Volvo upgrades XC90 luxury SUV with new mild-hybrid powertrain, specification enhancements and updated styling

Volvo has introduced a series of upgrades for the seven-seat XC90, making its flagship luxury SUV an even more appealing proposition with new styling details, additional equipment, upgrades to petrol-electric plug-in versions and the UK debut of a new mild-hybrid powertrain.

Efficient 48-volt mid-hybrid diesel powertrain

On sale now, the 2020 model year XC90 range is the first to offer Volvo's new mild-hybrid engine range, in this case a diesel designated 'B5'. This combines Volvo's established 2.0-litre 235hp diesel engine with a 48-volt battery, a KERS kinetic energy recovery system and an integrated starter generator. The system improves fuel economy – by up to 15 per cent in real-world driving – and produces lower NOx emissions than the outgoing D5 XC90 it replaces.

Energy captured by the KERS system when the car brakes or decelerates is stored as electricity in the battery. This is used to supplement the engine's performance when accelerating and to power ancillary functions such as the headlights and audio system. The technology will be applied to petrol engines in the XC90 line-up in the coming year.

The B5 also gets an updated automatic transmission, which brings improved fuel efficiency and superior gearshift quality. Acceleration from a standstill is sharper, too, thanks to a greater torque capacity in the lower gears. The B5 also breaks new ground for Volvo by using a brake-by-wire system.

Updated Volvo XC90

Upgraded battery for plug-in hybrid versions

The XC90's T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain has been revised, with an increase in the high-voltage battery's capacity from 10.4 to 11.8 kilowatt hours. This increases the car's electric-only driving range from up to 21.7 to a maximum of 28.6 miles – more than enough for an urban commuting journey.

Evolutionary styling updates

The styling changes focus on detailing, with new grille and lower front bumper designs. The air intakes also have a fresh look and new alloy wheel designs have been introduced. All XC90 versions also now come with integrated roof rails and dual integrated exhaust tailpipes as standard.

R-Design variants have been given an even more purposeful look with a new black high-gloss finish for the exterior trim, including the door mirror casings, window frames and roof rails. Inscription-grade XC90s feature a new chrome strip that runs the full width of the rear bumper. There are also new exterior paint options, with the introduction of Thunder Grey, Pebble Grey and Birch Light shades.

Inside, the R-Design versions can now be specified with a new Slate upholstery colour, offered in addition to the established, darker, Charcoal option.

Luxurious equipment list

Across the board, the XC90 is now fitted with two USB ports in the cabin as standard. Momentum-grade models add power adjustment for the front passenger seat and the T8 Twin Engine versions are now supplied with a purpose-designed bag to store the recharging cable.

The XC90 has an impressive standard specification that perfectly expresses the model's status as a luxury vehicle. Key features include the Sensus nine-inch multimedia touchscreen with voice-activated control, navigation system and access to the Volvo On Call connected services platform. City Safety equips the car with extensive systems to warn of and help avoid many common accident risks, and to provide optimum protection if a collision does happen. Other equipment fitted as standard includes a power-operated tailgate, LED headlights, a rear parking camera and keyless entry and start. Like every other new Volvo, the XC90 also benefits from a data SIM card, which provides access to up to 100GB of data for 12 months.

Matt Galvin, Volvo Car UK's Sales Director, said: "The XC90 led the way in our brand transformation and has enjoyed great success at the pinnacle of our multi-award-winning SUV line-up. The changes we have made are designed to reinforce its popularity and to deliver the benefits of even more efficient powertrain technology in the form of our new mild-hybrid system and the uprated battery in petrol-electric plug-in versions."

The new XC90 range is available in Momentum, R-Design and Inscription versions – each also available in more highly specified 'Pro' form. There are four powertrains: the new 235hp B5 mild-hybrid diesel; 250hp T5 and 310hp T6 petrols; and the 390hp T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. Every XC90 comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.