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May 30, 2016

7 Design Details to Love in the All-New Volvo XC90

The all-new XC90 represents the paragon in Volvo design and engineering. It’s also one car that’s filled to the brim with all sorts of interesting design details which would otherwise go unnoticed. In fact, it’s so well-made and so clever that other luxury vehicles begin to look pale in comparison to this impressive 7-seater.

And while you’re waiting for our verdict on the XC90 (our review will be up soon), here are seven design details we absolutely love (and you might miss) in this all-new Volvo flagship SUV.

1. Thor’s Hammer Headlights

Volvo is certainly embracing its Scandinavian heritage with the all-new XC90 and that starts with the headlights. Called “Thor’s Hammer headlights”, the XC90’s LED daytime running lights do look like the Norse god (or Marvel superhero)’s weapon of choice. The same pattern also serves as the signal lights as the white LEDs are replaced by amber ones.

More than just a styling cue, the Thor’s Hammer headlights provide utmost safety at night thanks to its Active Bending Light (ABL) technology. When activated, the headlight beams adjust laterally to help light up a curve according to the movement of the steering wheel. Apart from ABL, the XC90 is also equipped with automatic high-beam assist (which toggles between low- and high-beams automatically) and even cornering lights courtesy of its LED front fog lights.

2. The New Volvo Badge

Beginning with the all-new XC90, Volvo will be brandishing a new logo treatment. The familiar Volvo iron mark—the round badge with the protruding arrow—now lines up with the brand’s signature diagonal grille slat. It’s definitely a cleaner look compared to before.

3. Non-Blinding Windshield Washers

How often do we get blinded by the spray of our very own windshield washers? Supposed to contribute to improved visibility by helping the wipers get rid of mud and grime, they can also temporarily block or impede vision because of that split-second between the spray and the wipe.

Volvo’s solution is to incorporate the washers to the front wiper assembly. And that’s not all; the washers aren’t aimed at the windshield, but at the wiper itself. For a moment, you’ll actually think the washers are broken, but in reality, the jets of water are wiped as quickly as the wiper moves up. This makes for a clean windshield with no temporary moment of blindness.

4. It Flies the Swedish Flag

It’ll likely go unnoticed but there’s a fingernail-sized Swedish flag label stitched on the XC90’s front passenger seat. The Swedes may have pioneered minimalist design, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be proud of their heritage.

5. The Seatbelt Buckle Looks Different

You take them for granted now, but it’s hard to believe that Volvo pioneered the three-point seatbelt. Realizing that two-point waist restraints were actually doing more harm than good, Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented a seatbelt that fits over the driver’s torso as well as his or her lap. This was in 1959. Volvo could have netted a huge profit in patents for this technology alone and yet, realizing it was too important to keep for themselves, decided to open up the patent.

Bohlin died in 2002 after being inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, but his invention has managed to save more than a million lives around the world. His legacy and invention lives through the XC90’s seatbelt buckle that inscribes this inventive feat.

6. Frameless Auto Dimming Rear Mirror

The concept of a frameless rear view mirror is nothing new; after all, a mainstream Japanese sports coupe has one. Those precious few millimeters of additional mirror space does wonders to improve rear visibility. Of course, Volvo has gone further and introduced auto dimming technology into theirs. Along with auto dimming side view mirrors, it reduces unwanted glare, especially from those pesky pickup trucks with improperly aligned LED light bars. What’s more, the amount of dim is adjustable via the Sensus system.

7. There’s a Spider in the Bin!

Kids are often relegated to the third row seats which could illicit lots of, “Are we there yet?” moments. For a few minutes though, the XC90 can be an entertaining place because of a hidden Easter Egg they could find: a spider in the storage bin! Normally, these injection-molded plastics aren’t paid any attention, but Volvo has come up with a novel concept by adding a spider web with matching cartoony spider into theirs.

More than just a cool Easter Egg, it also symbolizes the XC90’s “spider web”-like third row. With families being the main target buyer of the XC90, Volvo has paid close attention to make sure kids survive even after a heavy rear impact. The seats themselves do not only offer good knee room, but they’re also reinforced to take whatever makes it through the car’s rear-end protection. They also come with fixed headrests, seatbelts with pre-tensioners, and curtain airbags that extend all the way to the back.


  1. I love the passion they put into it. Hope it sells well. The brand is very underrated.

    1. in our country yes, but in other countries, volvo is well praised. their older wagons are like tanks.
      If I had the money, Id buy this instead of the toyota land cruiser or lexus lx570 which would 99.99% of its life will never go off-road.

  2. What's the srp of the xc90? Last i heard it was going to be around 5 - 7M.


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