Mistakes That I Believe Volvo Is Making
Volvo Engines and Powertrain
As a long time Volvo customer I have observed mistakes I believe Volvo has made and believe Volvo continues to make. I feel that Volvo has created unnecessary issues for itself over the years such as years ago deciding to offer 6cyl Engines in S80 and XC90 T6 models (1999-2006) where Volvo had to source different transmissions to accommodate 6cyl Engines in these models. When Volvo already had 5cyl Engines that provided nearly as much HP with proven transmissions it had been using it never made sense to me.
From everything I think that I read apparently the sourced 4 speed automatic transmissions used with older 6cyl engines had serious reliability issues and I believe Volvo lost a lot of customers that swore to never buy Volvo again. Volvo already had a proven 5cyl engine that could get nearly the same horsepower and a proven transmission so why create the unnecessary risk?
I am personally concerned that Volvo now going to 4cyl Engines could be a mistake. They are turbocharged and supercharged to get 316HP and I am concerned running this much boost could possibly lead to reliability issues, increased wear or engine failure over time. I feel that Volvo should have just continued the 5cyl in a more efficient direct injection version like the new 4cyl.
I feel going to a 4cyl was pointless because the amount of boost Volvo has to run when Volvo could have went with a 5cyl version with a lot less boost for the same fuel economy. When you increase boost more fuel is dumped every time you press the accelerator even a little and go into boost. I believe this is why compared to our 5cyl Volvos fuel economy has been disappointing.
I think Volvo should have a 240HP and 300HP 5cyl version of the new engine and not go over this or it will reduce fuel economy. In my opinion adding the cylinder with these horsepower numbers could allow for an up to 6PSI drop for T5 models and up to 7PSI drop in T6 models. Volvo should only make the 240HP version front wheel drive to keep acceleration numbers up. Volvo could also offer an ultra fuel efficient 5cyl NON turbo engine for the 40 series.
If Volvo really wants to continue the 4cyl engine then Volvo should increase displacement to 2.4L which should allow Volvo to drop boost around 2.5PSI from the increased engine displacement. I think Volvo should eliminate the supercharger and run less boost to increase long term reliability. I will go over simple things Volvo could do to make engines more fuel efficient below.
Volvo Vehicles and Marketing
1. The 4cyl Engine turns off potential US buyers that would never consider any vehicle with a 4cyl Engine. This means Volvo is losing potential buyers. I feel like Volvo did not consider how this could turn off potential buyers and could become a marketing issue. In my opinion Volvo has this new vehicle lineup but some people won't buy just because of the 4cyl engine and instead go to the competition. It's just the perception of a 4cyl in a luxury vehicle or SUV.
2. We think the standard steering wheel in V/S/XC 60 and 90 series looks cheap and funky and does not give you a luxury, solid, secure look and feel. The first thing my wife told me was she doesn't like the new steering wheel. We have owned 10 Volvos over the years and never had a problem with the steering wheel look. I think that I remember watching an XC90 review and the reviewer said they wished the steering wheel had a more luxurious look.
We think the XC40 steering wheel has a better, more solid, serious look and Volvo should start using that style steering wheel in all of its vehicles. However that steering wheel appears to have a seam running through the middle that does not speak quality and Volvo would need to fix this before using in its entire lineup. We also think the current steering wheel in the V/S/XC 60 and 90 looks much better with the split spoke at the bottom like the R-Design. This would be a quick easy improvement with something Volvo already has.
3. As long time Volvo customers we always liked the interiors because they were luxury but had a solid, utilitarian look and feel. We feel the new Volvo interiors are starting to become a little too funky and are losing that. The two piece rim steering wheel feels cheap and uncomfortable. The dash vents with silver knobs are a turn off and should look like rear pillar vents. The shift boot was nicer in previous models. The font where it says warning on the visor has a not Volvo cheap look. We would prefer manual controls like a Range Rover. Then most new Volvo interiors we see have no traditional dark wood grain. We feel the panoramic roof should be an option and would prefer to not have it. As long time Volvo owners we feel slightly alienated by the latest interiors.
4. I feel that having vehicles made in China or a Chinese brand printed on the windows will turn off US buyers that will go with competitors instead. This was one of the first things I noticed after sitting in some new Volvos and I believe this is not what US buyers want to see in a luxury vehicle brand like Volvo. The only Volvos that should be made in China would be the 40 series.
Volvo Needs Better Marketing
Volvo competitors like Audi, BMW and Mercedes have commercials showing vehicles driven aggressively or tested while bragging about their vehicles and in my opinion Volvo has the most boring uninteresting commercials that also do not connect with potential buyers and make them want to buy. There is a MotorTrend video of a 2017 V90 Cross Country being driven on a rally course. Volvo should have a commercial with a V90 Cross Country driven like that or showing the new Volvo lineup driven aggressively and tested at Volvo proving grounds to a song like Once In A Lifetime by The Talking Heads or something. Volvo needs commercials that are fun, exciting, interesting and different.
Improve Volvo Fuel Economy
Volvo continually advertises its commitment to the environment and reducing CO2 and greenhouse emissions while in my opinion there are some simple things that could be done right now to reduce fuel consumption. It would seem a company like Volvo would also want to reduce fuel consumption.
1. Volvo should slightly reduce horsepower ratings for increased fuel economy and take T5 boost down to get 240HP and make T5 front wheel drive only to keep acceleration numbers up and improve fuel economy. Volvo should take T6 down to 300HP and T8 should be taken down to a combined 380HP. I think Volvo should focus on improving real world fuel economy numbers.
2. Volvo should dramatically improve Eco Mode by focusing on limiting and disabling boost to reduce engine fuel demand during light to normal throttle application until accelerator is pressed quickly and moderately. Turbo boost significantly reduces fuel economy as it increases engine fuel demand. In my opinion this could result in a significant fuel economy improvement.
3. Volvo is now using air filters with restrictive foam layer for noise reduction. In my opinion Volvo could eliminate this then drop boost half a pound with no power loss to provide a slight increase in fuel economy. Volvo should go back to standard filters it had been using and other manufacturers use. I think most can accept more aggressive engine sound for better fuel economy.
4. I would like to see cylinder deactivation at idle and when coasting if it can be implemented without affecting reliability and drivability. I think this would be a great feature to have to save fuel and reduce pollution. Volvo should be doing more with engines before worrying about hybrids and electric.
Vehicle Features and Settings
There should be a setting to retain drive mode because we get tired of having to set the drive mode over and over every time we start the vehicle and sometimes forget. Volvo doesn't even have an automatic emergency brake like Toyota that can be set to automatically engage and disengage when shifted in and out of gear. I don't like the way Volvo does this and we wouldn't use it. With Volvo going all screen and trying to be so tech I would think Volvo could focus on trying to simplify with less steps for drivers to have to worry about.
We feel that only having the screen with lack of manual controls can be a distraction and would like to see some improvements. The climate controls are perfect and the climate control works so well in new models that you rarely have to change the settings so that is not an issue for us. However I find going through the radio station list distracting and harder to read with sunglasses and when there is a glare. There should be a setting to make the station list larger and not have the bar on the left of the screen which makes it too busy.
I have been very disappointed with available vehicle configurations when you go to build a vehicle on the Volvo website. The first example is I couldn't even get traditional wood grain in the V90 Cross Country an over $50,000 vehicle! Volvo has a walnut wood grain for the XC90 Inscription however now you can't even get traditional dark wood grain for the T5 Momentum I would want and although I wanted the nicer previous wood grain it now has "gray" wood grain. Volvo also had the bright idea to make the wheel option I wanted 22 inches with ultra low profile tires which would be stupid and ridiculous to have. I would like to know what Volvo is thinking when they make these decisions.
Volvo Electrifying All Vehicles
Volvo is now pushing electrification which I believe would just shift pollution from vehicles to power plants that pollute and battery production which could be worse in my opinion so I think this makes no sense. I believe there are a lot of people like myself that are not interested in electric or hybrid vehicles because we know more than the average consumer and see potential issues. I believe Volvo would lose a lot of customers and potential buyers.
It feels like Volvo management has no clue that our 2005 5cyl Volvos had near or at zero smog test readings for some pollutants I believe and in addition PremAir Catalyst coated radiators that helped clean the air while you drove. Instead I now feel our new Volvos are less environmentally friendly. It seems Volvo no longer uses PremAir and we actually get worse fuel economy in our new 4cyl Volvos so it feels to me like things have gone backwards!
Volvo continually advertises its commitment to the environment but gives the new XC40 electric 402HP instead of 302HP which should allow for longer range and less charging and would be better for the environment? Does this mean the electric XC90 will get 502HP or 602HP? The customers buying electric vehicles are concerned about range. It makes no sense to me a safety focused company now limiting top speed that so far does not even advertise performance in commercials would have such ridiculous HP ratings.
Plug in electric vehicles are presented as an environmental solution while electricity still comes from power plants that pollute and the batteries take a ton of energy to manufacture and create environmental waste. Sure there should be some electric or hybrid vehicles but in my opinion it would be a huge mistake and risk for Volvo to make all hybrid or electric vehicles. What happens if the batteries start bursting into flames or something? If this is all a company makes I think it could potentially put them out of business.
If Volvo really wants to be an environmental leader why not still use a catalyst coating on radiators for vehicles to help clean the air as they drive? Volvo could be using this as a marketing opportunity to present themselves as an environmental leader and stand out from its competitors. This could easily be passed onto the consumer and cost Volvo absolutely nothing. Think of all the ground level smog this could help remove. Volvo could use this in marketing, have in commercials and is a missed marketing opportunity for Volvo.
Volvo You Are A Car Company
In my opinion Volvo management is too busy acting like they are running a tech company than what should be a great car company. I feel like they are so focused on trying to be trendy and tech worrying about self driving vehicles, electric vehicles, wearing virtual reality headsets and wanting to put cameras in vehicles that it feels like Volvo can't even get basic things right anymore.
The first example is Volvo had the best brakes with our 2005 Volvo V70 and S80 with high quality ATE pads, superior compound that performed better than anything else in my opinion but also quiet and lasted. Now our 2016 XC70 TRW rear brake pads make slight noise and wear prematurely. I am reading complaints about brake pad wear in the new lineup as low as 15,000 miles!
The second example is Volvo had the best sound systems and now I'm seeing complaints about some systems supposedly cutting out not being addressed. The third example is that we could get better fuel economy in our old 2005 5cyl Volvos than our new 4cyl Volvos that have better fuel economy ratings! Volvo should go back to acting like a great car company in my opinion! I am tired of all this trendy tech garbage like self driving vehicle crap that I feel is really an insult to customers when they are having issues with basic things.
Volvo Driving Away Customers
1. I believe that Volvo has lost a lot of customers over the years that swore to never buy Volvo again instead of being repeat customers because of issues. I believe that Volvo needs to do a better job preventing issues in the first place to improve customer satisfaction, save money and retain customers.
For example around 20 years ago I think Volvo decided to source Electronic Throttlebody Modules (ETM's) from some Italian supplier for some vehicles instead of a supplier like Bosch and vehicles were stalling and having issues. Volvo also had the bright idea to go to a 6cyl Engine in S80 and XC90 T6 models (1999-2006) that required a different transmission Volvo had to source that I believe had serious reliability problems and premature failure when Volvo had a 5cyl Engine they could have used with a proven transmission.
2. Unfortunately I think Volvo is continuing to make decisions that are not good for business and will only drive away customers. For example I have seen complaints about premature brake wear on new Volvo models with brake pads being worn at only around 15,000 miles. I also believe Volvo is having an issue with rotors warping and causing vibration at low miles. Nobody wants to drive around in a luxury vehicle with a slight shake in the steering wheel. When customers have issues like this they are probably going to never buy another Volvo. Volvo brake pads and rotors for our 2005 V70 and S80 were high quality and never had premature wear or vibration. I just don't understand when Volvo has something great why they would complicate things.
I feel this is similar to our warranty replacement leather dash with defects like holes under the infotainment screen. I feel Volvo switched suppliers without fully inspecting and comparing with the original dashes. I believe Volvo should have mocked up the trim for the infotainment screen and dash vent trim, compared to the original dashes and should have caught the issues.
3. I already addressed the mistake I believe Volvo is making with its engines that I am personally concerned could lead to future premature failure and believe running so much boost was not the best decision. I think Volvo should play it safe when it comes to preventing issues to retain customers. If a Volvo owner experiences engine failure they will probably never buy again.
4. I believe the following kind of decisions will only help Volvo competitors. I have heard Volvo is going to start putting cameras in vehicles in some attempt to prevent drunk driving or something. I am surprised Volvo doesn't seem to be thinking about how this could hurt sales and I believe it will turn off buyers. Volvo already has collision avoidance with automatic braking and driver alert. Volvo will put a 112MPH limit on vehicles and I think that is going to turn off buyers NOT because people drive that fast but people want to know what their high priced vehicles can do and Volvo should instead limit at 120MPH. If Volvo is concerned about speed then drop the horsepower ratings and why does Volvo have 316HP and 400HP vehicles then it makes no sense. I think Volvo forgets that most people that buy Volvos are very responsible. If Volvo really wants to focus on safe driving bring back the Drive Safely campaign.
Volvo Corporate Not Listening?
I get the feeling that everything is ran through Volvo Headquarters in Sweden and that Volvo Corporate is not listening and not open to input. I am also surprised because I would think the company would not want to lose money on parts from suppliers that have defects and upset vehicle owners but I feel like nobody even inspected or compared the parts I am having a problem with. Then Volvo wasn't even sourcing defect free replacements for vehicle owners? It just makes me wonder if maybe Volvo doesn't care anymore?