2016 Volvo XC90
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!
- 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 Subaru Outback
The Outback Continues To Deliver
In a world that’s SUV crazy, it’s easy to forget that the Subaru Outback has been delivering capable and comfortable all-weather and all-road capabilities to adventure-loving Americans for years. In fact, it’s now well into its 6th generation. So, it’s time for us to check in with the latest Outback and find out what’s new.
Almost 50-years ago, long before all-wheel-drive became an option for just about every car on the road, Subaru released the first four-wheel-drive passenger car in the U.S. Immediately, they knew they had a good thing going with that wagon, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the marketing folks got on board and helped launch the Subaru Outback Sport Utility Wagon.
While the 2024 Outback is approaching the end of its 6th generation, its not slowing down when it comes to delivering tons of value to adventure-minded families.
The Outback is the sole remaining wagon available here in the U.S. from a mainstream brand, though even Subaru doesn’t use the “W” word anymore.
Now strictly referred to as a mid-size SUV, when it comes to selling any vehicle, attractiveness is always a bonus, and the Outback’s unique blend of rugged and refined has set the tone for many followers over the years. The exterior was recently updated, and while it looks big and more like a true SUV than ever, it’s only about 5-inches longer than the 1990’s original.
Some trims do get additional standard content for ’24, but our top Touring XT showcases everything Subaru has to offer, with an 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment screen that controls more features than ever, includes navigation, and pumps tunes out with Harmon Kardon sound. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology remains an Outback standard.
Cargo capacity is a great 32.6 cubic-ft., 75.6 with rear seatbacks folded, and despite the high ground clearance, the floor is lower than SUV typical, which makes for easier loading.
Outback seat comfort has improved greatly over the years, and despite the increased reliance on the touchscreen, everything about the cabin is simple to operate and logically placed.
The XT part of our Touring XT means there’s extra power under the hood with a 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo engine which rates 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque. It’s a big upgrade over the standard 182-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter.
Both engines are unchanged and work with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT; all-wheel-drive is of course another Outback standard.
At Mason-Dixon Dragway, our XT had plenty of grip off the line, hitting 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. That’s a couple of tenths quicker than our last time out with this turbo-4. We’ll chalk that up to better weather this time around.
Like many Subarus, it doesn’t feel overly fast but it’s snappy off the line, and perfectly adequate from there.
Power delivery stayed very consistent down the track; the CVT definitely keeps engine revs maxed out the whole time, but noise is far from annoying. Our best ¼-mile time was 14.6-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour.
The Outback boasts 8.7-inches of ground clearance, which is more than many mid-size SUVs; and while it felt plenty competent through our slalom course, there was noticeable body roll and understeer to deal with. Yet steering was light and predictable, plus Active Torque Vectoring and Vehicle Dynamics Control are hard at work to keep you stable and safe no matter what.
In panic braking, there were only moderate amounts of nosedive, and mild ABS pulsing. Stops averaged a fine 115-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a great 27.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular; a feat most SUVs can only dream of.
That’s an average Energy Impact Score; with use of 11.9-barrels of oil yearly, with 5.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
Base Outbacks have plenty of standard content, and remain a real bargain, starting at just $30,240, top trims, including Wilderness, take you into the low 40s.
Decades of loyal Outback owners have helped Subaru grow the 2024 Subaru Outback into what it is today; a highly capable and comfortable, thoughtfully designed, adventure-ready family truckster that’s as adept at backwoods exploring as it is soldiering through the daily grind. Your family activities may not take you far off the beaten path, but life itself is an adventure, and the Subaru Outback is outfitted for your adventure better than ever.
- Engine: 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo
- Horsepower: 260
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
- MW Fuel Economy: 27.9 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: CVT
- Torque: 277 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.6-seconds at 97 mph
- EPA: 22 City | 29 Highway | 25 Combined