Having undergone a number of updates for 2007, the Volvo XC90 sees few changes for 2008. The midsize luxury SUV has an available V-8 and seating for up to seven. Competitors include the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Cadillac SRX.
The XC90 debuted in 2003 amid doubts about SUV safety, particularly with regard to rollovers. Thanks to an array of advanced safety features — seat belt pretensioners for all seats, side curtain airbags that stay inflated longer during a rollover, and an electronic stability system with rollover mitigation technology — the XC90 largely avoided the concerns that plagued its competitors. More recently, Volvo added swiveling headlights, a rearview camera and the automaker's Blind Spot Information System, which monitors adjacent lanes for unnoticed vehicles. All three are optional.
Trim levels include the six-cylinder — dubbed simply "3.2," as in the engine's size — as well as the V8 and V8 Sport. All-wheel drive is standard on the V8 and V8 Sport; it's optional on the six-cylinder.
The XC90 carries Volvo's familiar face — not the boxy angles of yore, but the smoother, friendlier look that's been present since the early 2000s. Door handles and side mirrors are body-colored, and the mirrors incorporate turn signals. The roof rails are trimmed in black or aluminum.
The 3.2 has 17-inch wheels, while the V8 has 18-inchers. The V8 Sport comes with a sport suspension and 19-inch rims, as well as body-colored fenders, a chrome grille and silver scuff plates.
The dashboard and instrument panel dome employ slanted, angular themes, as does a three-spoke steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. An optional backup system includes a rearview camera that maps the XC90's projected path on a dashboard screen. Various console knobs have chrome coverings, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror is now standard. The V8 model can now be had with Sapeli wood trim, which covers the shift knob and steering wheel, among other areas. An Executive Package adds upgraded floormats and swaps the standard leather for even softer hides.
The XC90 seats five people in two rows. An optional third row bumps capacity up to seven, but it's a tight squeeze in back (Volvo recommends the third row for occupants 5 feet 3 inches or shorter). A built-in child-safety seat in the second row adjusts forward up to 12 inches to keep children closer to adults up front.
The rear seats fold down, as does the front passenger seat. With all seats stowed, maximum cargo volume measures 92 cubic feet in five-seat models and 93.2 cubic feet in seven-seat models.
Under the Hood
A 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine produces 235 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque. The available 4.4-liter V-8 generates 311 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission.
When properly equipped, the XC90 can tow up to 4,960 pounds.
Offering unmatched safety in its segment, the XC90 comes loaded with four-wheel-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with Roll Stability Control. RSC, now shared with various Ford, Mercury and Lincoln SUVs, anticipates impending rollovers with a gyroscopic sensor. It can attempt to avert them by cutting torque and applying individual brakes.
Side-impact and side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats are standard, with the latter designed to stay inflated longer in rollovers. All seat belts include pretensioners that cut slack in the event of a collision. Most seat belt systems include this provision only in the front seats.
The XC90 also receives Volvo's Blind Spot Information System. BLIS adds a small camera to each outside mirror to measure movement in the driver's blind spot and activate warning lights for the driver when necessary.
Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights automatically rotate up to 15 degrees based on steering wheel input to illuminate corners better than conventional headlights.