The slow, Swedish striptease is over. After coyly dropping photos for months—a headlight here, some silky seats there—Volvo finally pulled the cover off its new SUV, the XC90.
“This is one of the most important days in our history, Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement. “We are not just launching a car, but relaunching our brand.” He isn’t understating it. The company, now owned by China-based Zhejiang Geely, hopes this is the vehicle that turns around its U.S. sales. If all goes as planned, the SUV will help double Volvo’s annual sales by 2020.
The company showed off the interior of the car in June, with a big flatscreen in the console, planes of blond wood trim, and a little Swedish flag sewed into the seats. On Tuesday the automaker revealed the outside, and it looks, well, like a luxury SUV. The logo is bigger than those on Volvo’s current SUVs, the hood is longer, and the shoulders are sharper. In context, the headlights inspired by the Norse god Thor (no joke) look like shining hammers.
The XC90 is arguably the first automobile in 15 years made entirely by Volvo, without the legacy of parts it inherited under Ford Motor’s ownership from 1999 to 2010. It wasn’t cheap. Since Geely bought Volvo in 2010 it has poured $11 billion into the company, money that bankrolled, among other things, the design of the XC90, a new platform, and an all-new, ultra-efficient engine that by some measures will be cleaner than that of a Toyota Prius.
The SUV also won’t be cheap to buy, starting at around $66,000 when it hits dealerships next year. The price, roughly in line with a BMW X5, is a sign of Volvo’s confidence that it can compete with its German rivals, which isn’t the case today. In July the average Volvo in the U.S. sold for $41,600, according to Edmunds.com, well below the averages for BMW ($48,900) and Mercedes-Benz ($56,300).
Eager customers can place orders next week for first-edition models jammed with extra options. The cars will cost about $91,000, and Volvo will make only 1,927 of them, a reference to the year the company was formed.