2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8’s Niche Is Shrinking

Heather

Electric vehicles are gaining momentum and becoming more desirable as their driving ranges lengthen and public charging stations become more common. A wider array of body styles has emerged in the EV space and at a variety of price tags too. Is it time to start wondering if the plug-in hybrid still has a place in this world? Several automakers, including Volvo, have detailed plans for a gasoline-free future, so the PHEV’s days appear to be numbered. At the moment, only Volvo’s C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge SUVs offer fully battery-electric motoring, while the rest of the lineup, which includes this flagship XC90 SUV, still relies on gasoline-powered engines.

The XC90 Recharge T8’s plug-in-hybrid powertrain serves as more of a stepping stone to electrification for Volvo, and it’s one the company has revamped for 2022. The combined output is up 55 horsepower to 455 and 51 pound-feet of torque to 523, and instead of the complicated supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the engine now makes do with only the turbo. The electric motor, which powers the rear wheels, gets credit for the horsepower increase as it now makes 143 horsepower versus only 87 previously. With the extra oomph, the 2022 model proved quicker by our measurement, hitting 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, 0.4 second ahead of a 2020 model we previously tested.

HIGHS: Elegant interior, refined road manners, EV driving mode works at highway speeds.

Andi HedrickCar and Driver

Better Battery

But the real appeal of the T8 powertrain is the greater electric-only driving range, thanks to a larger, 14.9-kWh battery pack. At an estimated 36 miles, it’s likely to be enough for many drivers to complete their commute without dipping into that costly gasoline reserve, and the XC90 can run at highway speeds in its EV mode.

On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the XC90 managed to go 29 miles on electric power before switching to gas, and its final result was 58 MPGe. Without the electric miles factored in, we recorded 28 mpg, which beats the EPA’s highway estimate by 1 mpg.

Andi HedrickCar and Driver

The trouble comes when it’s time to charge back up. Unlike many fully electric vehicles including the two aforementioned Volvos, the XC90 Recharge doesn’t allow for DC fast-charging. Instead, like many plug-in hybrids, it utilizes a J1772 connection and has a slower 3.7-kW on-board charger. While this setup is fine for those who plan to primarily charge at home, it’s not a quick-charging arrangement. That makes using the public infrastructure a chore unless you can leave the SUV sit for about five hours.

Andi HedrickCar and Driver

Still Stylish

The XC90’s exterior design has aged more gracefully than SUVs of a similar vintage. It looks elegant and upscale but not ostentatious. The cabin is quiet and richly appointed, especially in our Inscription-level test car, which wore light-gray leather upholstery with a matching open-pore wood veneer dividing the upper and lower dash panels. Seating for seven makes the XC90 fairly spacious for a family, but the third row won’t feel luxurious to adults.

LOWS: Not able to fast-charge, snug third-row passenger space, fully electric SUVs are more compelling.

Andi HedrickCar and Driver

The driver’s seat is the place to be anyway, as the XC90’s road manners are keen for a SUV, with nicely weighted steering and handling that’s nimbler than expected considering the Volvo’s size. Highway cruising is fatigue-free, especially with our $84,090 tester’s optional massaging seats, air suspension, Bowers & Wilkins stereo, and air-ionizing climate-control system. Volvo’s next-generation Google-based infotainment system hasn’t made its appearance in the XC90 yet, but that’s just fine. We’ve complained in the past that the now-old Sensus Connect interface was laggy, and it still is, but we much prefer it to the new setup, which is less attractive and features on-screen icons that are too small to easily use while driving.

Despite the stately appearance and inviting cabin, the XC90 Recharge T8’s appeal is growing more niche in the face of the expanding number of competent, long-range EVs. Those emissions-free options charge faster on public infrastructure, offer higher levels of performance, and come with their own unique prestige. But for those buyers still wary of going fully electric, the XC90 T8 Recharge remains a strong option among partially battery-powered SUVs.

Specifications

Specifications

2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Extended Range

Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE

Base/As Tested: $66,895/$84,090

Options: Inscription package (Nappa leather, heated and ventilated front seats, wood deco inlay, 20-inch wheels, tailored dashboard and upper door panels, Harman/Kardon premium sound, four-zone climate control), $6300; Bowers & Wilkens premium sound, $3200; air suspension, $1800; Lounge package (Nubuck headliner, massaging front seats), $1700; Advanced package (air purifier, head-up display, surround view camera), $1650; 21-inch wheels, $800; Climate package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, headlight washers), $750, Pine Grey Metallic paint, $695; integrated center booster cushion for second row, $300

POWERTRAIN

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 312 hp, 295 lb-ft + AC motor, 143 hp, 228 lb-ft (combined output: 455 hp, 523 lb-ft; 14.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack; 3.7-kW onboard charger)

Transmissions: 8-speed automatic/direct-drive

CHASSIS

Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 14.4-in vented disc/13.4-in vented disc

Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season

275/40R-21 107W M+S VOL

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 117.5 in

Length: 195.0 in

Width: 75.7 in

Height: 69.9 in

Passenger Volume: 132 ft3

Cargo Volume: 11 ft3

Curb Weight: 5194 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS

60 mph: 4.5 sec

100 mph: 11.3 sec

1/4-Mile: 13.1 sec @ 107 mph
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.0 sec

Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.6 sec

Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.3 sec

Top Speed (gov ltd): 115 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 184 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.81 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY

Observed: 29 MPGe

75-mph Highway Driving, EV/Hybrid Mode: 58 MPGe/28 mpg

75-mph Highway Range, EV/Hybrid mode: 29/520 mi

EPA FUEL ECONOMY

Combined/City/Highway: 26/25/27 mpg

Combined Gasoline + Electricity: 66 MPGe

EV Range: 36 mi


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