Ride Comfort and Driving Impressions

Here’s a tip for any and all Volvo XC90 buyers. The $2,350 4-Corner Air Suspension is mandatory. Without it, the Volvo suffers from a busy ride that is not in keeping with its luxury pretensions. This R-Design tester did have the air suspension, but sadly the optional 22-inch wheels that looked so badass pretty much negated that. It was just too choppy over less than perfect surfaces. There’s a price for vanity, and here you pay for it with your backside.

Otherwise, the Volvo cuts a clean path. The steering is nicely weighted and it feels quite agile for such a large vehicle, zipping through traffic and settling into a relaxed cruise on the highway. Only when you push it in the corners does the R-Design get upset – it’s almost like the suspension doesn’t know what to do with all that grip from the big Pirelli Scorpion summer performance tires.

Then you get in the Audi Q7. The vehicle feels solid and more substantial, and having a lower beltline, the cabin is airier. Also equipped with air suspension, our Q7 had a calmer ride thanks to the higher-profile 20-inch all-season tires. No matter the road surface, speed, or your enthusiasm in corners, the Audi shows unflappable poise. Dynamically, this is a class act.

Combine this with the Audi Q7 Technik’s strong and linear powertrain, and we have a decisive win for the German. Fair enough, the Audi is almost $6,000 dearer than the Volvo.

So, is this the end of the story? Not quite. If only this sexy Swede had a better ride and a stronger drivetrain that didn’t feel quite so strained… oh wait. Repeat after me – the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid.

A few weeks previous, I drove a 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription ($86,375 as tested) that would have given our Audi Q7 a serious run for its money. Compliant ride? Check. Ventilated front seats? Check. And with a pair of electric motors powering the rear wheels, the combined 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque gave the Volvo effortless shove at all times. Factor in its gorgeous blond interior (you could frame it and hang it in a gallery) and a combined 10.1 L/100 at week’s end, and you’ve got a mighty tempting place to put those long CUV dollars.

Just sayin’.

Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 12 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance

Pricing: 2017 Audi Q7 Technik
Base price: $73,599
Optional equipment: rear seat entertainment preparation $150; Luxury Package $3,750; Driver Assistance Plus $3,400; B&O audio $5,100
A/C tax: $100
Destination charge: $2,095
Price as tested: $88,195

Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 12 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance

Pricing: 2016 Volvo XC90 R-Design
Base price: $65,850
Optional equipment: Vision Package $1,800; Convenience Package $2,200; carbon-fibre inlays $1,000; booster cushion $325; Bowers and Wilkin audio $3,250; head-up display $1,150; 4-Corner Air Suspension $2,350; 22-inch alloys plus 275/35 perf tires
A/C tax: $100
Destination charge: $1,195
Price as tested: $81,320

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