2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge adds polish to Swedish plug-in hybrid

Just before Volvo continues its all-electric shift with the XC90-sized EX90 EV, it’s smoothed out its popular plug-in hybrid powertrain in the XC90.

With more electric range, more power, and more refinement all baked into the already appealing Swedish package, the 2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge is now nearly ideal for families

That said, Volvo’s move to Android Automotive OS and its tight third row mean the XC90 won’t fit every family or tech desire.

Here are the pros and cons of the 2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge after spending a week shuttling the kids around town, and then taking it north to Lusten, Minnesota for a long ski weekend with my son and friend.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Pro: Volvo XC90 Recharge gets more electric range, more power, and smoother transitions

Thanks to a new battery pack with 14.8 kwh usable, up from the previously usable 9.1 kwh, the Volvo XC90 increases its EPA electric-only range from a scant 18 miles to 33 miles. With temps in the teens and mid-20s cabin heat sucked a few miles of range off the top with me witnessing a solid 27 to 29 miles of electric range. A more powerful 142-hp electric motor replaced the old 87-hp unit. When paired with the 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-4, the powertrain makes a combined 455 hp and 523 lb-ft of torque. While all the power never delivers a wallop, it’s more than quick enough for a three-row crossover wearing the Volvo badge. Remapped behavior with the 8-speed automatic transmission, plus the more powerful electric motor, mean power transitions are smoother and more in the background than before.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Con: Volvo XC90 Recharge can’t lock fully into electric-only mode—or one-pedal drive

Putting the powertrain into Pure mode is supposed to lock the powertrain into electric-only mode as long as there’s enough charge. It doesn’t. There’s a detent behind the accelerator pedal, and it’s not just one for foot-to-the-floor power. If the pedal is pushed to the three-quarter mark the detent will engage and the gas engine will kick on for full system power. 

The latest plug-in hybrid powertrain in the XC90 features a ‘B’ mode for braking, which Volvo calls “one-pedal drive,” as it does with its electric cars. Only here it’s not the same thing. The regenerative braking force is noticeably stronger in B mode, but the vehicle won’t come to a full stop and the force isn’t strong enough to slow the vehicle quickly enough in traffic situations. 

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Hit: Volvo XC90 Recharge adopts tighter Apple CarPlay integration

Despite dropping Volvo’s in-house Sensus infotainment system and gauge cluster interface for Google’s Android Automotive OS, the automaker’s given the XC90 deeper Apple CarPlay integration. Apple CarPlay requires a wired USB-C connection (the XC90 doesn’t have wireless smartphone charging) and it projects as one expects on the 9.0-inch portrait-style touchscreen on the center of the dashboard. But it now also integrates Apple Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation directions directly into the 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster. That’s slick, and makes Volvo one of the few automakers to feature such tight integration.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Miss: Volvo XC90 Recharge infotainment backtracks

The shift in infotainment operating systems actually removes key functionality from the 9.0-inch touchscreen. The ability to multitask on the homescreen with CarPlay and other apps is gone. The ability to swipe left or right to access quick shortcuts for key vehicle functionality is gone. Some of that functionality simply disappeared while other controls were wrapped into the multi-layer menu system. Changing driving modes for the powertrain requires three taps, two to get into the menu system alone where other vehicle settings live. The interface itself lacks any design effort. This is one step below GM’s effort at slapping a skin on Google’s OS, though it’s somehow more pleasant and easier to use. At least Volvo doesn’t seem interested in removing CarPlay like GM is.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Hit: Volvo XC90 Recharge delivers understated class

In a way that one might argue only the Swedes can do, the XC90 carries class and elegance in a similar way a Range Rover does. There’s just the right amount of tasteful chrome bits, it’s not flashy, the dashboard is simple and unadorned, and everything is low key. The entire package feels rock solid and doesn’t scream, “look at me,” despite my loaded tester’s $87,495 sticker price. The seats might just be the best in the business, and my tester featured a massage function that really came in handy after a long day on the slopes. These are the definition of road-trip-worthy with a 4.5-hour road trip leaving my body unfazed.

2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Miss: Volvo XC90 Recharge third-row remains the kid zone

The Volvo XC90 Recharge is one of the few three-row plug-in hybrids, but the third row is by no means adult-friendly. That’s only a con if you need the third row for more than kids, but for those that do it’s important to note the space constraints. At 5-foot-10 I can fit back there, but the second-row passenger is going to horse-trade me for room. And while I have been stuck back there for an hour-and-a-half road trip before, it wasn’t ideal. It’s a kid zone or for short trips if an adult is headed back there. The Lexus TX plug-in hybrid features a more adult-friendly third-row for those in need.

The electric Volvo EX90 will replace the XC90 in the next few years, but in the interim for those looking for a stopgap plug-in hybrid the recent updates to the XC90 Recharge finally make it truly compelling.


2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge

Base price: $57,195, including $1,195 destination

Price as tested: $87,495

Powertrain: 455-hp plug-in hybrid, 8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 33 miles of electric range, 27 mpg combined

The pros: Smoother powertrain with more electric range, expanded Apple CarPlay integration, gorgeous and comfortable

The cons: Lacks one-pedal driving, can’t remain in electric-only mode, Google Android Auto OS, tight third row

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *