Few European brands have embraced electrification more than Volvo. They are committed to phasing out diesel engines entirely. While refocusing their efforts to deliver plug-in options for every vehicle in their lineup, with the goal of being fully electrified by 2025. But, don’t think latest XC90 or S90 Recharge models are merely placeholders.
In order to better market their goal of electrification, Volvo now uses the Recharge name to identify all of their plug-ins. But, don’t get confused, as some Recharges are fully-electric, like the XC40 Recharge; while others are plug-in hybrids, like the Volvo S90 Recharge sedan and XC90 Recharge 3-row utility, both of which have been updated for 2021.
Sharing the SPA platform, this PHEV pair also work with the same T8 4-cylinder based powertrain. The 2.0-liter turbo and supercharged gas engine is assisted by a 34-kW electric motor, cranking out 313-horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque on its own. Combined with an additional rear-mounted 65-kW electric motor that provides standard all-wheel-drive, total output is 400–horsepower and 472 lb-ft. of torque.
An 11.6-kWh battery sits where a drive shaft would be, providing energy for up to 21–miles of fully-electric driving in the S90, 18 in the XC90.
Updates for the S90 start with the usual mid-cycle refresh stuff up front, new fascia and grille; but a little more comprehensive in back, with not only a fresh bumper, but trunk lid, and tail lights as well.
Inside the layout and features are familiar, but surfaces and materials look and feel better. The S90 has a way of feeling very luxurious while also being inviting and comforting, not cold or stodgy. Two themes are available, the Inscription’s luxury, or the R-Design’s sporty; both for the same price.
Straddling the midsize/full-size border means there’s a wealth of space for rear seat passengers, with plenty of amenities for them to enjoy, as well as an airy feel thanks to the panoramic moonroof.
At the track, we could really feel the electric assistance; and the all-wheel-drive setup makes sure all power translates through the wheels to the pavement for quick 0-60 sprints of just 4.9-seconds.
The standard 8–speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly; with the whole ¼-mile feeling very much like a typical Volvo experience, meaning smooth and steady, on its way to a time of 13.5-seconds and 105 miles-per-hour.
Suspension design is a capable double wishbone front and integral link rear, with air suspension upgrade optional.
In the S90, that equates to a stiff feel and very little body roll through the corners. There’s definitely some understeer to account for, but it’s quite athletic for a luxury car this size.
Things in the XC90 were not all that different, with the exception of noticeably more body roll, attributed to the higher ground clearance.
But that had us backing off the speeds a little bit, so understeer seemed to be less of an issue.
As for acceleration, same powertrain in a less aero efficient package that is about 400–lbs. heavier, means a slower 5.8-second trip to 60 and a 14.3-second ¼-mile at 98 miles-per-hour.
It was of course the XC90 that brought plug-in performance to Volvo when this gen debuted for 2015. But, you could certainly say the original 2003 XC90 was a much bigger game changer as the brand's first SUV. We declared its common sense drivetrain choices, smart exterior design, and multifaceted interior; backed up with Volvo’s reputation for safety, made it a fresh and smart choice in the expanding premium midsize SUV segment.
As for the 20-21 XC90, mostly the same updates for the exterior, with the exception of additional chrome detailing, and new wheel designs added to the XC90’s sleek and smooth shape; still looking modern after 6-years.
But inside the XC90’s 6 or 7-passenger interior, not much has changed at all, except for added standard equipment.
Battery placement results in no compromise to interior passenger, or more importantly, luggage space.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the XC90 Recharge are 27–Combined, 55-Combined for the MPGe. The S90 Recharge does even better at 30–Combined and 60–Combined MPGe.
Rating a much better than average Energy Impact Score; consuming 6.0-barrels of oil yearly with 2.7-tons of CO2 emissions.
S90 Recharge pricing starts at $61,095, $8,500 over the standard T6 4-cylinder S90; while the XC90 Recharge starts at $64,545.
Volvo is certainly not alone with their plans to go all electric in the future, but their time frame is definitely more ambitious than most. Placeholders or not, the 2021 XC90 Recharge utility and S90 Recharge sedan are proof that Volvo has a firm grip on battery technology and can put it in place without compromising the Volvo experience in any way. So, enjoy them while you can.
Engine: 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder
Torque: 472 lb-ft
EV Range: 21 miles (S90) | 18 miles (XC90)