Volvo Renames, Add Features to 2021 Flagship XC90 Hybrid

by Tom Crosby

As part of Volvo’s pledge to sell one million electrified vehicles by 2025, the company has added new standard features to its rebranded XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription. Formerly called the XC90 T8 e AWD Plug-in hybrid, Volvo now adds the newly dubbed “Recharge” for a fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in its nine-vehicle fleet. 

This luxurious three-row plug-in hybrid SUV has ample cabin space, plenty of horsepower and a panoply of technical features.

The XC90 is the Swedish automaker’s flagship and largest Volvo, already garnering a top crash safety rating, laurels for its family-friendly style, best buy rating and best five-year cost-to-own award.  For 2021, it now includes standard LED headlights, parking sensors, wireless smartphone charging and blind-spot steering assist to avoid an impending collision.

Outside, minor changes are indistinguishable, keeping XC90’s clean lines with stylish chrome strips, chrome window surrounds and the iconic waterfall grille diagonally bisected with the Volvo ribbon logo. 

Our test-drive  included top trim above Momentum and R-Design and was equipped with a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder powerplant with a 11.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 67 kW electric motor – top of three engine choices. The electric-only range is 20 miles with three-hour charging at 240V.

We had nine options totaling $10,955 that included Lounge, Climate and Advance packages, plus premium sound, and air suspension for $8,050. Typically, XC90 is less expensive than similarly equipped competitors such as Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, BMW X5 or Audi Q7.

Quick acceleration provides superb handling for a 2.5-ton vehicle with all-wheel drive and the ride was composed but slightly stiff, especially in Power mode (there are also Pure, Hybrid, Individual and Off-Road modes)The responsive braking was solid. VC90 can tow 5,000 lbs.

Our test model had Michelin 20-inch all-season tires and included safety features such as Pilot Assist that embraces full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane centering and other technologies. Visibility is excellent and there is a heads-up display.

The spacious cabin had seven seats (six are available), with an impeccable fit and finish, soft leather, wood panels, 12.3-inch digital driver display, a 9-inch swipe/pinch touchscreen with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment, which although not intuitive at first is valuable once mastered. Poor voice recognition hampered navigation settings and the driver’s visor doesn’t fully extend.

Wide doors provide easy access, the cargo space is one of the industry best with the third row dropped, but cabin storage is only average when compared to the competition

Additional unique features include cooled glove box, optional built-in child booster seat, massaging front seats and rear sunshades.

At a Glance

LIKES: Luxurious and spacious cabin, power, rich information, safety features, spare tire, no range anxiety
DISLIKES: Voice recognition, non-intuitive touchscreen, options needed, short visor
BOTTOM LINE: Staying green with luxury, no range anxiety and strong safety record


Fact File: Volvo XC90 Recharge T8

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
EPA Rating
$70,745 ($81,690 as tested)
5,009 lbs.
117.5 inches
195.4 inches
84.3 inches
2.0-liter, twin-turbo 4-cylinder direct injection
400-hp@6,000 rpm
472 lbs.-ft.@ 2,200 rpm
Hybrid electric,8-speed automatic
55 mpge, 27 mpg gas only
18.5 gallons, premium fuel
0-60 in 5.6 seconds










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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.


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