Volvo’s biggest electric SUV is a lovely tech device on wheels
Mourn the professorial, vaguely granola boxes of the ’80s if you want, but this all-electric, seven-seater SUV is the logical next step in the Geely age of Volvo. As a loyal brick owner, allow me to say: It looks damn good.
Dubbed EX90, this SUV marries Volvo’s electrification strategy with its 21st-century design language in elegant fashion. Volvo wants to put one million electrified (key word, since it includes hybrids and pure-electrics like this one) vehicles on the road by 2025, and it was never going to get the U.S. into the party with its -40 series urban runabouts alone. It needed a long-range, ultra-posh people hauler.
Enter the EX90, which establishes the apex Volvo SUV as an electric one. Before going any further, Volvo would like to offer you a moment to download the Volvo Cars app, and do a quick count of how many Google devices are in your home. With the Google-supported, 5G-connected EX90, that count increases by 1. (Where the broadband network is not available, the EX90 can downgrade.)
Said device is equipped with a 360-degree sphere of awareness thanks to a web of information relayed by cameras, radars, and Lidar. This sphere extends to the interior, where the car will watch for your gaze to drift from the road before nudging, then pestering you to resume concentration. We’re curious to know whether prolonged interaction with the 14.5-inch center infotainment screen triggers the system. The vehicle unlocks via your smartphone, assuming you’ve downloaded the necessary app and your phone supports it.
Keep an eye out for future, U.S.-specific fine print details. A section in the release titled The small print mentions that Google Maps, along with Google Assistant and the app store, plus remote functions of the Volvo Cars app, “might vary per market.” Volvo, don’t screw us over, please.
Range is targeted at 300 miles, but don’t be surprised if later EX90s improve on the initial EPA figures. Balancing weight and performance with range often means that two-wheel-drive EVs are more efficient than their four-wheel-drive counterparts. Volvo will begin, in good EV tradition, by temporarily withholding the lower-spec, two-wheel-drive powertrain and offering a high-spec, four-wheel-drive model first. In the EX90’s case, that means two motors delivering a maximum of 496 hp and 671 lb-ft of torque.
It’s also capable of bi-directional charging, so your F-150 Lightning neighbor can’t hog all the glory of being a blackout savior for the neighborhood, and, on an appropriately high-zap charger, regain 80 percent of range (from 10 percent) in 30 minutes.
Volvo’s press materials explicitly reinforce this “car as device” philosophy, calling it a “highly advanced computer on wheels.” Traditional the mindset is not, but it’s worth taking this product—as we plan to—at face value, judging it for what it is and not what we wish it were. You may not like a Volvo-branded, Google-ified device on wheels, but Volvo’s clear that it wants to build the prettiest, most capable one ever.