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In-depth reviews

Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 hybrid review

The Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 is a plug-in hybrid SUV with decent performance, seven-seat practicality and over 40 miles' electric running capability

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol

Pros

  • Strong performance for an SUV
  • Great family practicality
  • Upmarket appeal

Cons

  • Engine refinement could be better
  • Some rivals have longer electric range
  • Economy is quite poor on long journeys
Car typeElectric range Fuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid42-44 miles118-217mpg28-34g/km

In late 2022, Volvo unveiled its all-new, all-electric flagship – the seven-seat EX90 – which is due on sale later this year. But that doesn't mean the hugely popular XC90 is going away anytime soon, especially the plug-in hybrid version of the sensible but stylish seven-seater which is sticking around for a little while yet.

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The combination of a petrol engine and electric motor allows owners to reduce running costs by running on electric power only for shorter trips when needed. The 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine is fairly efficient already, and smaller than those used in rivals such as the BMW X5 xDrive45e, Mercedes GLE 350 de, new Range Rover Sport PHEV and Lexus RX 450h+. Clever tuning means the XC90 Recharge’s smaller engine still delivers plenty of performance regardless.

Volvo quotes a range of up to 44 miles on electric power alone, although around 25 is more realistic. This is thanks to an 18.8kWh battery and 143bhp electric motor. This supports the petrol engine in the default 'Hybrid' driving mode, where there’s a combined 448bhp on offer for a rapid 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds.

It would be uncouth to outpace hot hatchbacks away from traffic lights, as the XC90 is much more about relaxing progress and easy motorway driving. The plentiful performance means that it's really easy to drive smoothly whether you're threading down a country road or navigating the city. 

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It's best to decide whether the XC90 will suit your needs based on whether you have easy access to a power socket at home and do mostly short journeys to make the most of the electric running. Longer trips that rely heavily on the petrol engine will see the plug-in XC90 return only 25-30mpg.

There are still plenty of reasons to pick the big Volvo, though. While it's a little less practical than its petrol or diesel-engined siblings, the XC90 is one of very few seven-seat plug-in hybrids on sale, so between that, the huge boot, a decent towing capacity of 2,400kg and very respectable off-road capability, it's easily one of the most utilitarian plug-in cars you can buy, and it's a superb family car by any standard.

There's 262 litres of boot space even in seven-seat mode, increasing to 640 litres in five-seat form. The charging cables can be stored in the shallow underfloor boot space, but you have to pack neatly to get them in. Fold all the seats down and the Volvo is cavernous, with a total of 1,856 litres of boot room. There’s no drawback in terms of passenger space, though; it's identical to the regular XC90 thanks to clever packaging of the battery in the 'spine' of the car, while all trim levels offered with this Recharge T8 get plenty of kit.

The XC90 Recharge was originally offered in the higher Plus and Ultimate trims, but is now also available in the lower-spec Core guise. Core cars are well-equipped, and get a power-assisted tailgate, partial-leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, nine-inch tablet infotainment system with sat-nav, a 12.3-inch digital dial display, excellent safety technology (which you can read more about later in our review) and LED headlights.

Plus gets features such as adaptive headlights, LED foglights, larger 20-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree parking camera, and an uprated Harman Kardon sound system. Ultimate is the top trim level, with 21-inch alloy wheels, a different interior trim and an upgraded Bowers and Wilkins sound system, along with air suspension and a head-up display among a few other upgrades.

Eight years after this generation of XC90 was introduced, it's still an excellent SUV, especially if you're after seven seats. It's super-refined in electric mode, and even when the petrol engine kicks in, it's still a really quiet and comfortable car while cruising. Though the optional air suspension is worth considering as it gives the XC90 a cushy, loping ride comfort even on bigger wheels. For a more detailed look at the Volvo XC90 Recharge, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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