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Volvo XC40, XC60, XC90

This season I had the ability to test drive the 2023 models for Volvo’s XC series also know as their mild hybrid line.

The whole of their marketing promises a smoother drive with their “mild hybrid technology” creating a more refined driving experience. And if you have ever been behind the wheel of a Volvo, you know exactly what this means. Having test driven this line, I can fully attest to the quality of their workmanship and the details that go into each model. Swiss precision engineering made for any driver, regardless of your degree or experience.

All three models feature a quick start engine. The fully electric XC40 goes so far as to even have a push button start, not the twist knob to power-on like with the other two. With the 2023 Volvo XC40, you simply shift and go into drive. And then to stop, park and open the door to leave. Simply put, there was no need to turn on or off the car. And not having to do this once typically crucial step took some getting use to. A learning curve at the beginning of my week with the XC40, and having to transition back to a car that required starting the engine, after. With the XC40 I found myself constantly going back to ensure that the car was indeed turned off.

The reason behind a quick start is to have an optimal smoother drive from standstill, which ultimately results in a lower fuel consumption. Especially for day to day driving, and in the long run. And despite using less fuel, you do get more power thanks to the integrated starter generator boost. You certainly felt this during acceleration with much precision handling.

The Volvo XC40 is fully electric to my chagrin. I like the cost of what it takes to fill the battery, but not the time it takes. Especially when you live in a condo and have to rely on public charging stations. Vancouver’s Lower Mainland is just not equipped with the necessary high speed chargers. Although having said that, I can l happily confirm that there is a couple of new BC Hydro level 3 chargers that have been installed near where I live. These can fill the battery full in about an hour or so. But as always, the closer the battery is to 100%, the slower the charging takes.

As for iconic aesthetics, you have Volvo’s recycled material panel detailing, that lights up at night. Tonal greys more visible in shade, that passes for faux wooden panels by day.

The car at times feels like it drives itself. With hazard and caution settings that oversteers you if it is decided that you are in the wrong lane, or on the shoulder of the road. It overpowers your control. And as soon as you release the brake, the car automatically slows down and almost stops. Which can be a helpful safety feature. Although this means you need to learn how much distance to give yourself to roll to a gentle stop at any light or sign. Something worth mastering as the recharge function allows you to gain more battery life as you cruise and roll. This was especially ideal for my regular drives up and down Burnaby Mountain.

Going up uphill on an incline, the XC40 is a dream. There is no hesitation with this much power. The car does not struggle. Although it is noticeably heavy on the wheel, and requires a wider breath for turns. But smooth control once you get the hang of it.

Seated within the cabin things feel tight with the lower roof. Although you are given more space once the panoramic sunroof is opened.

Considering that everything is so high tech in a fully electric vehicle, it feels out of place to have a manual wheel adjustment here.

Next, we have the 2023 Volvo XC60 Recharge. Similar in design and drive to the XC40 above, expect you have the reliance of petrol and the option of earning battery life to consume.

In the XC60 the lane assist was less imposing. It allowed you to divert and go into another lane. It simply warns and guides, but doesn’t force you back into position.

Coming off of the electric model I found this engine powerful, so much so that it was a jerky start, as I had to ease into its handling.

I noted the harder you push down on the brake pedal during a steep decline the greater your recharge bar rose. However, try as I might I was not able to gain 1 km of battery life (on hybrid mode), nor was I able to figure out how to turn off hybrid mode. Mid way through the week I learned you had to go to “settings” and change the battery usage to “charge” to actually build up the battery bar. A measure and step that seemed pointless given the whole appeal of the car is that you get more power for less. The word “recharge” is in the name afterall. Similarly, I wish it wouldn’t reset each time you turned off the car, thus needing to built it into your start up routine.

For me the ability to recharge did become a fun game, as there we had the desire to earn enough free kilometres for a fuel-free drive.

The electronics in the 2023 Volvo XC60 was top of the line with Bowers & Wilkins, giving you crisp audio, furthered with options like “concert hall” and “jazz club” setting options. These changed how and from which surround speaker the music was broadcasted from.

We also took note of how crisp the picture was on the HD backup camera. I find that Volvo continues to have one of the best cameras we have seen to date.

In comparison, the biggest difference between the Volvo XC60 and the XC90 is the size. The XC90 can seat up to seven passengers with an additional row, whereas the CX60 seats five.

The XC90 also has massaging seats, but I found it not all that soothing as the rubbing and rolling was more like poking. It would have been good for pressure points if they actually targeted them. These were mild movements that grew on the shoulder and lower back, but not on hips or the buttock, which I like. This sensation was improved with the firm seat and extension of the lumbar to the fullest. Out of all the cars I have driven in, the 2023 Volvo XC90 has some of the greatest and most aggressive lumbar support out there. The seats themselves were adjustable with micro precision. This included the sides, lumbar, and the base of the chair where your thighs extended.

Driving modes include hybrid, power, pure off-road, and constant all wheel drive; making its capacity and capability ideal as a family vehicle. From soccer practice to road trips, then your weekday city commute to weekends in the wilderness.

Out of all the three models the 2023 Volvo XC90 certainly felt the most luxurious. Dark black painted wood panels, supple premium leather, and accent lighting.

And now knowing how to set up the recharge mode, through a week of causal driving we were able to earn 38km of battery life, which we would subsequently use in hybrid mode. Here, we drive to charge the battery and did earn enough stored energy to get an earn ride.

In conclusion, three slightly different cars for three different uses. Choose the best one that suits you.


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