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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 Volvo XC90 Review

by Martha Hindes

Volvo XC90
2005 Volvo XC90

For doubters who figured they'd never see a V8 engine in a Volvo, the 2005 model year must have come as a shock. The Swedish automaker, steeped in a tradition of nothing larger than a six-cylinder engine since it was founded in 1927, announced it had a V8 powerplant for its largest and most popular vehicle, the XC90 crossover.

Actually, any automaker in the premium crossover league would be hard pressed to not have a V8 at present. Competitors such as VW with its thundering Touareg crossover and the American public's penchant for throaty-sounding engines have made it a necessity in the high-stakes luxury crossover sector where about one in three is a V8.

But leave it to Volvo to make it typically their own. Despite being rated at 311 horsepower with a wide spectrum torque curve -- an engine's twisting, driving force especially during acceleration -- Volvo has managed to keep it compact size. It is sandwiched into the engine compartment in a transverse installation to maximize safety by keeping optimum energy absorbing "crumple zones" in event of an accident. It is mated with a new, six-speed automatic transmission and features what Volvo calls the world's first all-wheel-drive with instant traction. (Think security in just about any conditions.) It also beats out the competition with its ULEV II low emission standards.

Beyond power, Volvo hasn't forgotten the amenities for '05. Among the additions are improved rain sensing windshield wipers, now standard with restyled flat blades for better cleaning. A tire pressure sensing system becomes standard, as does HomeLink garage door transmitter. Volvo also includes its next generation of seats and adds Magic Blue and Titanium Gray as new colors.

The new V8 version adds more authoritative exterior trim, including 18-inch tires and twin exhausts to sweeten the lure. Will Americans spring for a Volvo with a "classic V8 throb," overlaid with a sophisticated European purr, in addition to its five and six cylinder versions? Volvo is betting its $45,395 "well-equipped" V8 price tag that it will.