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2020 Volvo XC90 T6 R Design long term review

By Terry King, 20 Jul 2020 Car Reviews

WhichCar welcomes the Volvo XC90 R Design into the review fleet

Volvo XC90 R Design 2020

On the back of a couple of years of Wheels Car of the Year success, Volvo continues to surprise and delight with its reborn range of SUVs.

Volvo XC90 T6 R Line

We've taken delivery of the XC90 T6 R Design, which now costs $96,990 plus on-road costs after a recent hefty price cut. Our Thunder Grey seven-seater also comes equipped with a Premium Pack, which adds a tinted panoramic sunroof, tinted rear glass, air-sprung suspension and 1400W of high-end Harman Kardon audio to the mix.

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Sitting pretty on its 22-inch rims, the T6 uses a 246kW 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine to drive all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic.

Volvo has spent big on the interior of the XC90. Scandinavian simplicity and logic abounds, while clever and artful design lifts the cabin everywhere you look. The seats are brilliant, and even incorporate shock-absorbing technology should you be unlucky enough to run off the road and suffer an impact through the bottom of the car.

Second-row occupants are well looked after on the outside seats, but the centre seat is a child-only proposition. Luckily, that’s where Volvo has located a clever child seat booster cushion.

Volvo XC90 T6 R Design

The third row features a pair of full-size seats, proper headrests and armrests to boot, but it should only be regarded as an option for smaller adults and kids. Volvo itself says it optimised for people under 170cm.

The front seats are powered in all directions, with extendable bases and adjustable side bolsters. They are supremely comfortable over a couple of hours, and can be had with heating and/or venting.

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The 9.0-inch portrait screen in the centre console has allowed Volvo to reduce the number of hard buttons on the centre stack down to just nine (from an average of 30-35). It operates the same way as a typical tablet, and it also houses the very useful Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, as well as the amazing parking feature seen above.

Volvo XC90 T6 R Design

It controls all functions via three main screens, while individual buttons can be repositioned to suit. The steering wheel, too, houses a large number of functions, but it needs a period of familiarity to really get the most out of it.

Visibility is great. It could probably do with at least one more USB port in the front, and it definitely needs them in the rear, though both back rows are well covered for bottle holders, hidey-holes and ventilation controls.

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We've racked up about 1000km so far, getting about 9.5L/100km on our fuel economy. The quoted economy is 8.5L/100km, so we're not far off. It's still almost two tonnes in weight, so to get nearly 750km from a tank is pretty impressive.

We're still getting to know all the features and functions, and we'll bring you more videos and pics as we live with our big Swede.

Update #2

A long weekend away was exactly what the doctor ordered in these confined and claustrophobic times.

We got our hands on the Volvo XC90 and loaded her up for a joyride in which we navigated our way from Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs to the underrated (I feel) rural town of Dubbo to really put her through her paces and get some wind in the hair.

Read: Volvo XC40 T5 long-term review


The first thing we noticed is how the requirement to play tetris in order to fit our bags and gear was non-existent. Despite the four of us ‘well-prepared’ women having packed for all scenario’s and occasions, there was no squashing or shoving of kit into the boot to cram it all in - the boot size is that generous. We were immediately off to a cracking start!

Once we hit the road, we were, naturally, chatting up a storm. Em, my navigator and chief DJ had fun playing with the sound settings of our music. On the ginormous screen on the console, you can choose your settings from an In-Studio or concert hall experience in the sound settings.

It’s also easy to direct from what end and side of the car you’d like the sound to come from so as conversation swings or dies down to let room for some car-pool karaoke it’s easy to adapt!

When the music wasn’t being tinkered with, the large console is a dream to navigate with and makes hands-free undeniably easy as well as also appearing on the driver’s dashboard to ensure you don’t miss a single turn.

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Aside from the obvious on-road comfort the XC90 oozes in city life, it became evident that the XC90 was more than qualified to handle the tight country roads of regional NSW and even more so, some of the ragged farmland we drove through.

The car handles beautifully and finds its track in the natural canvas of the sometimes quite uneven roads. In the paddocks, you’d be hard pushed to know the earth beneath you was cracked and dried through the months of draught.

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As smooth as a seal, I was complimented more than once on my steady driving although I can guarantee I didn’t deserve all that credit.

As we met up with friends throughout the weekend, we did struggle at times with getting the middle seats forward in order to fit people into the back. I’d say this was very likely to be user error although it did have me frustrated at times when I couldn’t nail it first time round.

In saying that, once we did all fit in after a night next to country bonfire, in single digit cool night-air temperatures, I’ve never been so chuffed to have seat warmers. Virtually instant, the seat warmers in the XC90 warm you from the bottom up. Literally.

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Other features of the XC90 that we loved were the large sun roof, the automatic park in and park out features (who knew that Dubbo streets would demand such tight parallel parks) and the automatic shade feature on the wing mirrors (as pictured) to help with the sun setting glare.

All in all, this car is an absolute dream. It’s smooth and it’s sexy and it’s practical with all the functional bells and whistles. I couldn’t recommend it anymore for those who are seeking a larger, comfortable vehicle to get you safely from A to B in style.

2020 Volvo XC90 T6 R-Design price and specifications

Price: $96,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged-/supercharged-petrol
Output: 246kW/440Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel: 8.5L/100km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP

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