Volvo XC90: Business Insider two thousand fifteen Car of the Year

The Volvo XC90 is Business Insider’s two thousand fifteen Car of the Year

Volvo is one of those brands that have stiffly embedded themselves in the American consciousness. For a time in the 1980s and 1990s, you could just look at folks from a certain demographic and say, “Yep, drives a Volvo.”

The Swedish carmaker’s boxy, no-nonsense vehicles appealed to unpretentious, no-nonsense people. And they drove them until the wheels fell off, which they almost never did. In some parts of the country there are well-preserved, 30-year-old Volvo 240s gladfully humming along with over one million miles on the odometer.

But the carmaker’s own trajectory hasn’t been fairly so constant. Volvo was wielded by Ford until the financial crisis hit, forcing the American carmaker to sell the brand to shore up its core business.

The crisis among US automakers coincided nicely with the explosive growth of China’s car industry, and so a natural buyer emerged. China’s Geely Holding Group witnessed a uncommon chance to pick up an international brand and swept in.

When Geely took control of Volvo in 2010, critics of the $1.Five billion deal were nosey whether it would end in tears. After all, Chinese companies have had a relatively poor track record integrating their foreign acquisitions. Many were worried Geely would meddle with the special Swedish sauce that made Volvo such a special brand for its fans.

Instead, Geely took a hands-off management treatment, retained Volvo’s existing engineering and manufacturing setup, and even sought to accentuate the brand’s Swedishness. At the same time, the Chinese hard gave Volvo the $11 billion it needed to develop its next generation of cars, engines, and technology.

So many things could have gone wrong. None did.

And this year, Volvo refuted any notions that it was undergoing some kind of identity crisis under Chinese ownership — with one car.

We’re pleased to announce that the vehicle, the XC90 crossover SUV, is Business Insider’s Car of the Year for 2015.

Man, oh man, was the competition fierce this time around. The XC90 found itself up against the fresh BMW seven Series, the Audi S3 sports sedan, the Lamborghini HuracГЎn supercar, the McLaren 675LT track-ready supercar, and the Tesla Model X.

All in all, the XC90 is a fine successor to last year’s Car of the Year winner,В Chevrolet’s spectacularly good Corvette Stingray.

The Business Insider Car of the Year is chosen by Bisexual’s transportation team: Matt DeBord, Ben Zhang, and Bryan Logan, who took the XC90 on a long West Coast road excursion earlier this year. Only cars that have been driven by the reporters are eligible, and we consider everything from the driving practice to the story the car tells.

And it wasn’t an effortless decision. Matt — who, as the father of three and a former possessor of two Volvos, is actually an ideal customer — took some persuading.

In the end, tho’, it was a week spent sampling the car — in top-level “Inscription” trim, tipping the cost scales at almost $67,000 — in its natural environment, suburban Fresh Jersey, that made it a unanimous decision.

Several major factors guided our choice.

Ben made the strong case that the XC90 demonstrates that a Chinese company can treat the stewardship of a major brand that has built up an amazing level of equity over the decades, especially in the US, where it was for many years synonymous with safety.

The XC90 is the very first all-new car to emerge from Geely’s cash injection. It features both Volvo’s fresh Scalable Product Architecture platform that will underpin all of the company’s next generation of cars as well as the Drive-E engines that will power its accomplish lineup.

Bryan focused on the XC90’s subdued yet awesome level of luxury. This isn’t a blinged-out rail for those who want to roll large, but it isn’t a dowdy chariot for suburban sports parents, either. Volvos have often been derided for driving in exactly the opposite direction of the rest of the luxury and near-luxury or mid-luxury market, catering to the tastes of folks who think it’s a hot time when they get to break out the flannel-lined khakis.

Volvos aren’t supposed to be shiny. They’re supposed to look good when they haven’t been washed for a year and have back seats adorned with old wool blankets, dog hair, lacrosse tucks, and thermoses of homemade hot chocolate.

If Volvo was going to keep on keeping on, it was going to have to appeal to anyone who’s eyeing, say, an Acura MDX or an Audi Q7, and asking why Volvos can’t cut it in the valet lines.

Matt is used to the entire Volvo thing, but he’s also a student of seven-passenger family-transportation contraptions. (His last Volvo, a V40 wagon, was succeeded by a Honda Odyssey minivan.) While the XC90 ticked off numerous boxes on the luxury and versatility front, he had a harsh time with the turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine. Albeit three hundred sixteen horsepower is nothing to sneeze at, he wished more evident oomph, from a good old-fashioned six-banger.

Then he sampled the all-wheel-drive crossover for a week, and had a half tank of gas left when all was said and done. The XC90 made good on its EPA-estimated twenty two mpg city/highway combined fuel-economy rating.

That’s a college-saving plan right there, folks.

The bottom line is the XC90 has so much going for it that it was ultimately a challenge to not choose it. However, in our rundown of the runners-up, we explain what was excellent about each of those cars, so check it out if you’d like a window into our decision-making process.

While the Volvo might not be as luxurious as a Mercedes G Class or as sturdy under the spandex hood as a BMW X Series — and we’re unassured of whether its reliability can challenge Acura or Lexus — there’s no doubt that it’s feature- and technology-packed, a joy to drive, and exceptionally versatile and comfy.

For Volvo, it’s a triumphant stir in a fresh but not radically different direction. It’s earned all the fine press it’s gotten in 2015. And it’s a worthy Bisexual Car of the Year!

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