New breed: Volvo XC90 arrives in Australia

How much is your family's safety worth?

More than just a highly polished SUV, Volvo's new XC90 is an impressive indicator for the future of the brand, and it's now available in Australia.

The seven-seat XC90 sees Volvo pushing the limits of its in-car tech, with everything from a Bowers & Wilkins sound system to seat technology that reduces the amount of the collision-induced pressure on your precious, precious spine by up to 30 per cent.

The car also features a rear collision warning system that alerts you to any imminent fender benders, and – in a world first according to Volvo – if that happens the XC90 will auto-brake to keep you from being pushed into an intersection.

Of course, these features don't all come standard on every model, but they're attractive additions.

Decisions, decisions

Two trim options are currently available for the XC90; the entry level Momentum and the more upmarket Inscription, which features an additional chrome grill, embossed side moulding, integrated roof rails and tailpipes, and 20-inch alloys. A third, the XC90's sporty R-Design, will be available by the end of the year.

Volvo is offering two powertrain options at launch – the D5 diesel and T6 petrol – with a third expected to arrive in Australia by February. Called the T8, it's a petrol / electric hybrid, and only available with the R-Design trim.

Behind the wheel, the XC90 doesn't feel like a large seven-seat people mover. Both the D5 and T6 models are positively nimble, although the T6 feels slightly gutsier. The ride is smooth, and the cabin's luxurious, with seats so customisable it's hard to imagine anyone not able to make themselves feel entirely comfortable.

Nothing's free

Naturally all of this comes at a price. The XC90 starts at $89,950 for the D5 with Momentum trim. D5 with Inscription is $96,950, and D5 with R-Design will cost $97,950 when it arrives later this year.

The T6 powertrain starts at $93,950 with the Momentum trim, $100,950 for Inscription, and $101,950 for R-Design.

When the T8 hybrid arrives in Australia next year, Volvo will be asking for a not inconsiderable $122,950.

Volvo sees the XC90 as a new beginning. While the brand has always been renowned (and sometimes scorned) for the priority it places on safety, it sees this as the first step towards achieving zero serious road injuries by 2020.

That's a tall order, but with every model in Volvo's fleet scheduled to be renewed by 2018 – with the XC90 setting the benchmark – Volvo could almost certainly make our roads safer, if not safe, and considerably more stylish, too.