Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90: Here’s how they compare

  • New 7-seat electric SUV to be made in America
  • To be priced very competitively, from under USD 80,000
  • Expected to deliver a maximum EPA-est. range of around 300 miles
  • Reservations open; deliveries start in early 2024

The highly anticipated Volvo EX90 is finally here, and it offers American customers a pure electric alternative to the XC90 which is available with mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options. Here’s a detailed comparison of the two family SUVs.

Design

Evolutionary approach

The Volvo XC90 enjoys a reputation as a proper family SUV with conventional proportions, but the EV era calls for softer designs that provide better aerodynamic efficiency. The Volvo EX90 sports a more streamlined and technical-looking exterior than the XC90.

Volvo Cars has lowered the front and the roof instead of creating heavy aero like rival companies, including Mercedes-Benz and Tesla, for its large electric SUV. Featuring a conventional silhouette similar to the XC90, the EX90 doesn’t cut through air very efficiently. The drag coefficient is 0.29 Cd, which is an improvement of just 0.01 Cd from the XC90. Mercedes-Benz’s EQE SUV and EQS SUV are far more aerodynamic, having Cd values of 0.25 and 0.26, respectively.

Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90 front three quarter
The Volvo EX90 looks more like an evolution of the XC90 than a whole new SUV, and that’s not a bad thing! Image Source: Volvo Cars

Lights & grille

While the EX90 isn’t a radical departure from the XC90, it has many distinguishing design elements. The headlamps are T-shaped, slimmer units, and the Thor’s Hammer signature is more clearly visible in its daytime running lights. Moreover, the EX90 has high-definition 1.3-megapixel lights.

Until now, we’ve seen luxury EVs featuring headlamps with cool animation and projection functions. Looking at the EX90’s XC90-ish design, most wouldn’t expect it, but it raises the bar in this aspect. The horizontal segments of DRLs of its headlamps rise up and fold back to theatrically reveal the main lights (low- and high-beam lights). This function, replicating the look of the opening of eyes, gives the EX90 a human touch, a life-like appearance basically.

The headlamps have an individual vertical extension below, which Robin Page, Head of Global Design & UX, Volvo Cars, says symbolizes the lightning strike of swirling Thor’s Hammer. All in all, compared to the XC90, the EX90’s headlamps have a futuristic design, and more importantly, they make driving safer.

Unlike the XC90, the EX90 has a clean shield instead of a traditional upper grille. The hood seems to have been positioned lower, while the bumper is smoother. Unlike the XC90, the EX90 has no side air inlets.

Simple and clean lines

Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90 side profile
The Volvo EX90’s exterior dimensions are very similar to those of the XC90. Image Source: Volvo Cars

On the sides, thanks to the greater rise in the beltline, the EX90 looks a little more dynamic than the XC90. The 22-inch wheels give the EX90 a strong yet highly sophisticated road presence, but don’t represent a size upgrade from the XC90. They’re more aerodynamic by design, though, featuring inserts that reduce the air turbulence around them (and cover their bolts). The door handles, unlike on the old SUV, are flush-fitted and pop out electronically when activated. Overall, it’s a fancy side profile, but not particularly an impressive one with a wow factor.

The rear-end of the EX90 has a very familiar look. It has subtle refinements over the XC90 here. The back glass, in addition to being shorter in height, is squarer, which is why it visually separates itself from the rest of the tailgate more neatly. The vertical combination lamps have been split into two parts. The upper part is a segmented, technical-looking, and vertically stacked light strip positioned on the flanks of the back glass. The lower part is a C-shaped light bracketing a concave portion on the middle area of the tailgate.

Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90 rear three quarter
The Volvo EX90 is a little more aerodynamic than the XC90, with a drag coefficient of 0.29 Cd (XC90: 0.30 Cd)

On the top, there’s an unusual bump, which is to integrate a LiDAR sensor from Luminar. Volvo Cars plans the EX90 with this equipment as standard, which means that every unit it sells will be hardware-ready for fully autonomous driving with Highway Pilot. That might not be the case right from launch, though, but more on that later.

Interior

The Volvo EX90 features a futuristic, lounge-style interior with a low-profile dashboard, a giant 15-inch freestanding portrait touchscreen, a sleek and compact instrument cluster, and a detached center console. The smaller footprint of the dashboard, steering wheel, and instrument cluster, the thin and wide, car-like form factor of first-row AC vents, and various other more modern interior design bits help the EX90 make a clear distinction from the XC90. Its roots are immediately visible, though, as the layout is similar.

Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90 interior dashboard
The Volvo EX90’s interior features a more contemporary design and many new sustainable materials which are unavailable in the XC90. Image Source

Android Automotive OS powers the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play are built-in. Android Automotive OS is a part of an umbrella of operating systems, called VolvoCars.OS. Page says that the instrument cluster and infotainment system of the EX90 provides two and a half times the operating speed compared to today’s car (XC90). The infotainment system features wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, 5G, and over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Volvo Cars has teamed up with Epic Games to use Unreal Engine to develop the HMI of its next-gen cars. The 3D creation tool’s application goes beyond games, including automotive electronics. Unreal Engine gets computing power from the third-gen Snapdragon Cockpit Platforms. As a result, customers will experience much sharper renderings, richer colors, and all-new 3D animations in the Volvo EX90.

Premium and Sustainable Materials

The EX90 offers the experience of Scandinavian simplicity in a contemporary way with premium and sustainable materials. Volvo Cars has used FSC-certified wood panels back-lit with warm light on the passenger-side dashboard and other places and Nordico (a bio-resin made from Pine and recycled materials including plastic) or Sativa-certified wool blend seat upholstery (optional), and base and inlay carpets partly consisting of regenerated polyamide.

In total, there are almost 50 kg of recycled plastics and bio-based materials in the EX90, the highest amount of non-primary fossil-based materials in any Volvo. There are seven options of “rooms,” which are combinations of decor, upholstery, and exterior colors. Interior color options include many light options for a calming yet energizing feeling.

Specifications

Without going into details, Jim Rowan, Volvo Cars’ new President and CEO, says that the Volvo EX90 sits on a brand-new platform that allows for maximum energy storage capacity and maximum stability. Formally, Volvo Cars isn’t establishing any connection with the XC90’s SPA platform. Rowan says that the designing and development of the EX90’s new inverters, new motors, and new battery management system took place in-house.

Dimensions

The EX90 measures 5,037 mm (198.3 in.) in length, 1,964 mm (77.3 in.) in width, and 1,744 mm (68.7 in.) in height and has a 2,985 mm (117.5 in.) wheelbase. In comparison, the U.S.-spec XC90 measures 4,953 mm (195.0 in.) in length, 1,923 mm (75.7 in.) in width and 1,776 mm (69.9 in.) in height and has a 2,984 mm (117.4 in.) wheelbase.

The nearly identical wheelbase is another indicator that the EX90’s platform is related to the XC90’s SPA platform, not a brand-new one as officially claimed, at least not technically. Seven seats are standard in the electric SUV.

DimensionVolvo EX90 MeasurementVolvo XC90 Measurement
Length5,037 mm (198.3 in.)4,953 mm (195.0 in.)
Width1,964 mm (77.3 in.)1,923 mm (75.7 in.)
Height1,744 mm (68.7 in.)1,776 mm (69.9 in.)
Wheelbase2,985 mm (117.5 in.)2,984 mm (117.4 in.)
Cargo Space (second- and third-row seats up)365 liters (12.9 cu. ft.)356 liters (12.6 cu. ft.)
Cargo Space (third-row seats folded)1,010 liters (35.7 cu. ft.)1,007 liters (35.6 cu. ft.)
Cargo Space (second- and third-row seats folded)1,915 liters (67.6 cu. ft.)1,856 liters (65.5 cu. ft.)
Frunk37 liters (1.3 cu. ft.)Not Available
Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90 – Dimensions (Source: Volvo Cars)

Performance

Volvo Cars has installed two permanent magnet synchronous motors with dual-clutch technology for improved efficiency and torque vectoring capabilities in the EX90. The EX90’s twin-motor powertrain is front-biased, meaning motive power comes from the front motor, not the rear unit. This makes us doubt Volvo Cars developed the platform from scratch as it claims by calling it “brand-new.” If you didn’t know it yet, the XC90’s SPA is also a FWD platform.

The EX90 starts on the front motor by default, but it can use both motors if the driver applies more throttle for a greater drive off the line. Thus, normally, the rear motor activates when there’s a need for more power. It consists of a torque vectoring/declutch unit that allows disengaging itself and reducing energy consumption when not required. A ‘Constant AWD’ setting is available to keep the rear motor also functioning at all times.

Volvo Cars offers the EX90 in Twin Motor and Twin Motor Performance variants. The Twin Motor variant draws 300 kW (402 hp) and 568 lb.-ft. of torque from the motors, while the Twin Motor Performance variant extracts 370 kW (496 hp) and 671 lb.-ft. of torque. The former takes 5.7 seconds for a 0-60 mph sprint, while the latter can do the same in 4.7 seconds. The top speed is the same, though – 112 mph. Volvo Cars has equipped the EX90 with one-pedal driving technology.

Battery & Charging

The Volvo EX90 has a 17-module, 107 kWh battery pack sourced from CATL. Volvo Cars expects it to deliver 600 km (373 miles) in the Twin Motor variant and 590 km (367 miles) in the Twin Motor Performance variant in Europe. In the U.S., the company expects the EPA-est. range of the Twin Motor variant to be 482 km (300 miles), but it hasn’t disclosed the targeted EPA-est. range of the Twin Motor Performance variant.

Fully charging the EX90’s battery pack on alternating current at the maximum rate, which is 11 kW, takes 11 hours. 250 kW is the maximum supported DC charging power, and at that rate, charging from 0 to 80% SoC takes just 30 minutes.

Bi-directional charging

Volvo EX90 bidirectional charging teaser
Bi-directional charging is possible in the EX90. Customers can use it for vehicle-to-home (V2H), vehicle-to-load (V2L), vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications. Image Source: Volvo Cars

The Volvo EX90 is the brand’s first model to feature bi-directional charging. Customers can power their homes, devices, and appliances, charge other EVs, and supply electricity to the grid using the energy stored in their EX90’s high-voltage battery pack.

Aspect\SpecificationVolvo EX90 Twin MotorVolvo EX90 Twin Motor Performance
Drivetrain LayoutAWDAWD
No. of MotorsTwoTwo
Motor Type3-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor3-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
Combined Power370 kW (402 hp)300 kW (495 hp)
Combined Torque568 lb.-ft.671 lb.-ft.
0-60 mph Acceleration Time5.7 seconds4.7 seconds
Top Speed112 mph112 mph
Battery Pack Capacity (Net)107 kWh107 kWh
Max. AC Charging Power11 kW11 kW
AC Charging Time (0-100% SoC)11 hours11 hours
Max. DC Charging Power250 kW250 kW
DC Charging Time (0-80% SoC)30 minutes30 minutes
WLTP Range (Preliminary)600 km (373 miles)590 km (367 miles)
EPA-est. Range (Preliminary)482 km (300 miles)To Be Announced
Volvo EX90 vs. Volvo XC90 – Specifications (Source: Volvo Cars)

Safety & driver assistance

Sensors

The Volvo EX90 excels every Volvo so far on safety. 30 sensors, including a LiDAR sensor, eight cameras, 16 ultrasonic sensors, and five radars, create a 360-degree real-time view of the surroundings. In addition to providing high-level passive safety, these sensors enable autonomous driving once Volvo Cars’ safety verifications are in place and it has received all necessary approvals.

Volvo EX90 sensors teaser
30 sensors will keep checking the Volvo EX90’s surroundings while driving. Image Source: Volvo Cars

The LiDAR sensor sees small objects hundreds of meters ahead. Planned to be standardized over time (at a later stage), this technology can see something as dark and small as a tire on a black road 120 meters ahead. It can detect pedestrians from up to 250 meters away. All this is possible while the EV is traveling at highway speeds.

The LiDAR sensor is no marketing gimmick; it can make a difference in real-world situations. According to the Swedish automaker’s research, it can reduce accidents with severe outcomes by up to 20% and improve overall crash avoidance by up to 9%. According to Joachim de Verdier, the company’s head of Safe Vehicle Automation, the Volvo EX90 is the safest Volvo car ever launched.

Occupant sensing

Volvo EX90 occupant sensing interior radar system teaser
The Volvo EX90 has sensors in the cabin and trunk to detect occupants and ensure nobody gets left behind. Image Source: Volvo Cars

The EX90 features a world-first interior radar system, ensuring nobody, especially a child or a pet, is left behind, neither in the cabin space nor in the trunk. There are sensors integrated into the overhead console, the roof-mounted reading lamps, and — get this — the trunk!

The interior radar system comes into life every time the driver locks the vehicle and checks for any people or pets left behind before the vehicle applies the locks. In case it detects someone left inside, the vehicle remains unlocked and displays a reminder to check the cabin for occupants on the touchscreen infotainment system. Moreover, the climate system remains turned on to keep the person or pet from the risk of heatstroke or hypothermia.

Driver understanding system

In addition to the surroundings, the Volvo EX90 is intelligent enough to assess the driver’s state. A real-time interior sensing system that can help the EV understand when the driver is not in an optimal state for driving and take the necessary action as a precaution is part of the standard equipment.

Volvo EX90 Driver Understanding system teaser
Two cameras constantly monitor the driver’s condition to check for signs of distraction and drowsiness. Image Source: Volvo Cars

The driver understanding system consists of two cameras and a capacitive steering wheel. The cameras measure how much of the time the driver looks at the road ahead and look for any signs of cognitive distraction. The captive steering wheel senses if the driver lets their hands off it. The system gives warnings in progressive intensity, and if the driver doesn’t respond, it brings the Volvo EX90 to a complete halt by the side of the road.

Ride Pilot

The Volvo EX90 features Ride Pilot, a new unsupervised autonomous driving feature. Volvo Cars will offer Ride Pilot initially only in California. The company plans to sell this feature as an add-on subscription, which means customers in other states and countries will be able to activate it later when it becomes available there. Volvo Cars could offer optional packs for enabling the EX90’s premium ADAS functions, including those for autonomous driving.

The new EV’s Level 3 autonomous driving capability allows customers to relax and enjoy their highway trips with their hands off the steering wheel. They can read, socialize, write, or work and better use their time. The software required for the autonomous driving system to work is a collaborative effort of Zenseact, Volvo Cars, and Luminar.

Production

Production of the U.S.-spec Volvo EX90 will take place at Volvo Cars’ local plant in Charleston (Ridgeville), South Carolina. The company will start making the new electric SUV’s first customer delivery units in 2023, most likely in the fourth quarter of the year.

Release date & Price

The Volvo EX90 is available to pre-order, and these customers will be able to configure it in fall 2023. Volvo Cars plans to launch the EX90 at under USD 80,000 and commence deliveries in early 2024. The Swedish automaker is undercutting rivals like the BMW iX (USD 84,100 onwards) and the Tesla Model X (USD 120,990 onwards) by a wide margin. The XC90 mild-hybrid costs USD 56,000 (plus USD 1,095 destination fee) onwards, while the XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid’s prices start at USD 71,900 (plus USD 1,095 destination fee).

Future Volvo electric car models

Volvo Cars has confirmed the launch of five new EVs to its North and South American dealers, as per a report from Automotive News. The company expects to sell around 20,000 units of the Volvo EX90, the inaugural model, in 2023.

Another future Volvo EV will be an electric crossover with the project name Volvo V546. Volvo Cars will position it, from 2025, between the XC60 and XC90, perhaps as the Volvo XC70 EV equivalent. The company expects to sell about 100,000 units of the model, the production of which will take place in the U.S. and China. An all-electric replacement for the Volvo XC60 (Volvo EX60) and a new EV positioned below the XC40 (Volvo EX30) are also in the pipeline. The fifth model is still a mystery, but it could be a sedan/cross coupe.

TopElectricSUV says

The Volvo EX90 looks to be a well thought-out family car from Europe, offering many new advanced safety and driver assistance features, strong performance, low energy consumption, long range, and plenty of connectivity features, all in a way Americans generally like: with superb comfort and spacious three-row seating.

Volvo EX90 FAQs

What is the Volvo EX90 release date?

The Volvo EX90 will reach dealers in America in early 2024.

What is the expected Volvo EX90 price?

Volvo Cars will price the Volvo EX90 competitively under USD 80,000.

Which are the probable Volvo EX90 competitors?

Audi Q8 e-tron, Mercedes EQE SUV & BMW iX are the rivals of the Volvo EX90, but none of them offer three-row seating.

Images in the story are courtesy of Volvo Cars.