By Mike Hagerty
There are those who say that other than puns based on the popular Aerosmith song, the words “Swede” and “Emotion” should never be placed next to each other – particularly when it comes to mechanical matters. That’s because Swedish manufacturer Volvo has a reputation for safety, precision and perfection that takes emotion out of the equation.
I can only assume those people have never driven a contemporary Volvo – and certainly not an R-Design Volvo. Case in point: the 2020 Volvo XC90 T6 R-Design. The XC90 SUV has been the quiet choice for affluent families since its introduction in 2003. However, much has changed in those 17 years.
Under the hood, there’s a 2-liter four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged. The end result is 316 horsepower and 295 pounds per foot of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and features all-wheel drive with instant traction; selectable drive modes are standard. Sixty mph happens from a standing start in 6.1 seconds, and fuel economy is a respectable Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 18 mpg city/26 highway.
Accommodations are, as expected, safe, sturdy and luxurious.
Base price for the 2020 Volvo XC90 T6 R-Design is $56,300, and that brings with it a comprehensive list of standard features. They include 20-inch alloy wheels, navigation and a 600-watt, 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.
Our tester also had some extra-cost options – $17,440 worth, to be exact – including R-Design seats and trim, LED headlamps with a pressure cleaning system, a 360-degree surround view camera, a head-up display, air suspension, parking assist, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel plus further upgrades to 22-inch wheels and a 1,400-watt Bowers and Wilkins audio system that accounts for $3,200 all by itself. With $995 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $74,735.
That last number is more of a shock than it should be, because of the wide gap between it and the base price. But if Volvo simply went to a one-price option of $74,735 for a loaded XC90 T6 R-Design – call it “Ultra” or “Ultimate,” or something like that – it would be difficult for me to argue that it’s not worth it.
As shocking as it may be if you’ve been out of the SUV market for a while, 74 grand is not-quite-even-loaded Chevy Tahoe money these days, and the Volvo XC90 is a far more refined machine.
Mike Hagerty, vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists (waj.org), has been writing about cars since 1997. Read more of his reviews on his website (tirekicker.blogspot.com) and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/mikehagertywritesaboutcars).