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2005 Volvo XC90 V8 Review

2005 Volvo XC90 New Car Review

The Volvo XC90 is an SUV that expands the category called "crossover," a more-car-than-truck middle ground of four-wheel-drive vehicles. Crossovers have better road manners than pure SUVs. They are not meant so much for rugged back-country activities as for ordinary household use to lug, tote and carry people and their things securely in all weather conditions. In short, they are meant more for bad roads than off-road.

Volvo XC90 V-8 Exterior

The current 2004 XC90 edition proved to be more successful in the marketplace than expected, but Ford, owner of the Swedish company, thought that some changes were needed to keep the momentum going. The song says: "If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band." And if you wanna play in the luxury SUV market you gotta have a V8 as an option.

That's the conventional wisdom and for 2005 that's what Volvo's XC90 offers - a V8, the first in the company's history. After its debut in the American market the V8 version will go global.

And such a cleverly designed, beautifully realized, compact, willing V8 it is. A wonderful engine. A triumph of adroit packaging it sits sideways in the engine bay oriented east-west in a north-facing car. Taking less space for an engine means more space for people and their things.

Volvo didn't develop the engine, nor did Ford, but Ford remembered where nearly a decade ago it went for a fine V8 for the Taurus SHO and so it called again on Yamaha in Japan. Known primarily for world-class motorcycles, Yamaha knows how to pack big power in small packages.

The engine's cylinders are slightly staggered so they'll fit. The V they make is 60 degrees. The result is an engine about two and a half by two feet square (29.7" by 25") weighing less than most because of its aluminum block and cylinder heads.

Some statistics: 311 horsepower at 5850 RPM; 325 foot-pounds of torque at 3900 RPM. Torque is the force that hastens you across intersections or shoots you smartly past trucks on two-lane highways and up the on ramp onto freeways. Horsepower is about speed; torque is about launching and merging.

The V8 comes with a new six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode called Geartronic. It will make you wonder how you ever tolerated a four speed.

Another bright feature of the V8 engine is its cleanliness. It's the only gasoline-powered V8 to earn ULEV status, which stands for Ultra Low Emission Vehicle in the government's designation system. That's impressive. Also deserving some praise is the engine's expected gas mileage; between 16 and 21 miles per gallon. With this being a weighty vehicle (4600 pounds) with a V8 engine, those figures are better than average for such a vehicle.

But a dandy V8 engine is not all that this 2005 XC90 offers.

If you are still looking for a boxy Volvo you'll have to find a used car lot. The XC90 is smooth of line and of generally pleasing proportions, which, like wearing black, fools the eye into seeing it as actually smaller than it is. It looks capable and purposeful and indeed it is.

The V8 XC90 gets some exclusive appearance touches - 18-inch wheels, for instance, and body-colored side molding and door handles. The dual exhaust pipes might be a tip off, too. And the graphite gray grille.

Volvo XC90 V8 Interior

The XC90 has seats for seven in three rows, although the rearmost are best left for kids. The new all-wheel drive system is invisible to the driver appearing when needed distributed electronically to the proper wheels. The Haldex AWD in the V8 is quick to respond and even more sure of foot in sudden slipperiness than before. The vehicle's ground clearance (8.9") means that drifted snow or muddy roads will have a tough time keeping you from where you want to go. Yet with its wide stance the XC90 feels well planted and the body roll in turns hardly noticeable.

A full complement of electronic alphabetically tagged adjuncts are on board. You'll recognize ABS (anti-lock braking) but suffice it to say the others keep the braking power at its optimum and distributed in the most beneficial manner for any driving conditions. Traction and stability are electronically attended as well so that unwanted slipping and sliding and side roll are simply dealt with at a threshold below your awareness.

Though Volvo is not actually the Swedish word for safety the name has been so long identified with safe driving that it could be. The driver and front-passenger get side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags protect even the third row of seats. ROPS, if you're up for another serving of alphabet soup, stands for "Roll-Over Protection System," of particular interest to buyers of vehicles with higher centers of gravity than sedans.

If drivers of varying stature share your car you'll like the fact that the XC90 front seats are electrically adjustable eight ways, with a 3-position memory on the driver's seat. And the steering wheel adjusts up and down and telescopically as well.

There's fingertip access on the steering wheel to the cruise control and the audio system. The latter, by the way, offers am/fm with a six CD changer in the dash.

Volvo XC90 V-8 Seating

The various configurations (64 but whose counting?) possible in the interior make for wonderfully flexible use so any owner can customize it to cover a multitude of situations. Even the front passenger seat folds flat so truly lengthy objects can be swallowed in 9 ½ feet of unobstructed space. The total capacity for cargo with all passenger seats folded is 92.3 cubic feet. To compare with some competitors: Acura MDX, 81.5; BMW X5, 54.5; Lexus RX330, 84.7.

And more good news: the headrests do not have to be removed to fold the seats flat.

The center bench seat of the XC90 operates in an ingenious fashion. It is split in thirds - 40/20/40 - and the sections slide forward independently. An integrated booster cushion can be ordered for those seats. With the center console between the front seats removed (easy enough) the center section of the second row can slide forward to a position nearly between the front seats. What a way to deal with a young one's separation anxiety. And the proximity makes a parent a less distracted driver.

Manipulating the seats - folding, unfolding, sliding, etc. - is remarkably easy so that all the Volvo's interior capabilities are easy to realize.

The interior feels spacious and headroom is ample, thanks to the swelling roofline than resembles a shirt ballooning on a fast-moving motorcycle rider.

The XC90 rides and handles quite well. It's a good highway cruiser, quiet and smooth. However, if sporty behavior through twisty bits means more to you than a roomy, flexible-use interior then the Infiniti FX or BMW X5 would be more to your liking. The Volvo's steering lacks the easy precision of those vehicles, too, but is more than up to most demands.

Volvo XC90 V8 Features

The XC90 V8 is priced around $46,000. A DVD navigational system can add $2120. To keep the back seat occupants separately entertained, $1995 will buy a dual screen system with separate input jacks. If you want heated seats you'll need the Climate Package at $625.

Others: Touring Package $1795. Includes 12-speaker premium sound system; alloy 18" wheels with 235/60R18 tires; wood inlays; wooden steering wheel. Convenience Package, $1,300. Includes rear parking assist; security cover; cargo net; power child locks and power retractable exterior rear-view mirrors.

The Volvo XC90 comes in two other models for 2005. The T6 AWD has a turbo-charged inline six-cylinder engine good for 268 HP and 289 ft-pounds of torque, which costs about $5000 less than the V8. However, it has a four-speed automatic that compares poorly to the transmission in the V8 and even to the 5-speed in the
base XC90.

The base front-wheel drive XC90 wears Volvo's proven 2.5-liter turbo-charged inline 5-cylinder engine (208-HP/236 ft-lbs of torque). With a 5-speed automatic this may be, at $34,840, the value package in the line up, even though it doesn't have all-wheel-drive.

A scenario: the new V8 engine succeeds in putting the Volvo XC90 on shopping lists it would have missed before. The family enters the show room to kick a few tires. Mom, with Sonny on one hip and Missy by hand, is captured by that sliding center seat, the ease of changing seat configurations and loading kids and gear. And its safety reputation. And who really, really needs all-wheel drive with proper winter tires … Can you count $11,000 less? Can you say base?

2005 Volvo XC90 V-8
Wheelbase: 112.6 in
Overall length: 188.9 x 74.7 x 68.7 in
Engine size: DOHC 4.4 liter V-8, 311 hp/325 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Air bags: Dual front airbags, side impact and curtain airbags
Fuel mileage city/hwy: 16-17/20-21 mpg (preliminary)
Base MSRP: $45,395

For More Information Click: Volvo XC90
For the Volvo 2005 Model Guide : Click Here