By Nigel Wigmore
Standard motoring correspondent
There is still something quite majestic about driving around in a large, luxurious car.
I suppose any driver if they were honest would enjoy such a treat. But big cars are an endangered species at present.
Large diesels and petrol-driven SUVs (sport utility vehicles) are probably the most endangered of all.
Yet carmakers are finding ingenious ways of ensuring that those of us who like driving larger vehicles will in future be able to do so in as environmentally friendly way as possible.
The writing may be on the wall for cars that continue to choke the environment, and rightly so.
But carmakers such as Volvo are moving rapidly away from the ICE (internal combustion engine).
For example, Volvo makes the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8, the Swedish carmaker’s first ever fully electric car.
It is based on the best-selling XC40 small SUV, which was the first Volvo model to win the prestigious European Car of the Year award.
Volvo’s XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 won the Hybrid Seven-Seater of the Year award in the first What Car? Electric Car Awards.
So you can see there are big changes coming from Volvo among others. Meanwhile, this week I have been driving the most sophisticated of large SUVs.
The model year 2020 XC90 offers customers Volvo’s advanced kinetic energy recovery braking system.
This system couples with Volvo’s existing internal combustion engines to create an integrated electrified powertrain, under its B badge.
The resulting electrified powertrain offers drivers up to 15 per cent fuel savings and emission reductions in “real world” driving terms.
The XC90 comes with a B5-badged mild-hybrid petrol or diesel variant, as well as a B6-badged petrol mild hybrid.
The introduction of the new XC90 ‘B’-badged cars represented a major step for Volvo towards fulfilling its electrification ambitions.
‘B’-badged cars complement Volvo’s existing T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid electrified option on the XC90.
Once behind the wheel of the XC90 you soon come to realise that this car’s size is an important factor in its appeal.
More carmakers are offering buyers the choice of small, medium and large SUVs in their model range, to suit all tastes.
The XC90 is no exception and should appeal to those seeking size with great style. It is available with a range of different seating configurations, from the four-seat, luxury Excellence variant and the seven-seat family SUV to a new six-seat configuration.
New interior materials including a wool blend offer further options for personalisation.
As with all Volvo models – and something I come back to again and again in this column – safety is paramount to the carmaker.
So the XC90 offers drivers help with steering on both the City Safety and the Blind Spot Information System. City Safety with Autobrake is still the only system on the market to recognise pedestrians, cyclists and large animals.
The Oncoming Lane Mitigation system first introduced on the XC60 is available on the XC90, while the Cross Traffic Alert technology now also offers autobrake.
All this, says Volvo, together with the safety cage that forms the core of the passive safety technology, makes the XC90 “one of the safest cars on the road” today.
This underlines Volvo’s commitment to developing the safest cars possible. Remember, Volvo has made one of the boldest promises in the automotive industry that no one driving a new Volvo should be killed or seriously injured by the year 2020.
While the XC90 was the first Volvo to offer Apple CarPlay integration, it is now also compatible with Android Auto.
The Sensus infotainment system has gone through multiple updates in recent years, all of which have been adopted into the XC90. Where available, the Spotify music streaming service is integrated in the XC90.
In an increasingly challenging world market for new cars Volvo’s global sales continued to grow in September of this year driven by sales increases in China and the US.
As an indication of how things are shaping up on car sales, Volvo’s Recharge line-up of chargeable models, with a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain, continued to be popular among customers.
The share of Recharge models more than doubled in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period last year.
The XC90 is all about space, when you have it in abundance and how to use it best. Whatever its power source far from being a car whose size could be seen to threaten its future prospects, the XC90 looks here to stay.
Priced from £54,400 (on-the-road)
Swedish carmaker’s flagship model SUV
Range of different seating configurations
Four-seat, ultra-luxury model to the seven-seat family SUV
Also brand new six-seat configuration
Drive-E powertrains, including petrol and diesel
Also available T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid