Written by: Robert Nichols
Photography by: Robert Nichols & Volvo Cars of Canada
Published: July 18, 2016
I was recently handed the keys to the gorgeous new Volvo XC90. As the flagship for the brand it does a particularly good job at representing just how nice Swedish design and minimalism can be. The exterior has left the boxy-ness of Volvo’s past and while remaining discreet, the new sheet metal work is sophisticated with stunning lines and curves in the right places.
Inside you will find some of the creamiest materials available. I loved the bare wood. It has a natural look and you can feel the grains. Normally I am not a fan of wood trims that are polished and lacquered to the point of looking fake, but Volvo went the other way and the lack of high gloss lacquer complements the sparse interior’s clean lines.
A full review has already been done on this vehicle and I cannot add anything to it. The only difference between the two units we drove was the interior colour. So as not to bore you with a repeat I thought I would focus on the technologies that Volvo has developed in an effort to maintain their World’s Safest Vehicles reputation.
Today’s vehicles are becoming ever more self-aware; thankfully they have yet to reach Skynet levels, but as time goes on, new technologies will be developed and it would seem full autonomy is automotive destiny. The Volvo XC90 has a remarkable 360-degree monitoring system that builds upon the common functions like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, rear collision with auto braking, cross-traffic alerts and park assist. The really cutting edge stuff is part of the Intellisafe system.
To start with, Volvo has included Pilot Assist 2, which is a semi-autonomous system. It works as a function of the adaptive cruise system adding the ability to steer the CUV in numerous situations. In heavy stop and go traffic, like the drive to and from work, the system is able to control speed, distance and lane position much more effectively than the outgoing model.
The system is also capable of functioning at speeds up to 130 km/h. Unlike some other systems that require a lead car to set a pace and distance, the Volvo technology only requires clear road markings to function, making long drives safer if the driver becomes fatigued.
Because the laws require the driver to be an active participant in the task of driving, the system is limited and should the driver let go of the steering wheel for a pre-set duration of time, the system will alert them and switch off. That strikes me as odd because if the driver has fallen asleep or has had a cardiac event it would seem like the perfect time for some assistance, perhaps they could program the system to pullover and come to a stop if the driver fails to drive.
One of the most common causes of single vehicle accidents is running off the road. This can be caused by a distracted or fatigued driver, or snow on the roadway obscuring the lane markers. Volvo has developed a run-off road mitigation system to prevent this situation.
The technology allows the vehicle to take evasive steering measures and apply the brakes if the system determines the vehicle is leaving the marked roadway. The system works at speeds from 65 – 140 km/h. In the event that the system and driver are both unable to prevent the vehicle from running off the road Volvo has added a second function called Run-off road Protection.
If the computers determine you have left the roadway it responds by tightening the seatbelts to hold the occupants in place. This is safest because the seats are designed to absorb the impact in a Dukes of Hazard type situation in which the Volvo becomes airborne. The frame of the seat deforms absorbing the brunt of the vertical impact that would otherwise be transferred directly to the occupant’s spines.
Apparently Swedes are having trouble staying on the road; according to Volvo’s research, 1/3 of all single vehicle crash resulting in deaths and major injuries are the direct result of run-off the road scenarios. To fully counter the prevalent problem the company has developed three tests to ensure the system will lessen the chances of injury. The testing includes airborne, ditch and rough terrain situations.
Being a Northern country, Sweden has to deal with moose. Ask just about any Canadian who lives north of Barrie, Ontario and they will tell you these large animals are a real danger, especially at night. Volvo has what it calls Large Animal Detection. This system uses data from the front radar and camera to scan for large animals standing or crossing the roadway. On a dark and foggy night it is easy not see a moose until the last minute, but the system will alert you and even brake should you fail to respond to the warning.
That function is part of the City Safe system, which is an umbrella term for all of the collision avoidance technology fitted to the 90-series vehicles. In town, the system will keep an eye on pedestrians and cyclists and depending on the velocity of the vehicle it can mitigate a collision or just alert the driver to the possibility of a crash. It also watches other traffic and monitors the speed at which other vehicles are moving. It will either warn the driver or apply the brakes.
At intersections, City Safe is able to monitor traffic heading toward you while you are making a left turn. Should the driver not see an oncoming car and attempt to make the turn, the system automatically brakes preventing you from pulling out in front of oncoming car.
In the industrialized world we live in, the quality of the air we breathe is often poor. Add to that the numerous respiratory ailments and allergies we suffer and a drive across town could be quite the ordeal. Volvo has developed an air filtration system that uses regular filter media and a layer of active charcoal to prevent 70% more airborne particles as small as 4 microns from entering the cabin than in a car without this filter. To better understand how small 4 microns is, a single human hair on average is between 10 – 200 microns thick; spider silk is 3 – 8 microns thick and bacterium is between 1 -10 microns.
This new filter is the first step in the Volvo IAQS (interior air quality system). The second stage of this system consists of a sensor that picks up noxious chemicals in the outside air. When the level becomes harmful the system responds by closing the outside air vents and recirculating the cabin air. This could happen in a tunnel with a lot of exhaust. The sensor can detect nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, ground level ozone, gases and unpleasant smells.
What’s more, Volvo has gone beyond controlling the incoming air and has employed a team of specialists known as Volvo Cars Nose Team. Their job is to smell the materials that designers and engineers would like to construct interior components from and determine if they let off any unpleasant odours. What many people refer to as the “new car smell” can irritate some; by limiting the amount of material that off-gasses troublesome smells, Volvo hopes to alleviate the suffering of those with such sensitivities.
How bad can these symptoms be? Well on a hot day these emissions can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and even trigger asthma attacks. Because of this Volvo has one last step in controlling the quality of the interior air. When the vehicle is unlocked by the key-fob remotely the air inside the cabin is purged within one minute. This prevents the occupants from having to deal with any stale, hot air dense with chemical emissions.
If you were not impressed with the XC90 before based on just its looks and performance; perhaps knowing a bit more about the lengths the company has gone to protect its customers in every possible way will sway you. Volvo has the aim of preventing anyone from being killed or seriously injured in any of its vehicles by the year 2020. This seems like a nice aspiration, but nearly impossible. However, if any company can accomplish this goal, my money would be on Volvo.
型号 Model: 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription
顏色 Paint Type: Onyx Black Metallic ($800)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $66,800
試車售價 Price as Tested: $79,500
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,984
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,950 / 2,140 / 1,775
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,993
引擎 Engine: 2.0 Litre, In-line 4-Cylinder Supercharged and Turbocharged
最大馬力 Horsepower: 320 hp @ 5,700 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 - 5,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double Wishbone Suspension, Coil Springs, Hydraulic Shock Absorbers, Stabilizer Bar. Optional Air Suspension
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Integral Axle with Transverse Composite Leaf Spring, Hydraulic Shock Absorbers, Stabilizer Bar. Optional Air Suspension
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 11.5 / 9.5 / 10.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 275/40R21