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears.

It was still a blast to dart through the handling course at our Mason Dixon test track and on the autocross circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Minimal body roll and perfectly neutral handling had us scooting through the turns with ease. Kinematic Posture Control was added back in ’22, using selective braking to tighten up cornering. Adding to it for ’24 is a new steering rack and updated software for the Electric Power Assisted Steering that provides better on-center feel and more precise control.

7.0 seconds to 60 mph won’t exactly get your blood pumping, but it’s plenty adequate for the Miata’s mission and the engine sounds great for a four-cylinder. The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears. But keep those engine revs above 6,000 for the most power. We did and our best quarter-mile was 15.4 at 92 mph.

Our average braking distance of 118 feet from 60 mph may have been a little longer than we’re accustomed to from a performance car these days, but their predictable and fade-free nature will give you plenty of confidence at your next track day.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine

Things remain all business in the cockpit, with everything falling readily to hand, and comfortable seats locking you in place. The most notable change in here for ’24 is a bigger infotainment screen, growing from 7.0 to 8.8 inches.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 26 City, 34 Highway, and 29 Combined. That’s a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 10.3 barrels of annual oil use, with 5.0 tons of CO2 emissions.
Starting price is only $30,170; top Grand Touring goes for $35,470.

It’s true that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has barely evolved over the years; but fortunately for all of us, virtually all of the ways that it has changed have been for the better, yet even in 2024, it remains incredibly affordable. It has been such a constant presence and passion for so many of our MotorWeek staffers over the years it seems like it has been around for a lot longer than just three decades, and thankfully, it looks like there’s no slowing the Miata down.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 seconds at 92 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
  • EPA: 26 City | 34 Highway | 29 Combined