The Volvo XC90 is big on safety, comfort and functionality. It was launched in 2003 and its appearance freshened in 2007. The sporty R-Design models joined the lineup in 2009. The 2011 Volvo XC90 benefits from a slight increase in power but carries over largely unchanged.
The Volvo XC90 seats seven passengers. Leather seating, power glass sunroof, rear park assist and third-row climate control are standard equipment. It swallows more cargo than its competitors, and it comes with features that allow quick, easy tailoring for cargo, gear or people. An integrated center booster cushion adds versatility to the second-row seat and eliminates the challenges associated with installing a separate child seat.
The all-wheel-drive works smoothly, without penalty in fuel economy, and it's truly welcome when the weather gets foul. Buyers who don't need all-wheel drive can choose an XC90 with front-wheel drive.
The XC90 is not the sportiest vehicle among luxury-class SUVs, but it handles well on city streets and highways. It rides very comfortably and it's easy to park. The XC90 3.2 is rated to tow trailers up to 3,970 pounds, which describes light boat trailers, personal watercraft, snowmobiles.
The 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine is up to all the demands of daily driving and delivers a good value, in our view.
The 2011 Volvo XC90 3.2 gets a 5-horsepower increase, to 240 hp, with 236 pound-feet of torque. The 2011 XC90 gets an EPA-estimated 16/22 City/Highway miles per gallon, an increase of 1 mpg over the 2010 model.
2011 XC90 models come standard with Bluetooth and Sirius satellite radio, along with watch dial instrumentation and silver roof rails.
Technically, the 311-hp V8 is in the 2011 lineup, but alas there are no more. Sold out. The 4.4-liter V8 was developed to Volvo specifications by Yamaha, the Japanese motorcycle builder and auto engine specialist, and it was wonderful. Still is, if you can find a pre-owned one.
The 2011 Volvo XC90 comes with a 3.2-liter inline-6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional ($2,000), front-wheel drive is standard.
Volvo XC90 3.2 ($38,400) comes with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, power glass sunroof, along with an eight-way power driver's seat with memory, power passenger seat, power door locks, power heated mirrors, fog lights, 160-watt, eight-speaker audio with CD/MP3 and auxiliary jack, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, trip computer, auto-dimming interior mirror, real wood interior trim, 235/60R18 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, and a third-row seat with its own climate control.
Options include BLIS ($700); a Climate Package ($800) with heated front seats, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, humidity sensor and an Interior Air Quality System; a rear-seat DVD system with two headrest-mounted eight-inch color screens ($1,800); the Multimedia Package ($2,700) upgrades to HDD navigation with real-time traffic, rearview camera, remote control and map care, the Dynaudio Premium sound system featuring Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound, and Sirius Satellite Radio.
The XC90 3.2 R-Design ($40,200) features a tighter, self-leveling suspension, speed-sensitive power steering, lower-profile 255/55R19 tires on 19-inch wheels, a unique grille and silver (rather than the standard black) roof rails. Inside are a three-spoke sport steering wheel, Volvo's Watch Dial instruments, aluminum inlays and other visual touches. The Dynamic Package ($1,400) adds bi-xenon headlights with active light bending and 255/45R20 tires on 20-inch wheels. A wood steering wheel is optional ($325).
Safety features include dual-stage frontal and side-impact airbags for front passengers, and curtain type head protection airbags for all outboard seats. A rollover protection system senses an impending vehicle rollover, tightens the seatbelts and deploys the curtain airbags. The seats feature Volvo's Whiplash Protection System, which moves them back and downward if the vehicle is hit from behind, reducing neck snap. Rear park assist is standard on all models.
Active safety features include advanced four-channel antilock brakes, an electronic stability program, and Roll Stability Control, which uses a gyroscopic sensor to reduce the possibility of a rollover by applying brakes and modulating engine power. Optional is Volvo's blind-spot monitoring system, or BLIS. BLIS uses cameras to monitor an area measuring 10 feet by 31 feet on either side of the car, which is often not covered by the side mirrors, and reports the presence of another vehicle in the blind spots with a prominent warning light in the appropriate mirror. Optional all-wheel drive enhances safety in adverse conditions. A rearview camera, which can help the driver spot a small child behind the vehicle when backing up, comes with the optional navigation system.