The Volvo XC90 Drive Zero Car Guide

For people looking to buy a 7 seat luxury SUV with a battery the obvious (and only full electric option) is the Tesla Model X. However if you’re unsure about Tesla, or think you want a gateway plug-in hybrid before going all-electric, then there’s the Volvo XC90.

Starting from around $123,000 plus options and on-road costs the XC90 is a PHEV (Plug-in Electric Vehicle) that has a small battery and second electric motor, capable of around 30km of electric-only range, to support the main petrol engine.

It’s produced by a very trusted car company in Volvo, plus it also has a list of accessories and extras that run off the page, down the table and out the door!

Drive Zero Car Guides are written for people trying to get a feel of the electric car landscape in Australia. We only wrote guides for battery (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicles that are confirmed to be on sale in the market in Australia now, or are coming soon.

Our goal is to summarise as much as you might want to know about the different considerations for each of these electric cars and who they may be useful for. That said, we’re not qualified car reviewers, so full reviews of these models, we’ve included the best links and video for reviews that we could find.

Volvo XC90 PHEV – all the basics

To start with the Volvo XC90 comes in four trims and a number of different engine configurations. As this is Drive Zero we’re only going to focus on the ones that have the T8 Twin Engine option which is the configuration that uses the PHEV design.

The models that have this are the R-Design, Inscription and Excellence editions. The base Momentum edition doesn’t have any option for the T8 configuration so we won’t be covering that.

The first R-Design stands for “Racy” and includes a sporty interior and exterior with things like 22″ alloy wheels as well as other benefits like Apple CarPlay. The next level up Inscription edition adds more things like Blind Spot technology, Nappa leather and Premium Sound. Finally, the top level Excellence gives even more and can only be purchased with the top T8 Twin Engine option.

With up to 64 different configurations, a towing capacity of 2,400 kg and over 1,800 litres of boot space (with all the seats down) it certainly has a lot of capabilities. The T8 Twin Engine though adds to all this with not only fantastic performance but great fuel efficiency too.

The 9.2 kWh Lithium Ion Battery is used to give upwards of 30 km of all electric driving or to supplement the 2.0, litre four cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine. Together they obtain an impressive 2.1 L/100 km combined fuel economy as well as a 0-100 km/h acceleration in only 5.6 seconds. Not bad for a car that weights well over 2,000 kg!

How much does the Volvo XC90 PHEV cost and what models are on sale in Australia?

The Volvo XC90 starts at $93,900 brand new however this is for the base Momentum model which doesn’t have the T8 Twin Engine electric motor. To get that PHEV option you’ll have to at least purchase the Inscription edition as mentioned before which starts at $122,900 plus options and on-road costs. The R-Design T8 PHEV version meanwhile starts at $124,900 and can go as high as $140,000.

Second hand, a 2017 model can range from around $109,000 all the way up to $128,000+ depending on the optional extras included and kilometres. Going back another year to 2016 and the price decreases a little more to between $92,000 to $121,000 while the 2015 R-Design edition is $95,000 to $110,000.

You won’t find any older models than 2015 though as the hybrid drive train didn’t come in until that year. That being said there are a number of them being sold around Australia second hand so there is a great range of options for anyone looking for both new and used. You can find two year old R-Design T8 Twin Engine deals for $95,000 drive away with only 10,000 km’s on the clock.

Volvo XC90 PHEV key details

The XC90 is obviously a luxury car similar in price as new to the Tesla Model X. However while the Model X is all electric the Volvo has a traditional petrol engine up front as well as the electric motor in the rear.

While this isn’t as environmentally-friendly it is a lot more familiar to many people. I’d imagine that it also allows them to spend more of the cars cost on the interior features as they don’t need to buy a huge 100 kWh battery.

With the option to configure it with 7 full sized seats, great towing capacity and a truly huge range of accessories, colours, wheels, trim and so on it does give buyers much more choice than the Model X. For the core details though have a look at the below table.

 Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
Table last updated June 2018
Release Date & AvailabilityOn sale since 2015 (T8 Twin Engine PHEV model)
PriceFrom $122,900 plus options and on-road costs
Weight2,319 – 2,394 kg
Electric Range30 km (+ 50L petrol tank)
0-100 km/h5.6 Seconds
Top Speed230 km/h
Battery9.2 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
DrivetrainDrive-E Plug-in-Hybrid 2.0 litre four cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol and electric motor
Front Wheels: 235kW @ 5700rpm (400Nm at 2200-5400rpm)
Rear Wheels: Electric engine 65kW @ 7000rpm (240Nm at 0-3000rpm)
Seats7-seats as standard (64 different configurations)
ChargingType 1 - J1772 Plug
Vehicle & Battery Warranty

Beyond those basic stats you have the choice of a number of colours including Ice White, Electric Silver Metallic, Savile Grey Metallic, Twilight Bronze Metallic, Onyx Black Metallic, Luminous Sand Metallic, Maple Brown Metallic or even Denim Blue Metallic and more.

There’s a 12.3″ driver display, heads up display, 360 degree surround view parking cameras, heated seats, Bluetooth and WiFi tethering, a myriad of interior trim options seven different wheel options, four centre console inlays, four different seat types, sunroof option as well as a ton of other smart technology features like automatic parking and Apple CarPlay.

Volvo is clearly bringing its strong customisation abilities along with the XC90 and it goes even to that next level with things like built in seat massage functions, four-zone climate control, a crystal gear level knob and even a refrigerated compartment built into the back middle seat (on the Excellence model) that can hold two 750ml bottles and two specifically-designed handcrafted Swedish Orrefors crystal glasses.

What do the reviewers think of the Volvo XC90 PHEV?

The XC90 comes in so many configurations and models that there is a huge range of differences between them all. While the base model doesn’t even have an electric motor the top level Excellence version can be over twice the price and has amazing levels of luxury.

So to begin with Drive.com.au goes through and details the overall ride quality and design for the base, non-T8 engine versions.

Moving up in the levels of configuration CarTell covers the T8 R-Design version and how it differs from the base models. It also covers the electric motor a bit and what exactly makes the R-Design XC90 “Racy”.

Going right to top Car Advice covers the full blown Excellence model with all its extras, bells and whistles while driving around Melbourne.

Then finally there’s this comparison review by Cars.co.za that compares it to the Audi Q7.

The common trend seems to be most not being a huge fan of the smaller 2.0L engine as it can struggle a bit when you try and push the car a bit. Perhaps Volvo would have been better putting in a more powerful electric motor than the 65 kW one in the rear as this would have given the car more punch.

Another general concern was the ride smoothness especially on the larger wheels or if you don’t chose the air suspension option. They all agree that the fittings and finish are fantastic though which is expected at this price tier.

Volvo XC90 PHEV – Its battery and how to charge it

Although it’s not a fully electric car the XC90 still needs to be charged via the Type 1 – J1772 Plug. It has a 9.2 kWh Lithium Ion Battery in it which can also be charged via the regenerative brakes.

By default it comes with a charging cable that you can use at home, however it only charges at 10 A (2.4 kW) and so takes around 3.5 hours for a full charge. If you get a more powerful home charger installed though (or use a more powerful charger out and about) it can charge at a rate of up to 16 A (3.8 kW). This reduces the charge time to around 2.5 hours for a full charge.

As it uses the J1772 Type 1 plug this also means that you can charge it from a range of public charging stations, such as from the Chargepoint network. Charging it at home will be what most owners do though as it’s quite easy to just plug it in once you hop out of the car at home.

With its rather limited 30 km electric only range it still can be quite useful for many people, as most work commutes are around the 20-40 km’s return range.

How does the Volvo XC90 PHEV look inside?

As eluded to in the earlier sections the XC90 is a no-holds-barred luxury car and the interior is where this shines. From the leather seats to the humidity sensor to the panoramic sunroof or air-ventilated sub-woofer virtually no expense has been spared.

Of course you’ll have to pay for all these amenities even with the eye-watering base price. The grocery bag holder will set you back an additional $200, the Bowers & Wilkins audio system is an additional $4,500 while other upgrades like having the back seats being heated will be $400.

There’s also the configuration of the Excellence package which takes the car from a 7 seater down to only four. The rear two seats are also extra plush with cup holders, massage options and more.

You can also of course chose different seat types, leather types, steering wheel types, trim types and on and on – all for a fee.

Other key features

On top of all that luxury, Volvo certainly hasn’t forgotten about technology as well as safety. If you do happen to be driving there’s the 12.3″ digital driver display as well as the 9″ touch screen. There’s even a heads up display.

There’s Adaptive Cruise Control, their Pilot Assist technology that helps you to stay in your lane, the 360° Surround View camera’s that give you a birds eye view while you’re parking as seen below.

Beyond that there’s the Driver Alert Control, Active High Beam Control, Blind Spot Information System and their City Safety systems that help detect pedestrians, cyclists and even intersection braking technology. This helps to avoid you from accidentally turning into the path of an oncoming car while driving through an intersection and is apparently a world first.

There’s even an airbag for the pedestrians which automatically deploys to cover the windscreen and lessen pedestrian injury. Inside your seat belt will automatically tighten within a few thousandths of a second after a collision helping to keep you strapped in tight.

You can even get a fancy red smart key that automatically locks and unlocks the car as you approach. This is paired with a powered tailgate that can also be operated hands free by moving your feet underneath the car.

The list is almost endless with a whole host of other accessories that you can find here and here.

Summing Up – Why consider a Volvo XC90 PHEV?

While the Volvo XC90 isn’t one of the typical electric cars we discuss here at Drive Zero due to its rather small electric range, it is an exceptional piece of engineering. The 30km electric only range is also enough for most people’s general work commutes, especially if you have access to a charger at work.

Even if there are no chargers at work it’s quite feasible to drive 10-15 km to work and then another 10-15 km back, all on electricity and then recharge the car overnight. The next morning you’re fully charged and the cycle just repeats itself.

At the end of the week you’ve hopefully not used much petrol at all. So while it obviously won’t get your from Sydney to Melbourne on all electric power anytime soon, it can still be easily and regularly used to cut down on the commute kilometres driven with petrol.

On top of all that you’ve got the amazing levels of luxury, the world class safety features, huge amounts of technology and some pretty big towing and seating capacities to boot too. Hopefully Volvo are working on extending that 30 km range and even bringing the PHEV options to all their other cheaper models too.

*Supplementary photos courtesy of Volvo Australia

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