Volvo XC90: Judging for 2016 Wards 10 Best Interiors

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Volvo has built its brand identity around safety and occupant protection, having pioneered the 3-point seatbelt in 1959.

But the all-new XC90 cross/utility vehicle makes it clear the Swedish automaker has seriously honed its interior design language.

The cabin of the XC90 is sophisticated in a way that is warm and welcoming, and this car’s intelligence is apparent in its “Sensus” touchscreen, which allows easy paging through vast menus of vehicle settings and entertainment and information options. This is a world-class human-machine interface.

With its pedigree in occupant protection, Volvo layers up the 7-passenger XC90 with smart safety features such as ergonomic and orthopedic seats designed to prevent back injuries if the vehicle is headed into a ditch. It took seven years to design the seats, alone.

Don’t forget the detection of cyclists and pedestrians during day or night and road-sign identification, which will help avoid traffic court so long as warnings are heeded, or the 360-degree surround-view camera system that helps in crowded mall parking lots. It’s as if the CUV has several additional expert pairs of eyes to ensure safe passage.

Beyond safety, the XC90 interior is brilliantly styled and thoughtfully laid out. From the diagonal grain of the Linear Walnut wood inlays and Orreffors crystal gear shifter to the gleaming brightwork and sleek and slender head restraints, the XC90’s cabin is a credit to all things Swedish.

The 2-tier center console also contains the drive-mode selector and ignition switch, both trimmed in chrome-like diamond weave. A matte-finish walnut door glides smoothly and hides the cupholders and central storage bin.

This interior is surprisingly clean, with only six buttons on the center stack controlling defrost, hazard lights, glovebox release and audio track selection.

There’s a hypnotic beauty in the gentle bow of the metallic bar separating leather from wood on the door panels and the bulbous metallic-wrapped Bowers & Wilkins premium audio speaker that rises from the instrument panel, always in view of the driver.

The XC90 interior does everything well, so it proudly wears a thumb-sized blue and yellow Swedish national flag stitched into the passenger seat near the left shoulder.

This CUV is the latest Scandinavian supermodel.

-- Tom Murphy

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