We love Volvo interiors. They are beautiful, simple, inviting and a relaxing place to spend time. Designers also had to get it right, as Volvo has applied the same style and design language to every vehicle in its range.
Today we focus on the flagship – the 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription. Since our tester is the Inscription trim, it means it’s the most luxurious version of the bunch (Momentum and R-Line are the other two). Highlights include perforated nappa leather seats, a “custom dashboard”, gray ash trim and Orrefors crystal gear knob.
Our car had the Charcoal interior scheme to play nicely with the upholstery. The contrast between the light wood finish and gray stitching with the black leather is a feast for the eyes. Volvo uses a complimentary but not overwhelming amount of piano black trim to add some shine to the interior. It’s nice to see and touch the buttons, but quickly gets dirty around the flat area of the gearshift where dust builds up.
Much of the dash has been left blank in a nod to minimalism. We have a large 9-inch touchscreen oriented vertically in the center, just like any other Volvo on sale today. This is flanked by the central vents. There is little to no styling going on with the vents, which seems like a missed opportunity. Either way, we’re digging the layered and beautifully stitched dash that comes with the Inscription model. Also nestled in the dash is this crossover’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. It is simple in its images, but effective enough in conveying important vehicle information. We really like the more vibrant and customizable clusters from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, but this one gets the job done and doesn’t distract in the least.
Volvo is behind you when it comes to comfort. Our tester has the Deluxe Package, so it is equipped with massaging front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. In addition, Volvo finishes the headlining in nubuck and the handles and visors are made of leather. Unlike all the others, Volvo offers you a choice of three heating levels for the steering wheel. It is noticeable to our hands and is great if you want to add a little heat to your fingers without getting burned. As for the massage, it is only the backrest. We wish it were back and bottom, but at least the programs available for your back are soothing. The seats themselves are comfortable over long distances, while maintaining both support and comfort. You don’t want to pull too many G’s with their little bolsters, though.
The utility of the XC90 is a bit of a mixed bag. You can put a lot of people in it, but it lacks corners to store things in the front. If you have no potions, you are gold. However, all of the central storage space is dominated by a pair of cup holders, so you’re stuck with the side pockets for something else. At least they are spacious. We would still prefer if Volvo designed a usable storage box under the armrest to put phones and other items in.
Four-zone climate control is standard, allowing rear seat passengers to set their own temperature. Volvo introduced a six-passenger configuration for 2020, which we drove and drove last year. The addition of captain seats increases the experience for those in the back, but it’s not quite perfect. We found that the lack of an armrest is great for getting into the third row, but less pleasant when our inner arm is forced to support itself (woe us). This, combined with a low cushion mount, made for an imperfect ride in the back seat.
We’re nitpicking though, as the six-passenger setup is decidedly more comfortable than the seven-passenger setup. There is a lot of room for legs, arms and shoulders in the second row, but anyone taller than a child will quickly feel uncomfortable in the third row. That makes it a good family car, but don’t think you’ll get the same third-row utility as a GLS-Class or Navigator. Being a high-end Volvo, rear seat passengers can enjoy the same beautiful wood and leather as in the front.
Before we close, we would be doing you a disservice if we hadn’t mentioned Bowers & Wilkins’ stunning audio system. Tuned for the Gothenburg Symphony Hall setting, our ears tell us this is one of the best audio systems in the game. At $ 3,200 more than the base Harman Kardon system, we’re not entirely surprised. The XC90 is quiet enough on the inside so that you hear nothing but music when the volume is at a reasonable level. Tire noise, suspension banging and wind noise are kept to a minimum, as it should be in a large, luxury crossover.
It’s impressive how well the XC90 has held up over the years. This crossover was totally new for the 2016 model year, so it took a few years to age luxuriously. The beautiful design holds up well compared to other more complicated and busy interiors, and is likely to hold up well in the future.