While SUVs have waned in popularity in the last two years, safety and sportiness never go out of style. The Volvo XC90 is a luxurious seven-passenger SUV that also happens to be a rolling vault.
Virtually every square inch of the XC90 is engineered with safety in mind. Safety features include eight airbags, crumple zones, seats engineered to guard against whiplash and a state-of-theart traction and stability control system to prevent rollovers.
"Volvo is a company that was founded on the philosophy: 'Cars are driven by people ... and so our guiding principleis safety,'" explained Allen Miller, sales associate with Volvo Chattanooga, at 6037 International Drive.
DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: The XC90 comes in two engine variants. Our tester was equipped with a 235-horsepower, inline six-cylinder engine - the sales volume leader. A V-8 packing 311 horsepower is also available. On a test drive on a twisting road near Chickamauga Dam the XC90 took sharp curves with aplomb. A clutchless manual transmission mode is available for adventurous drivers. The six-cylinder is adequate for most driving situations, although the V-8 would come in handy for heavy hauling. The XC90 rolls on attractive 18-inch alloys.
INTERIOR FEATURES: The XC90's interior comes with standard leather seats and a power moon roof. The second row seats have some ingenious touches, including a built-in child booster seat in the middle that slides forward, almost touching the front buckets. The two, third-row seats are perfect for children and small adults up to 62 inches tall, according to Volvo. A two-stage rear hatch includes a tailgate that supports up to 300 pounds, making it easy to wash and wax the top. Fold down the second and third-row seats, and you've transformed the XC90 into a serviceable cargo van.
BOTTOM LINE: With so many standard features, there's no need to pile options on the XC90. The SUV also runs on regular gas, which helps save pennies at the pump. Our wellequipped tester - a top government safety pick - included an eight-speaker stereo and power driver and front passenger seats. For a limited time, Volvo is offering a "Safe and Sound" warranty that includes free factory-recommended maintenance and roadside assistance for five years or 60,000 miles.
MODEL: Volvo XC90
COLOR: Silver Metallic
ENGINE: inline six-cylinder (235 horsepower).
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic.
FUEL ECONOMY: 22 mpg highway, 15 mpg city.
BASE PRICE: $37,700.
PRICE AS TESTED: $39,100.