VIDEO: Pairing a Phone and Using the In-Car Tech on the 2016 Volvo XC90

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When you pick up your 2016 Volvo XC90, the folks at the dealership can help pair your phone, but what if you want to pair a device later on?
You can visit the dealership again, but editor Craig Fitzgerald can help you in this video, and he provides a rundown of the infotainment features the XC90 offers.

The Volvo XC90 has a ton of functions on the infotainment screen, but it’s helpful to think of the home screen in four main sections from top to bottom: Navigation, Media, Phone and what we call a “User Defined Screen.” We’ll explain that a little further down in the text.

We’ll go through all of the sections one by one, but we’re going to start with the phone pairing procedure.


Craig starts by pairing an Apple iPhone 5s, but the pairing procedure is going to be the same, regardless of which phone you have.

Pair Phone Screen

STEP 1: Make sure that your device’s Bluetooth functionality is turned on and is in search mode.

STEP 2: On the Volvo XC90’s infotainment screen, click the “PHONE” tab.

STEP 3: Click the “ADD PHONE” function. That’s going to bring up a popup that will ask if you want to pair from the phone to the vehicle, or from the vehicle to the phone. Either the phone will find the vehicle or the vehicle will find the phone automatically, so just keep an eye on your device and the infotainment screen to see which one works faster.

STEP 4: In the video, the Volvo XC90 found the phone quickly, so click OK. The screen will then ask if the passkey matches the one that will pop up on the device. If it does, click yes.

STEP 5: The XC90 will then ask whether you want to pair the device’s messaging and media functions, as well. If you’d like to pair all of those functions, click the applicable functions and select “YES”.

Note: also provides basic pairing guidance, and links to every other major US auto manufacturer’s web pages with instructions how to pair your Bluetooth device with their vehicles.


If you’re using an Apple device, the Volvo XC90 is equipped with Apple CarPlay. To use it, you’ll need to plug your lightning wire into the USB port and your phone. Apple CarPlay mirrors the home screen on your Apple iPhone, making it much easier to navigate and utilize apps on the Volvo XC90 infotainment screen while you’re driving.

Apple CarPlay

CarPlay restricts the apps on your phone to just those that would be safe to use while driving. You’ll find your phone, music and message icons on the infotainment screen, along with audio apps like Apple’s Podcast app, and third party apps like Stitcher, Audible and Pandora.

The Volvo XC90’s navigation functions are easy to set. The “Set Destination” function is available right a the bottom of the screen, and you simply enter the destination from the screen.
If you’re driving, though, you can also set a destination with the steering wheel mounted controls.
Steering wheel mounted control
Simply press the voice button (the uppermost button on the right steering wheel spoke), speak “SET DESTINATION”, speak your address, and then press “START NAVIGATION” on the screen to start the route guidance.


The Media functions allow you to access media sources on your paired device — either through Bluetooth or through the USB or Auxiliary ports — as well as the media sources on the XC90, such as AM, FM and XMSirius bands on the radio.
It’s also where you set all your sound preferences, via the Sound Experience button.

Click the Media screen and you’ll navigate to the main media screen. It will display information on the media source currently playing in the XC90.

If you want to change the media source, swipe the screen to the side and you’ll land on a page that shows all the available media sources at the top (AM, FM, XM, Bluetooth, USB, Aux, etc.).

Then click your desired media source, and you’ll return to the main media screen.

At the bottom of the media sources screen, you’ll also see the Sound Experience button.

Sound Experience

Clicking that button navigates to a screen with a number of sound presets, as well as the ability to set sound preferences on your own with graphic equalizers, balancers and faders to suit your taste.


Clicking the Phone section navigates you to the main phone screen. Along the left side of the screen, all the major phone functions are available, from top to bottom: Contacts, Recent incoming and outgoing calls, Keypad, and Change, which allows you to switch off between different paired devices.

Phone Screen

You can also access the phone’s different functions by selecting the voice command button on the right-hand steering wheel spoke.


The last section of the home screen on the Volvo XC90’s home screen is user defined, meaning you can change this section depending on your preferences.

User Defined

In the video, we start out with that section displaying “Car Status,” but you can also change it to display other functions. Watch the video to see how to change what’s displayed in that bottom section.


From the home screen, any time you swipe to the right, you’ll land on the Vehicle Functions screen. Not long ago, all of the things in this screen used to be scattered across the dashboard in a network of buttons, but now they’re neatly contained in this one screen.

Vehicle Settings

From the Vehicle Functions screen, you can turn off and on features like Lane Keeping Aid, Park Assist, rear Cross Traffic Alert, Distance Alert, and the Auto Stop/Start feature that turns the engine off when it’s at a full stop.

It’s also where you access functions like the Volvo XC90’s panoramic 360-degree camera system. The default mode is that the camera displays a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the Volvo when you select Reverse, but you can reset that screen to display other views.


The Volvo XC90’s infotainment screen has an infrared film covering it, which is there for one major reason: So that you can access the functions while you have gloves on. It’s a welcome feature when the weather is cold.

The biggest disadvantage to the screen is that it picks up a ton of fingerprints. Every touch and swipe on the screen leaves a smudgy trail of exactly what you were doing. It’s a matte screen, so it’s even more evident than it would be on a screen of an iPhone or similar device.

Smudge Screen

Volvo provides a special cloth with the XC90 to clean that screen, and there’s a procedure you should follow to get the best results. Below the infotainment screen, there’s a button, sort of like the “Home” button on an iPhone or an iPad. Before you clean the screen, press and hold that button until the screen goes dark. It allows you to clean the screen without navigating through the functions.

You’ll only clean that screen six or seven hundred times a day, so you’ll get familiar with how it works pretty quickly.

Once you’re done cleaning the screen, just press the button and it reactivates the screen.


While most of the functions of the Volvo XC90 require you to become intimately familiar with the screens, there are a number of buttons and knobs that control some major functions, just below the touch screen.

Buttons and Knobs

There’s a large volume control in the middle with a “PLAY” and “PAUSE” feature, as well as a search/seek button in both forward and backward directions to scroll through your music sources, or through the stations you’ve saved in memory on the radio. Hazard lights and front and rear defroster functions are available here as well.

On the far right, there’s a funny-looking icon that you’d never figure out until you pressed it, but it operates the glovebox lid.


We had five days to get familiar with all the infotainment functions on the 2016 Volvo XC90. We’ll be honest that at first it seemed pretty foreign and needlessly complex, but after you spend a bit of time with it, it becomes more intuitive.
The more familiar you are with the features of a modern tablet or smartphone, the easier the XC90’s screens and functions will be to navigate. It even replicates some of the “Pinch and Zoom” functions of an iPad on the Navigation screen, which is handy for changing views.
The only nagging disadvantage? The fingerprints on the screen, so get used to using that cleaning cloth.
Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at