STOCKHOLM — The Volvo EX90 is the all-electric replacement for the venerable XC90 SUV, and it’s going to be built in South Carolina and starts under $80,000.
Assembled in America and under $80,000 are two critical attributes of the new three-row SUV because they’re both necessary to get the new electric car tax break of up to $7,500. Also a factor is where the raw materials for the battery come from and where the battery itself is assembled. There’s some hand-waving as everyone waits to learn the complex sourcing requirements for the tax credit, but it doesn’t yet matter.
What does matter is the gorgeous new Volvo EX90. An evolution rather than a revolution, it looks something like the regular XC90 and the electric Polestar 2 had a beautiful electric baby. The front grille feels a bit incomplete and bland, but that’s the only complaint I can think of regarding the design.
If you love clean, modern, Swedish design, you’ll adore the EX90. The interior is leather-free, if that matters to you, with gorgeous woolen seats that are far better to look at and touch than you’d imagine. The wood accents on the doors glow thanks to ambient lights placed behind them. The glorious Bowers & Wilkins stereo supports Dolby Atmos and includes speakers in the headrests.
The headlights are outrageous, with a new interpretation of the Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights that have graced modern Volvos for the last half-decade. A series of individual LED modules make up the hammer, but then the “handle” splits in half and opens up like a missile bay on a spaceship to reveal the headlight modules. It’s hard to describe in text, but trust me, it’s mind-bogglingly cool.
Atop the car, like a taxi sign, sits the most exciting part of the EX90: A long-range lidar module from Luminar. The EX90 will be one of the first vehicles to have lidar like this, and it will (eventually) allow the car to drive down the highway without any driver intervention required.
This is a significant leap forward, as most self-driving experts believe lidar is necessary for autonomous driving. It complements several cameras, short-range ultrasonic sensors, and radar modules to keep the EX90 aware of everything around it. That, combined with a ton of onboard compute power from Nvidia, will allow the car to drive itself down the highway while the driver watches YouTube, takes a nap, or responds to emails.
It will be a few years before that technology is ready, but the car will have all the hardware required to make it work. And if anything does go wrong, it will be smart enough to pull over at the side of the road in a safe location.
If you love clean, modern, Swedish design, you’ll adore the EX90.
Volvo is synonymous with safety; if Volvo says the car can safely drive itself, it can. It was the first company to make automatic emergency braking standard in all its vehicles more than a decade-and-a-half ago, after all.
The Swedish carmaker says the EX90 will be “well-equipped” for under $80,000, but I suspect the fully-loaded prototype here in Sweden will run quite a bit higher than that once you load it with options. A six-figure price tag would be appropriate and competitive with the other vehicles in the segment, like the Rivian R1S, the Mercedes EQS SUV, and the upcoming electric Range Rover, which should land around the same time as the EX90.
But this is the one I’m most excited about. With a +300-mile range, a fantastic design, and incredible tech, the Volvo EX90 is the upcoming EV to pine for. I guess that’s why I just placed my (refundable!) deposit for one. Deliveries should start in early 2024.