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(Volvo)
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Volvo XC90 SUV leads off Swedish auto maker’s revamped lineup Add to ...

The XC90 is the first model in a completely revamped Volvo lineup, a process to be completed by 2017. The product line will focus on the staples: sedans, wagons and crossovers/SUVs.

All Volvos will be powered by 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engines and the 2016 Volvo XC90 is a prime example of how this decision will play out.

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Five types of XC90s will be sold around the world: two gasoline-powered, two diesel and one gasoline-electric hybrid. The first models scheduled to arrive in Canada will be the XC90 T6 with the all-new supercharged and turbocharged gas engine, and the XC90 T8, which adds an electric motor to the T6 powertrain. Also called the Twin Engine, the T8 will be the world’s first seven-seat plug-in hybrid.

While Volvo hasn’t determined whether either diesel will be sold in Canada, we will see an “entry-level” gas-powered model called the T5. The engine will be turbocharged but not supercharged, so horsepower and torque figures will be lower compared with the T6.

While the XC90 is offered as a front-wheel drive vehicle for certain markets, the Canadian versions will be all-wheel .

The First Edition XC90 was made available via online reservations starting Sept. 3. For Canada, this variant is a fully loaded version of the XC90 T6 with every option in the Volvo order book. Only 1,927 First Editions are being made available around the world and Volvo expects strong demand particularly in China, Russia and the United States. (The company was founded in 1927; thus, the specific number for this exclusive release.) In all markets, the First Edition will be available only in one colour (Onyx Black) and will feature 21-inch alloy wheels. The passenger cabin will be decked out in amber-coloured Nappa leather seats and charcoal-coloured dashboard with walnut inlays. Each of the limited-edition SUVs will also feature a uniquely numbered tread plate and rear badge.

The interior of the new XC90 is a revelation in terms of look, feel and impact – the tablet-sized touch screen enables the driving environment to have a minimalist vibe, while the materials used are clearly intended to raise the stakes in the premium SUV segment. Other notable touches include the optional crystal shift lever by Swedish glass maker Orrefors, diamond-cut start/stop and volume control buttons, and a 1,400-watt audio system from Bowers & Wilkins.

From a design perspective, the new XC90 bears some resemblance to current competitors in the SUV segment, including the Audi Q7 (around the front fascia) and Porsche Cayenne (the side-rear profile). The big differences, though, are the long hood and stand-up front grille, aspects that bring to the brand a masculine design ethic that has been missing recently. Within that grille is the new, larger Volvo iron mark logo; framing this picture are the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lights.

As expected, the new XC90 will set the pace for Volvo in terms of active safety. The vehicle will debut two world-firsts – a runoff road protection package that tightens the front seat belts and triggers an energy-absorbing feature in the seats in anticipation of an impact, and an auto-brake feature that stops the vehicle when the driver turns in front of an coming car.

The base price for the XC90 T6 in Canada will be $60,700; the First Edition T6 rings in at $81,500 here. These prices are significantly higher than what Americans will pay for the same vehicle, some $15,000 more than our neighbours in the case of both the T6 and the First Edition. Volvo Canada maintains that this differential is consistent with the luxury SUV segment and a perusal of the prices for other seven-seater premium SUVS on the market bears this out, for the most part. The Mercedes-Benz GL 450 starts at $79,200 in Canada and $65,200 in the U.S.; the Range Rover Sport has a base price of $73,990 here versus $63,525 south of the border; and the Audi Q7 starts at $58,200 in Canada and $47,700 in the U.S.

Volvo is counting on the XC90 to send the company into a prosperous new direction – global sales are expected to surpass 50,000 in the first year of partial production and 80,000 annually in 2016.

In Canada, the strongest year for the XC90 was 2005, when 2,790 examples were sold, but Marc Engelen, president and CEO of Volvo Cars Canada, is calling for the new version to hone in on annual sales of 5,000 units.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker.

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