2021 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge a ‘multi-tool’ among premium SUVs

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The 2021 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge is a large mid-size luxury plug-in hybrid that we refer to as the Scandinavian ‘Multi-Tool’ of premium SUV’s.

Robustly premium, the 2021 XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge offers up to seven-seat utilitarian adventure that Volvo is known for.  Featuring multiple powertrain combination options plus comfortable and roomy cabin spaces, ample cargo capacity, 5,000 pounds tow capability, and plenty of convenient technology and connectivity, this SUV delivers.

The 2021 XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge comes in two trim levels, the sporty R Design and luxury Inscription.

We recently spent a week with a handsome Seville Gray Metallic XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge Inscription in and around the Lake Travis area of Central Texas.

Starting at a MSRP $69,750 and with a number of packages/options added plus delivery, this XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge Inscription drove into our garage for $81,690.


The XC90 T8 Recharge sports the traditional iconic Volvo exterior – crisp and ruggedly simple -highlighted by its “Thor’s Hammer” lighting front and rear.   A new concave Grille design with bright chrome bars and updated Volvo Ironmark enhance the look.

Other elements of note include a Panoramic Moonroof w/Power Sunshade, Hands-Free Power Liftgate, Heated Windshield Wipers, High Pressure Headlight Cleaning, Integrated Dual Exhaust and Integrated Roof Rails.

Sporting the optional 21-inch 8-Multi Spoke Alloy Wheels and a variable ride height of 8.3 to 9.9-inches, our XC90 T8eAWD Recharge rode confidently and smoothly on and off the road.


Inside, our XC90 T8 Recharge featured the expected Scandinavian minimalist luxury interior with simplicity of function.

You may or may not notice the absence of buttons, switches and knobs in the design as your eyes will immediately gravitate to the awesome illuminated Orrefors Crystal Gearshift at the center of the console.

In a word, stunning.

Complimenting the luxury of the shifter and the simplicity of design is the use of premium and natural materials including Black Ash Wood Deco Inlays in the tailored dashboard and upper door panels.

Comfort is assured with the Amber Nappa Leather 10-way Power Front Seats that are heated and ventilated with Power Cushion Extensions, Power Side Bolsters and massaging back rests.

Other elements of note include the Four-Zone Climate Control w/Advanced Air Cleaner and Rear Side Window Sunshades.

NOTE: Rated a three-row, seven passenger SUV, the front and second row seating and people space are excellent.  But the third row (for two) is only suitable for children.  For us, we would fold those seats flat and increase the cargo space from 9.3 cubic feet behind the third row to 22.6 cubic feet.


The Recharge T8 Plug-in Hybrid system is comprised of a specially modified (turbo and supercharged) version of Volvo’s 4-cylinder 2.0L Drive-E gasoline engine.  It delivers  313 horsepower to the front while an 87-horsepower electric motor drives the rear wheels.

Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with a ‘B-Mode’ manual shift option, the combined hybrid unit delivers 400 horsepower with 472 lb.-ft. of torque.

Fuel economy ratings for this powertrain are 26/28/27 mpg City/Highway/Combined and 55- MPGe.

Not only efficient, but also pretty darn quick for a 5,145-pound SUV – the XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge is able to move 0-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.  Top speed is 112 mph.

And it tows too – up to 5,000 pounds.

Now for a word about those multiple power options.

Drive Modes

The default powertrain mode for the Recharge T8 is as a Hybrid or a Plug-In Hybrid.

Hybrid / Plug-in Hybrid (Default)

In this mode, both the electric motor and gas engine are utilized individually or in parallel. Their operation is optimized with regard to performance, fuel-consumption and comfort. The engine and    automatic gearbox are programmed for maximum comfort.

Depending on driver preference or operating environment considerations, there are four modes a driver can select to optimize the hybrid powertrain performance.  They are:


This mode prioritizes electric operation and low energy-consumption. It helps the driver to maximize driving on the hybrid battery. The engine, gearbox and climate system are set to Eco mode. The dynamic performance is reduced and the air-conditioning unit is partly disengaged. This mode is active at speeds up to 78 mph.


In this mode, the gas engine and the electric motor are working in parallel to ensure the strongest performance and quick response. The Adaptive Digital Display is set to Sport mode and the steering and braking system is set to Dynamic mode.  In this setting, both the front and rear wheels are continuously driven.

AWD (All Wheel Drive)

This mode is for improving traction in slippery conditions. The T8 Twin Engine powertrain distributes power from the gas engine to the front wheels and power from the electric motor to the rear wheels.

Off Road

Used at speeds below 12 mph to maximize the SUV’s performance on poor roads.  Power distribution between the front and rear wheels is locked at 50/50.  The engine and gearbox are optimized for traction and the Electronic Stability Control system is set to Traction/Sport. Hill Descent Control is automatically activated when driving down hills.

Water crossings?  The XC90  T8 Recharge has a water fording wading capability up to 17.7-inches.


Our 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 featured the optional 4-corner Air Suspension with Automatic Leveling, High-Speed Height Adjustment and Easy Ingress/Egress mode-lowering for entry and exit.

NOTE: The variable height range is 8.3-inches to 9.9-inches with a 1.6-inch further lowering for Ingress/Egress mode.

Basic suspension and running gear on our XC90 Recharge included the Volvo proven Double Wishbone (front) and Integral Link (rear) set ups; the optional 21-inch 8-spoke Alloy Wheels mounted with all-season tires; Electric Power-Assisted Steering and Power ABS Brakes w/14.4-inch disc front and 13.6-inch disc rear.


Technology and Infotainment

For our money, the 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription, Technology and Entertainment excellence are centered around the Volvo Connected Car System and the Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System

Volvo Connected Car System

The ‘anchor’ for the Connected Car System is the tablet-style Sensus Connect Touchscreen.

Easy to use (think personal tablet), it features:

  • Center console-mounted vertical 9” touchscreen
  • Patented 4-tile layout featuring navigation, audio, phone and
  • Sensus Navigation Pro
  • 4G LTE connectivity with in-car Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Apple Car Play and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth Audio Streaming; tethering via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
  • Voice Control
  • USB input

In addition to the touchscreen, Sensus Connect can communicate key information to the driver via the 12.3-inch Digital Drive Display or (optional) Heads-Up Windshield Display.

NOTE: Some have criticized Volvo, but we like the absence of ‘cutsie’ graphical display elements on the Sensus and Digital Drive Display.  They are information displays – not entertainment.

Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System

Audio in our XC90 Recharge T8 was anchored by the optional Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System with 1,400 watts and 19-speakers.

Of particular note were the four ‘Room Modes” to select from that recreate the acoustics of a specific performance venue type to support the audio choices.

Other elements included Keyless Entry w/Remote Start, Integrated Smartphone, Inductive Smartphone Charging and more.


The 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge has been awarded a 2021 Top Safety Pick + (TSP+) crash safety rating by IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)the top rating available from the organization.   A TSP+ rating from IIHS pretty much says it all.

In addition to being top-rated crash safety vehicle, here are some driver assistance  features worth mention:  High Pressure Headlight Washers, 360 Surround View Camera; Front and Rear Parking Assist; Automatic LED headlights and DRL; Blind Spot Information w/Steer Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Braking; Pilot Assistance Semi-Autonomous Driving System w/Adaptive Cruise Control; City Safety Collision Avoidance w/Low and High Speed Collision Mitigation plus Pedestrian, Cycle and Animal alert; Run-off Road Protection and Oncoming Mitigation w/Lane Departure and Lane Keeping; Oncoming Braking Mitigation and more.

XC-90 Recharge T8 Line-up

The Volvo XC Recharge T8 (Hybrid / Plug-In Hybrid) is available in two trim levels – the luxury Inscription and the sporty R-Design.  Learn more about both HERE: https://www.volvocars.com/us/v/cars/xc90-hybrid


KEY DATA:   2021 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD Recharge Inscription

  • Model                                  XC90
  • Trim Level                            Recharge T8 Inscription
  • Class                                   Mid-Size Plug-in Hybrid SUV (3-row)
  • Seating                               Seven (3-row 2/3/2)
  • MSRP                                  $69,350
  • As Tested                             $81,690
  • Power Train                          Hybrid
  • Engine (1)                           2.0L Drive-E gasoline 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower                         313
  • Torque                                 295 lb.-ft.
  • Electric Motor (2)                 87 horsepower (Drives Rear Wheels)
  • Powertrain Combined (1+2)  400 horsepower / 472 lb.-ft. torque
  • Transmission                       8-speed Automatic w/Manual Mode
  • Drive System                      eAWD
  • Drive Modes                        Pure/Power/Constant AWD/Off-Road
  • Wheel Size                          21-inch Alloy w/all-season tires
  • Suspension                         Double Wishbone (front) / Integral Link (rear)
  • Suspension (2)                    4-Corner Air Suspension w/Auto Leveling
  • Ground Clearance                8.3-inches / 9.9-inches
  • Wading Capability               17.7-inches
  • Steering                             Electric Power-Assisted
  • Brakes                               ABS w/Hill Start Assist
  • Tow Capacity                      5,000 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity                     18.8 gallons
  • Fuel Economy   Hybrid        26/28/27 mpg – City/Highway/Combined
  • Fuel Economy   MPGe          55
  • Range                                526-miles highway

Tailpipes and Tacos is back Memorial Day weekend! It’s been a while but the popular Tailpipes and Tacos cruise-in returns to the Lupe Tortilla Tex-Mex in Katy…Saturday, May 25th! Bring your hot rod, Classic or Modern Classic to compete for one of the famous Chili Pepper trophies AND get a FREE breakfast taco! Just make a donation of any size to God’s Garage and Lupe’s will match it. You’ll be helping single mothers who need a set of wheels.

It has been a year in the making so you won’t want to miss Tailpipes and Tacos, Saturday, May 25th 8 to 11 AM. Cruise-in, donate what you want to God’s Garage and grab a free Lupe Tortilla breakfast taco. Tailpipes and Tacos ony happens at the Lupe Tortilla Tex-Mex in Katy at 703 West Grand Parkway at Kingsland Blvd…just south of the Katy Freeway.

It’s car show season and what better way to kick it off than a free taco and comradery at Tailpipes and Tacos, Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 25, 2024, 8 to 11 AM. 

The In Wheel Time Car Talk Show will be there too.

Proceeds benefit God’s Garage

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