Mistakes That I Believe Volvo Is Making
Should Feel Like Progression
As a long time Volvo customer I believe Volvo is ruining its brand and vehicles that are losing the sophisticated European feel they used to have and has ruined anything from suspension to transmission programming and brakes. I feel that compared to previous Volvos they now feel clumsy and stupid from softer struts with slower suspension rebound to jerky brakes due to too soft of brake pads to lack of downshifting hurling vehicles to stops in my opinion. It felt to me like vehicles were progressing as I would expect but now feels like Volvo is going backwards and basics have gone out the window in my opinion. When I drive a new SPA Volvo it should feel like something I want to buy. I created this hoping to get through and lay out a roadmap for improvement.
Volvo Engines and Powertrain
As a long time Volvo customer I have observed mistakes I believe Volvo has made and continues to make over the years such as years ago deciding to offer 6cyl Twin Turbo Engines in S80 and XC90 T6 models (1999-2006) where Volvo had to source different transmissions to accommodate 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 these 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 around nearly the same horsepower with proven transmission so why create this unnecessary risk?
It feels like history is repeating itself with Volvo going to small 4cyl engine and adding a supercharger in addition to turbocharger for T6 models. If that is not enough I feel Volvo wants to slap an electric motor in everything needlessly complicating things to get more power and fuel efficiency instead of simplifying and focusing on smarter more capable and efficient engines in my opinion.
I believe Volvo should have continued the 5cyl with an updated ultra efficient 2.1L smaller displacement version with less boost and 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 feel that this is why fuel economy has been disappointing with the new 4cyl compared to our old 5cyl Volvos.
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 5PSI drop for T5 models and up to 6PSI drop in T6 models. Volvo should only make 240HP version front wheel drive to keep acceleration numbers up. Volvo should offer an ultra efficient 2.1L 5cyl NON turbo 200HP ECO base engine for 40 and 60 series I believe would get better engine based fuel economy than hybrids.
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 3PSI from the increased engine displacement. I think that Volvo should also eliminate the supercharger to improve efficiency, simplify and cut costs in my opinion. I will go over things Volvo should 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 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 solid, secure luxury look and feel. The first thing my wife told me was she doesn't like the new steering wheel. I think that I remember watching an XC90 review and the reviewer said they wished steering wheel had more luxurious look. We think the split spoke one piece rim R-Design steering wheel just really looks and feels much better and 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 too funky and are losing that. We think the dash vents in V90 / S90 for higher end vehicle look cheap and funky and think the way Subaru did their vents just looks much better. The font where it says warning on visors has a not Volvo cheap look and should not have changed. Then most new Volvo interiors we see have no traditional dark wood grain. We feel panoramic roof should only be on Inscription and prefer to not have it. As long time Volvo owners we are feeling alienated by the latest interiors.
4. As far as exteriors we think the S90 looks far better with rear spoiler option and Volvo should make this standard. Volvo should also only make V60 and V90 in Cross Country since buyers are moving toward more SUV like vehicles. After my wife drove a new V90 loaner she told me she does not like the rear profile after looking at it up close in our garage. It feels like Volvo made the rear profile too posh while most actually prefer more rugged looking vehicles which is why so many drive those kinds of SUV's in my opinion. We want the rear of the V90 to look like the V60 which we think is perfect. It is similar to the interiors and we feel Volvo going too posh will turn off potential buyers.
I feel having Chinese brand windows with China printed on the windows of some vehicles turns off some 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 brand like Volvo. The only Volvos that should be made in China would be the 40 series.
Volvos Need The Best Brakes
I have been very disappointed with how I feel brakes hold up in new Volvos. Volvo had the best brakes in my opinion with P2 generation Volvos that I feel were unmatched in terms of performance but also durability and longevity. After the horrible experience with our 2016 XC70 rear brakes and complaints I have read about brakes grinding as low as 15,000 miles on practically new Volvos I feel this hurts their reputation and makes customers think Volvos are now unreliable, not as safe as they were and will never buy again.
What I believe Volvo did in my opinion is they went too far trying to get a little more grab out of brakes with softer pads which has compromised brake life and now there is too much grab with braking that is just jerky and feels like a clown car at times in the new Volvos I have driven. I think it was an absolutely stupid move to have high end luxury vehicles with jerky braking in my opinion and another reason in my head not to buy new Volvos. With P2 Volvos I feel drivers had more control of brake force and brakes were not jerky.
I believe Volvo should go back to the same brake pad and rotor material used with P2 generation like our 2005 V70 and S80 that never had issues, lasted and made us feel confident in the safety, durability and reliability of our Volvos where we felt we could always rely on our brakes unlike our new Volvos. I also feel newer Volvos do not downshift like they should after letting off accelerator before a stop unless and this is needlessly hard on brakes. I feel this braking assistance before coming to a stop would help increase brake life.
Improving Volvo Suspension
I feel that Volvo completely ruined the ride and handling in new SPA Volvos and may have switched to inferior struts with softer less precise dampening. After driving a V60 and V90 Cross Country I was shocked that the ride and handling no longer felt European to me and actually felt boat like in my opinion when the front end was slowly bobbing up and down on the freeway. I could not help but think and feel that Volvo must have switched to something like Monroe that I believe are inferior to Sachs that Volvo has used in my opinion. The slow bobbing up and down on one part of freeway was so bad it actually made me feel nauseous and the handling in our 2016 XC70's and even our 2005 V70 and S80 felt superior with better ride quality in my opinion.
Improving Shift Programming
The transmission shift programming in new Volvos ruins the driving experience and seems like someone at Volvo was too worried customers God forbid might feel shifts instead of just making actual shifts slower and smoother when they happen so shifts are hardly noticeable in my opinion. When approaching stops at times it feels like there is a lazy delayed downshift and feels like you are being hurled into stops like a clown car at times in my opinion. I believe this may have also been done for fuel economy to keep engine RPM and rolling resistance lower however Volvo should instead focus on reducing boost and program engines to stay out of boost until hard throttle application.
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 drive new Volvos and sometimes forget. Volvo should also have an automatic emergency brake like Toyota that can be set to automatically engage and disengage when shifted in and out of gear. We don't like the way Volvo does this and use it manually. 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.
When trying to play music from music collection on my USB drive in a new Volvo I was horrified and found it to be very distracting that I could not just go into my folders and select songs shown by each artist in alphabetical order like our 2016 XC70ís which made sense. Volvo had it setup to display by song in alphabetical order or by album under artists when I went to library and just felt like my music was a mess and difficult to get to unlike P3 Volvos. I am not sure if there is another way I am missing but for me was a distracting mess.
If that was not already enough in a new Volvo I also had trouble with the audio settings in new V60 with the Harmon Kardon system. I always found that the midrange and center by default is turned up too high in most Volvos and have always turned it down for what I find to be a richer audio experience. However unless again I am missing something under sound experience on the touch screen I could not figure out how to do this and when I tapped custom for what I thought was equalizer it never went to anything and was just disappointing.
We feel only having screen with lack of manual controls can be a distraction and would like to see some improvements. The climate controls are perfect and hardly require adjustment for us however when playing music instead of composers option it should be folders then show songs in alphabetical order. There should be a setting to make radio station list larger and not have bar on left of screen which makes it too busy. I personally find music also showing in the instrument cluster to be annoying and there should be setting to disable.
I have been disappointed with available vehicle configurations when you go to build a vehicle on the Volvo website. The first example is you couldn't even get traditional wood grain for the V90 Cross Country an over $50,000 vehicle! Volvo did have walnut wood grain for XC90 Inscription but should have been a nicer darker brown because it looked too light in person and now you can't get traditional dark wood grain for T5 Momentum that looked better in my opinion. Volvo now seems to be pushing gray wood grain so I would probably not buy. Then no wood grain in R-Design when black ash would really look perfect.
Volvo XC90 wheel options are disappointing when Volvo has had some of the best looking wheels and should bring some designs back like P/N 30760064 and P/N 31202584 in a 20 inch version for XC90. Instead in my opinion some wheel options I have seen look dumb and as if they do not even belong on an XC90 like some mindless corporate decision. Volvo also had the bright idea to make another wheel option I would want instead of 20 inches or maybe 21 inches 22 inches with ultra low profile tires I think would have a harsh ride and be stupid and unsafe to have due to risk of blown tires and wheel damage. I would like to know what Volvo is thinking when they make these decisions.
More Affordable Base Volvos
Volvo used to sell lots of NON turbo base vehicles that made Volvos affordable to the masses and I feel Volvo has been moving away from that and becoming less inclusive wanting to push higher priced vehicles like hybrids and electric turning into a less inclusive snob brand in my opinion. Volvo wagon pricing is becoming out of control and makes no sense in my opinion. I believe there was a V60 Cross Country T5 with an MSRP that made no sense to me when you can actually buy a Volvo XC90 for the same price. I believe many vehicles will sit on dealer lots and eventually be sold heavily discounted. Volvo should focus on cheaper base FWD cross country wagons as an SUV alternative.
Volvo strategy should be to sell more vehicles and sell eco friendly vehicles to the masses with an ultra efficient 2.1L 5cyl or 2.4L 4cyl cheaper NON turbo 200HP 40MPG base engine for XC40 priced $32,000 US and $34,000 for S60. The V60 Cross Country base FWD should be competitively priced at $38,000. Volvo should have them come with less features, imitation leather seats and PremAir Catalyst radiator coating then market engine as cleaner Eco engine. If our V70 NON turbo from 2005 could average 28MPG and did 0-60 in around 8 seconds with 170HP since Volvo is able to get more power from engines and now has 8 speed transmissions then this should be possible and could even be sporty with aggressive transmission programming and higher shift points.
Simplifying To Reduce Costs
Volvo in my opinion should simplify to reduce costs and increase profits and my first move would be to get rid of the supercharger in T6 models and make engines turbo only for one engine and turbo combination with three different power levels through boost controller and ECM programming. For example for V/S/XC60 240HP T5 and 280HP T6 then 300HP R version of same engine and upcharge a lot for an engine that costs Volvo nothing more. Volvo can offer 240HP T5 and 300HP T6 version for V/S/XC90 and then 320HP T8/R version Volvo could also upcharge even more for when the engine is the same.
Volvo should eliminate hybrids and have more efficient T5 and T6 models with PremAir because they are not that fuel efficient unless using pure electric and tend to be less reliable which could reduce warranty expenses in my opinion. This would push hybrid buyers toward electric vehicles and simplify lineup. I think Volvo should go back to brake rotor and pad material used in P2 S60, V70, S80 models to reduce warranty expenses from having to replace warped rotors under warranty that develop runout causing vibration in steering wheel. I strongly believe this would increase customer satisfaction and retention.
I would go even further and eliminate anything that could simplify production and reduce costs such as what I feel are the unnecessary and over the top little Swedish flags on some seats and unnecessary nets near center consoles below dashes since already center consoles and door pockets for storage. Personally I think the flags and nets look tacky in a luxury vehicle anyway. I would eliminate window shades in Inscription models if Volvo is still doing that since I feel shades could reduce visibility and kids could damage. The plastic rear bumper trim piece for V90 Cross Country should also be eliminated.
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 least competitive and most boring commercials that do not connect with potential buyers and make them want to buy Volvos. Volvo should have a commercial showing the new lineup driven aggressively and tested at Volvo proving grounds to a song like Once In A Lifetime by The Talking Heads and needs commercials that are interesting and different.
As a long time Volvo Customer I personally feel Volvo marketing is terrible. I feel like there has been some reluctance to even show crash testing and push safety in commercials maybe because safety might seem boring. Volvo should make safety edgy and cool with commercial showing engineers obsessing over safety to a song like the acoustic version of Talking Heads Psycho Killer. I am not an electric vehicle fan but the Recharge name for Volvo's electric vehicle lineup is terrible in my opinion and should have been Drive-E instead which is name Volvo has used in the past for their new 2.0L 4cyl engine.
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. I think they could make Volvo engines far more efficient and cleaner right now.
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 368HP. I think Volvo should focus on improving real world fuel economy numbers.
2. Volvo should dramatically improve fuel economy 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 efficiency as it increases engine fuel demand. In my opinion this could actually result in almost hybrid like fuel economy.
Volvo should compensate through increased transmission downshifting and to maintain performance Volvo could make boost fully available when throttle is initially applied with programming that will back off boost when it detects easy to normal throttle application and hard acceleration is not necessary. When someone is slowly or hardly pressing the accelerator vehicle should stay out of boost until hard acceleration is needed and rely on transmission.
The only hybrids I think Volvo should be making are vehicles with hybrid Turbo engines that function as normally aspirated during easy to normal driving until hard throttle application that instead use increased transmission downshifting to compensate and assist with acceleration when normally aspirated. I think this is also where a 2.1L 5cyl or larger 2.4L 4cyl would really benefit with more available normally aspirated horsepower for less reliance on boost.
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 another increase in fuel economy. Volvo should go back to standard filters it had been using and other manufacturers use. I think most can accept slightly more aggressive 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 could even have a 5cyl that runs as a 4cyl engine most of the time. If other companies use cylinder deactivation I don't see why Volvo couldn't as well. Volvo should do more with engines for those that would not buy hybrid or electric.
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 is still an issue 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 new 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.
Volvo should discontinue hybrids and program T5 and T6 models to stay out of boost until moderate throttle application to reduce fuel demand for hybrid like efficiency and bring back PremAir Catalyst radiator coating in my opinion. Volvo hybrids are wasteful, complicated and pointless in my opinion. Volvo should focus R&D making T5 and T6 models more environmentally friendly to eliminate hybrids and have higher priced fully electric vehicle alternatives that have around 300-320 horsepower for less charging and more range.
Plug in electric vehicles are presented as an environmental solution while electricity still comes from power plants that pollute and batteries take energy to manufacture then could also create mineral shortages and waste. Sure Volvo should have an option for electric vehicles but in my opinion it would be a huge mistake and risk to only make hybrid and electric vehicles that have already been out for years and never caught on and could also be a liability if there were ever issues which I think could put them out of business.
If Volvo wants to be an environmental leader Volvo should have more efficient engines and still use a catalyst radiator coating to help reduce pollution for customers that would never buy hybrid or electric vehicles in my opinion. The cost could be passed onto the consumer and cost Volvo absolutely nothing. Volvo could use this as a marketing opportunity to present themselves as an environmental leader and stand out from competitors. Volvo could use this in marketing, have in commercials and is a missed 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 brake pads, superior compound that performed better than anything else in my opinion while quiet and lasted. Now our 2016 XC70 rear brake pads started grinding and ruined rotors prematurely. I have read complaints about brakes grinding in the new lineup as low as 15,000 miles!
The second example is Volvo had the best sound systems and I have seen complaints about some systems supposedly cutting out in some new Volvos. 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. It feels like Volvo is back at it complicating things with hybrid powertrains that in my opinion the complexity and potential for issues outweighs the benefit. I believe I have seen complaints on social media from unhappy hybrid owners.
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 have to 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 personally believe Volvo is making a mistake with its engines that I am concerned could possibly lead to premature wear and future engine 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.
I feel that forcing hybrid and electric vehicles on potential buyers as if some new perfect solution would only drive away customers. Sure offer higher priced electric vehicles as an option but I think it would be stupid and reckless to drive away and alienate potential buyers and an entire mass customer base pandering to most vocal few demanding electric vehicles as if some new perfect solution while most of these people would not buy Volvos anyway and electric is not some new concept and seems like trend in my opinion.
4. I believe the following kind of decisions will only help Volvo competitors. I have heard Volvo might 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 would think they would want to listen to long time customers and sell more vehicles. I am also surprised because I would think the company would not want to spend money on parts from suppliers with defects and upset vehicle owners but it feels like nobody 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 just doesn't care anymore?