2010 Volvo XC90 Road Test Review

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When Volvo's XC90 SUV first came on the scene in 2003, most critics expected it to be another plush sport ute that wasn't suited for off-road use. The XC90 surprised its detractors by offering unexpected off-road capability and combining it with forgiving on-road manners and, of course, Volvo's reputation for safety.

The XC90 has matured into a luxury SUV market fixture, and continues to offer Volvo's stylish sensibility. For 2010 the standard equipment list has been expanded to include seven-passenger seating, electronic climate control, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, Homelink, a powered driver's seat, integrated booster cushion in the rear, and an eight-speaker CD audio system.

Rather than continuing Volvo's boxy ways, the XC90 was one of the first vehicles in their lineup to sport a more fluid design. A gently raked rear backlight and tapered hood and front fenders provide a distinctive Volvo-family look, while the upright grille and broad, flat body-sides hint at a sturdy undercarriage. Faux skid-plates front and rear remind onlookers that the XC90 does have a measure of off-road ability. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, but nineteen- and twenty-inch alloy wheels are available. The new Volvo R-Design styling package provides a special grille, unique wheels and more extroverted styling.

Comfortable seating is almost a given for Volvo products, and the XC90 doesn't disappoint. A simple, businesslike interior reveals a no nonsense instrument panel and a wall-of-buttons console, and the available navigation system retracts into the dash. The short body conceals three-row seating with space for seven adults. The lone Premium Package adds a glass sunroof, leather seating surfaces, heated front cushions, the Blind Spot Information System, rain-sensing wipers, and memory for the power driver seat.

Items like the navigation system, rear entertainment and the XC90's 650-watt surround-sound audio system are standalone, allowing for greater flexibility when optioning out your vehicle. For ultimate luxury, the top of the line XC90 V8 with the Executive Package adds unique soft leather trim, heated rear seats and ventilated, massaging front seats.

A choice of six- or eight-cylinder power is offered.  The standard 3.2-litre inline six-cylinder produces 235 horsepower. Variable cam timing allows this engine to match the fuel economy of a comparable five-cylinder, and the straight six is compact enough to fit under the XC90's stubby hood while providing the healthy torque numbers that such engines are known for. Topping the range is Volvo's 4.4-litre, 32-valve V8. Variable valve timing and all-wheel drive are standard on V8 models, which produce 311 horsepower and more than respectable acceleration.

The available all-wheel drive system uses a computer-controlled Haldex differential that sends torque to the rear axle when it's needed. The sensitive system is designed to work on a variety of road surfaces, providing surprising security even on rutted trails. The XC90 will tow up to 2,250 kilos (4,960 pounds) when equipped with the V8, and six-speed automatic transmissions are standard across the board.

The XC90's suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multilink independent rear.  The available R-Design suspension is sport-tuned, with heftier front and rear stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and a Nivomat self-leveling rear suspension. On the road, the XC90 is stiffer than many of its competitors, and feels secure and confident when the road gets curvy. Both suspension choices are enhanced by a number of active accident-avoidance electronics, including Roll Stability Control and Volvo's Dynamic Stability and Traction Control. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard, too, of course.

Volvo's XC90 combines the brand's signature styling and safety with copious luxury features and unexpected off-road ability. It's a winning combination. Pricing starts at $51,995 for the XC90 3.2 and goes up to $69,995 for V8 power.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Volvo, 2010, XC90, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Volvo

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