Volvo's first sport utility vehicle, the 2003 XC90, came 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-type 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.
For 2007, Volvo adds more safety features to the XC90: headlights that swivel to better illuminate corners, a rearview camera and a Blind Spot Information System that can alert drivers to nearby vehicles.
Other enhancements include an all-new 3.2-liter, six-cylinder engine (a V-8 is still the top choice) and some minor styling revisions.
Most onlookers won't distinguish a 2007 XC90 from the 2006 model. Both have the same familiar Volvo face — a diagonally bisected grille with scalloped headlights. The 2007 XC90 frees sections of the lower bumper from the black plastic cladding attached to older models, but it's hardly a dramatic rescue. The redesigned taillights have lower clear portions but maintain the same shape.
The door handles and side mirrors are now body-colored, and the mirrors incorporate turn signals. The roof rails are trimmed in black or aluminum, and optional wheels measure 18 inches in diameter.
All-wheel drive is standard.
The dashboard and instrument panel dome employ slanted, angular themes, as does a three-spoke steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. Changes for 2007 are minor: An optional backup system now includes a rearview camera that maps the XC90's projected path on a dashboard screen. Various console knobs get chrome surrounds, and the new Sovereign Hide leather upholstery is said to have a softer feel than last year's not-so-sovereign hide.
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. It replaces last year's turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder that made 208 hp and 236 pounds-feet of torque. An optional 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 5,000 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-type 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, which debuted on several 2005 models. BLIS adds a small camera to each side mirror to measure movement in the driver's blind spot and activate warning lights on the A-pillars when necessary.
New xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights automatically rotate up to 15 degrees based on steering wheel input to illuminate corners better than conventional headlights.