You should know that I'm not a car person. I can't identify cars by their logo, make or model. So please don't ask. For me, a car is simply a tool to get me from point A to point B. Nothing more, nothing less. That was the case until I met the 2021 Volvo XC 90 Hybrid.
Before I get into why it's probably the hottest SUV on the market right now, let me back up a bit. In November, I had the wild idea to drive my family of four from our New Jersey home to my mother's home in Valdosta, Georgia for the Thanksgiving holiday. The thought of hopping on a plane in the middle of a pandemic scared us to death and a car ride (armed with negative COVID tests) seemed like the sensible thing to do.
You should also know that I have a rambunctious 4-year-old son and 19-month-old daughter, who prior to this road trip hadn't been in a car longer than 2 hours. Clearly, we were in for the ride of our lives.
To help us get through the trek, I opted for the XC90 (full-size) and not the XC60 (mid-size) because I knew that snacks and toys to keep my little ones entertained would take up the bulk of the space in the car. The SUV is equipped with three-rows, room for up to seven passengers, and a pretty sizable cargo area. Getting the full-size SUV was a smart move.
The car ride is approximately 14 hours (or 977.2 miles if that's more digestible for you) and a straight shot via I-95 South. Regardless of the distance, safety was and will always be my number one concern. Apparently, I'm not alone in my thinking. A 2019 survey from Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll revealed that American parents believe the roads today have never been more dangerous for families. In fact, when it comes to buying a new vehicle, 89% of parents believe safety is the number one reason to research a vehicle before buying.
Furthermore, as routines continue to shift to become more homebound this year, cars are also serving new and different roles for consumers. According to that same survey, 8 in 10 say their car has "been a lifeline for them during this time" (78%), and the vast majority agree that, "cars are the safest way to get around right now" (87%).
Simply put: The Volvo XC90 was exactly what we needed to get away safely.
First thought: It's a sexy car with everything I need at my fingertips.
"It's like having our house on wheels," was the first thing I said to my husband within the first 10 minutes of our ride.
The sharp wood inlays, rooted in Scandinavian design, is breathtaking. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides a smooth ride that screams luxury. And the power cushion extensions on the front seats will make you never want to get up. I was in love.
A few fun features you'll love:
- The keyless start is so quiet you won't even know the car is on—which is great when you have little ones asleep in the backseat.
- Wireless smartphone charging. The battery life on my phone never seems to get above 45%. It is what it is, and I've made peace with it. But the charging station in this Volvo is wireless, so I just laid the phone down and it charged without all the extra wires hanging around.
- The 9" touchscreen had a four-tile homepage that kept my phone, media and my favorite apps at my fingertips. It also worked when I had on gloves, because of COVID and cold weather.
- The panoramic moonroof with power sunshade is great during the day when you want a bit more sunlight peeking through. But, be sure to close it at night, you never realize how bright lights from gas stations are until you've pulled up to one at 3am.
- For mileage, the SUV boasts 27 miles per gallon (when using only gasoline), but when fully charged, you can go up to 18 miles on just the battery.
- The SUV comes equipped with Bowers & Wilkins sound that offers 19 separate speakers that give exceptional clarity—wherever you're seated.
- The speed is incredible. You can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, which is so great when rushing to get to the nearest rest station. Because when a 4-year-old has to go potty, it's a cause for urgency unlike any other.
- You know that mamas always have their hands tied, and it's great to have a foot-powered hands-free power tailgate. Simply swipe your foot under the tailgate and the back door slowly opens.
Safety features you'll love even more:
- The steer assist feature is great during those times you need extra eyes on the road. If the car senses there's a risk of a collision—with another car or pedestrian—the XC90 will steer away from the obstacle in front of it.
- Oncoming lane mitigation sounds fancy, and it is. If the car drifts over a lane marking or when you suddenly change lanes on the highway, the car automatically steers back. Of course you can override this feature which is especially nice when you're the only one on the road at 4am.
- The Volvo on-call app allows you to locate your Volvo on a map and make it honk and blink to help you find it. You'll also get a notification if you leave your Volvo unlocked or if the alarm is triggered.
- Park assist's front sensors are automatically activated when the engine is started. They are active at speeds below 6 mph. Similarly, the rear sensors are activated if the vehicle begins rolling backward or if reverse gear is engaged.
The bottom line: If you want a smooth ride with all the amenities that you've become accustomed to at home, then this should be your go-to luxury car.
Prices start at $67K and if you want a bit of the extra features you can add an additional $20K.