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How Swede it is: Volvo's luxury offering

While most of the amenities in the XC90 Excellence are awarded to rear passengers, Volvo's dash-mounted Sensus infotainment system – with its sleek 9-inch, tablet-like touch screen – is an excellent reason to drive or call “shotgun” in the Excellence.

Since its introduction a year ago, the latest generation Volvo XC90 SUV has been a favorite among the motoring and mothering press alike (Good Housekeeping magazine’s best new luxury crossover). Now, in its ongoing effort to gain bona fide luxury credibility, the Swedish brand best known for safety and understated design is giving its popular SUV’s interior the royal treatment.

As the name suggests, Volvo has dispensed with the modesty for its XC90 Excellence. Ditto for the sticker price: $105,895. That’s more than twice the price of a base XC90 and the first-ever six-figure vehicle in Volvo’s 90-year history. So what do you get for all that cash? Essentially, an interior fit for a king (and queen) and an advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain.
To create the Excellence, Volvo knocked out the standard XC90’s third-row seats (sorry, soccer moms!) in favor of two reclining leather bucket thrones with heating, cooling and massaging functions. Additional niceties include folding tray tables and footrests; a mini fridge; and cup holders with heating and cooling functions. Passengers get to enjoy their drink service while luxuriating amidst buttery napa leather, open-pore wood trim and the sound of an optional 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system.

If all of this sounds reminiscent of riding in, say, a Bentley, that’s no accident. Several years ago, Volvo hired that British ultra-luxury brand’s chief interior designer to catapult its cabins into first-class territory. The base XC90 – with its delightful crystal glass gear selector and meticulous metal switchgear – was a convincing bellwether of Volvo’s upper-crust interior aspirations.

Though it is not unique to the Excellence edition, Volvo’s advanced T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain (which debuted in the standard XC90) accounts for another chunk of the six-figure price tag. The system features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that is supercharged and turbocharged, as well as a pair of electric motors. All together, the system is good for a combined output of 400 hp and 472 lb.-ft. of torque and efficiency of 53 MPGe.  

The XC90 Excellence is something of a Hail Mary aimed at luxury SUV stalwart Land Rover, whose extended wheelbase Range Rover models offer comparable rear seating amenities starting around $108,195. However, in its aggressive push to move upmarket, Volvo isn’t forgetting the little people (or their parents): Among a host of possible interior innovations it has previewed is an integrated rear-facing baby seat complete with blanket and diaper storage. Moms rejoice!
:: volvocars.com

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