The muscular stance and elegant proportions of the new Volvo XC90 represent the synthesis of a number of traditional yet unique Volvo design features applied to a thoughtful vehicle architecture that addresses safety, interior space and innovative flexibility.
The XC90 is unmistakably Volvo: the upright, egg-crate grille with Volvo diagonal and emblem rises into the V-shaped hood, further accentuated on the Volvo XC90 by broad, pronounced shoulders evident on the sides of the vehicle. The characteristic tail lamps incorporate the design language of both sedans and wagons
"Nobody should have any doubt that this is a modern Volvo," said Volvo design chief Peter Horbury at the XC90 unveiling in January. The muscularity of the Volvo XC90 is enhanced by chamfered corners front and rear, giving the vehicle a more compact appearance.
Smart vehicle architecture
"The beauty of the transverse, in-line engine architecture is that it gives you more space to work with. This is why we have managed to create a compact SUV with three rows of seats," explained Horbury. The Volvo XC90 is a seven-seat SUV with compact overall body dimensions. It's 4798mm long, just 86mm longer than a Volvo V70.
The tailgate on the Volvo XC90 strikes a sporty angle, announcing that this is not a regular Volvo station wagon with the familiar vertical tailgate. The incline of the tailgate also means that the roofline is truncated, making the vehicle look shorter and contributing to a sporty stance on the road. The tailgate splits horizontally into 70/30 proportions. The upper section is light and is easy to open and close, while the lower section can be used as a seat or a platform to access roof-mounted accessories.
The bumpers of the XC90 are integrated smoothly into the design and the tough, dark-coloured plastic cladding panels provides a visual punctuation to the profile, emphasizing the vehicle's higher ground clearance and its SUV character.
A variety of dealer-installed accessories and styling accents are available.
Interior with a Scandinavian flavor
The interior of the Volvo XC90 is characterised by airiness, space and the feeling of comfort and elegance. Facing the driver is one of the car world's clearest and most ergonomically designed instrument panels. With Scandinavian simplicity of line and functionality, it provides plenty of information from a small number of meticulously designed instruments. The instruments and controls are angled slightly up towards the driver's eyes, in keeping with the higher seating position. The dash design enhances the feeling of control - the single quality that SUV buyers generally prize most highly.
The seats in the Volvo XC90 are designed to allow easier entry and exit from the vehicle.
Focus on flexibility
The interior of the Volvo XC90 offers what is perhaps the greatest flexibility in the SUV class. Despite its compact dimensions, the vehicle offers generous interior space. Both the second and third rows of seats, as well as the front passenger seat, can be folded down to create an entirely flat luggage compartment.
The middle row of seats, designed like seats in a regular passenger car, has a three-part backrest with a 40/20/40 split to offer maximum flexibility. The middle seat in this row can be equipped with an integrated child booster cushion. The child seat can slide forward so that it is positioned just behind the two front seats, thus improving contact between the child and the front seat occupants.
The third row features two separate, front-facing seats, offering full comfort for adults of modest size or children.
In addition to the ample interior space, the transverse, in-line engine architecture also permits the engineers to design a more generous crumple zone for occupant protection (vs fore-and-aft engine alignment) and even has an environmental consideration. The in-line engine has a "hot side" and "cold side" with the hot side facing rearwards. That means the exhaust gases have a very short run from the back of the turbocharger to the catalytic converter, where emission reduction is improved thanks to the greater heat in the exhaust.