Volvo now offers a plug-in hybrid edition of the XC90. The SUV comes with a crisper design, and further enhanced world first safety features such as run-off-road protection. We also took the Volvo XC90 out on a specially prepared ice track.
SUVs are all the rage right now, explains our car reviewer Michelle Assenmacher. But there's also a growing demand for alternative drive systems. So why not combine them?“
Volvo got off to a head-start last summer with the revamped XC90. The plug-in hybrid combines a 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a 65-kiloWatt electric motor.
And there are changes on the OUTSIDE too. The front is now chunkier, while the rear also has bolder and crisper contouring. Volvo's flagship was also beefed up on the safety front, and equipped with not one but two world firsts.
The carmaker has a clear concept called "Vision 2020", explains Volvo's Olaf H. Meidt. It envisages no driver or passenger being seriously injured or killed in any new Volvo hitting the streets in 2020.
A further step toward that vision is run-off-road protection. As soon as the car leaves the road, the safety belts tighten to ensure occupants are in the best possible position. The second new development is the brake assist for intersections. Here, the car automatically reduces speed while turning when there is oncoming traffic.
The XC90 also gives you a range of driving modes, of course. Michelle takes us through the three modes available with the hybrid engine. "Save" allows you to charge up your electric motor while driving. "Pure" is running solely on electric power... and there's also the hybrid mode, where the vehicle alternates between the gasoline engine and the electric motor in order to minimize fuel consumption.
The two units together generate 300 kiloWatts, and according to the manufacturer the car needs just 2-point-1 liters of gas for 100 kilometers.
Michelle has now found a section of the mountain with some snow and ice - and is going to test the car's off-road abilities on a specially prepared course.
In the XC90 the front wheels are powered by the gasoline engine, and the rear axle by the electric motor. In all-wheel mode the electric motor is basically on standby and is only activated when the front wheels start to spin.
The car is very much at home here on the ice, confirms Michelle. She didn't feel uneasy for a single second on the course. Combining a hybrid drive with an S-U-V IS a great idea, she reckons. ((15:18)) Although out on this icey surface she can only drive in all-wheel mode, not hybrid. And that means that, here, fuel consumption is way higher than the 2-point-1 liters claimed by Volvo.
Hybrid mode is for minimum consumption, while all-wheel drive is all about maximum power!