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.
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.
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.
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.
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