USED: The 2020 Volvo XC90 Luxury 3 Row SUV Just Got More Elegant

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

How is that possible? Keep reading.

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” —Coco Chanel

That might have been the style dictate for the new 2020 Volvo XC90, too. As it has from the start of its reinvention a few years ago, the XC90 embodies a chic ‘je ne sais quoi’ design philosophy that draws us to it over and over. Design that is never more than it needs to be, that satisfies our creature comfort needs, that forms function into graceful elegance, that sets it apart from other SUVs.

So, What Is Different With This Refreshed Design ?

The XC90 isn’t so much redesigned for the 2020 year as it is refreshed; there are a few new additions, or perhaps, subtractions, that advance this luxury 3-row SUV in its design journey. 

“Swedish design isn’t just an aesthetic,” T. Jon Mayer, head of design for Volvo Cars, explained. It’s an ideal, an approach. It’s a feeling. As in, the XC90’s designers felt that certain things needed to be done and they did them. Some of the changes were due to customer feedback — and that’s a great thing— but the way they did them were driven by their own internal design compass, organic and rooted in who drives their cars and where they’re driven.

Related: Volvo wants you to be a customer for life, and this is what they’ll do for you

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

The rear seats folded in the Volvo XC90 shows the ample space between the second row captains chairs which create an open, airy cabin. ?Scotty Reiss

The Result? An Even More ‘Volvo’ Aesthetic

The 2020 Volvo XC90 is a bit more elegant, a bit more refined and a bit more loaded for the price, which starts at about $48,000, is nicely outfitted for about $56,000 and tops out at about $87,000. Here are some of the new changes—many of them standard—you’ll see in the 2020 model:

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

The concave grille on the 2020 Volvo XC90. ?Scotty Reiss

A Concave Front Grille That’ll Remind You of Your Pre-Baby Belly

You remember your concave belly. Even after a night of drinking beer and munching on grilled cheese, it had a gentle inward curve and you wore it with pride and pleasure. Then came love, babies and bad eating habits that stretched it out, changing forever its concave grace no matter the crunches and barre work (not that you’d trade the love, the babies or the queso!).

Well, now you can boast a concave belly, just this time, on the front face of the Volvo XC90. The shiny grille still features the Volvo badge attached to a slash of chrome, but behind it is the slotted, slightly inward curved grille. It’s hard stop gazing at it, it’s that gorgeous.

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

Center row captains chairs are now an option in the 2020 Volvo XC90. ?Scotty Reiss

Sculptural Center Row Captains Chairs That Beg to be Relaxed In

Some chairs just beg to be sat in. Like the slipper chairs at Restoration Hardware. Or the pin tucked daybeds at Prada. Or every chair at Design Within Reach. You’re inspired to sit and relax and soak in the vibe.

That is the impact of Volvo’s center row captains chairs. Yes, we know center row captains chairs well, the modern miracles of 3-row SUVs that keep passengers happily in their own space, that create a natural pathway to third row, that open up the cabin for conversation. 

But rarely are they sculpture. Volvo’s captains chairs, added to the XC90 for the first time, are the result of customer research and feedback. They continue the elegant design lines of the front seats: thin and tall with a modern silhouette and made of supportive leather that welcomes your gaze, and then, supports your frame.

Adding to the sculptured look is the lack of arm rests. This might be a controversial detail, and for us the jury is still out. On the one hand, the overall look and feel is so much better without the arm rests: They don’t block passage to the third row and they don’t take away from the sculpted look of the seats. But, time will tell if passengers miss them. Or, not.

Related: Why the Volvo XC90 makes the carpool line less painful

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

Interior details include wood trim, chrome and blonde leather. ?Scotty Reiss

Blonde Leather Upholstery

We are unabashed fans of cream colored leather. So is Volvo. We both encourage you to take the risk: Commit to regular cleanings. Learn to appreciate  the burnish of well-worn cream leather. Restrict what passengers are allowed to bring into the car. You’ll appreciate it on every dark, cloudy day; on the bright days that seem to glow with happiness in you car; when you hop in to a friend’s car and the heat is stifling—your car never gets that hot (because white reflects the light, whereas dark colors absorb it). You’ll appreciate it. And, those sculptural seats? They look much better in blonde.

Related: How does the BMW X7 stand up to the XC90? Take a look! 

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

The gear selector in the Inscription trim is carved from Orrefors crystal. ?Scotty Reiss

Orrefors Crystal Jewelry

We LOVED this in the XC60 and are thrilled to see it come to the XC90. This gear shift is like a piece of jewelry for your hand. You’ll delight in putting the car into gear just to touch it. If you’d think of buying a cocktail ring for daily wear just because you love it, this is a splurge you shouldn’t pass up (though it’s available only in the top of the line T8 edition of the XC 90).

Related: The Lincoln Aviator is the newest entry to the luxury 3 row SUV competition; how does it hold up? 

2020 Volvo Xc90 3 Row Suv

The Birch Metallic Paint on the Volvo XC90 has a chameleon effect: sometimes it looks beige, other times it looks gray, always, it looks beautiful. ?Scotty Reiss

Birch Metallic Paint

We were fans of this color when it made its debut on the V60 wagon. And now, this elegant, sometimes taupe, sometimes beige, sometimes with green undertones, that sometimes shimmers at just the right angle, is available on the XC90. And it’s gorgeous.

Related: How does the Cadillac XT6 compare to the XC90? Here’s our take

What We Love

  • auto braking
  • driver assist features
  • 12 inch touchscreen
  • roof rails
  • beautiful luxe design
  • gorgeous upholstery
  • comfort and convenience

More Standard Features Than Ever

It starts with that awesome 12” touch screen system: it’s like an oversized iPad attached to the dashboard and it does everything. Everything. And now it’s standard, so no matter which Volvo XC 90 you go for, you get this.

And, roof rails. These are a must for families who ski or vacation in off-the-beaten path places. After all, you have to load your bikes and snowboards somewhere.

And, enhanced driver assist features have been added, including auto braking added to pedestrian cross-traffic detection and a vibrating steering wheel alert that lets you know that the car has detected changes in traffic and shifted from pilot assist to adaptive cruise control.

The technology, too, carries that ‘je ne sais quois’ appeal; you don’t know it until you need it and when you discover it, it comforts and calms you, just as great design should.

Disclosure: I was Volvo’s guest for the introduction of the new 2020 XC90; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss