Volvo isn't a company that rushes products into the marketplace.
The XC90 mid-size SUV is a good case in point. One of the Swedish car company's best-selling vehicles in the United States, the XC90 soldiered on without a clean-sheet redesign through 13 model years, 2002-2014.
Even when Volvo decided to make an all-new XC90, it skipped the 2015 model year entirely to make sure the redesign was done correctly. The new 2016 XC90s, which began arriving just this month at Chattanooga Volvo, are an example of the saying: Good things come to those who wait.
The completely redesigned XC90 -- new chassis, new motor, new sheet metal -- is getting near-unanimous praise in the automotive press, and we're happy to join the chorus. It's a rollicking good seven-passenger SUV with all the advanced technology and convenience features you'd expect in a $50,000-plus vehicle.
To our eyes, it has the most tasteful and comfortable interior of any luxury SUV and a magical power plant that squeezes 316-horsepower out of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine through deft use of both turbocharging and supercharging.
Until supply meets demand, expect Volvo to ship lots of loaded XC90s like our Osmium Gray tester, provided by Chattanooga Volvo, which stickers for $72,364. An XC90 in Momentum trim starts at $48,900 and represents a compelling bargain.
The XC90 is available in three trim levels, Momentum ($48,900), R-Design ($52,900) and Inscription ($54,500). Many available options are added a la carte. All-wheel drive is standard on all XC90 T6s. (A T5 model with a 245 horsepower turbocharged engine is in the product pipeline.)
STYLING AND COMFORT
Volvo has a reputation as a safety-obsessed car-maker, more concerned with comfort than styling. But modern Volvos -- sedans, wagons and SUVs -- have shed that image and are now some of the most handsome products on the highway.
* Model: 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD
* Exterior color: Osmium Gray
* Interior color: Blond
* Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, supercharged
* Horsepower: 316
* Transmission: eight-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 25 mpg highway, 20 mpg city
* Dealer: Chattanooga Volvo
* Price (as tested): $72,364
Befitting a luxury SUV built to stay fresh for a decade or more, the XC90 has a buttoned-down exterior design with no crazy lines or oversized embellishments. Instead, it announces its presence with a solid stance and Volvo's signature slotted grille. Standing back to take in the whole profile, the XC90 looks lean and fit. The attractive LED headlamps lend a futuristic glow, and brushed metal skid plates (part of a pricey $5,810 Urban Styling package) add to the visual appeal.
The Osmium Gray metallic paint on our tester carries a $560 price premium, but the luster and depth of the color make it a bargain at that. Ten-spoke, 20-inch wheels are tasteful and eschew the trendy two-tone, machined metal look so popular into today's mass market cars.
Inside is where the Volvo leaps ahead of the pack in styling and comfort. Tasteful is an overused word when describing cars, but it's the adjective that best fits the XC90. From its Blond leather seating surfaces, to its walnut inlays, the XC90 exudes sophistication and class.
The XC90 has the biggest touch-screen -- 9-inch diameter -- this side of a Tesla. Demonstrated by product specialist Jerry Eddy, the telematics system is vast and intuitive. The center stack also has a driving mode selector you can adjust to your liking, taking into account the prevailing terrain and weather conditions. Most functions can be projected into the digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Gauge graphics can be configured to your taste.
Second and third-row seats are elevated -- in theater fashion -- so occupants from each row can see through the front windshield. In a nice touch, the headrests on row two can be folded down via a console button, making it easier for the driver to see out the back window when there are no second-row occupants.
The Nappa leather covered seats are the most comfortable in the class, with power operated seat extensions and lumbar support. the bolsters hug you in place, but with plenty of wiggle room for full-framed occupants.
Our tester came equipped with a Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system ($2,650).
Volvo's world class safety engineering has been bolstered by a new feature called run-off road protection, that senses danger when the vehicle veers into a ditch and tightens the seat belts accordingly.
The XC90's diminutive power plant is a marvel of modern engineering. With just two liters of displacement -- the size of a big plastic Coke bottle -- the XC90 cranks out 319 horsepower thought the magic of turbocharging and supercharging. Every T6 is equipped with a buttery eight-speed automatic transmission.
On our test drive, the XC90 was composed and mannerly, with none of the wallowy ride we've noticed on some large SUVs. Our test car has a four-corner air suspension system, an $1,800 option.
Acceleration is about what you'd expect from 300-plus horsepower SUV, and the XC90 merges and passes with ease.
The XC90 is a brilliantly-executed seven-passenger coach that should be a big hit among affluent American families.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.