2005 Volvo XC90 New Car Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a dandy V8 engine is not all that this 2005 XC90
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
more good news: the headrests do not have to be
removed to fold the seats flat.
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.
the seats - folding, unfolding, sliding, etc. -
is remarkably easy so that all the Volvo's interior
capabilities are easy to realize.
interior feels spacious and headroom is ample, thanks
to the swelling roofline than resembles a shirt
ballooning on a fast-moving motorcycle rider.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Can you count $11,000 less?
Can you say base?
Volvo XC90 V-8
x 74.7 x 68.7 in
4.4 liter V-8, 311 hp/325 lb-ft
automatic, all-wheel drive
front airbags, side impact and curtain airbags
More Information Click: Volvo
For the Volvo 2005 Model Guide