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I just early traded my 2017 Momentum for a 2019 Inscription (I was nearing the end of the warranty on a car that had quite a few issues, and I got a great deal on a new lease).

I love the new car, but it triggered a fundamental question of why it is so different.

Obviously the air suspension makes a huge difference in how it rides, but it’s the motor that makes it feel and sound like a completely different vehicle. It is much quieter and lower pitched, and seems to drive/shift significantly differently. I would describe it as the 2019 I drives like a 6 cylinder, and the 2017 M drove like a 4. The 2019 is a *much* more refined vehicle than my 2017 (ignoring the obvious interior refinements of an Inscription).

I never drove a 2017 Inscription and I didn’t try a 2019 Momentum. Do the different exhaust pipes make that much difference? Are there other “mechanical” differences? Or am I mostly seeing the effect of 3 years of refinements that Volvo has put in the car over time?
 

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I completely agree!! When were purchasing our XC90 we test drove a CPO 2016 XC90 that was the same spec as the brand new 2019 Momentum we were looking at. The 2016 drove slight different. The engine in that car sounded louder and less refined than in the brand new car and so we ended up with 2019. The 2019 car has low growl when you start it that sounds like a muted 6 cylinder.
 

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Thankfully Volvo has been incrementally improving every model year (battery, fuel tank, PA, etc) and even within a model year (rear wiper blade). Kris Rifa (YouTube reviewer) also made the same observation about the improved quietness and even the suspension improvement between model years.

My only "complaint" is it would be extremely helpful if there was an official list of improvements and tweaks published so decision making and comparisons would avoid anecdotal evidence.

https://youtu.be/kLzxSTR8t7s
 

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I just early traded my 2017 Momentum for a 2019 Inscription (I was nearing the end of the warranty on a car that had quite a few issues, and I got a great deal on a new lease).

I love the new car, but it triggered a fundamental question of why it is so different.

Obviously the air suspension makes a huge difference in how it rides, but it’s the motor that makes it feel and sound like a completely different vehicle. It is much quieter and lower pitched, and seems to drive/shift significantly differently. I would describe it as the 2019 I drives like a 6 cylinder, and the 2017 M drove like a 4. The 2019 is a *much* more refined vehicle than my 2017 (ignoring the obvious interior refinements of an Inscription).

I never drove a 2017 Inscription and I didn’t try a 2019 Momentum. Do the different exhaust pipes make that much difference? Are there other “mechanical” differences? Or am I mostly seeing the effect of 3 years of refinements that Volvo has put in the car over time?
Were they both T5s? Is the new one T6?
 

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Were they both T5s? Is the new one T6?
Yeah, I was thinking that would play a big difference if OPs 2017 was a T5.

I test drove a MY16 T6 Inscription and a MY17 T5 Momentum, and the 2017 felt sluggish, for lack of a better word, on pickup (e.g. passing) while the T6 felt like a completely different car (especially in dynamic mode). Completely different experience.
 
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