Is the 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid a Good Car?

The 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge hybrid is the perfect blend between functionality and style when it comes to luxury SUV hybrids.
Written by Macy Fouse
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Driving a hybrid doesn’t mean you have to stand out on the road or sacrifice luxury—not with the 2021
Volvo XC90
Recharge Plug-In Hybrid, anyways. 
Whether you’re looking for a capable family hauler, a luxurious ride, or next-level comfort, the Volvo XC90 Recharge can deliver it all. As a plug-in hybrid, it’ll even save you money at the pump. 
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2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid

Volvo’s long-running midsize SUV, the XC90, keeps things eco-friendly with the Recharge plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option—without losing any of the classiness you’d expect from Volvo along the way. 
In 2015,
introduced the world’s first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid SUV: the XC90 Recharge, also called the T8. The 2021 version is packed with a higher battery capacity and a whole lot of refinement, making it a solid option for a luxury hybrid SUV. 


A shiny new 2021 Recharge PHEV had an MSRP of $63,450—but since it’s already been out for a bit, you may be able to find a used one for less. Compared to the gas-powered XC90 base model, the Recharge PHEV was a whopping $14,450 more expensive brand new. 
However, when you factor in the potential $5,419 federal tax credit you’ll get with the 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid, it’s only around $9,000 more. Note that buyers are only eligible for PHEV tax credits when purchasing a brand new model though. 

Performance and fuel economy

The XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid is equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, cranking out 400 horsepower, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. You may be skeptical of an SUV with four cylinders rather than six, but with an electric motor, the XC90 PHEV is still a thrill to drive.  
What makes the XC90 Recharge better than a regular SUV, though, is the fuel economy. While a gas-powered XC90 gets a meager 22 combined mpg, the XC90 Recharge earns 27 combined mpg with gas alone—and a sweet 55 MPGe when gas and electricity work together. 
A bonus of PHEVs over standard hybrids is that they can run on electricity alone some of the time. With the electric battery, the 2021 XC90 Recharge can go 18 miles. This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the perfect distance if you have a short commute or are running nearby errands. However, this is one of the shortest electric-only ranges in its class by 2 miles. 
The electric-only mode won’t get you very far without a full charge, though. Thankfully, the 2021 XC90 Recharge takes just three hours of charging with a Level 2 (240V) charger to reach 100%. If you only have access to a Level 1 (120V), you’ll need to set aside eight to nine hours for your Recharge to… well, recharge.
While the 2021 XC90 Recharge is a seamless drive, it won’t blow your mind when it comes to quick acceleration. That being said, it’s plenty powerful to be reliable on the road for any type of driving you’ll be doing. 

Exterior styling

The XC90 Recharge has a quintessentially Volvo design, with simple, clean lines that maintain the brand’s minimal-yet-elegant style. Volvo makes no effort to distinguish the hybrid from the gas-powered XC90—a bonus if you like to keep your love of Mother Nature more low-key. 
The Recharge’s simplicity also extends to the color options. While there are seven to choose from, they’re all extremely subdued, ranging from Ice White and Onyx Black Metallic to Thunder Grey Metallic and Bright Silver Metallic. If you’re looking for something bold, Denim Blue Metallic is your only option. 

Interior and comfort

When it comes to higher-end vehicles, you can always count on a luxury interior, too—and the XC90 Recharge follows through. The front seats in particular are so comfy you may not want to get out of your car. 
The second row—whether fit with captain’s chairs or a three-seat bench—is equally as cushy, though it doesn’t have as much legroom as some competing models. 
The XC90 makes up for it, however, with best-in-class third-row legroom. It’s not a minivan-level amount of space, but it’s spacious enough for kids to sit comfortably—or adults, if it’s a relatively short drive.
As a seven-seater, the XC90 Recharge only has 11.2 cubic feet of cargo space to work with—standard for midsize SUVs. Pop the back seats down, and you’ll enjoy 64.1 cubic feet of cargo space. 
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Volvo keeps it simple in most areas, but the XC90 Recharge is fully loaded with all the best tech features. With an updated infotainment suite, the XC90 sports Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a voice control system
Infotainment is important but not quite as crucial as having a solid set of safety features. Luckily, the XC90 Recharge has that, too. In fact, it has Volvo’s Pilot Assist active safety suite, which comes with these driver-assistance features
  • Full-speed adaptive cruise control
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Lane centering
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Pre-collision safety system

Warranty coverage

Another place where Volvo keeps it simple is their warranty coverage, which is pretty average. However, they offer complimentary maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, putting them a step above the competition. 
Here’s how the warranty works for the 2021 XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid:
  • Limited warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles 
  • Powertrain warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles 
  • Battery warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles

Trim levels and options

The 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge comes in two different trim options: the sport-focused R-Design or the more luxe Inscription trim. Both are considered topline for the XC90, so they’re set with elegant features like leather upholstery, ventilated front seats with massage functions, a digital gauge cluster, and a Harman/Kardon audio system.  
If these aren’t enough for you, you also have the choice to add five different packages to your XC90 Recharge, from the Climate Package to the Protection Package Premier. 

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a luxury PHEV SUV, the 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge is a worthy choice. Not only is it one of the most affordable options in its class, but it also offers the best price-to-value ratio. 

2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV vs. the competition

We’ve mentioned “the competition” a few times, but how does the 2021 XC90 Recharge actually stack up against the other major PHEV players? Let’s take a look. 
If we’re talking strictly three-row luxury SUVs, the XC90 Recharge wins on price. It’s a near-tie, though, on fuel economy: the
Lincoln Aviator
Grand Touring gets 56 MPGe compared to the XC90 Recharge’s 55 MPGe. 
And both of these lose out to the
X5 PHEV when it comes to the battery-only range. Check out the table below for the numbers. 
Starting price
Fuel economy (gas only)
Fuel economy (gas + electric)
Driving range
Charging time (Level 2)
Hybrid battery warranty
2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid
27 mpg
55 MPGe
18 miles
3 hours
8 years or 100,000 miles
2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV
20 mpg
50 MPGe
30 miles
5+ hours
8 years or 80,000 miles
2021 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring PHEV
23 mpg
56 MPGe
21 miles
2 hours
8 years or 100,000 miles

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