By KBB.com Editors
With the increasing movement to smaller, more efficient vehicles, the 2009 Volvo XC90 strikes an acceptable balance between car and SUV. Riding atop the previous-generation S80 chassis, the roomy and safe XC90 comes wrapped in a manageable size and equipped with a choice of a V6 or V8 engine. Although more expensive than similarly-sized vehicles from Nissan and Honda, many consider Volvo's more luxurious SUV as something of a status symbol. Regardless of how you view the XC90, there is no arguing with the vehicle's rugged construction, all-weather capability, exemplary safety rating and strong resale value.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're not looking to carry half your kid's football team to practice and have a desire for an SUV that places safety and comfort front and center, the 2009 Volvo XC90 makes an excellent choice for the family transport.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're all about maximum interior space, the 2009 Volvo XC90's third-row seat is not well-suited for adults. Many families will find the V8's price tag and poor fuel economy a tough pill to swallow.What's New for 2009
A new trim, dubbed R-Design, is available on both the base and V8 model. It adds a unique grille, wheels, suspension upgrades and interior trim, as well as R-Design embossed leather seating. Some of Volvo's more popular options are bundled into new packages, making it easier for consumers add equipment.Driving It Driving Impressions
The XC90 achieves impressive on-road performance via a combination of unique safety and stability devices. The combination of a wide stance and Volvo's Roll Stability Control (RSC) system is a big part of the reason the XC90 can perform emergency maneuvers almost like a low-slung sedan. Though blessed with over eight inches of ground clearance, you'll hardly feel it as you round corners and zip through twisting turns. All-wheel-drive models benefit from a Haldex viscous-coupling system that splits the engine's power between the front and rear axles. Under ordinary driving conditions, 95 percent of the power runs through the front wheels. Should they begin to slip, the Haldex system routes power to the rear wheels until traction at the front has been regained.Favorite Features
Sliding Center Child Seat
The sliding center child seat allows a front-seat passenger to easily reach a child restrained in a safety seat in the second-row.
The XC90's roof pillars help protect the passenger compartment in the event of a rollover.
There is a lot of gray plastic and leather inside the XC90, although a smattering of wood trim helps warm things up a bit (aluminum on the R-Design). Tending towards understated, the interior is tastefully appointed and very user-friendly. There is seating for five and the option of a forward-facing third-row seat. The driver and passenger relax in a comfortable pair of bucket seats featuring built-in whiplash protection. The XC90 is loaded with crash protection features, including front side-impact airbags, a head-curtain airbag running the length of the passenger compartment and a roof design intended to better resist collapsing in the event of a rollover. You'll also find subtle touches, such as the rear-seat sliding center section that allows a child in a safety seat to be moved closer to the front-seat passenger.Exterior
The 2009 Volvo XC90 looks like a bigger, taller version of the popular XC70 wagon. All the familiar Volvo styling cues are present, including the raised-V hood bulge and the elongated taillights running the length of the D-pillars. Side mirrors include integrated turn signals that automatically flash when slight pressure is applied to the turn signal stalk. The tall ride height does not translate into a tall step-up height, though, making entry and exit similar to getting in and out of a car. Volvo takes particular pride in the XC90's reinforced roof design, which can provide an added measure of security in the event of a rollover accident.Notable Standard Equipment
The XC90 3.2 features a six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), stability and traction control, a tire pressure monitor, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, front and rear fog lights, illuminated remote keyless entry, dual heated power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, Volvo's Rollover Protection System, eight-way power driver's seat, front skid plate, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with touch controls, trip computer, rear wiper/washer and 17-inch alloy wheels. The V8 trim adds all-wheel drive, rear air conditioning, automatic leveling, power glass moonroof, leather seats and 18-inch alloy wheels. The R-Design package adds unique grille and trim, leather seating and 19 or 20-inch wheels depending on model.Notable Optional Equipment
Options for the 3.2 trim include the Premium Package, which features a power moonroof, six-disc CD changer, power passenger seat and leather-surfaced seat trim. The Versatility Package (which requires the Premium Package) adds rear air conditioning, automatic leveling, an integrated child booster seat and a leather third-row seat. The Technology Package features Dynaudio Pro Logic II surround sound, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Active bi-xenon headlamps. Other options include Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), HDD navigation (part of the Convenience Plus Package), dual-screen rear entertainment system and 19-inch "Galateia" wheels.Under the Hood
The 3.2-liter in-line six gives the base model a nice balance between adequate power and acceptable fuel economy. It helps the big Volvo cruise up to speed quick enough for our taste, but many SUV owners just can't live without a V8. For them, the 4.4 trim level's hefty helping of torque and impressive horsepower vastly improves the performance figures. Better yet, both engines no longer require premium unleaded gasoline making it bit easier to top off the tank without breaking the bank.
3.2-liter in-line 6
235 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (FWD), 14/20 (AWD)
311 horsepower @ 5850 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19
The XC90's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) ranges from around $38,000 for the front-drive 3.2, to a high of around $59,000 for a loaded V8 R-Design. Competitors (such as, for example, the Buick Enclave) may feature more interior room and a lower price, but do not offer a V8 engine. Similarly-equipped models from Volkswagen, Cadillac and Infiniti fall within the same price range as the XC90. Although a popular vehicle, there is still room for negotiation on the bottom line, so be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price which shows the typical transaction price buyers are paying in your area. The XC90 retains good resale value, a bit below the BMW X5, Buick Enclave and Acura MDX, on par with the Volkswagen Touareg 2 and better than the Cadillac SRX and Jeep Grand Cherokee.