THERE were years when Volvo could perhaps have been accused of wandering in the wilderness but for some time now the Swedish car maker has been well and truly back on track.
A strong argument could be made for Volvo's reinvention dating back to the arrival of the original XC90.
In the way that the TT helped to reinvigorate the Audi brand the same could be said of the XC90 and Volvo.
That is quite some time ago - the XC90 burst on to the scene in 2002 and was universally well received.
It enjoyed a lengthy lifespan and after the customary refreshes an all-new model emerged in 2014.
It's hard to imagine the current model has been around in some shape or form for more than five years as it still looks remarkably new, though it retains its modernity and freshness thanks to a makeover in 2019.
That has helped it stay in touch in a competitive pack which also includes the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery. It also has cars such as the Skoda Kodiaq snapping at its heels.
As a family-friendly SUV with the capacity to transport seven people in relative comfort it still ticks a lot of boxes with much to recommend it and little to fault.
When it comes to midlife makeovers these days it's a lot about keeping pace with technology - both in entertainment and connectivity terms and safety features.
Volvo is a firm that has always had an enviable reputation for safety and some of the latest high-tech features include City Safety - which warns of a possible impending collision with a pedestrian, cyclist or large animal and brakes the car if you don't react, Oncoming Lane Mitigation to automatically bring you back into your lane if you drift and Cross traffic Alert which warns you of moving cars as you back out of parking spaces.
The latest XC90 seems to have retained all the strengths of the original yet moved the design on with striking Scandinavian design lines.
While it doesn't look oversized it is actually considerably bigger than the original version.
Interior space is both abundant and well used, with three rows of seats where even the third row is capable of accommodating adults.
Boot space is impressive too, even with all seven seats in use. Flip the rearmost row down and it becomes cavernous, while with all the seats folded it offers a gigantic amount of carrying capacity.
During the wilderness years Volvo interiors lost something of their premium look and feel but the current models are right back there when it comes to giving Audi, BMW and Mercedes a run for their money.
Volvo used to be famed for its ‘floating' centre console - now it's the tablet-style touchscreen which is the dominant feature up front.
It controls pretty much everything and is splendidly easy to get on with from a user's perspective.
Engine-wise there is a choice of two 2.0-litre petrol engines (T5 and T6 delivering 250bhp and 310bhp), there's also a mild-hybrid B5 diesel, which combines a 235bhp diesel unit with an electric motor. A petrol mild hybrid option has recently come onstream. There is also as a plug-in hybrid - the T8.
This was a high-spec R-Design model which aims to deliver a sporty feel and comes with leather upholstery, electrically adjustable sporting front seats with memory function, "metal mesh" detailing on the dashboard, aluminium pedals and plenty more besides.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine might be the lower powered petrol option but it is both smooth and swift, taking this big beast from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds.
A wonderfully refined ride and surprisingly sharp handling for a high-riding SUV also combine to ensure the XC90 offers a thoroughly decent drive overall.