By Casey Liss
Volvo's Key Tag

I’m a day late for my Thankful Thursday “thing I like” post, but yesterday was Erin’s birthday, so, I’m giving myself a bye. Keeping in the spirit of Erin, I’d like to talk about something I really love about her new car.

When we took delivery of Erin’s Volvo XC90, we were presented with this box:

Keys in fancypants box

I’ve never seen nor heard of keys coming in a fancy box like this, so immediately I was impressed. Everyone likes to feel special, and I felt like we were getting the white glove treatment. By comparison, though I bought my BMW used, I’d never heard of BMW keys coming in a fancy box like that.

However, the box isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about that little piece of plastic that’s hiding in the right-hand side of the box. I took out the other full-size key so you could see it. The thing I like this week is the Volvo “Key Tag”.

Erin’s XC90 has a proximity key, which it refers to as a “Passive Entry” and “Passive Start” system. In BMW nomenclature, it’s a part of “Comfort Access”. Regardless of the marketing name, the… well… key here is that you don’t need to ever touch the car key to enter and start the car. For someone who keeps his keys in his pocket, this is a fantastic feature that now I’m not sure I can live without. I can only imagine how convenient this is for someone like Erin who keps her keys in her purse.

In order to open either of our cars, we simply need to grab the door handles, as long as the key is on our person. Once we get in, we can turn the car on without touching the key. When we exit, we keep the key on us, and touch a special part of the door handle to lock the car. This largely obviates the traditional remote lock/unlock features of our car keys. I almost never use my car key to lock or unlock my car remotely; I only do so by grabbing the door handle.[1]

When it came time to claim one of Erin’s keys as my own, I immediately knew which one I wanted: the Key Tag.

Erin’s Volvo came with two traditional—and large—keys that have all the buttons you’re used to: lock, unlock, trunk release, and a panic button. But the Key Tag is the thing I like for this week.

The Key Tag also works as a proximity key, but doesn’t have any buttons on it. By not having any buttons on it, that means the Key Tag can be much much smaller than the full-size keys with remote lock/unlock. For someone who carries his keys in his pocket, that makes a world of difference. Further, the Key Tag is totally sealed, which means it’s also waterproof.

Since Erin wanted to carry a full-size key in her purse, I got my choice of either the other full-size key, or the Key Tag. Without hesitation, I chose the Key Tag. Even if this were primarily my car, I’d almost certainly[2] still choose to carry the Key Tag over one of the traditional keys. Having that much less in my pocket is fantastic, and I wish there were an equivalent for my car.

There’s a lot to like about Erin’s car, some of which I may talk about in the future, but the seemingly simple Key Tag may be my favorite.

  1. Before I get a bunch of "Well, actually"s, the one exception to this rule is that I do occasionally roll down all my windows from afar using my car key. This is not possible by physical contact with the car; only by holding the unlock button on the remote.

  2. The only problem with the Key Tag is that it doesn’t have a traditional “key blade” inside it, should the car’s electronics have a fault. Thus, if I were by myself with Erin’s car, and the battery died, I wouldn’t be able to get in the car to open the hood. That may cause me to carry the large key if it were my primary car, but as an at most occasional driver, I’m not too worried about it.