What you need to know:
- Leg and headroom are excellent in all three rows and third-row passengers shouldn’t have too much trouble getting into their seats thanks to big doors and sliding middle-row seats. There are plenty of cubbies scattered throughout the cabin, with even third-row passengers getting their own storage bins.
A rival for the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, Mercedes GLE 350 de, BMW X5 xDrive45e and other large luxury hybrid SUVs, the Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 is a petrol-electric hybrid that aims to combine the practicality and comfort of the rest of the range with good performance and improved fuel economy.
The T8 sits at the top of the XC90 range, so while it is certainly not cheap, it is bristling with equipment and features. Its interior is a fantastic place to be, beautifully designed and packed with technology – most of which is controlled or monitored by a centrally mounted portrait infotainment screen that behaves rather like a tablet. It is airy inside and the leather-trimmed seats are among the most comfortable fitted in any car for long journeys.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine plus an electric motor, which combine to produce almost 400bhp. It is very fast for this type of vehicle, but the XC90 Recharge T8 isn’t a sports SUV – the BMW X5 xDrive45e, for example, handles better on tighter roads. Think instead of the XC90 T8 as a powerful and very comfortable car for everyday driving, and the Volvo takes some beating.
Despite having seven seats and a hybrid powertrain, the Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 is still very practical. The batteries only reduce boot space by 40 litres and even with all seven seats up, you’ve still got a boot that’s a similar size to a supermini’s. Adults will be quite happy in the rearmost seats, although a Land Rover Discovery will be even more comfortable if you are regularly carrying lots of people.
Engines, drive and performance
With 390bhp from its combined petrol engine and electric motor, the XC90 Recharge T8 is the fastest car in the range. It can reach 62mph from a standstill in 5.8 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 143mph. There’s lots of power low down the rev range and overtaking performance is impressive.
It’s a second faster to 62mph than the eco-minded Mercedes GLE 350 de, but has a focus on comfort so it’s not the best SUV for twisty roads. It’s a long way off offering the sporty appeal of the BMW X5 xDrive45e, too. The Volvo is best at relaxed, stable, high-speed cruising; it’s a big, heavy car that becomes unsettled if you’re too aggressive in the corners.
The XC90 Recharge T8 is still a joy to drive, however. Its steering is light and there’s lots of grip and traction thanks to its four-wheel-drive system, making it more satisfying than the soft Lexus RX L 450h. Like most XC90s, the Recharge T8 is most at home on wider, open roads, but generally speaking it’s easy to drive in most situations provided its size isn’t an issue. If you are used to a smaller car, you might need some time to adjust to the T8’s considerable length, width and weight.
Interior and comfort
One of the biggest advantages the Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 has over its rivals is its fantastic interior. It’s hugely comfortable regardless of where you’re sitting, with lashings of leather and quality trim making it feel distinctly upmarket. It’s designed in a pleasingly unfussy manner, too.
The dashboard is dominated by a central touchscreen that controls everything from the multi-zone climate control to the sat nav, stereo and various settings. If you’re very technologically minded, you’ll love the tablet-like interface – but if not, it might take some time to get used to. It’s joined by another screen that replaces traditional dials behind the steering wheel. This is easy to read and can display all manner of information, including sat-nav directions. DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a great 10-speaker stereo come as standard.
R-Design adds sportier styling, including 20-inch alloys and sharper exterior styling, along with the largest 12-inch driver’s display. Inscription brings similar equipment to R-Design, but with a more luxurious focus. The top-of-the-range Inscription Pro comes laden with kit, including Volvo’s clever air suspension.
As one of the largest cars on the road, it is not surprising that the Recharge T8 is also very spacious inside. With all seven seats in use, there’s 262 litres of space in the boot – great for a car of this type. However, fold them all down and you’re left with a huge, van-like 1,816 litres to the roof. With all seats in the second and third rows folding individually, Volvo claims the seats can be configured in 32 different ways. The XC90 is much bigger and more versatile than the five-seat BMW X5 xDrive45e; only the electric Tesla Model X can match it in the class – it beats the Volvo’s total seats-folded space, but its third row isn’t quite as accommodating.
Leg and headroom are excellent in all three rows and third-row passengers shouldn’t have too much trouble getting into their seats thanks to big doors and sliding middle-row seats. There are plenty of cubbies scattered throughout the cabin, with even third-row passengers getting their own storage bins.
Provided you don’t work the engine too hard, it is remarkably quiet in the XC90 T8’s interior, which when combined with the comfortable and extensively adjustable seats, ‘CleanZone’ air quality control system and a soft, controlled ride, makes it a very nice car to travel in. If you specify the optional air suspension (standard on the Inscription Pro model), things only get more pleasant.
Volvo is famed for its safety and the XC90 is no exception, earning a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score and great 97 and 87% ratings for adult and child protection respectively. The XC90 also has lots of clever technology fitted as standard to help avoid crashes, including IntelliSafe, a system that warns of hazards ahead and brakes for you if needed – essentially an advanced AEB (automatic emergency braking) system. The car also features an advanced blind-spot monitoring system that can steer back into lane if you’re about to sideswipe another vehicle, and will even brake and steer itself if it senses you’ve left the road.