Toronto, April 25, 2016 – Few can appreciated the design evolution of this Swedish auto manufacturer more than I can. After all, I grew up with four different family Volvos over a fifteen-year period. From our first tank-like 1980 Volvo 240DL to our last sleek 1994 Volvo 850R, the family’s road safety was trusted to one name – Volvo. So it was exciting for me this past week to get behind the wheel of an automobile I was rarely allowed to touch let alone drive.
Awarded Motor Trend’s 2016 SUV of the Year, the Volvo XC90 ($48,900USD/$66,800CAD base) is the ultimate understated luxury SUV. The company says that each detail is designed to make driving simpler, more enjoyable, and less stressful. After a weekend drive from Toronto to Montréal and back, it’s very easy to vouch for that. I can’t figure out how you get a 4,800lbs (2,180kg) SUV with a small 2.0L, inline-4 cylinder engine, to deliver 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (0-60 mph in 5.8-6.1 sec). Surely, the turbocharged and supercharged Drive-E engine technology have a lot to do with it. The only drawback is that as with many other SUVs with compression engines, they take and burn through a lot of high-octane premium gas. That can get expensive with city driving as I was averaging 12L-16L/100km (19 mpg), but thankfully there’s an economy mode that gets you around 9.6L-10L/100km (27 mpg) on the highway.
2016 Volvo XC90 Interior
An alternative to German three-row SUVs such as the Audi Q7 & Mercedes GLS, this is made for someone looking for all of the luxury of a European SUV, without it being in-your-face. Think doctors or dentists over stock brokers and hedge-fund managers. The Scandinavian design is clean and simple, yet despite this minimalist look, the XC90 comes loaded with tons of special features. While the exterior is simple with nothing more than a bold grille and oversized badge to catch your attention, the interior is breathtaking. Every design element works in harmony, made from finest materials like soft leather, silver chrome/aluminum accents, and rich wooden panels. The iPad-sized Sensus console is cool once you get the hang of it. Although the driving mode dial looks really nice, I just don’t like it. An alternative would have been better. I found myself over and under-scrolling too much before finding the mode I was looking for.
“Everything we do is designed around people, so every innovation we make is designed to simplify and improve your life. We’re especially proud of our advances in efficient power, connectivity and safety. We call our thinking in these areas: Drive-E, Sensus and IntelliSafe.” – Volvo
The CleanZone technology checks incoming air for pollutants and closes the vents when necessary. The active carbon filter also helps protect you from harmful gases and unpleasant odours making for pleasant ride. Safety is what the Volvo reputation was built and the brand is well under way to meet their 2020 target of zero serious injuries or deaths in a Volvo. IntelliSafe is a mix of the best adaptive cruise control I’ve ever experienced, 360′ cameras, active high-beam, park assist pilot, blind spot information, lane assist. It’ll even break for you if a cyclist or pedestrian jump out in front of the car. You have to experience it to appreciate it, in the meantime you can read more about IntelliSafe here.
W Montréal Gallery
While in Montréal I stayed at the very stylish W Montréal located at Victoria Square. It’s about a five-minute walk south from the hotel to Old Montréal and about the same distance north to St. Catherine’s Street. The hotel is funky and high-end with quiet rooms on each floor. The staff are all very knowledgable, really nice and always happy to help. The W’s 24-hrs gym, spa, nightclub, lounge and ground-level restaurant E.A.T. are all very impressive. It’s one stop for dinner, drinks, the gym, and sleep. You may want to steer clear of the mini-bar and room service though. A tiny pack of soy chips cost me over $10 and a late-night room-service burger with a salad cost me almost $50.
Photos: Spiro Mandylor, spiro.ca
Interior XC90 Photos: Volvo Motors
W Montréal Photos: W Hotels