2003 Volvo XC90 Reviews

2003 XC90 New Car Test Drive


Volvo says its new XC90 is 'the first SUV with a conscience.' It gets straight to the heart of the matter by directly addressing the three big SUV issues. 1. It gets good gas mileage and the five-cylinder version has ultra-low (ULEV) emissions. 2. It has a gyroscopic sensor that detects a possible impending rollover, activating a Roll Stability Control system to apply braking and cut throttle to correct the imbalance; also, there's a high-strength steel roof structure, just in case. 3. It has a unique low front chassis crossmember, about the same height as the bumper of a sedan, designed to inflict less damage on any vehicle or its occupants that the XC90 might strike. 

A totally new vehicle, the 2003 Volvo XC90 looks like a cross between a Volvo Cross Country wagon and a BMW X5. Unlike the BMW, the new Volvo is roomy, with a versatile interior that boasts more cargo space than the Mercedes M-Class, Acura MDX, and other vehicles in this class. The XC90 offers a comfortable ride quality and handles well. It's powered by turbocharged five-cylinder and six-cylinder engines and we actually preferred the 2.5T five-cylinder version. 

Volvo XC90 was named 2003 North American Truck of the Year by a jury of 49 independent automotive journalists. 


Volvo XC90 is available as two models, the 2.5T and T6. 

2.5T uses Volvo's proven inline five-cylinder turbocharged engine, here displacing 2.5 liters and delivering 208 horsepower with 236 foot-pounds of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. 

T6 uses the S80 sedan's inline six-cylinder with twin turbos, pumped up to 2.9 liters with 268 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds, and mated to an automatic four-speed. For the XC90, both engines have been slightly increased in displacement from previous versions, and tuned to deliver more horsepower and torque. 

Volvo has kept the base price of the front-wheel-drive 2.5T down to a very reasonable $33,500 (MSRP) by limiting standard equipment, thus making the vehicle with its root strengths more affordable. However standard equipment does include the Roll Stability Control, full-length side curtain airbags (another first), AM/FM/CD player, fog lights, power driver's seat with memory, dual zone climate control, cargo cover, tinted windows and a trip computer. Major options include electronic all-wheel drive ($1750), the Premium Package with leather power seats, a moonroof and 6-disc changer ($2575), the Versatility Package with the third row of seats and its accessories ($1,675, requiring the Premium Package), and navigation system with DVD map ($1895). Stand-alone optional goodies which may be important include Xenon headlamps ($300), a vertical cargo net ($300) which keeps gear in the back (a 60-pound dog flying forward at 30 mph weighs 2700 pounds, points out Volvo), reverse warning beeper ($400), 17-inch alloy wheels ($500), rear audio controls and headphones ($100), integrated child booster cushion for the second-row middle seat ($150), and Dolby 12-speaker sound system ($750). There are also dealer accessories such as a drop-down DVD entertainment system. 

The T6 comes standard with all-wheel drive and most of the equipment from the 2.5T's Premium Package. Base price of an AWD T6 is $39,975. 

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