Volvo XC90 offers wool-blend seats for leather

The roomy XC90 SUV has been a mainstay for Volvo for 20 years. (Bud Wells photo)

The Volvo XC90, introduced in 2003, has through the years retained strong popularity among the luxury midsize SUV competitors – the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sport, Lincoln Nautilus and on and on.

My recent drives were aboard the XC90 Recharge AWD Ultimate seven-seater, a plug-in hybrid which with a fresh charge will provide up to 38 miles of all-electric power before falling back on its regular gas engine.

The powertrain combo of turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 18.8 kWh battery, with 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, delivers a combined 455 horsepower and 523 lb.-ft. of torque; mash the throttle and be amazed at the thrust of power.

My Autel charger at home replenished the battery three times (4-to-5 hours per charge), which was enough to hand us an overall mpg of 42.7 for around 200 miles. With four-corner air, the highway travel was smooth, other than an occasional bump too severe for absorption by the 21-inch Pirellis, and a bit of shudder on transfer of power sources.

The big XC90 carried Jan and me in to Denver on a Friday for a stop at the Colorado Auto Dealers Association, then lunch out north with Ted and Shirley King. The Kings are up to their elbows in fudge, preparing and distributing hundreds of delicious batches through the holidays from a long-used secret recipe. 

The light-colored wool-blend seats are optional to the normal leather seats.  (Volvo)

On first opening the driver’s door, I was surprised by the gray-colored, wool-blend seats, instead of leather. Volvo says the seats are perfect, and aims for the day when its products will be all-electric and all-cloth, no leather seats.

I considered Volvo’s seats as among the best in the business 15 to 20 years ago, especially with the XC70 wagon, one of my alltime favorite cars to drive. The wool-blend seats in this new XC90 review model are stylish, form-fitting, comfortable. But give up leather? Are you kidding?

The air suspension and Bowers & Wilkins premium sound added $5,000 to the Volvo’s sticker price, which reached $85,495. Drive-mode settings, adaptive cruise, lane-keeping, heated steering wheel and crystal shifter were among many other highlights.

The XC90 was built in Gothenburg, Sweden.