Final Decisions on Ordering our 2018 Volvo XC90

Coming off of the Christmas holiday, New Year's celebrations, and family leaving; we settled down with our availability to travel to Sweden to pick-up our car. Having had so much time-off from our search, I'm now less convinced that we want the Inscription. The R-Design looks like maybe it will be more fun! The Momentum is cheaper, but still gets us the free trip included; and it' still the T8 hybrid, which is what matters. Does it even make sense to do OSD? Maybe just ordering off-the-lot now that it's the end of the year, or ordering via A-Plan makes the most sense.

Models

Inscription

The Inscription is Volvo's top of the line trim (excluding the odd-ball four-seater Excellence trim). It includes some nicer trim options (such as leather seats) and additional package options designed to make the interior feel more luxurious or comfortable (such as leather dash for the former, or ventilated seats for the latter).

The Inscription model felt like the most natural choice given the buy-in and nature of the car. If I was going to spend more than twice the cost of my current car, it should either be luxorious or it should be sporty, if not both. Given the size of Volvo's XC90, it seemed like the former was more likely.

R-Design

The R-Design by contrast is the sporty model. Think of it as a 17 year old buying his first SUV, possibly when he's 34 and starting a family. Some people like the looks of the R-Design, others prefer the chrome accents of the Inscription. Neither is particularly garish nor understated, but the looks (inside and out) are essentially the difference between the two models. There's no performance differences, although the R-Design does come with flappy paddles.

Momentum

The Momentum is the basic trim. There's an optional package to get back some of the features standard at the higher trim, such as adaptive head lights. It's certainly still not a cheap car, pricing higher than an entry-level SUV and any stock minivan, but it is a great value if you're simply looking for a hybrid seven-passenger SUV. Lower-spec models are even more affordable, with the under-powered T5 coming-in just over $40k.

OSD? A-Plan?

I ran the numbers for OSD and A-Plan. Interestingly, the value for the two fixed-rate plans changes depending on whether your vehicle's configuration leads to a price biased towards options or the vehicle's base price. OSD tends to provide a better discount on the vehicle, but with higher prices for options (although you might make up some of that difference by ordering the options once you're in Sweden, and avoiding sales tax).

Momentum Cost Breakdown

The minimum spec we're considering would be the T8 Momentum. I'm picky about colour, and want the upgraded sound along with a few other niceties, so we end-up with a base price of $66,795. This means a bump of just over 10% of the base price, but in the scheme of things (as we look at the other models), roughly $7k isn't that bad.

XC90 T8 Momentum (OSD) price breakdown:

OSD
59 750Momentum Base Price
1 050Momentum Plus Package
1 950Convenience
595Paint
250center child seat
3 200Sound
66 795Total

Inscription

OSD A-Plan
64 85065 847Inscription Base Price
1 9501 833Convenience
595559Paint
250235center child seat
3 2003 008Sound
70 84571 522Subtotal

As I've mentioned, if we were going to drop upwards of $50k, I'd expet the car to feel upscale, and more refined. Well-trimmed leather presents a more comforting impression than hard plastic, and as such, the Inscription had been the model we were primarily considering. An Inscription model with the same equipment as our spec'ed Momentum added about $4k to the OSD price.

OSD A-Plan
3 1502 961Luxury Package
1 8001 692Air Suspension
1 000940Tailored dash/panels
900846HUD
300282Heated Steering Wheel
6 2506 721Inscription Options Subtotal

The Inscription also provides some additional options; the HUD and Air Suspension are also available for the R-Design, but the Luxury Package, Heated Steering Wheel, and Tailored dash/panels are only available on the Inscription.

Summed-up with our options, the Inscription comes to around $77k, or just under the 10% target discount from OSD. This looks a little less impressive when you look-up actual selling prices on-line, such as Edmunds.com's True Market Value which comes out to $75,213 for this configuration. That means we'd be essentially paying $1,882 (2.5% of the OSD cost) for a premium economy round trip for two to Sweden, one night stay in a posh Gothenberg hotel, a couple meals, travel to and from the airport, short-term driving insurance in Europe, a tour of the Volvo factory, and the ability to custom select the options for our car. In my opinion, 2.5% is a fair price to pay to pick options, given the difficulty finding the precise (or even approximate) configuration in inventory (which tend to have lots of white Inscriptions for some reason). Looking on-line, for a random month in the future, the cheapest premium economy cabin seats are on SAS, and running around $1,400 each. My wife and I would like the trip to Sweden, so this seems like an even better deal!

OSD A-Plan
64 85065 847Base Price
5 9955 675Basic Options
6 2506 721Inscription Options Subtotal
1 194fees (A-Plan)
77 09579 437Total Price
7 8055 463Discount from MSRP ($84,900)
9.2%6.4%Discount from MSRP

R-Design

OSD A-Plan
63 75064 813R-Design Base Price
1 9501 833Convenience
595559Paint
250235center child seat
3 2003 008Sound
69 74570 488Subtotal

The R-Design, spec'd to our Momentum-base configuration is slightly cheaper than the equivalent Inscription. It gets flappy-paddles on the steering wheel, but a couple other things are nominally less up-scale (cheaper options), like the aluminum inlays in place of wood.

OSD A-Plan
1 8001 692Air Suspension
900846HUD
300282Heated Steering Wheel
3 0002 820R-Design Options Subtotal

Since the R-Design doesn't support the tailored-dash and luxury package options, which together upgrade the interior to look more like a luxury vehicle (think Jaguar or Mercedes), the R-Design ends-up separating from our spec'd Inscription even further. If we could get the flappy paddles on the Inscription, this would be a no-brainer comparison; it's somewhat odd at the way the R-Design and Inscription break-out at the top of the Volvo line-up. Also odd, is trying to figure-out if the heated steering wheel is an option on the R-Design, and if it is, whether it deletes the flappy paddles (the predominant reason for choosing the R-Design over the Inscription); on-line reports vary, and there are some that have definitely taken delivery of heated flapp-paddle R-Designs, but it may vary based on market (e.g. Canada vs. USA) and while some European sites (and formerly the US site) allowed choosing a heated steering wheel, it's unclear if this resulted in losing the flappy paddles. Volvo's aftermarket accessory guides only make it clear that not all cars can be equipped with a heated steering wheel.

The end result is the same 9.2% off of MSRP we saw with the Inscription, but an even higher 3.2% ($2,259) price difference from market value. If you still wanted this model (which is cheaper than the Inscription), it may be a good deal despite the higher premium over an inventory purchase. You still get your trip to Sweden and custom configuration.

OSD A-Plan
63 75064 813Base Price
5 9955 675Basic Options
3 0002 820R-Design Options Subtotal
1 194fees (A-Plan)
72 74574 502Total Price
6 9955 238Discount from MSRP ($79,740)
9.2%6.6%Discount from MSRP

R-Design vs. Inscription

There are a few differences between the R-Design and Inscription options. The R-Design comes with flappy paddles, but does not allow a heated stearing wheel for a US spec car (other countries appear to have had this option previously). The Luxury Package and Tailored dash/panels are also exclusive to the Inscription level.

For completness, here's how the Inscription compares to the R-Design with an equivalent configuration (i.e. removing Inscription-only options):

OSD A-Plan
72 04572 716Total Price
7 8055 463Discount from MSRP ($79,850)
9.7%8.9%Discount from MSRP

This significantly narrows the gap in price for the Inscription between OSD and A-Plan, and more noticeably also Edmund.com's True Market Value of $71,476. With OSD, you're $569 paying over TMV (0.8% over) and getting a trip for two to Europe.

OSD

We're still doing OSD, that much is clear. We're planning what we'll do and have already marked the window over the summer we have to take delivery. The resolution between Inscription and R-Design is less clear. Having never owned an automatic car, I'm not quite sure what to think of the flappy paddles being part of an automatic set-up (I've driven automatics with manual "overrides", and they don't feel responsive at all); at the same time, maybe they'd provide the needed responsiveness an automatic would normally be lacking?