Review: 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 R-Design

Volvo XC90 R-Design passion red

Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: October 25, 2016


We’ll get this out of the way: the Volvo XC90 is a phenomenal three-row luxury SUV that takes the formula into a refreshing new direction. It’s one of the best automobiles on the market, leading the way with innovative technologies, a stunning exterior and interior design, and just enough Swedish style to steal the hearts of roundel- and star-loving customers.

You can read our thoughts on the XC90’s Inscription and Momentum trims here, but what we have here instead is the R-Design, Volvo’s method of catering its halo SUV towards customers who not only want the practicality of a seven-seater configuration, but towards those who also want a sporty looking rig. Think of Volvo’s R-Design model like BMW’s M Sport Package rather than a full blown track-focused treatment like an AMG.


In fact, the R-Design package is purely cosmetic ($4,550), beefing up the sheetmetal with an aggressive body kit, a black horizontal-mesh front grill, exclusive 20- or 22-inch wheels, silver mirror covers and window trim, dual integrated tailpipes, and interior upgrades such as sport seats, a leather steering wheel, and a black leather key fob.

The upgraded appearance is nothing short of sensational. Volvos have always looked good in red, and this Passion Red paint – exclusive to the R-Design – is no exception. Our particular tester was a Quebec vehicle as well, so it didn’t have any front plate to visually impair that beautiful front end.


It’s all about the details with the XC90. Every nook and cranny has been given special care. The cabin simplicity is the highlight – it’s all been carefully curated and designed to provide one of the classiest atmospheres in the luxury SUV market.

The buttons are glossy, neat, and always flush with the surface, and the engine start button is a neat little turn switch located on the center console. If you opt for the Inscription model ($6,150), Volvo also replaces the traditional gear shifter with an obelisk-shaped one made from the glass experts at Orrefors. The driver’s gauges are also digital and customizable with a navigation screen built right into the middle, casting similarities with Audi’s much-revered Virtual Cockpit.


The XC90 utilizes an innovative infotainment system with a vertically aligned touchscreen interface that responds to smartphone-like inputs such as swiping, pinching, and scrolling. High-traffic functions like volume and audio are left to proper turn dials. Just like operating your smartphone, swiping and pinching allows you to navigate through the menus, maps, and offers a logistical setup that rivals that of Tesla’s and blows whatever iDrive system out of the water – this is how you do in-car infotainment!

But not everything is nice and dandy in there. The power windows are frustratingly slow and roll at a turtle’s pace. At first I thought it was a battery issue, but after messaging a few friends who owned an XC90, they all had the same problem. The base audio system is also sub-par, lacking enough bass even on full blast. I don’t always recommend opting for the premium sound option but in this case, the Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System ($3,250) is imperative for improved acoustics.


Another gripe is Apple CarPlay. It’s featured in the XC90 and is integrated incredibly well into the interface, allowing for easy multi-tasking between phone and vehicle. However it costs an extra $420. Why? Other automakers put it in as standard to one-up other vehicles that don’t even have it integrated, and in this case, Volvo could have benefited over crossovers like the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport that lack this feature. Oh, and what’s a “sporty” SUV doing without paddle shifters?

Minor gripes aside, it is hard to argue with the fact that the XC90 R-Design is a beautiful specimen. However it does fall short in backing up the “sport” with actual performance credentials. Our particular tester (T6 Drive-E) offered a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that is both turbo- and super-charged for an impressive output of 330-hp and 325 lb-ft, but the R-Design doesn’t offer any stiffened suspension, additional power bump, or even an upgraded exhaust.


What you can have to partially remedy this is an optional Polestar Performance software upgrade ($1,400), which spices up three main areas: mid-range engine performance, gearshifts, and throttle response. Volvo says that this speeds up power delivery, hastens gear shifts, and shuffles up shift points for a more aggressive drive. Power has also been slightly bumped up by 14-hp and 30 lb-ft to a total of 330-hp and 325 lb-ft. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h has also been knocked off one-tenths of a second to 6.4 seconds.

However without a back-to-back comparison, it’s quite hard to tell the difference in power. The last time I drove an XC90 with this engine was more than a year ago. What I can say though, is that I don’t remember the power delivery being this responsive or as eager. It felt like a permanent Sport Mode. Overall, it’s a compelling upgrade for the extra kick of power, and it’s priced relatively cheap too.


Polestar or not, power delivery from the XC90 is like a two-stage rocket. The supercharger kicks in (after a brief wake-up call) for low-rev torque, then a few moments later the turbocharger boosts you further.

Volvo’s mandate with its Drive-E engines of offering V6 output with four-cylinder efficiency works well in theory and application, however it does have the drawback of a great deal of intrusive intake noise (almost diesel-like), with a heavy octane mix of supercharger whine and mechanical five-cylinder whirl.


The tiny engine provides a good amount of shove, more than enough to quickly rev and get up to highway speeds. Unfortunately, the XC90 doesn’t drive as sporty as it looks. It rolls like a ship around corners, with a great deal of body roll to toss you around. Luckily those seats keep all the occupants well coddled.

Those gigantic 22-inch wheels ($1,300) may be drool-worthy but the small profile tires don’t have much flex or give, and are noticeably detrimental to ride quality. The wheel gap is massive too. Along with the harsh ride, the cabin can get quite noisy. With the intrusive intake soundtrack and tire noise, the XC90 delivers an engaging atmosphere but not what some may expect from a luxury SUV.


When the Volvo XC90 was first introduced, it wrote a new chapter in the three-row SUV handbook with simplistic good looks, a thoughtfully designed interior, and just enough Swedish flair to force the Germans and Japanese to take a peek in their rear view mirror.

Though the XC90 doesn’t quite walk the walk with the R-Design upgrade, Volvo knows that sometimes, aesthetics are all that some people care about. Not everyone wants a stiff ride or a loud exhaust, and the R-Design further widens the XC90 customer base

with a sportier look, seating for seven, and tech appeal for all.


Photo Gallery:


Volvo XC90 R-Design front end Volvo XC90 R-Design canada review Volvo XC90 R-Design 2016 canada


Volvo XC90 R-Design rear view polestar Volvo XC90 R-Design rear quarter Volvo XC90 R-Design front grill mesh


Volvo XC90 R-Design headlights Volvo XC90 R-Design taillights rear Volvo XC90 R-Design silver mirror caps


Volvo XC90 R-Design sport front bumper Volvo XC90 R-Design 22-inch wheels Volvo XC90 R-Design awd polestar tuning upgrade software


Volvo XC90 R-Design leather nappa interior Volvo XC90 R-Design digital gauges Volvo XC90 R-Design engine start switch


Volvo XC90 R-Design swipe pinch touchscreen Volvo XC90 R-Design ipad tablet Volvo XC90 R-Design front seats


Volvo XC90 R-Design second row seats Volvo XC90 R-Design third row seats rear Volvo XC90 R-Design seat flag


Volvo XC90 R-Design rear seat a/c hvac controls Volvo XC90 R-Design trunk space cargo room



型号 Model: 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Drive-E R-Design

顏色 Paint Type: Passion Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $65,850

試車售價 Price as Tested: $72,670
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,984
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,950 / 2,140 / 1,775

車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,993
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 330 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD

油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.5 / 9.5 / 10.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.6

輪胎尺碼 Tires: 22-inch 5-Double Spoke Wheels ($1,300)





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