Award-worthy: Volvo XC90 continues to rake in awards, praise

When you’re nominated for a prestigious award, the common saying is “it’s just an honor to be nominated.” And that certainly can apply to my tester, although the 2016 Volvo XC90 rightfully has a right to a long, drawn out acceptance speech or victory lap. During the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the XC90 took home the prestigious North American Truck of the Year. It beat out the redesigned Nissan Titan and the redesigned Honda Pilot. Both worthy competitors, but in all fairness, it was a no brainer.

I spent significant time behind the wheel of the Volvo XC90 and was blown away with how amazing this SUV is. It’s not quite flawless, but this seven-passenger SUV is certainly worthy of all the accolades.

2016 Volvo XC90 - 9 - AOA


For 2016, the Volvo XC90 is totally redesigned. The European-looking SUV has both refinement and distinction. It’s both modern and timeless. The grille is just the right size but is highlighted with attractive headlights that feature Volvo’s “hammer of Thor” design. In the daytime, it’s attractive, but at night it’s distinctive. It’s rare to find a vehicle that has two different, but distinctive looks in daylight and night time.


2016 Volvo XC90 - engine 1 - AOAThe beauty of the XC90 is rivaled only by its efficient and amazing engine. The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine gets amazing numbers from such a small powerplant. To power a vehicle that weighs more than 4,300 pounds, you’d expect the necessity of a bigger engine. However, the powertrain numbers are impressive, to the tune of 316 horsepower and 295 lb./ft. of torque. There is no turbo lag from the hard-working engine. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also flawless. There is all-wheel drive to compliment Volvo’s traction-control technology. This SUV is confident in all road conditions. And with a double-wishbone suspension, it’s a firm ride and a little on the bouncy side.


Inside, the award-winning appeal continues. A plush dashboard has a luxurious feel and smaller features show a high-quality attention to detail. Features like illuminated tread plates, Nappa leather and walnut wood inlays give the XC90 a special feel.

2016 Volvo XC90 - interior 2 - AOAThe second-row seat can accommodate three passengers. Two adults will have plenty of leg and head room. Between them is a fold-down seat that functions as a child booster seat. As is the case for most 7-passenger SUVs, the third row seating should be restricted to smaller passengers.

There’s 15.8 cubic feet behind the third row. Fold all the seats flat and there’s 85.7 cubic feet of usable space. The XC90 is not just a comfortable commuter, but has the room and versatility to be a weekend warrior.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t relay a story about the technology found in the XC90. This SUV has several autonomous driving features and is one of the most self-driving-ready vehicles on the road today. The sensor-based technology, however, got in the way of a routine trip to a car wash. The sensors detected the car wash objects and refused to proceed, or shift into neutral in order to be guided through the wash. I had to find the kill switch to turn all the cheats off in order to get it to go. In this regard, the technology is amazing and cool, but can also get in the way.

The XC90 does practically drive itself at speeds below 25 mph. It’s neat to see this actually in place, but it also takes away from overall joy of driving this amazing SUV.

Trims / Pricing

2016 Volvo XC90 - infotainment - AOAThere are three trims for this SUV, as well as a hybrid version. For a luxury-branded vehicle, the XC90 has an affordable price point. My tester was the top-of-the-line Inscription trim and had a base price of $48,900. However, my tester was loaded up with options and had a final MSRP of $66,705, which takes it to a much pricier level. Eliminating some of the options does not take away from the award-winning appeal of the XC90, so keeping it near or under $50,000 makes it incredibly well-priced when compared to its European and Japanese rivals.

Fuel Economy

The XC90 has average fuel economy. It does employ start/stop technology but still has an EPA rating of 20 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. I averaged only 20.8 mpg in mostly highway driving.

We are right smack in the middle of awards season for television, movies, music, and the auto industry too. Gold statues are handed out and red carpets are walked. The 2016 Volvo XC90 belongs in the conversation as one of the best Volvo vehicles produced in many years and is certainly worthy of all the awards it has won.


2016 Volvo XC90

Price/As tested price………………………… $48,900/$66,705

Mileage…………………………………… 20 mpg/city; 25 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder

Horsepower…………………………… 316 hp/295 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Eight-speed

Drive Wheels………………………. All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point……………………….. Gothenburg, Sweden


Jimmy Dinsmore
For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - and follow him on Twitter @driversside.