Unlike athletes, cars can get organ transplants for a change of pace. About two years into the XC90’s model cycle, it received a 2.4 liter in-line five common rail direct injection turbo diesel developing 185hp and 400Nm of torque - higher numbers than what some bigger 3.0 liter diesel engines make. Mated to a 6-speed automatic with manual shifting (Geartronic in Volvo speak), the engine takes the XC90 from a standstill to 100 km/h in a respectable 11.5 secs.
Thankfully, the XC90’s brawn doesn’t penalize you at the gas pumps. The oil-burning powerplant returned 12.9 km/L in spirited highway driving and about 8.1 km/L in heavy traffic. The XC90’s exhaust system is equipped with a particle filter, helping it meet strict Euro 4 emissions standards.
The suspension isolates bumps nicely without making the driver feel detached from the road. For footwear, the XC90 wears 235/65R17 Michelin Diamarises.
Best Seat in the House
With dedicated air-con vents, adequate legroom, and a supple ride, the second row is a good place to feel pampered in. Too bad a DVD system isn’t standard. But a superb eight-speaker audio system with MP3 compatibility, 6-CD in-dash player, and auxiliary input is standard.
The third row is best reserved for kids or adults who don’t know how to complain. The third row can be folded flat on the floor to expand the cargo area dramatically.
Whatever the driving condition - overtaking in an open highway, high-speed turns, hard braking, uphill blasts, or when driving over road imperfections - I felt confident and in control at all times. Without a doubt, the driver’s seat was the best seat in the house.
Every Volvo boasts a long list of safety features and the XC90’s includes Roll Stability Control (RSC) which applies the brakes or cuts engine power when it senses an impending rollover. When a rollover does happen, boron steel reinforcement, which is four times stronger than conventional steel, helps keep the roof from caving in.
Dynamic Stability and Traction Control which regulates wheel spin; dual front, side, and curtain airbags; whiplash protection; bi-xenon headlights that can swivel in the direction the front wheels are turned to better illuminate corners; are only some of the standard safety features of the XC90.
The XC90 does have minor shortcomings. The Owner’s Manual recommends that the A/C button for selecting the air source be left on Auto to let fresh air in and the Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) could work optimally. However, the IAQS doesn’t immediately eliminate the smell of smoke and other odors coming from outside.
Those expecting Volvo’s proprietary Blindspot Information System (BLIS) and the mobile phone interface to be standard on the P4.345 million XC90 D5 will be a bit disappointed as these are factory options that must be ordered from Volvo’s factory in Sweden.
The D5 has a P4.245 million twin that has a 3.2 liter six-cylinder gas engine but the P100,000 premium you pay for the D5 gets you the better all-around package.
For an SUV costing as much as condominium unit, one could expect features not found in lesser modes of transportation. But even I was amused to discover that the top dog in the Volvo range had 16(!) cup holders. Another source of amusement was the retractable headlight washer hidden inside the front bumper.
The XC90 has a trip computer that could display instantaneous fuel consumption, range (distance you could travel with your remaining fuel), average consumption, and average speed. When driving downhill, I sometimes manually selected low gears to engage engine braking, during which the trip computer displayed instantaneous consumption of 0.0 L/100 Km! This meant that the engine was sipping a very, very negligible amount of fuel - just enough to keep the engine running.
Can’t stand Manong Driver’s “Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?” radio station or daddy’s music from the ‘60s? Second- and third-row passengers could plug headphones into outlets mounted on the C-pillars and listen to their own CD or radio station while something else plays through the XC90’s speakers.
After all this time, the XC90 continues to deliver a fun and engaging drive kilometer after kilometer. It simply does so many things so well. Parting with the XC90 was such Swede sorrow. The Volvo XC90 proves that age is just a number.