Volvo EX90: Everything You Need to Know
Volvo has just unveiled the latest version of its popular three-row SUV, and while the exterior design is familiar and evolutionary, what’s inside — both in the passenger compartment and in the vehicle’s underpinnings — is anything but ordinary.
The all-new EX90 is the Swedish brand’s first entry into the burgeoning category of all-electric three-row crossovers. With seats for seven passengers, an expected range of around 300 miles on a charge and an expected starting price of around $80,000, the Volvo will compete with the likes of the Tesla Model X, the Mercedes EQS and the Rivian R1S.
Though the EX90 is meant to be a replacement for the XC90 when it becomes available at the end of this year as a 2024 model, the gasoline-powered hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90 — one of Volvo’s top sellers, and its most profitable vehicle — will continue to be sold alongside it. But not for long. Volvo promises to introduce one new all-electric model every year for the rest of this decade, en route to fulfilling its corporate promise to sell only electric passenger cars, globally, by 2030.
Being a Volvo, one of the main ways the EX90 will distinguish itself from its competitors is vehicle safety. “This will be the safest car Volvo has ever produced,” said company CEO Jim Rowan. Coming from a company that runs one of the largest automotive safety analytics institutes and pioneered the in-vehicle use of three-point seatbelts, rear-facing child seats and child booster seats, this is saying something.
Volvo’s safety claims for the EX90 are staggering. According to internal research, the EX90's new advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can help prevent 1 in 10 crashes, and 1 in 5 serious injuries. This is part of the brand’s larger mission statement: that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.
Key to this effort is the new car’s suite of 30 sensors: 16 ultrasonic sensors, 8 cameras, 5 radars and, mounted just above the windshield, the first integrated production use of LIDAR, a super-sensor that works similarly to radar, but with light waves instead of radio waves, allowing it to see much further down the road — in all kinds of weather and even in darkness. This gives the EX90 the ability to detect obstacles, incidents and even potholes over 800 feet ahead of the car, and to deliver relevant warnings, assistance and interventions to prevent issues. According to Volvo, at freeway speeds, this capability equates to providing drivers with an extra nine seconds of response time.
An additional pair of in-car sensors also check-up on the driver to make sure that they’re okay. Volvo claims these innocuous monitors can discern whether a driver is attentive, distracted, inebriated or even ill, and it can can take proper safety steps — from warnings and check-ins, all the way up to bringing the car to a safe stop. Additional sensors can also detect backseat passengers, to ensure that no one is left behind in a hot car.
With available all-wheel-drive, and up to 496 horsepower, the EX90 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in as little as 4.7 seconds. The 111 kWh battery provides up to 300 miles of range, and when connected to a high voltage charging system, it can replenish its juice from a diminished 10% to a nearly-full 80% in as little as 30 minutes.
Interior and Cargo
The EX90’s cabin gets a fresh look as well. Interior dimensions remain generally unchanged — an inch here and there — but material and trim follow Volvo’s march upmarket.
The overall effect is like being in a cozy, airy and serene Scandinavian cabin, but more so because you know that the materials in it — including wool woven with polyester thread derived from old plastic, Nordico vinyl produced from Swedish pine resin and plastic bottles, 3D printed aluminum and light wood with translucence that allows patterns of light to shine through it at night — are part of Volvo’s vow to enhance the use of recycled and sustainable materials. This aligns with the brand's corporate mission to be fully carbon-neutral in its sourcing and manufacturing by 2040.
Third-row access is quick, manually operated (thankfully), and simple enough to use with one hand, as is the child booster integrated into the second row’s middle seat. To expand baggage or seating capacity, the third row powers down and up with the press of a cargo hold button. Handy extra storage can be found in the front trunk and beneath the floor of the rear one. There’s even a spot to hold the retractable cargo-area cover when you want it out of the way.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An intuitive, 14.5” vertical touchscreen, like a huge iPad, dominates the center of the dash, controlling everything from navigation and entertainment to climate controls and even the opening of the glovebox. A narrow screen is mounted in front of the driver to display vehicle speed, range and other basic information.
While there are plenty of USB plugs in the second and third rows, you won’t find any screens back there, except the ones your passengers bring with them. Recognizing that your kids are most familiar with their own devices, Volvo has foregone trying to sell you a branded add-on system, and will simply offer elegant seatback tablet/phone mounts and system-integrating jacks. (Speaking of plugged in, the EX90 also offers bi-directional charging, allowing its big batteries to lend juice to other things like power tools, an e-bike, another electric car or even your house.)
We hoped the EX90 would look a bit more like the radical, wagon-esque “Recharge” concept the brand revealed last year. But we also know that Volvo’s customers are making their first tentative moves into the electric vehicle space, and the brand doesn’t want to frighten them. We also know that Volvo’s contemporary design language, while stolid, telegraphs brick-like safety to potential owners.
Our overall takeaway: In the opening salvos of its next-level drive toward our electric future, we think the Swedish marque has hit its mark.
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