14 innovative features in Volvo's latest electric SUV

Volvo’s XC90 is not your average car. 

The company’s latest luxury SUV is beautifully designed and chock full of innovative details, including tons of high-tech safety features and a number of handy conveniance functions. 

Recently, I had the chance to take a 2016 XC90 T8, which is Volvo’s plug-in hybrid version of this car, on a drive upstate. While I only had the car for three days, I quickly fell in love. 

Here are the 14 features that impressed me the most.

1. Instead of a push button for you to start/stop the engine, you start the car by simply keeping your foot on the brake and turning the engine knob to 'start.'

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The first thing you will notice once you start the car is how incredibly quiet it is because of the electric motor.

2. To park, you simply hit the 'P' button in the center console.

Volvo

3. Apple CarPlay is easy to set up in the car and makes accessing all of your iPhone's data while driving incredibly easy.

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Volvo's 9-inch touchscreen display basically turns into a giant iPhone when using CarPlay. There's even a 'Home' button that takes you back to your start screen where all of your controls are.

4. If you need to do some off-roading, you can easily change the drive mode to adjust the suspension.

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By hitting the silver Drive Mode module on the center console, you can easily switch between different driving settings. You'll notice the car going up or down depending on the setting you switch it to.

5. You can choose from three pre-set sound experiences, all of which sound amazing. My personal favourite was the Gothenburg Concert Hall.

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Ten Bowers & Wilkins speakers are discreetly tucked away to provide the incredible sound.

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6. If you don't want to use the touchscreen, you can also adjust different settings by using the controls on the steering wheel. One simple feature that comes in handy is voice control. Simply hit the icon of a person speaking located on the right side of the steering wheel and give a command.

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I used this for navigation several times. I also used it to change the radio station.

7. If you don't want to type the address or use voice commands, you can also enter your destination into the navigation system by writing the address with your finger.

8. The heads-up display makes following directions and watching the speed limit so much easier.

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Here, I'm adjusting the brightness of the heads-up display, but what is usually showing is your current speed and the speed limit. If you begin to speed, the numbers will flash to alert you to slow down.

Navigation instructions will also appear in the heads-up display when you are using the native navigation system. For example, when you are approaching your exit, the road and your upcoming turn would appear on the display.

9. Customisable displays make the car more personalised and easier to use.

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The 'Minimalistic' mode was my personal favourite for the 12.3-inch instrument panel. I also had it set so that my navigation would also appear in the instrument panel so I wouldn't have to keep looking down at the display screen.

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10. Sensors underneath the car make loading and unloading easy. Just kick your leg under the car and the trunk will open or close.

11. The 360º cameras are insanely helpful, especially when parking.

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Cameras and other sensors detect when you are getting too close to anything on any side of the vehicle and will alert you by showing which area is cutting it close.

12. The car's Lane Keeping Aid feature makes it so you are always where you need to be.

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As you drive the XC90, you'll feel the wheel directing itself into the correct position within your lane. At first, this was a little weird, but I quickly adapted and now I can't imagine driving a car without this feature.

The car is also loaded with a number of other driver assistant technologies, including a collision avoidance system, Park Assist Pilot, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist.

The Cruise Control with Pilot Assist was extremely helpful while driving on the highway. It basically uses sensors to track the car in front of you and follow it at a certain speed.

Pilot Assist will do the steering for you at 30 miles per hour and under, but you have to keep control of the braking.

13. Another major safety feature that was a lifesaver (literally) was the blind spot alert system in the side mirrors.

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I had two girlfriends travelling with me while I was test driving the XC90. Needless to say they prefer Snapchatting over playing navigator, so I had to rely pretty heavily on the Volvo's safety features. I found the blind spot signal one of the most helpful safety functions.

14. The car has a 4-zone electronic climate control so passengers can individually adjust the temperature.

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