Utilities lead the world, it's glaring like Trump's orange mop. The choice is so vast that shopping for them requires more study than obtaining a university degree. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a 2020 Volvo XC40 R-Design and a 2020 Volvo XC90 R-Design, both in the same Thunder Gray color. I saw there a sign of fate which enjoined me during confinement to extract at least 10 things to know …
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# 1 The definition of the utility
Since marketing departments love abbreviations, the utility is known by the acronym SUV, for Sport Utility Vehicle. Wikipedia says it is a class of motor vehicle that combines the elements of a passenger car (like a sedan) with the advantages of an all-terrain vehicle, known for its raised ground clearance and traction integral.
The French translation, she says SUV, for Sport Utility Vehicle, a shortcut not to use in the language of Shakespeare unless you want to speak of a Variant of Uncertain Significance, that is to say the mutation of a gene (now called allele) which has uncertain consequences on the health of our organism…
# 2 More truck or more car?
To be frank, the definition of utility is as solid as Jell-O out of its bowl. Must it necessarily include a “body on frame” construction (the bodywork is deposited on the chassis), like vans? We should then ignore the fact that more and more SUVs – such as our two Volvo, for example – are moving away from this type of architecture to adopt unibody construction, where the body and chassis are no more than 'a.
There are many advantages to the monohull: the vehicle is lighter (even more so with materials like aluminum and carbon fiber) and, paradoxically, more rigid (it gets better during crash tests). Its lowered center of gravity also makes it less likely to tip over. The "body on frame" is now especially suitable for vehicles that engage in serious towing or that multiply off-road rides because their design promotes better clearance of the wheels and suspension elements.
# 3 The advantages of the utility
At Volvo, we prefer to speak of platform, the fashionable term for the skeleton of the vehicle. In 2017, the manufacturer launched the CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform. It is an intermediate-format monocoque platform jointly developed by Volvo and Geely, the Chinese automaker that bought the Swedish company in 2010.
It turns out that the XC40, unveiled in September 2017 (and shown in Montreal in January 2018), was the first Volvo-Geely vehicle to use the CMA platform and the very first compact (but luxurious) 5-door SUV from the history of Volvo. This CMA platform was then used for the Polestar 2 and the first vehicles of Lynk & Co, a new brand from Geely.
The XC90 has been on the move since 2002. Its initial platform was the P2, like the S60, V70 and S80 of the time. The second generation of the model, launched in 2015, has switched to the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, taken up by the S90, XC60, S60, V60 and the Polestar 1.
See also: Our review of the 2020 Volvo XC90 T8.
# 4 Several awards
The XC40 has won several honors, including the title of European Car of the Year 2018. In 2019 and again this year, Volvo's small utility car stood up to its German rivals and won our Auto123 title in the SUV category. luxury compact of the year.
The XC90 imitated it in its two generations, obtaining each time, among others, the title of SUV of the Year from Motor Trend magazine.
# 5 Once upon a time
The XC40 first existed in the form of the Concept 40.1 prototype imagined by Thomas Ingenlath and exhibited in 2016.
The precursor of the XC90 was the Adventure Concept Car unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2001. A year later, in the same city, Volvo presented the commercial version of the XC90, the very first SUV in its history, it who had been the champion of the wagons until then.
See also: The Volvo V60 Cross Country: 10 things to know.
The first generation of XC90 continues to be sold in China under the name of XC Classic by offering a single engine (5-cylinder 2.5L turbo 220 horsepower) and the choice of a manual or automatic 5-speed transmission. Geely sells it of course cheaper than the 2nd generation XC90.
# 6 T what?
Volvo wanted to simplify our life by making believe that there would be only one turbocharged 4-cylinder of 2 liters under all its hoods. The 248 horsepower, dubbed the T5, was initially the only engine capable of moving the XC40.
This mill also equips the XC90 but it is very little muscle to move 2000 kilos. So you can opt for the T6, which adds a compressor to the turbo, or the T8, which coats the turbo and the compressor with good rechargeable electrification for a small 100% electric range of around thirty kilometers.
In addition to the T5, T6 and T8, the range actually stretches from T1 to T8 and even from D1 to D8, the Diesel family, of the machines offered elsewhere in the world. But here is Volvo / Geely now offering us for the XC40 the T4, that is to say a less powerful version of the T5 (we are talking about 187 horses always associated with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission). What's more, as the manufacturer has vowed to electrify all of its models …
And Volvo who wanted to simplify our lives…
# 7 The current flows
Since 2019, there has been a European variant of the XC40 called T5 Twin Engine, a traction PHEV with a 3-cylinder 1.5L turbo and an electric motor totaling 261 horsepower and an all-electric range of 50 km. This version is not intended to cross the ocean, at least for the moment.
On the other hand, the 100% electric XC40 Recharge, unveiled on October 16, 2019, will be available from us by the end of 2020. Based on the 40.1 concept, it is predicted to be 0-100 km / h in less than 5 seconds thanks with a power of 402 horses (2 electric motors) and a range of at least 320 km thanks to a 78 kWh battery which is 80% rechargeable in 40 minutes.
# 8 Take out the tape measure
This is where everything is played out between our two identical Volvo cars. Between the smallest and the largest, there is a minimum difference of $ 22,000 (base price). And a difference of 525 millimeters in length (4425 vs 4950), which comes to $ 42 per millimeter!
Your passengers, if they had a say, would prefer the wheelbase of 2984 to that of 2702, a difference of 28.2 centimeters (11.1 in.).
With its more generous width (1863 vs 1923) and height (1652 vs 1776), the XC90 easily accommodates 6 or 7 adults, depending on the configuration of the three rows of seats, while a 5th occupant in the XC40 will play the role of spoilsport due to the limited space.
On the loading side, lowered seats, you know who wins too!
# 9 Variants
Both utilities share the same versions. The basic one is called Momentum. The R-Design is sportier, as evidenced by its exclusive 22-inch wheels. Finally, the Inscription variant focuses on luxury, as evidenced by its nappa leather, its chic wood trim and the Orrefors crystal which boasts the gearshift knob. Starting at $ 39,750 for the XC40 and $ 62,250 for the XC90.
# 10 Memo to Volvo
Who says Volvo says safety is well known. For example, the company has just announced that the maximum speed of its vehicles will now be limited to 180 km / h. And when we go through the details of the protection systems grouped under the term IntelliSafe, we realize the incredible number of driving aids that can arm our vehicle.
That said, even when selecting a high-end XC90 T8, you have to pay extra for several of these electronic buoys, including the BLIS system which reacts when a vehicle is rolling in our blind spots. So, memo to Volvo: if you standardize many of your gadgets, your reputation for saving lives would become bright.