After a week-long test drive of the Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Momentum, here are some of my experiences with the car.
Day 1 – Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Momentum First Impressions
From the first moment of booking in the Volvo XC90 to test I was excited about this car. I don’t really know where that excitement came from as I wasn’t all that interested in the previous generation of the car, but I loved the look of the new car and I think the technology fitted to the car captured my attention.
Once the car arrived I had my first chance to take a closer look at it. It was delivered to my door, and parked on the drive the brand new XC90 looked very premium indeed. The design has such a fresh look, and inside and out the car was super clean and had an expensive feel.
Getting inside the car for the first time was just as exciting, the dashboard was minimalistic and had a premium car feel to it. I knew that this was going to be one of those cars that I was really going to enjoy testing.
Day 2 – Testing Out Everything
This car has lots and lots of toys to play with, so I did what any other motoring journalist would do and I found myself a few excuses to go out in the car and test everything out. We took the car out in the early hours of the morning to get a few pictures and shoot a video, giving me lots of time to play with the toys.
Getting used to the car’s new touchscreen took no time at all, it was so responsive and intuitive to use. The display controls a whole heap of features including the sat nav, music and almost all of the car safety systems. It didn’t take me long to press most of the buttons and figure out what everything did. The most exciting thing for me to test was the system that will autonomously drive the car. I took a few minutes to have a read through the digital handbook in the centre display then had a go enabling it on the road. For this to work you need to be traveling under 30mph, have a lead car in front of you and have defining paint lines on the road for the car to follow. With all of these in place, you enable Auto Pilot Assist and the car takes control.
My first few attempts with the Auto Pilot only worked for seconds at a time because the lanes weren’t marked well enough, but I was still shocked that it could drive itself. I would certainly revisit this again later in the week.
Day 3 – Little Features That Matter
After spending a few days with the car there are a few little features to mention which I feel make this car stand out from the rest. Firstly, there is a sensor under the back bumper of the car allowing you to open the boot by waving your foot under the car when you have the key in your pocket, which when you think about it is actually pretty handy. Secondly the boot load space with the 3rd row of seats folded down is humongous, there is also no load lip making it really easy to get large objects in and out of the boot. Thirdly, the car has a very clever voice command system that allows you to do very granular things such as set the temperature of the heating to a certain degree by voice command, that’s incredible.
Video production by: Sam Mowels
Day 4 – Long Test Journey
I took the car on a 200-mile round trip to Bath and back. I was quite excited to put some miles on the car and get a better feel for its abilities. We left early and hit the motorway to get to Bath for 9am. The adaptive cruise control system on the XC90 is, in my opinion, the best of its kind, the way the car controls the gap between you and the car in front is so smooth. The motorway journey was dead easy in the XC90, not to mention comfortable; I was wrapped up in a heated seat, with a heated steering wheel and was well insulated from the outside world.
Once we arrived in Bath I tested out the Volvo Park Assist feature which scanned the busy car park as we drove around it and found me a space, it then accurately tucked the car into the space. Being honest, it parked the car a lot neater and a lot easier than I could have done it myself. Very impressed.
On the way back in rush hour we got caught in some slow traffic, normally I would be annoyed about this, but not today, this was a prime time to test out the Auto Pilot Assist technology on the car. I turned it on and the car took over. Incredible! In over 30 minutes of driving the car probably drove for about 25 minutes by itself, on and off. This was my first experience enjoying the benefit of autonomous driving and the system worked really well, when the road allowed it to. For it to work it is essential that the lanes are clearly marked on the road otherwise it disengages and puts the driver back in control. Although it can’t be used everywhere, I can certainly see that it has lots of good uses.
Out of the traffic and on the motorway we headed back to Birmingham, once again using the adaptive cruise control all the way. This time traveling in the dark which leads me on to the next big feature, the directional LED lights that are super bright and genuinely allow you to see the road in front clearer because of the consistent white light they produce.
The day out in the Volvo XC90 was an absolute breeze, all of the assistive technology and improvements in the latest generation XC90 really make driving the new car one of the most trouble free and relaxing experiences ever.
Day 5 – Taking a Closer Look at the Details
Washing the car down after putting over 300 miles on it already gave me a great chance to look at all the exterior features of the car. The front grille is just a masterpiece of design and even close up looks very expensive. The lower sides of the car has body coloured bump strips that mean getting the odd scratch may be a little easier to fix. Lastly, looking at the rear of the car, although it has a lot going on in the way of shape and design, in my opinion, it lets the car down somehow, I just don’t think it’s up to the same spec as the rest of the car.
Day 6 – Autumnal Photo Shoot
To capture some great photography of the car I arranged to meet up with resident Rattanak Kiri photographer, Ross Jukes. We decided to make the most of the autumn leaf fall and head over to a location that we had previously scouted to capture the car in motion before the road got too busy.
We took an early start and got there just as the sun was rising. It was another cloudy day but we were committed to doing our best to capture some cool pictures of the all-new XC90 out in the real world. We ran the same shot back and forth around 10 times trying to capture the car traveling through the woods how we pictured it and I think, eventually, we captured some pretty good content of the car. You can let us know what you think in the comments below.
Day 7 – In Summary
Spending the entire week with this car has opened my eyes up to the possibilities of what cars are capable of. I love what Volvo have done with the tech in this car, and I can’t not mention the similarities between Volvo and Tesla whilst writing this article. Tesla are big on auto pilot technology, and have recently introduced parts of it to customer cars in the UK. Volvo were also leading with having City Safe technology on their cars before Tesla introduced it on theirs. It is good to see some healthy competition in the market and I’m impressed with what Volvo have done.
This week has made me think, maybe we, as the consumer, should be pushing for other manufacturers to shake up their tech departments to try and keep up with Volvo.
Video production by: Daniel Barnett