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Volvo's EX90 has dual electric motors, front and rear and a 111-kilowatt-hour battery.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

In the passenger seat of a prototype Volvo EX90 going nearly 180 kilometres an hour, it’s hard not to notice how quiet it is.

Even at that speed, the softly blowing fan is about as loud as the wind noise from outside.

The 2025 Volvo EX90, a spacious three-row battery-electric SUV starting at $110,000, is Volvo’s quietest car, ever, said Marten Wahlstedt, the EX90 product manager.

“It’s a premium E-SUV, and actually there aren’t too many seven-seater [EVs] in that segment,” he said.

The EX90 is the fourth BEV in the luxury automaker’s current line-up after the EX30, XC40 Recharge (an EV version of the gas-powered XC40) and C40 compact SUVs. Volvo’s stated goal is to have a full electric lineup by 2030.

Like all future Volvo EVs, the EX90 was designed and built as an all-electric vehicle – there will be no gas-powered or hybrid version.

While the EX90 is set to arrive in Canada for the second half of this year (orders are open now), I rode in a prototype driven by a Volvo engineer at the company’s Hallered proving grounds, about 80 kilometres from Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg.

The focus is comfort – for Volvo, on top of the quietness, that means a clean, simple design and a relatively gentle, stable ride – and safety – with a lidar (Volvo’s first), five radars, eight cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors, it’s Volvo’s safest car yet, Wahlstedt said.

In addition, the EX90 has all-wheel drive (two motors, front and rear), a 400-volt lithium-ion battery with 111-kilowatt-hour capacity and up to an estimated 480 kilometres in range (Natural Resources Canada hasn’t released an official number yet). It can charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 30 minutes on a 250-kilowatt DC fast charger.

It is capable of bidirectional charging, which means the car could power your house, charge another vehicle or send power back to the grid – but the feature won’t be available until sometime in the future, Wahlstedt said.

“Basically you’re sitting on a huge battery,” Wahlstedt said. “There’s a lot of future opportunities in this area.”

With 496 horsepower and 678 lb-ft of torque, it can dash to 100 kilometres an hour in 4.9 seconds and tow up to 4,850 pounds (2,200 kilograms)

On winding roads, over multiple speed bumps and manholes, on a speed track and on a rough off-road track in an EX-90 prototype equipped with optional active air suspension (part of the $5,000 Ultra package), the ride wasn’t jarring – yet not too cushy.

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The cabin is minimalistic with no physical buttons and almost every function controlled by the centre infotainment screen.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

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There is a six- or seven-seat configuration with two seats in the third row.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

Clean design

Unlike some all-electric SUVs, the EX90′s looks aren’t startling – although the bump above the windshield that hides the lidar takes a little getting used to.

That’s the best place to put it so it has the best view of the road – it can see hazards up to 260 metres ahead in the dark, Wahlstedt said. Putting it behind the windshield would restrict its view and putting it in the front grille would be like “having your eyes on your knees,” he said.

The EX90 is designed for future Level 3 capability – so it could be updated to drive itself, with a driver’s supervision, in limited situations, Wahlstedt said.

Although it’s designed to be aerodynamic – it has a drag coefficient of 0.29, which is impressive for a boxy SUV – it has smooth, clean lines instead of odd angles and big spoilers. The door handles are flush and it’s also flush underneath.

Because EVs don’t need vents in the front grille, Volvo designed a seamless front end, which is pleasant, if a little bland – but it’s clearly a Volvo.

Inside the minimalistic cabin, you can tell it’s related to the Volvo EX30. There are no physical buttons and almost every function, including opening the glove compartment, is controlled by the centre infotainment screen or by Google’s voice-activated assistant.

But, unlike the EX30, there’s an exception: there’s a knob next to the driver in the centre console that controls volume and lets you pause music and skip forward and back.

It also has a display screen mounted to the steering wheel that will show speed, plus a head-up display. That’s another change from the EX30, where you have to look away from the road to that centre screen for any information.

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The small frunk on the EX90.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

Are those changes a nod to older buyers who may prefer more traditional displays and controls?

“What I’ve learned in talking to people is it’s less about age and demographics and more just about mindset of where you are in life,” said Thomas Stovicek, Volvo’s head of user experience.

Safety tech inside includes a radar system that can tell if anyone is in the rear seats.

The interior design is clean and simple, with some understated luxury touches including wood veneer that is lit from underneath and, on the top trim, available wool seats (which Volvo said can handle coffee spills).

With a flat floor and glass ceiling, it feels bright and almost cavernous inside – with plenty of storage space and headroom.

It will be available as either a seven-seater with a second-row bench seat or as a six-seater with captains chairs in the second row. The third row is snug for two adults but it isn’t as cramped as some rivals.

The bulk of the interior materials are either recycled or, like the wool and wood, come from sustainable sources – the wool is certified for animal welfare, Wahlstedt said.

There’s no leather, but instead, the base seats are Nordico, a fake leather made from recycled plastic bottles and resin from Scandinavian forests. It’s also roughly 30 per cent lighter than leather – and any reductions in weight help maximize range. The interior colours – mostly shades of taupe and grey – are more traditional than the brighter colours in Volvo’s cheaper EVs.

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The trunk of the EX90 with all three rows up.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

An electric future?

China and then North America are expected to be the biggest markets for the EX90, Wahlstedt said.

With battery-electric sales still growing but not as quickly as some predicted, Volvo isn’t abandoning its mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid gas-powered offerings, including the three-row XC90, Wahlstedt said.

“It’s going in the electric direction for us – and the big question is exactly how fast it’s going,” he said. “The solid foundation we are at right now is that we have a wealth of cars. So we will continue to put love and care into our plug-in hybrids to make sure that they’re good. We’ll continue selling mild hybrid cars.”

Tech specs

2025 Volvo EX90

  • Base price / as tested: $110,000 / $116,200 plus $2,620 for freight, plus additional fees and taxes
  • Motor / battery: dual 370-kilowatt electric motors, front and rear / 111 kilowatt-hours
  • Horsepower / torque (lb-ft): 496 / 678
  • Drive: All-wheel drive
  • Power consumption (NRCan ratings) / charging capacity: To be announced / up to 250 kilowatts
  • Curb weight: 2,748 – 2,776 kilograms
  • Range: 480 kilometres (estimated)
  • Alternatives: Cadillac Escalade IQ (upcoming), Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, Lucid Gravity (upcoming), Rivian R1S
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Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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