These days, there’s nothing cooler on the design spectrum than objects of Scandinavian provenance. It’s no surprise, then, that Swedish carmaker Volvo should reassert its own Nordic identity (after being sold off by Ford Motor Company in 2010) with its new XC90 SUV, due out in the U.S. in spring 2015.
More than just another SUV people-hauler, the XC90 is characterized by the simple and uncluttered yet sophisticated philosophy typical of Nordic design. That effort is nowhere more evident than in the front grille, whose oversized iron mark harkens back to the badge used on the original 1927 Volvo. The running lights on either side reach even farther back into the company’s Viking past, resembling the t-shape of Thor’s Hammer. Plus, the hybrid version even boasts a crystal gearshift made by renowned Swedish glassmaker Orrefors.
Yet even as the car pays homage to its Scandinavian past, from the inside, the XC90 looks straight into the future. From the driver’s seat, the eye is immediately drawn to the easy-to-use touchscreen display on the center console, which makes for (virtually) button-free operation of all the seven-seater’s features. Among them is rolling WiFi connectivity and a superb Bowers & Wilkins sound system with an eye-catching tweeter prominently mounted on the center of the dashboard. The ever-safety-conscious Volvo also employs a novel—and world-first—automatic braking system that activates should, for example, the car turn in front of an oncoming car in the next lane. The XC90 also is festooned with cameras and radar that make up the backbone of additional safety features.
But while Volvo embraces the Viking legend, the XC90 may put one enduring myth to rest: that car buyers care about how many cylinders are under the hood. The standard here is a four-cylinder turbocharged engine, while the top-of-the-line version is a four-cylinder hybrid, rated at 400 horsepower. No big V8 or V6 engines here, proving that more bells and whistles don’t always add up to more power. Thor, of course, would agree. Starts at $48,900; volvocars.com.