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Volvo XC90 Review Fantastic styling takes Volvo to top of the SUV offering in Japan

I grew up in Europe, where car manufacturers have a distinct design and style and target distinct demographics. Volvo has always been a family car... safe, reliable and built like a tank... when we talk about stylish good looks and sex appeal, well let's just say, traditionally, Volvo would not get a look-in. In recent years though Volvo has started to move in a different direction- starting with the XC90 SUV.

Volvo started looking at a completely different styling and design, gone were the clunky tanks, and in came the innovation that forced everyone to look at Volvo cars and the Volvo brand, in a new light. 

The XC90 came onto the scene with a lot of heavy hitters in the backdrop: BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus as well as the uber-luxury models like the Cayenne and Levante -all big sellers. But Volvo's XC90 strikes the right tone with Japan's upscale market. Luxurious, modern with elegant understatement that Japanese consumers are really relating to. In essence, they have gotten the design spot-on, and now Volvo is gaining serious ground in the Japanese SUV market.

Design and styling

The new XC90 is such a game changer for the brand, it's Like what Mercedes did with the M-Class and Land Rover had done with the Range Rover, Volvo is doing the same with the XC90 in Japan. Scandinavian design at its best, with bold lines and a boxy profile, it’s a confident looking machine, which, when taking into consideration Volvo’s strong association with safety, it makes a powerful offering, particularly for the 40+ luxury family segment. The design is sharper than the new Q7 and is less drab than the current Range Rover. 

With 7 adult-sized seats, the XC90 is a practical, stylish and left-field alternative to the premium family-sized SUVs. Sporting impressive safety tech such as; lane assist, which autonomously corrects the road position, keeping the car in between the white lines and BLIS, which warns of objects in blind spots, the XC90 is a well equipped too,with optional extras like a Bowers & Wilkins sound system (¥400,000), with acoustics modelled on the Gothenburg Concert Hall, is a novel and worthwhile addition if in car entertainment is your thing, while the in-built Apple CarPlay is a neat and familiar way for iPhone users to connect while on the move.

Tech Spec

The XC90 is available with three different powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid, all of which are based on the same Drive-E four-cylinder engine. T5 models are set up with a 250-hp turbocharged inline-four; the T5 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is a ¥300,000 option. The all-wheel-drive-only T6 models upgrade to a turbocharged and supercharged, 316-hp version of the four-cylinder. T8 models add electric power to the twin-charged engine, creating an all-wheel-drive, 400-hp plug-in hybrid.

Each variant is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All XC90s come standard with seating for up to seven people, with one outlier—the T8 can be ordered as a model called the XC90 Excellence, with two rows and four individual seats for a luxe-limo experience.

It also comes with Volvo's Pilot Assist II semi-autonomous drive technology. This system works at speeds up to 81 mph on well-marked highways by braking, accelerating, and steering for you.

The Details:

The XC90 starts at ¥7,790,000 on the road, with 3,4 and 5-year finance plans available.

Volvo Japan has an English speaking dealership in Minato-ku:

Volvo Toranomon
3-16-11, Nishishinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0003 
Tel: 03-6721-2012


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