AUTO REVIEW: Volvo’s XC90 T6 AWD Inscription Translates to ‘You Have a Lot of Money’

(The Washington Post) -
The 2017 Volvo XC90 T5 Inscription AWD. (Volvo)

It’s the options — the extra stuff that supports the trim name, “Inscription.”

If you want the options, okay. You will get a great vehicle, probably one of the safest and best-looking sport-utility vehicles available in the U.S. auto market. If you skip the “Inscription” trim and settle for the base XC90 Momentum, still okay. You get an excellent, elegantly crafted SUV for about $45,000-plus.

It is up to you — your wants, your need for unquestioned comfort and pampering on the road; that sort of thing.

So, you want the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD (all-wheel-drive) Inscription, the subject of this week’s column? Be prepared to spend. It starts at $51,600.

The actual Inscription trim package — which includes items such as active bending headlamps (which literally follow and illuminate your turns on dark roads); linear walnut wood inlays; Nappa leather dashboard and upper door panels; and other goodies — adds another $5,600.

A fully loaded XC90 T6 (six to seven seats) AWD Inscription includes a “vision package” with a 360-degree surround-view camera and blind-spot warning ($1,950); “climate package” with heads-up windshield display ($1,950); “convenience package” including front and rear parking assistance ($1,800); “luxury package” including backrest massage in the front seats; a Bowers & Wilkins 19-speaker premium sound system ($2,650); a four-corner air suspension ($1,800); upgraded 21-inch diameter, 8-spoke diamond alloy wheels ($750); exterior metallic paint ($560); a second-row center booster ($250); and, of course, a factory-to-dealer shipment charge ($995).

Your final cost for the maximum Inscription badge is $72,805.

Do you really need all of that stuff?

No.

Those option-loaded, upgraded badges are the reason the average final price for all new vehicles sold in the United States has risen to $34,000, above the financing comfort of most households in this country. It is not as much manufacturer greed as much as it is consumer appetite for extras.

The extras aren’t all a bad thing. It is how you spend the money. For example, items such as blind-side warning and forward-collision mitigation could save your life. An expensive premium sound system can’t.

You can always spend more. There is, for example, the XC90 AWD Excellence, which can cost in excess of $100,000 completely trimmed. Or you can still stay above the base Momentum and spend a bit more for the sporty XC90 R-Design.

Is it worth it?

It depends. The XC90 T6 AWD Inscription is not the best vehicle for drive feel and handling. It is powered by a supercharged and turbocharged (forced air, two ways) four-cylinder gasoline engine (316 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque). It moves nicely, but I prefer smaller, nimbler vehicles such as a Kia Optima or Lexus ES 350, especially with a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine.

But the XC90 T6 AWD Inscription is an overall automotive dream. You get behind its wheel and don’t want to leave. The vehicle literally pampers you. It should. You’ve spent nearly $73,000.

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Bottom line: You can buy all over the Volvo XC90 SUV line and be happy. You don’t have to spend $73,000 or $100,000. If you seldom carry more than four passengers, you need not spend the extra money for a T6 or T8.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The XC90 T6 AWD Inscription gets good marks in all areas. But it is the entire package, with all options, that is exceptional. You would not want to buy this one for drive feel alone.

Head-turning quotient: It is stunningly beautiful.

Body style/layout: The T6 Inscription is a full-size, luxury, all-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle available in three seat accommodation sizes: T5, T6 and T8 — and four trim levels: base Momentum, sporty R-Design, plush Inscription, and plusher-than-thou Excellence.

Engine and transmission: It comes with a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter, direct-injection gasoline four-cylinder engine (316 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque) linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission also can be operated manually, and it has fuel-saving start-stop function.

Capacities: Seating is for six to seven people. Maximum cargo capacity is 85.7 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 18.8 gallons of gasoline. Premium grade is required.

Mileage: I averaged 23 miles per gallon in highway driving, carrying a light load.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake system; emergency braking assistance; stability and traction control; post-collision safety system; front, rear and third-row air bags. A full suite of advanced electronic safety items is available.

Pricing: The asking price is $72,805. You can bargain, or shop down the XC90 line and still get a great vehicle.