By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/25/2011
With many Americans downsizing their lifestyles, it makes sense that they are doing the same with their vehicles. The 2011 Volvo XC90 should fit in nicely with families looking to move out of a big, truck-based sport utility vehicle (SUV) without sacrificing seating capacity or all-weather versatility. The roomy and safety conscious Volvo XC90 is reasonably sized and even offers a choice between in-line six-cylinder or V8 engines. Although similarly sized vehicles from Honda and Nissan may cost less, the Volvo name carries a bit more weight when it comes to impressing the neighbors. Regardless of how you view the 2011 Volvo XC90, there is no arguing with the vehicle's all-weather ability, tough-as-nails construction and strong safety legacy.You'll Like This Car If...
If you only occasionally use a third-row seat and you place a higher value on safety and comfort than projecting a flashy image, the 2011 Volvo XC90 deserves to be near the top of your car shopping list.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you not only need a third-row seat but also require generous cargo room behind said seat, the 2011 Volvo XC90 isn't as appealing as a GMC Acadia or Buick Enclave. Also, if gas prices continue northward, fuel economy is weak with either the six-cylinder or V8 engines.What's Significant About This Car?
Changes to the 2011 Volvo XC90 include standard Bluetooth and Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as a five horsepower bump for the 3.2-liter engine.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2011 Volvo XC90 delivers surprisingly strong on-road performance. Combining the sophisticated Roll Stability Control (RSC) system with the XC90's wide track is a big part of the reason the vehicle can safely perform emergency maneuvers. Despite the XC90's impressive eight-inches of ground clearance, the big Volvo doesn't feel like a top-heavy SUV. It takes corners with confidence and returns good feedback from the steering wheel and brake pedal. All-wheel-drive models benefit from a Haldex viscous-coupling system that divides the engine's power between the front and rear axles. When not in use, 95-percent of the engine's power is routed to the front wheels. Once those wheels begin to slip, however, the 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.
Although many may find the 2011 Volvo XC90's interior a bit reserved, we feel it is still worthy of a premium luxury vehicle, especially when trimmed in the available leather seating with contrasting piping. The Volvo XC90 provides seating for seven, although the forward-facing third row is a bit cramped for most adults. The second-row seat is fairly roomy and features a sliding center section that allows a child in a safety seat to be moved closer to the front-seat passenger. Front seat occupants are treated to Volvo's superb contoured bucket seats that also feature active head restraints, which help prevent whiplash in rear-end collisions.Exterior
Looking somewhat like a bigger and taller version of the Volvo XC70 wagon, the 2011 Volvo XC90 displays all the tell-tale Volvo styling cues, including a raised-V hood bulge, elongated taillights and a prominent Volvo badge on the grille. The XC90's tall ride height does not create an unusually high step-up height, meaning entry and exit are similar to getting in and out of a car. The Volvo XC90 features a number of thoughtful features, such as the side-mirror turn signals that automatically flash when slight pressure is applied to the turn signal stalk. Also, there's the reinforced roof design, which can provide an added measure of security in the event of a rollover accident.Notable Standard Equipment
The base 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 features a 240-horsepower six-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Also standard is dual-zone automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth, rear park assist, leather seating, power glass moonroof, front and rear fog lights, illuminated remote keyless entry and dual heated power mirrors. The standard sound system features an AM/FM stereo unit with CD plus USB and auxiliary audio input ports. There's also an eight-way power driver's seat, power passenger seat, third-row climate control, child booster seat, front skid plate, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The sporty Volvo XC90 3.2 R-Design adds a special grille and trim, leather seating, the Nivomat self-leveling rear suspension and 19-inch wheels. The top-of-the-line Volvo XC90 V8 AWD trim adds all-wheel drive, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, headlamp washers, and 18-inch alloy wheels.Notable Optional Equipment
Options for the 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 and XC90 3.2 R-Design start with all-wheel drive. Most other options are included in packages. The Climate Package adds heated seats, headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers and the Interior Air Quality System. The Multimedia Package features Dynaudio Pro Logic II surround sound, a rear-assist camera and Volvo navigation with Real Time Traffic. The Volvo XC90 V8 AWD can be equipped with the Luxury Package that includes 19-inch wheels, massaging and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats. Other options include the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Bluetooth, dual-screen rear entertainment system, 19-inch wheels, Bi-xenon headlamps that rotate in the direction the steering wheel is turned and a wood or leather steering wheel.Under the Hood
The 240-horsepower, 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine gives the base 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 and Volvo XC90 3.2 R-Design more than adequate power. Many SUV owners, however, just can't live without a V8. For them, the 311-horspower, 4.4-liter V8 in the Volvo XC90 V8 AWD vastly improves performance. Better yet, neither engine requires premium gasoline, which makes it a bit easier to top off the tank without breaking the bank.
3.2-liter in-line 6
240 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (FWD), 16/22 (AWD)
311 horsepower @ 5850 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 starts at around $39,000. A loaded Volvo XC90 V8 AWD can approach $58,000. Competitors such as 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 Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, which shows the typical transaction price buyers are paying in your area. The XC90 retains marginal resale value, well below the BMW X5, Acura MDX, Volkswagen Touareg and Cadillac SRX, but on par with the Buick Enclave.