next flagship will be a sleek, low-set, all-electric SUV with over 400 horsepower and one of the most extensive safety bundles the automotive industry has ever seen. It includes a stunning suite of sensors watching the road and monitoring the driver.
The 2024 Volvo EX90 will start under $80,000, Volvo says, with exact pricing still to come. It arrives early in 2024, but customers will be asked to place their orders late in 2023. Reservations are open now on Volvo’s website.
‘A new era’
Never let anyone tell you Volvo doesn’t know how to woo people. The company launched its newest product with a press conference headlined by a performance from Swedish neo-soul artist Seinabo Sey. Volvo CEO Jim Rowan slow-jammed an introduction over her song, explaining that the company is “proudly Swedish” in his thick Glasgow brogue.
We did not make any of that up. And no, it has nothing to do with the car. But we hope you’d tell us that part first, too.
The EX90, Rowan said, would kick off a new era for Volvo, focused on “new technology, of course, but anchored to our Scandinavian heritage.”
An all-new platform (sort of)
The EX90 rides on an all-new electric car platform — a skateboard-like combination of battery, electric motors, suspension, and steering that fits entirely beneath the floor to maximize cabin space.
It’s the first Volvo built on the new platform, but it might not be the first car to reach showrooms on it. It’s shared with the upcoming Polestar 3 from sister company Polestar.
See: Polestar’s latest is this sleek, stylish, electric SUV. When can you get one?
At launch, Volvo says, the EX90 will come in a single configuration – an all-wheel-drive setup using two electric motors, one per axle. It’s good for 496 horsepower.
Rowan promised a driving range of “up to 600 kilometers,” or about 372 miles. That figure almost certainly comes from European testing. Tests by America’s EPA tend to show much shorter ranges, so we anticipate a final figure under 300 miles.
It features bi-directional charging, enabling it to charge electronics or other EVs or act as a backup power source to a home in a blackout. Volvo says the battery will charge from 10% to 80% in “just about 30 minutes” or gain 180 km (111 miles) of range in just 10 minutes when plugged into a DC fast charger.
Bi-directional charging will eventually allow EVs to pass power back into electric grids. Some electric utilities have launched small-scale demonstration projects that see them paying EV owners to use their cars as distributed energy storage.
Sleek look, eyes that blink
The EX90’s silhouette recognizably evolved from the XC90 3-row SUV. But it looks sleeker and more trim all around, with a more tailored look. It sits lower for aerodynamic reasons.
The wheels include their own aerodynamic touch — removable inserts that cover the bolts and add streamlining. Volvo says they contribute to added range by smoothing airflow but hasn’t revealed what it will cost to replace them if you lose one on an errant curb.
Where the grille would sit on a gasoline-powered car, there’s a smooth expanse of body-colored steel.
Framing it are some utterly unique lighting elements. They’re shaped in the now-signature “Thor’s hammer” pattern of other Volvos — on startup, they even project that pattern on the wall ahead. In the daylight, they’re built of square pixels. But switch the headlights on, and two lines of pixels part horizontally and open to reveal the projector lamps behind them.
It looks eerily like human eyes blinking. Volvo engineers suggested using the “blink” to greet friends.
Read: Americans are buying more luxury cars than ever
So. Many. Sensors.
“Externally,” Rowan said, the EX90 has “16 ultrasonic sensors, five radars, and a new LiDAR system fitted directly to the roofline for maximum visibility.” They’re all standard equipment and used to create a 3D representation of the car’s environment called a “point cloud” for the car’s driver assistance systems.
The LiDAR, Rowan promised, “sees 250 meters [about 820 feet] in complete darkness” and can spot small objects and potholes to avoid. It doesn’t power the Level 3 autonomous driving system Volvo says it’s working on. But it does feed into automatic emergency braking, emergency steering assist, and other accident-avoidance technology.
Volvo engineers believe the system, conservatively, can prevent one in 10 crashes and minimize the impact of five in 10.
The sensors also point inside.
A new “driver understanding system” uses cameras and radar inside the car to detect “driver drowsiness, intoxication, and even illness,” Rowan said. “It’ll alert you, first softly nudging, then more insistent,” if necessary, Volvo says. “And if the unthinkable happens, and you fall asleep or are taken ill while driving, the Volvo EX90 is designed to safely stop and call for help.”
The same sensors power a rear-seat detection system. Volvo says it’s so sensitive that it will detect a baby sleeping under a blanket in the back seat. If you accidentally leave a child or pet in the car, it will alert you and not allow you to lock it.
Minimalist cabin with first-of-its-kind lighting
The cabin of the EX90 builds on Volvo’s traditionally sparse-but-elegant design style. Designers said the spare style was inspired by the scarcity of light in the Swedish landscape, encouraging them to do more with less.
A 14.5-inch central touchscreen controls entertainment and information functions. It runs on Google
built-in, with Google’s voice assistant taking vocal commands.
The dashboard includes backlit illuminated wood trim – a feature we’ve seen demonstrated before, but this may be its first appearance on a production car. In the daylight, it looks like normal wood trim. In darkness, lights shine through it in a diamond pattern.
The cabin is leather-free, Volvo says, with sustainable surfaces throughout, including 48 kilograms (105 pounds) of recycled materials.
Spatially optimized audio embeds tweeters in the seat headrests.
In a convenient touch, designers etched a “will it fit?” guide into the liftgate, illustrating how to place some common items to maximize cargo space.
Also see: The handsome 2023 Audi Q4 e-tron EV is a joy on the road, and works magic with cargo space
The EX90 enters a crowded space. Many rivals have introduced luxury SUVs this year, from the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV to the new Audi Q8 e-tron. But it offers some unique features we haven’t seen before, including the most extensive suite of sensors on the market.
We’ll bring impressions of what it’s like to drive with their help as soon as we get the chance.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.