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Volvo’s Scandinavian Adventure

Frank Washington | 9/30/2019, 9:18 p.m.
BANFF, Alberta, Canada, — We came here to see some of the product highlights that Volvo has planned for the ...

BANFF, Alberta, Canada, — We came here to see some of the product highlights that Volvo has planned for the 2020 model year. We also heard about how the company is doing. The short story is that sales are up in the U.S. even though the market is down from last year. Global sales are up too.

The name of the auto game is product, product, and product. And Volvo has been rolling out top notch vehicles for the last four years. You need look no further than the new crossovers, sedans and wagons the company has been churning out to pinpoint the cause of its sales increase.

Specifically, we were going to drive the new XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered, the new Volvo V60 Cross Country and the refreshed 2020 Volvo T8 Twin Engine Plug-In Hybrid. It had 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque.

Among the tweaks for the XC90 was a new color, Birch Light Metallic, and third row seats. Depending on the second row configuration, the 2020 XC90 can now be configured for four, six or seven passengers.

Volvo staffers said the addition was made because American consumers wanted a third row. And Volvo promised easy access to that row. Alas, we just didn’t get the chance to check it out; even though the XC90 T8 was the first vehicle we put on the road. We had the six-seat model.

Volvo had a pretty long list of tweaks for the XC90 in the upcoming model year. Among them were a new concave front grille design, restyled front and rear bumpers, a new gloss black theme for the R-Design trim and all new wheel designs.

Volvo said the electric motor sits on the rear axle of the T8s and provides 87 hp driving the rear wheels. The placement allows room for a large electric motor, which is useful in stop-and-go city traffic. The rear placement also makes all-wheel drive more efficient by providing the rear axle with an independent power source.

The XC90 T8 comes with what Volvo calls a TurboCord, which is a dual voltage (110v & 220v) charging cable. This allows customers to charge at home using a standard 110v or 220v wall outlet. The flexibility of the vehicle’s industry standard J1772 connectors means customers can recharge their vehicle at thousands of public charging stations. With a 200v power source, the T8 can fully recharge in 2.5 hours.

We started our test drive in the 2020 XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription. This crossover was super smooth. It was quiet and it seemingly glided down the road. At first we thought there was too much power for the wide openness of the roads here. Then a colleague said it wasn’t the power, it was that the speed limits were too low.

Although we didn’t know it initially but we were on the Trans-Canada Highway, at almost 5,000 miles long it spans the country from east to west. And in this area it was straight with gentle curves and hills but relatively flat, even though we were in the Canadian Rockies.