My first impression of the Volvo XC90 is that it's not your typical SUV. It appears very sophisticated and expensive. I'm a little weary about throwing kids in the backseat, knowing it will soon be littered with cracker crumbs.
My fist task is to install my kids' car seats. The Latch connectors are on the two outer seats of the second row, making car seat installation a cinch. I'm thrilled that I can easily fit a third car seat in the middle if I need to. My test vehicle arrived with an optional pop-up booster seat, which slides forward for easy access to your child. My daughter thinks this is cool and is extremely distraught that she does not yet meet the 33-pound minimum weight requirement for it. This particular version of the XC90 is a seven-seater with room for two more small people in the third row.
Next I load up the cargo space. I am hugely impressed by the versatility of the Volvo XC90's cargo area. With the third-row seats up I still have plenty of room for an umbrella stroller and all essential baby gear. The level of the cargo area is perfect for changing diapers when you're on the run with no proper changing table in sight. I'm finally ready to jump in. The driver's seat adjusts in eight ways and easily accommodates my towering 5-foot-2 stature (and has memory to store my seating configuration). The steering wheel not only tilts up and down, but telescopes in and out as well. I'm disappointed, though, that the foot pedals don't adjust in height. That is the only thing that would make the Volvo XC90 more comfortable to drive.
The storage compartments in the test vehicle are plentiful. The center console has room for two coffee cups (or sippy cups), eight CDs and a pack of gum. Dual net compartments on the back of the front seats make storing coloring books effortless. I love the additional dry cleaning hooks in the cargo area. I can use these without the dry cleaning bags hanging over my children, risking imminent suffocation.
When pulling out of the garage, the optional reverse warning system (an addition $400) comes in handy. If I get within 5 feet of an object it starts to beep, and it warns me when I come within one foot of the object. This is particularly useful for avoiding Fido on my way out.
There is one last fabulous family-friendly feature available on the Volvo XC90 that I want to rave about. The rear headphone outlets (standard if you have a third-row seat) are heaven-sent for parents. You can have up to four children in back listening to Barney, and the best part is you don't have to hear a single note of it. A car full of silent children is priceless for an overworked parent.
Overall, the Volvo XC90 makes a lovely mom's car. It has the flexibility to grow with you and your family from birth to college, and it will do it all in high style and comfort. Stay tuned for more of my quest for the perfect family car. Next up: A road trip adventure in the highly publicized Nissan Quest.
*For addition information on the Volvo XC90 and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.