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2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-In Hybrid 'Twin Engine': First Drive

Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:48 pm


By the end of this year, there will be several luxury SUV models offered in the U.S. with plug-in hybrid powertrains that let them run 12 to 20 miles on electricity alone.

We've now driven one of them, the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 "Twin Engine" model, which will go on sale this fall.

Main competitors will be the X5 eDrive, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE

The big Volvo plug-in has one advantage over its near-term electrified competitors, though: It's the only vehicle that was designed from scratch with a plug-in hybrid powertrain envisioned.

The ride is comfortable, although some road imperfections could be sensed through the low-profile tires on the handsome 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels. As always, you'll maximize ride comfort by ordering any car with a wheel-and-tire combination that offers the tallest sidewalls.

Overall, the XC90's handling verges on the nimble for its size. The feedback from the electric power steering is good, the turning circle is fairly tight, and it drives entirely like a car rather than a tall crossover with several inches of ground clearance.

We heard no motor whine at all--helped, no doubt, by the fact that the motor was behind us--and indeed, in electric mode, only tire noise was audible up to about 30 mph. Above that speed, wind noise was largely imperceptible until highway speeds were reached.

Overall, the pre-production version of the T8 plug-in hybrid XC90 we drove shows great promise and should compete head-to-head with comparable offerings from the German trio of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz--assuming Volvo's engineers manage to smooth out the software controlling the power blending.

Full review here: ... irst-drive

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