Volvo has cemented a reputation for vehicle safety like few to no other automakers out there, and it’s looking to boost that reputation even higher with the all-new EX90. The seven-seat electric flagship SUV debuts as the company’s most advanced car yet, a “computer on wheels” and sustainable third space that opens up new levels of safety, convenience and entertainment. The EX90’s host of Volvo firsts includes bidirectional charging capability, a Nvidia-brained hardware suite future-proofed for making the leap to fully autonomous driving, and a 5G-connected infotainment system with Unreal graphics and Dolby Atmos audio.
Digital technology definitely plays a central part in making the EX90 the ultimate Volvo of the near-future, but the SUV also features a flagship-level electric powertrain. Volvo will launch it with a twin-motor all-wheel drive that puts out an estimated 408 hp (300 kW) in base tune and 496 hp (370 kW) and 671 lb-ft (910 Nm) in performance tune. Energy is stored in a 111-kWh battery pack with projected 300-mile (483-km) EPA range and 600-km (373-mile) WLTP mark.
Charging from 10 to 80% battery capacity will take the EX90 roughly 30 minutes via a 250-kW fast-charger, Volvo says, and the Plug and Charge feature will automatically handle digital payment and start the charging once the owner plugs into a public charger. The EX90 comes hardware-ready for bidirectional charging, which Volvo plans to activate in select markets following launch via an accompanying home charging system.
Styling-wise, the EX90 shows the smooth, simple Scandinavian design we’ve come to expect of any modern Volvo. That starts with the well-known Thor’s hammer eyes, this time broken subtly into smaller rectangular segments reminiscent of pixels. We could live without the smiling orientation of the central crease connecting the vertical DRLs, but the overall front fascia design is attractively sleek and minimalist.
Rounding the front corner, the EX90 shows the strong profile of a proper SUV, with a level roof and character lines, an upright rear-end and a sturdy angled D-pillar.
Volvo’s boast about an “invisible shield of safety” for the EX90 starts with a comprehensive sensor and computing suite that processes information about both exterior and interior environments to better assist the driver. The exterior LiDAR, cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar run data through a Nvidia Drive core computing system to develop a precise 360-degree view of the car and its surroundings. The driver-sensing hardware, meanwhile, analyzes driver attentiveness, adding that data to the mix to more intelligently identify exactly when and how to best intervene via active safety systems.
For instance, should the driver-monitoring system identify a distracted, drowsy or inattentive driver, it will first deliver a soft, nudging warning, increasing intensity if the driver doesn’t react. In extreme situations in which the driver does not respond at all or is sensed to be sleeping or having a medical emergency, the EX90 can brake to stop and automatically contact help.
The new raft of hardware and software also supports an improved Pilot Assist system that delivers added steering assistance during lane changes and speed control through sharp curves. It also adapts speed and following distance based on traffic conditions and lane markings.
The EX90’s tech promises to evolve over the course of the vehicle’s lifespan, relying on deep-learning capabilities and OTA updates to offer new and improved performance and features. Volvo says the hardware package is capable of full unsupervised autonomous driving.
Inside, the infotainment system serves to complement the minimalist EX90 design. The clean, clutter-free dashboard centers around a 14.5-in display that explodes with the speed and color of Unreal Engine gaming-quality graphics run via a Snapdragon processor. The system supports 5G connectivity where available and comes with Google Maps, Google Assistant voice control and other Google services built in. A 25-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system delivers the soundtrack and supports Dolby Atmos spatial sound.
The owner’s smartphone doubles as the EX90 key and remote command center. The accompanying Volvo Cars smartphone app offers remote climate control and locking, charging management, OTA update activation and more.
Volvo introduced the EX90 in Stockholm on Wednesday and plans for an early-2024 launch. The SUV is available for preorder in the US, and those who reserve early will enjoy delivery prioritization. Volvo says the EX90 will start under US$80,000 for a well-equipped model. Production will begin next year at Volvo’s South Carolina plant, with Chinese production following down the line.
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