Few carmakers have taken longer than Volvo to jump into the deep end of the sport/utility pool. However, the extra time has given Ford's premium Swedish marque the opportunity to assess where this market is going and develop a Volvo-appropriate product with which to compete.

Although the XC90 shares some engine-bay and floorpan architecture with the S60/V70 passenger cars, it's in all other ways an entirely new vehicle. This is no compact: At 188.9 in. long, it resembles the overall package size of an Acura MDX. It's wide, too, offering exceptional cabin room and comfort. The design team, led by Volvo Design Director Peter Horbury, gave it a handsome, square-rigged face, strong shoulder lines, and a solid-looking stance.

Like the MDX, the XC90 is equipped with three-row seating. An interesting innovation is a child safety seat integrated into the second row, which can be moved forward-right to the rear edge of the front center console-so the front-seat passenger can feed or in other ways interact with the child without having to unbelt and climb in back.

Power will come via your choice of a five-cylinder light-pressure turbo or a 272-hp twin-turbo inline-six; the former will be offered in a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive forms, the latter will be served only with AWD. There's safety gear aplenty, including the first use of Raytheon's Nightvision technology in an SUV.

Appropriately Volvo? The XC90 appears to be just that.