2004 Volvo XC90 AWD Sport Utility Vehicle (467)

This week I test-drove the 2004 Volvo XC90 AWD Sport Utility Vehicle. If you don’t have to give up the essentials of life to afford one, this vehicle is wonderful.

I love the automobile, generally, and its rich history over the past 100 plus years. I love the freedom it provides and the romance of a simple week end drive in the country with a picnic basket and blanket for a stopover somewhere along the adventure. Such adventures are available to all with varying price tags most can afford to carry you to incredible vistas of the world we live in. Sure, you can walk, take a bus or train or even a horse and buggy but why when a few hundred bucks will buy you a car.

Ok, so if you must do it in style, this Volvo isn’t a bad option, just expensive.

The overriding interest in Volvo comes moms with children who have bought into the advertising blast about safety. They are obsessed with this fact so obviously Volvo has done a great marketing job. However the competition aren’t chopped liver and crash tests aside it is still better to stay out of harms way by driving defensively and simply being aware of your surroundings when you drive. Dummy’s can take the testing, you cannot. 

Handling & Performance:
You be the judge, but with things like Front Independent Strut suspension with Anti Roll Bar and anti-dive geometry and fully independent rear multi-link suspension, electronic brake distribution and assistance and don’t forget the Dynamic Stability Traction Control… how can you have anything but the best handling vehicle available on the planet?

On the other hand, gas performance is pitiful and I encourage you to ask for better. I truly believe consumers would buy more fuel efficient SUV’s if they were an option. There is talk that hybrid SUV’s may be available in a few years. If you are interested in learning more about 90 mpg capability, go to my website www.autolove.com, Point/CounterPoint and to the interview with auto design engineer Merkel Weiss – The Modern Diesel Engine in America.

Is this beautiful, or what. On balance though the competition is pretty good looking too. Remember the “Good old days” of design differences when carmakers weren’t sophisticated at marketing. The design “was” the thing they sought to achieve. Profits have replaced those idealistic days now gone the way of the Delorian and others.

Volvo has made setting up seating for 7 easy, when you need them. But you must really need them because adults will have to strain to get themselves into the third row. Mini Vans do a much better job.

Fit and Finish:


There are lots of neat features and all are first class and the controls are well-placed for easy reach. I also like the inclusion of rear sensors that help you avoid embarrassing bumper taps while parking. Just being an SUV is a convenience and it’s easy to understand why folks buy so many at every price level. Just think, you can run over curbs and make your own road without feeling like a Duface.

I appreciate the seat belt reminder on this Volvo as contrasted with Ford and others who badger you until you buckle up. Yes, I know you should wear the belt, but give it a rest already. If you’re old enough to drive you should be old enough to think for yourself. Got it Ford?


Way too much money for most to justify for transportation because there are just too many competitors on the market at half the dough. 

Consumer Recommendation:

Test-drive the Volvo if $45K is in your budget, and then drive one at each price level and size. You have 80 or more to choose from. They are small, medium and large and consume fuel accordingly so also consider the cost to operate. ALL SUV’s are terrible gas hogs relative to a Mini Van that will do everything but go off road, so throw a Mini Van into the equation as well.

The Competition:
Volvo XC 90 $35-41,000, Land Rover Discovery $34-40,000, Infiniti QX4 $35-36,000, Nissan Murano $28-31,000, Infiniti FX 35/45 $34-44,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $27-39,000, Mitsubishi Endeavor $26-33,000, Lexus RX 330 $35-36,000, Lincoln Aviator $40-45,000, GMC Envoy $29-38,000, Ford Explorer $26-37,000, Mercury Mountaineer $29-38,000, Chevrolet TrailBlazer $27-34,000, Audi All road Quattro $40-47,000, Mercedes-Benz M-Class $37-46,000, Acura MDX $36-43,000, BMW X5 $40-52,000.

Good News:
Solid ride, lots of power, elegant and comfortable and can seat up to 7.

 Bad News:
 Horrible gas-guzzler. I got 12.5 average mpg. Shift lever drops down into “manual shift” instead of stopping at the drive setting.

 Standard Equipment:

2.9 liter twin turbo 268 hp inline 6 cylinder engine, continuous variable valve timing, 4-speed automatic trans with winter mode, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes, electronic brake distribution and assistance (EBD & EBA), dynamic stability traction control (DSTC), Unibody construction with rollover protection system ROPS, side inflatable curtains for all rows, dual front and side air bags, anti theft and security systems, power glass moonroof, leather seating surfaces, 8-way power front seats with memory on driver seat, climate control, tilt and telescopic wheel, flat folding second and third row seats, keyless entry, power windows with auto up/down controls, heated power mirrors, 12 beverage holders, roof rails, deep tinted windows, in dash 6 CD changer with stereo radio cruise control.     

  Gas Stats:
15 City and 20 Highway MPG.


MSRP $40,565.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2003 – An Automotive Love Affair

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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