2006 XC90 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo XC90 offers classic Volvo attributes in a midsize SUV. It's strong on safety, comfortable, and practical.
Its roomy interior seats seven, and there's more cargo space here than in other vehicles in its class. The cabin is luxurious, with nice firm seats and most of the bells and whistles most of us want. People who opt for a BMW X5 over one of these read magazines that use stopwatches and accelerometers for yardsticks. The XC90 handles well on streets and highways, but it also offers a comfortable ride. All-wheel drive with Volvo's new Instant Traction system makes the XC90 an excellent choice for nasty weather. Buyers choose between a 4.4-liter V8 and a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Each gets better gas mileage than most comparable seven-passenger SUVs.
Volvo's reputation for safety is not just marketing talk. Volvo puts an incredible amount of time, money and effort into research and engineering designed to protect driver and passengers. We've seen XC90s hurled across parking lots by giant mechanical hands, followed by handfuls of engineers taking detailed measurements and notes. Volvo engineers are known to rush out to accident scenes immediately after they occur to assess the damage to their vehicles. In base trim, the XC90 is competitively priced, but Volvos tend to cost more than they might due to the safety engineering that goes into them.
Safety features that come on all XC90 models include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist, and traction control. A gyroscopic sensor can detect an impending rollover and correct the imbalance by applying just the right amount of braking force to specific, individual wheels. Structural safety features include a roof structure built of high-strength steel and a low front cross member designed to inflict less damage to occupants of compact vehicles.
The 2006 Volvo XC90 is available in two variations: the base XC90 2.5T with its five-cylinder engine and the XC90 V8 introduced for 2005. (The six-cylinder T6 model has been discontinued.)
The XC90 2.5T ($35,640) uses Volvo's proven inline five-cylinder turbocharged engine. This 2.5-liter engine is rated at 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and comes with a five-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive. All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction, which minimizes wheelspin, is available ($1,775).
The XC90 V8 ($45,840) is powered by a 4.4-liter V8 developed to Volvo specifications by Yamaha, the Japanese motorcycle builder and auto engine specialist that several years ago built the powerplant for the Ford Taurus SHO. The new V8 generates 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive system with Instant Traction comes standard.
Active safety features that come standard include Roll Stability Control, which uses a gyroscopic sensor to reduce the possibility of a rollover by applying brakes and modulating engine power. All XC90s also have electronic stability control to help keep the car on the driver's intended path even when tire grip is challenged. Passive safety features include side-impact airbags for torso protection, in addition to the required frontal airbags. Full-length, curtain-style airbags, designed to provide head protection in a side impact or rollover, cover all three rows. The seats feature Volvo's Whiplash Protection System, which moves them back and downward if the vehicle is hit from behind, reducing neck snap. Third-row seatbelts have pretensioners, designed to reduce injury caused by the belts in a crash. Volvo also designed a crumple zone at the rear, for added safety in a rear-end collision.
Standard features on both models include 17-inch wheels, 12 beverage holders, three power outlets, a CD player, trip computer, power windows, doors, locks and mirrors, and an eight-way power driver's seat with memory.
The popular Premium Package ($2,995) is available to upgrade the 2.5T, and includes leather seating surfaces, a power front passenger seat, memory mirrors, a power moonroof and upgraded audio with a six CD changer. The Versatility Package ($2,100) can be added to the premium package on the 2.5T and includes the third row of seats and its accessories, including separate controls for the rear air conditioning unit and audio systems, as well as a built-in second-row child booster seat, and Nivomat self-leveling rear suspension.
The V8 adds speed-sensitive power steering, eight-way power for the front passenger's seat, leather seating surfaces, a six-CD changer, auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror and memory function for the exterior mirrors, ventilated disc brakes instead of the solid rotors on 2.5T, self-leveling rear suspension, a third-row seat with air conditioning, rear audio system with head phones and color-coordinated body trim.
A Touring Package ($1,795) is available to upgrade the V8, including 18-inch wheels with 235/60R18 tires, premium 305W sound system with 6-CD in-dash changer, 12 speakers and Dolby surround sound, genuine wood inlays, leather gearshift knob and wood steering wheel.
Options for either model include bi-xenon headlamps ($700), metallic paint colors ($475), headlamp washers and heated rear seats ($675), a navigation system ($2,120), 18-inch wheels in chrome ($1,900) or alloy ($750), a premium sound system ($775), a rear-seat entertainment system with two headrest-mounted seven-inch color screens ($1,995), and an interior air quality system ($175). A Convenience Package ($1,295) can be added to either model, including rear park assist, power retractable rearview mirrors, cargo security cover and net, and power child rear door locks.