“Have you ever used a specific product, and afterwards felt like it was perfectly designed to meet your needs? I have, and it’s changed the way I see family vehicles forever.”
2017 Volvo XC90 – The Pinnacle of Family Transportation
Say hello to the 2017 Volvo XC90 luxury SUV, or as I call it—the pinnacle of family transportation. For starters, it took us a really long time to get our hands on this vehicle, as even though Volvo awarded us a test-drive in January of this year, it wasn’t until October that an XC90 was finally available. Being the most awarded SUV in recent history certainly kept it busy longer than I expected. Thankfully, it was all worth the wait.
I’ll begin with this. The Volvo XC90 isn’t the pinnacle of family SUVs just because it’s expensive; that’d be a terrible misunderstanding. As you know, we’ve tested SUVs in the $92,000 dollar range like the Infiniti QX80 and Lexus LX570, but they simply don’t stack up. With a starting price of nearly $50k the Volvo isn’t cheap, but the T6 Inscription vehicle we tested was worth every penny of its $72,805 price tag.
As my turn with the 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription approached, I became fearful that the hype surrounding it would cloud my observations. If you’re like me; you hate hype. Hype is bad when it comes to cars, hotels, restaurants, and other things. Hype typically involves paying more, or thinking better of something than you really should. Thankfully such fears were put to rest on day-two of my week-long test drive.
I won’t waste your time with driving impressions, performance, and other characteristics you’re better off reading from my friends at MotorTrend. After all, it’s their ‘2016 SUV of the Year.’ What I will tell you about is, Volvo’s magical understanding of what a family needs and wants in an SUV. If you prefer to skip the reading then watch this video summary!
What Makes it Special?
Volvo isn’t like most car companies. These guys live and breath vehicle development, and more importantly, vehicle safety development.
Safety is one of two important factors that you should take to heart when shopping for a family vehicle, the other is convenience. The Volvo XC90 is special because it made me feel like a better father when shuttling my kids around. It made me feel safer, and it made me feel… more successful. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone)
Built-in Booster Seat
An integrated child booster is built into the middle seat’s bottom cushion. This booster can be retrieved by simply releasing a latch at the front of it and clicking into place.
Why is it better than any booster seat you can buy? Simple. It’s built-in, and it’s wrapped in gorgeous Nappa leather. You don’t have to take it in and out or worry about it bouncing around when the kiddos aren’t in the car. Also, the entire middle seat can be moved forward to be closer to the adults sitting up front. Lastly, a built-in sensor will visually and audibly warn you if the booster seat belt isn’t buckled.
Seat Belt Sensors
I often have to remind my oldest daughter to buckle up, but thankfully Volvo has heard my clamor.
As soon as an adult or infant’s butt touches one of the seven seats of the T6 Inscription trim, the driver’s information display built into the gauge cluster will show you seat map highlighting which seats are taken, and which seat belts are unbuckled. Unbuckled seats will light up red, and buckled seats will light up white. Shall someone not buckle up, a chime will sound.
On a crazier note, the Volvo XC90 will not move forward if the driver isn’t buckled, even if a forward or reverse gear has been engaged. The vehicle will remain still until the driver buckles up. While this can be a bit annoying, I can see the value in it and I think it’s an excellent feature.
Electronic Child Lock
The child lock you and I grew up with was a simple lever housed in the rear door frame. As a parent, you had to get out, open the door, and flip the switch in order to turn it on or off.
Volvo presents us with a much more high-tech and intuitive child lock than its predecessor. A clearly labeled child lock button is housed on the driver’s door next to the window switches. Activate the child lock system, and little ones won’t be able to open the doors from the inside, and even better yet, they also won’t be able to operate the power windows! You can easily see if the system is engaged or not via the driver’s information display, or the button itself. Genius!
Built-in Window Shades & Panoramic Sunroof
While these two features are more for convenience than necessity, a road trip-loving family like ourselves appreciates them more than you can imagine.
Built-in sunshades are lovely in the sense that they’re there when you need them, and they’re hidden when you don’t. Kids can easily operate them as needed, and they’re sturdy enough that they don’t flap in the wind when either of the front windows are down. The panoramic sunroof is a nice feature to have during road trips, and both of my kids have confessed to feeling less claustrophobic when spending multiple hours in the car.
Just like the window shades and panoramic sunroof, having data on-the-go nowadays is a luxury that’s hard to do without. That’s if you value your sanity, of course.
The Volvo XC90 has the ability to become a mobile hot-spot (for an additional cost), and with an extended range antenna it’ll even work when you step out of it. My parents had books during road trips, I had a portable CD player, and kids nowadays have WiFi.
Having adjustable air suspension is great for handling performance, but there’s also a family-friendly twist to it.
When my 42-inch-tall daughter had a tough time climbing into the Volvo XC90, I simply referred to the 9.5 inch Sensus touchscreen; accessed the vehicle settings; and activated the “easy entry and exit mode.” From that moment on, the vehicle lowered and raised itself every time I started or shut-off the engine. I was also able to control the ride-height from a button located in the cargo area, which made it easier to load heavy items into the trunk.
Volvo has pledged that no one would be killed or severely injured in a new Volvo vehicle by 2020. Surely that sounds ambitious, but if there’s someone that can accomplish such feat, it’s Volvo.
The 2016 Volvo XC90 achieved the highest safety rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on all crash tests, and was named a “Top Safety Pick” for 2016.
- Starts at: $45, 750
- Price as tested: $72,805