U.S.:2004 Volvo XC90: Introduction
Swedish Flagship: We begin a year in Volvo’s shot at the SUV market
By WES RAYNAL
(All photos by Roger Hart)
LIKE GAZILLIONS OF soccer moms nationwide, we’ve succumbed to crossoveritis. So much so we’ve added Volvo’s new upmarket SUV, the XC90, to the AutoWeek long-term fleet.
And adding it wasn’t easy. We ordered our Volvo back in October. Unfortunately ours was one of the 358 XC90s aboard the Norwegian cargo ship Tricolor—the one that went down in the English Channel on Dec. 14, 2002, after colliding with the Kariba, another container ship.
But finally, after months of international wrangling and trans-Atlantic phone calls, a shiny crystal green metallic XC90 arrived at our doorstep June 17. We hope over the next year to see if crossovers really do provide all the utility of a bigger vehicle without the behemoth size and cumbersome handling from which many SUVs suffer.
XC90s come in two flavors, one with a 2.5-liter, 208-horsepower turbo-charged five-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission like the one we ordered, and a 2.9-liter, 268-horsepower twin-turbo inline-six as an option. Both engines are transverse mounted.
XC90s have a bunch of stuff as standard equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, eight-way power driver’s seat, power windows, dual-zone electronic climate control and a trip computer.
To that list we added the option-al metallic paint, heated front seats, headlight washers, the third-row seats, power sunroof, power passenger seat, six-CD changer and all-wheel drive. The grand total came to $43,320.
That price, of course, includes Volvo’s traditional long list of safety equipment: rollover protection, inflatable curtains for all three rows of seats (plus the third-row seats get belt tensioners), roll stabil-ity control, side- impact airbags, dual front airbags and whiplash protection system, to name part of the list.
Volvo says XC90 buyers are about 46 years old, mostly women. The company also says a majority of them are married with a median household income of around $175,000. They own three or more other cars.
The competition? Volvo sees it mainly as the Acura MDX, the Mercedes-Benz ML320, the Lexus RX 330 and the BMW X5 3.0i.
When we recently put a Lincoln Aviator through our AutoFile testing; many owners said they also considered the XC90.
The XC90 uses Volvo’s P2X large-car platform (lengthened a couple of inches) and shares most of its mechanical bits with the S60 and S80 sedans and the V70 wagon. Front suspension is MacPherson strut with coil springs, hydraul-ic shocks and a stabilizer bar; rear suspension is an inde-pendent multilink setup with coil springs, hydraulic shocks and a stabilizer bar. Steering is rack- and-pinion, and four-channel ABS with electronic brake distribution is standard.
Most around here think our new toy is pretty good- looking, like a taller V70 wagon (there is 8.5 inches of ground clearance). The interior is handsome, too, and uses Volvo’s sedan switch- gear and instruments.
We haven’t had our XC90 for too long, but we tested one on the West Coast. The ute accelerated to 60 mph in 9.15 seconds (the V8-equipped Aviator was more than a second quicker) and there is no turbo lag. The Volvo stopped from 60 mph in 135 feet (14 feet less than the 4818-pound Lincoln).
Meanwhile, here in the Midwest we’ve already start- ed putting on the miles. The XC90’s all-wheel-drive system uses an electronic clutch, and in normal driving 95 percent of the torque is sent to the front wheels. Once those begin to slip, the system sends torque increasingly to the rear wheels.
So that means the han-dling is pretty much neutral, and is biased toward understeer when the road gets twisty and you begin to push harder.
The XC90 is stable on the freeway, and pleasantly, there is little of the jarring rocking back-and-forth/tippy feeling over road imperfections you can get with some sport/utility vehicles.
We haven’t been off-road yet, but we will. We don’t necessarily expect the XC90 to climb Kilimanjaro, but we certainly hope it is good enough off-road to at least get us to our favorite camping and fishing spots.
Meanwhile, with its seven-passenger seating, the Volvo should do a fine job hauling things and ferrying our families to baseball games, swimming pools and barbecues—all that summertime stuff for which people use SUVs.
And it looks like it will hold up well, too. The fit- and-finish inside looks and feels first-rate, so far at least. All the buttons and controls are placed logically.
We’ll let you know over the next year whether it can keep up the good work over the long haul.
2004 VOLVO XC90 INTRODUCTION
PRICING & OPTIONS
(includes $685 delivery): $43,320
Options: Premium package, with moonroof, leather and power seats, six-disc in-dash CD changer and Homelink Universal
Transmitter ($2,575); awd ($1,750);
versatility package, with third-row seating with a/c, rear headphone outlet, self- leveling rear suspension and second-row center cushion ($1,675);
18-inch wheels and tires ($750);
climate package, with air filtration, rain sensors, heated seats and headlight washers ($595);
metallic paint ($450);
reverse warning system ($400)
Wheelbase (in): 112.5
Track (in): 64.9 front, 63.9 rear
Length/width/height (in): 188.9/74.7/70.2
Curb weight/GVWR (lbs): 4361/6005
dohc turbocharged I5
Horsepower: 208 @ 5000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 236 @ 1500-4500 rpm
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Fuel requirement: 87 octane
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 2.86:1
Front: MacPherson struts with coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and antiroll bar Rear: Multilink with coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and antiroll bar
Discs front and rear, ABS, aluminum wheels, Michelin Pilot HX MXM4, 235/60R-18 102V M+S
EPA rating (combined): 20 mpg
TRACK TEST DATA *
0-60 mph: 9.15 sec
0-quarter-mile: 16.79 sec @ 84.6 mph
60 mph-0: 135 ft
490-foot slalom: 39.8 mph
Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.75 g
INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)
Full throttle: 70
Steady 60 mph: 62
*Test car equipped with 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged I6, four-speed automatic transmission and awd
(middle photo)We'll have to wait and see whether the 208-hp single-turbo five-cylinder engine will satisfy us over the next year. We might wish we had ordered the 268-hp twin-turbo version.
(below right)Some of the XC90's options include a few items shown above, such as the six-disc in dash CD changer.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....