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
2023 GMC Canyon
Canyon Goes Bigger
Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!
Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.
Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.
The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.
At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.
But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.
Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.
The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.
Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.
So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!
- Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 430 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined