2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Essentials: Subtle improvements to a no-fail SUV

Highlights: Volvos are all about safety, so the 2020 XC90 adds some active safety features. The Pilot Assist semi-autonomous operating system gets haptic feedback, and now the steering wheel vibrates when it’s turning itself into a bend. The automatic braking system that previously worked with potential frontal collisions is now linked to the blind-spot warning system and cross-traffic alert warnings.
Under the hood, there’s a motor-operated brake assist device in place of the old vacuum booster.  The regenerative braking system is refined to capture a bit more coasting energy and dump it as electricity into the battery. The battery itself increases from 10.4 to 11.6 kWh capacity in the same volume (all chemistry), and it’s still packaged in the center tunnel. That means the plug-in has identical passenger and cargo space to gasoline-only XC90s.
The obligatory cosmetic spiffs include a new concave grille, new bumper designs, new wheel patterns and a handful of new colors. For the cabin, there are two new wood trims and optional wool upholstery. The most pragmatic change inside the XC90 is a new six-seat option, or a 2/2/2 floorplan with individual buckets in the second row in place of a three-belt bench.
Our Opinion: The most powerful 2020 XC90 isn’t exactly inspiring—never has been, any model year—but it’s solid in an all-things-to-every-driver way. Think of it as the Toyota Camry of Euro-lux brand SUVs: Pretty good at just about everything, outstanding at almost nothing, except maybe in the great number of things it does acceptably well. And the XC90 still has a price advantage, depending on the competition, which would basically be ‘European luxury brand SUVs with six or seven seats and comparable passenger volume and features.’