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Is the Volvo XC90's Interior Update the Biggest Modern Leap Forward?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

I think one could make an excellent argument that the changes made to the Volvo XC90's interior between the outgoing model and the new one represent the single most drastic year-over-year interior improvement in the history of the car industry. I mean, seriously, look at the pictures above. Do you believe these cars are only 2 years apart?

Of course, they aren't really 2 years apart. The first interior picture comes from the outgoing Volvo XC90, which was launched all the way back in 2003 and never significantly updated between then and now. The second interior picture comes from the 2016 XC90, which just debuted. So what you have here are two vastly different interiors from two vastly different time periods. But then again, they were sold on the same dealer lots, at roughly the same time -- old XC90 ended production in 2014, and the new one came out early in 2015 as a 2016 model. I pity any dealership that still had a 2014 XC90 on the lot when the new one arrived.

So, what's so different about these interiors? Aside from the obvious answer -- everything -- just look at the old XC90's cabin. It never, ever, added a touchscreen, preferring instead to have a strangely angled center screen rise from the middle of that stereo speaker above the climate-control vents. There are large panel gaps. There are dozens of buttons, many of which are blank. And then there's my favorite touch: an inexplicable hole in the center of the stereo for storage of items roughly the size of a miniature stapler. Presumably, this hole was also jusssst large enough to hold phones they made in 2003.

And then, click over to the next photo, and you see this beautiful new cabin, with its beautiful new wood, its vastly revised interior materials, its gorgeous, enormous touchscreen and no unsightly hole in the dashboard. And you're stunned when you realize that on most dealership lots, these cars only missed one another by a few months.

And so, I must conclude that the Volvo XC90's interior update for 2016 was simply the biggest year-over-year interior leap in history -- unless, of course, you have a bigger one to share. But before you tell me I'm wrong, just look at that hole, right there in the stereo, perfectly sized for an early 2000s Blackberry, and remember that they sold this thing through 2014. And then just ask yourself: Does it really get any worse than that?

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Is the Volvo XC90's Interior Update the Biggest Modern Leap Forward? - Autotrader