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 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 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 Volvo should have continued the 5cyl in an updated ultra efficient 2.1L smaller displacement version.
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 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 old 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 5PSI drop for T5 models and up to 6PSI drop in T6 models. Volvo should only make the 240HP version front wheel drive to help keep acceleration numbers up. Volvo should offer an ultra efficient 5cyl NON turbo ECO option for 40 and 60 series I believe would get better real world fuel economy than current 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 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 solid, secure luxury 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 in V90 and S90 are a turn off and should have more standard look. 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. As far as exteriors we think the S90 only looks good with rear spoiler option and Volvo should make this standard. After my wife drove a new V90 loaner she told me she does not like the rear profile and after looking at it up close in our garage I also agree with her. It feels to me like Volvo made the rear profile too posh and although an automaker may think women may want to drive that most women actually prefer more rugged looking vehicles which is why so many drive those kinds of SUV's in my opinion. We would like to see the rear of the V90 curve in and stick out less and look more like the V60. It is similar to the interiors and we believe Volvo going too posh will turn off 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.
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 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 a name Volvo has used in the past for their new 4cyl which ironically we found to be less fuel efficient than our old 5cyl Volvos with our experience. I believe Volvo should consider marketing when it comes down to details like a simple engine cover and should have "Volvo Turbo Intercooler" on the engine cover for buyers that want to look at engine before they consider buying.
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.
Volvos Need The Best Brakes
I have been disappointed with how I feel the 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.
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 new model set to dynamic drive mode. I feel this braking assistance before coming to a stop would help increase brake life.
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.
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 I find going through radio station list distracting and harder to read with sunglasses and when there is a glare. There should be a setting to make radio station list larger and not have bar on left of screen which makes it too busy. Some of the icons are way too colorful almost like toy rather than serious vehicle and I would like different themes.
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 liked the previous wood grain it now has dark "gray" wood grain. Then for some reason it seems you can't get any wood grain in R-Design.
Volvo XC90 wheel options are disappointing and Volvo has had some of the best looking wheels and should bring some designs back like P/N 30760064 I would like to see in a 20 inch version for XC90. It appears the 19 inch alloy wheel option I would want for an XC90 T5 Momentum is only available on the T6 Momentum and then Volvo also had the bright idea to make another wheel option I would want 22 inches with ultra low profile tires which I think would be stupid and ridiculous to have due to the risk of blown tires and bent wheels. I would like to know what Volvo is thinking when they make these decisions.
More Affordable Base Volvos
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 40 and 60 series priced $31,000-$33,000 US. Volvo can have them come with smaller alloy wheels, cloth or imitation leather and maybe wouldn't be equipped with blindspot monitoring and other features. Volvo could have PremAir Catalyst radiator coating and call it an 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.
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 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 the batteries also take energy to manufacture then can also create environmental 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 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 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 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 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?