STOCKHOLM – Amid much fanfare, Volvo has unveiled its upcoming full-fledged three-row battery-electric SUV, the EX90. It is based on an all-new dedicated EV platform that will support future Volvo vehicles. It has new batteries, new motors and new inverters.
Volvo is presenting this seven-seat electric SUV flagship in a way we’ve never seen from the Swedish automaker. The original message, aimed at an affluent, connected, tech-savvy and environmentally conscious demographic, is: “Your Volvo EX90 will not just be a new car, it will be a sophisticated computer on wheels.”
According to Volvo, the EX90 marks a turning point for the company. Volvo plans to launch one new all-electric car per year through 2030, after which it will sell only electric cars. The goal is to be CO2 neutral by 2040. Sustainability is already a keyword in Volvo’s plan. The EX90 uses recycled steel, aluminum and plastics along with an extensive use of natural fibers.
Chief Executive Jim Rowan says: “The Volvo EX90 is a statement of where we are and where we are going. It’s the first Volvo car that’s truly defined by its software and part of a broader ecosystem that connects to your home and other devices.” Just like your smartphone, the EX90 is designed to do the same, thanks to regular over-the -Air software updates keep getting better with time.
But before we get to that, let’s look at the actual “car” part.
The EX90 will initially be launched as a twin-engine, all-wheel-drive model with a 111-kWh battery and a combined output of 517 hp and 671 lb-ft of torque. Volvo claims a range of up to 600km on the generous European WLTP test cycle, but the more realistic North American assessments will likely see range between 400 and 500km.
The Volvo EX90 is a pretty thing – upright, angular, chic and instantly recognizable as a Volvo. The brand’s signature vertical taillights and ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights are rendered in bold matrix blocks, with the latter’s horizontal elements ‘split’ to reveal the night lights. Very cool. The 22-inch horizontal five-blade aero alloy wheels fill in the arches, and the EX90’s tapered greenhouse gives a sense of movement.
We’re used to Volvo interiors, which showcase a unique and utterly delightful stripped-down Nordic styling that shines in fine metalwork, soft tones and natural wood trim. The EX90 continues the aesthetic with interesting textures and sustainable materials. It is completely leather free. Air vents occupy a narrow strip stretching the entire width of the dashboard. Minimalism is taken a step further here by removing all knobs and knobs, save for a rotary volume knob on the center console. With smartphone key technology, you can leave the EX90 key fob at home.
Taking center stage is a 15-inch portrait screen, which fills all the roles we’ve come to expect but with a twist. The bar at the bottom of the screen displays context-sensitive information, offering relevant controls and information depending on whether you’re just driving, on the phone, the weather is changing etc. Like Volvo’s previous system, this new infotainment is powered by Google, with a row from Google apps and services that are integrated, including the ability to control the car remotely from home. The system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, as well as 5G connectivity where available. Volvo also offers a 25-speaker Bowers and Wilkins system with immersive Dolby Atmos processing.
Previous Volvo interfaces weren’t exactly paragons of intuitive (read: non-distracting) interaction, which goes against a key pillar of the Volvo ethos. So we’re hoping this system actually lives up to its claim of being easy to use on the move.
In front of the driver sits a three-spoke steering wheel and a customizable information screen. A few minutes in the driver’s seat confirms Volvo’s reputation for designing exceptionally comfortable and supportive seats. They are particularly comfortable and upholstered with Tailored Wool Blend, a padding made from wool and recycled materials. The third row is narrow for tall people – best suited for children.
Of course, Volvo trumpets the EX90’s safety credentials, claiming it’s safer than any Volvo before it. Much of this comes from the army of sensors (ultrasonic, radar and lidar) and cameras that send a stream of information to Volvo’s in-house software, creating a real-time, 360-degree view of the world around the car. The EX90 also keeps an eye on your eyes, with special sensors and two cameras that measure the driver’s alertness, drowsiness and drunkness and, depending on the severity of the situation, respond with a gentle nudge to stop the vehicle and call for help.
This all plays into the eventuality of unattended autonomous driving – the EX90 is the first Volvo with hardware ready for it. It’s also the first Volvo with bi-directional charging. As with the Ford Lighting Pickup, this technology allows the car battery to be used as an additional source of energy to power your home, other electrical devices, etc.
Expected to hit our shores in late 2023 as a 2024 model, the Volvo EX90 will be built at Volvo’s South Carolina factory, which is expected to remain electric-only.