What Matters & the Volvo XC90

Although some people might think that when it comes to vehicle purchase decisions, exterior styling and performance matter most, while those characteristics are important, turns out that there are other, newer, factors at play.

Although some people might think that when it comes to vehicle purchase decisions, exterior styling and performance matter most, while those characteristics are important, turns out that there are other, newer, factors at play.

According to the “2016 Autotrader Car Tech Impact Study,” 65% of consumers surveyed said they would switch brands to get the technology features they wanted.

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Think about that for a minute.

The “technology” that is being referred to here has nothing to do with the mechanicals of the cars in question. It’s not whether the vehicle is made out of aluminum or high-strength steel. Not about turbocharging.

It’s about things like park assist, collision avoidance, automatic braking, and the availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Notably, that 65% is a massive increase from the figure obtained in a study for 2014, which had only 9% potential switch rate.

People are willing to switch brands predicated on screens and audio systems, navigation and self-parking.

Clearly, this is a massive shift in consumer requirements.

According to Rachelle Petusky, Autotrader research analyst, “Consumers have learned to integrate the technology into their lives. When they get into their cars they expect to stay connected with simple and easy smartphone integration. The manufacturers who blend that with autonomous features are the ones who will win.”

And speaking of winning, at CES last week, Autotrader sibling firm Kelley Blue Book presented its first-ever “Best Auto Tech Award,” predicated on the judged vehicles offering, explained Karl Brauer, the company’s senior director of Insights, CarPlay and Android Auto and how the on-board systems performed vis-à-vis such things as voice recognition, navigation accuracy, response times, menu clarity, and intuitive operation.

The winner of that award—besting the other finalists, CUE in the 2016 Cadillac CTS, HondaLink in the 2016 Honda Accord, MIB II in the 2016 Volkswagen Passat, MyLink in the 2016 Chevrolet Spark, and UVO in the 2016 Kia Optima—is Senus in the 2016 Volvo XC90.

(The Volvo XC90, incidentally, also happens to be the autofieldguide 2015 Crossover of the Year.)

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One of the people instrumental in the interior of the 2016 XC90 is Tisha Johnson, chief designer, Interiors.

And on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” John McElroy sit down with Johnson and talk about Volvo’s approach to interior design, ranging from the technology to the Swedish materials and minimalism that make the XC90 a winner on many fronts.

You can see it right here: