About that headline: The 2022 Volvo XC 90 Recharge T8 Inscription is in no way a compromise. It's an excellent, beautiful and beautifully-built vehicle. More on that later.
The compromise to which I refer is that of the PHEV---the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. And I'm saying "compromise" in a good way, not as a pejorative. As in, this is the solution for people who want to stop using nothing but fossil fuels to propel their vehicles, but don't feel ready to make the leap to a pure BEV---battery electric vehicle. PHEVs are gasoline/electric hybrids that use gasoline when necessary, boost performance with electricity, deliver better fuel economy as a result and---have a place to plug in. The benefit there is that, unlike straight hybrids like the Toyota Prius, the PHEV has a certain amount of pure electric range that it uses before switching to the gasoline/electric hybrid. For those miles, you are driving a pure electric, for all intents and purposes---using not a drop of gasoline and putting not a single particle of tailpipe emissions into the air. When you use up those miles, unlike an EV, the car keeps going, because the hybrid gasoline/electric powerplant seamlessly takes over.
Up until this year, Volvo's PHEVs had a fairly limited pure electric range per charge of 18 miles. For 2022, they've doubled that to 36. That's an EPA estimate that's pretty on-target, but your driving style and conditions can alter that. In my case, after two days of commuting, the full charge showed a range of 40 miles instead of 36.
That's a magic number for me, because I live 20 miles from the day job. So, I was able to do my weekday commute purely on electricity. I don't have a home charger, but using the Volvo-supplied charging cable and an extension cord running household current from the garage, I was able to recharge fully overnight and have that full 40 miles of pure electric driving by the time I needed to leave for work the next day.
Zero gasoline used, zero tailpipe emissions for an entire week of commuting. Also, zero range anxiety. Because there was a gasoline/electric hybrid with an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined city/highway ready to kick in and a tank of gasoline that was staying full.
With an 18.8-gallon fuel tank, once the EV charge was used, I would still have 488 miles of range. And extending that would be done the old-fashioned way---at a gas station. Think about this for a second. If your commute is (let's use the EPA estimate) less than 36 miles round-trip (or each way, if you charge both at home and at work), you can go indefinitely without using gasoline. But if you want or need to go somewhere where chargers aren't, no problem.
Here's how strong the argument for PHEVs is: When it responded to California Governor Gavin Newsom's mandate to draw up regulations for getting the state to all new car sales being zero-emission vehicles by 2035, the California Air Resources Board chose to include a carve-out for PHEVs.
Volvo is one of the companies that doesn't believe hybrids should be slow. The combined output of the XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription's hybrid powerplant is 455 horsepower and 523 lb-ft of torque. That's because of a new electric motor for 2022 that adds 55 horsepower and 51 pound-feet of torque compared to last year. Zero to 60? Glad you asked. 4.5 seconds.
The XC90 itself? Well, it's been one of the best three-row luxury SUVs on the market for 20 years now, and that hasn't changed. It's really been two decades of constant improvement and refinement on what was already a premium quality vehicle.
The base price of the 2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription is $72,100. Inscription is the top-of-the-line. There are lower-priced trim levels. But specifying Inscription adds Nappa leather or tailored wool-blend upholstery, heated front seats, wood inlays, 20-inch alloy wheels, navigation, four-zone automatic climate control and a Harman Kardon premium audio system to what is already a comprehensively equipped vehicle.
Our tester had extra-cost options including $1,700 for the Lounge Package (front seats with backrest massage and a Nubuck headliner), $750 for the Climate Package (high-pressure headlight cleaners, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel) $1,650 for the Advanced Package (a graphical head-up display, 360-degree surround view camera and an advanced cabin air cleaner), $695 for the Pine Gray Metallic paint, $300 for an integrated center booster cushion, $3,200 for the Bowers & Wilkins audio system (worth every penny) and $800 for upgraded 21-inch wheels. With $1,095 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription is $84,090.
Yes, that's a significant amount of money. But again, the Volvo XC90 is one of the best premium luxury SUVs on the market. In PHEV form, it's also the best of both worlds---the ability to drive without range anxiety when necessary and to conserve fuel and protect the environment when possible.