2014 Volvo XC90 First Test
Past Its Prime, But Still Good
The 2014 Volvo XC90 was the subject of many jokes around the office not because it's an awful car, but simply because it's old. Really old. First introduced to the market in 2004, the XC90 was a fresh take on the SUV segment with sexy and daring styling unlike anything else. In fact, the XC90 was so good that it was crowned the 2003 Motor Trend Sport Utility of the Year.
"More than any other vehicle in the running this year, the Volvo XC90 moves the standard in its market segment. This innovative machine drives comfortably like a sedan, tows like a pickup, off-roads like sport/ute, and moves bulky cargo or as many as seven people like a minivan," we said. "And it does it all with the mechanical polish, premium exterior style, and attention to interior detail associated with top-drawer luxury vehicles. In addition, this Volvo addresses the safety, emissions, and, to a lesser degree, fuel-use issues associated with SUVs."
But that was then, and this is now, and the rules have changed. Does this old-timer still have it?
As far as appearances go, the XC90 has aged well. It looks almost identical to the way it did in 2004, which isn't meant as an insult, since that’s like saying Cindy Crawford still looks the same after 20 years -- we doubt she'd be offended. Visual assets manager Brian Vance reminisced about how many gawkers he caught ogling the svelte Swede when he drove it back in its prime, and although times have changed since then, the XC90 hasn't, keeping its upright stance and boxy frame. But it works, especially since many of its competitors such as the Infiniti JX35 and Acura MDX have been made from the same mold of bloated crossovers. For the 10-year-old XC90 to still look this great without having any significant work done says lots about its incredibly good genes, so yeah, it's still got the premium exterior style factor down, as well as attention to interior detail. Almost every single person that set foot inside the SUV commented on the upholstery, which was swathed in silky smooth Sovereign Hide Soft Chestnut Leather with contrast piping. Costing an extra $1200, we'd say it's worth the price.
Besides that, opening the doors to the cabin was like a blast from the past. "Where's the button to turn this thing on?" some editors joked. "Where's the backup camera?" said others. "No touch screen?" Volvo has certainly been late to the game with such features, but that doesn't mean it hasn't given the XC90 a good dose of anti-aging treatment. After all, our tester was equipped with standard rear sensors, Bluetooth, and rain-sensing wipers, in addition to the $1500 Premier Plus package, which added active dual xenon headlights, a digital compass, an integrated garage door opener, quick-folding passenger seat, and red wood trim. A $700 Climate package threw in heated front seats and an interior air quality system, while the blind spot system was a $700 standalone option, bringing the grand total to $42,590. A portable navigation system can also be had for $795, though our tester didn’t have one.
A comparably equipped Infiniti QX60 AWD starts at $43,945, and while you'd be inclined to choose the XC90 because it's cheaper, consider it has no back-up camera, no color display, and no intelligent key --- all of which come standard in the QX. While it lacks certain necessary features, it still has some unique tricks, such as the integrated booster seat in the middle of the second row, and the split tailgate, so it can still be considered innovative. As far as moving cargo, it swallowed a whole lot of Ikea equipment, and rear passengers didn't complain.
In the past we said the XC90 drove comfortably like a sedan, which was impressive then, but not so much now, considering we're talking about a 10-year-old sedan. There were creaks throughout the cabin, and the ride was nowhere near as smooth as our JX35 long-termer. Although the Volvo's 240-hp 3.2-liter inline-six was plenty powerful, the JX35's 265-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and CVT combo felt more seamless. It's no surprise that the JX wins it in a straight line. While the XC90 needed 9 seconds to reach 60 mph, and 16.9 seconds for the quarter mile at 84 mph, the JX35 got to those same marks in 8.2 and 16.3 seconds, respectively. However, the Volvo still has some of that car-like handling, since it completed the figure-eight faster in 29.0 seconds at a higher 0.57 average g (versus 29.3 seconds at 0.56 g for the JX).
Safety was, and still is, a major asset for the XC90, which was recently the XC90. It was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2014. As for efficiency, the XC90's 16/23 mpg city/highway barely misses the JX35's 18/23 mpg (JX35 is called QX60 for 2014 and gets 19/25 mpg with all-wheel drive), remember that the Swede doesn't need premium fuel like some of its competitors.
For being 10 years old, the XC90 could've been in much worse shape, but its fantastic genes have helped keep it relevant in the luxury SUV segment. Since good genes run in the family, the next-generation XC90 could have a good chance at taking the golden calipers once again when it debuts at the end of 2014 with new architecture and tons of new safety tech.
|2014 Volvo XC90|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$47,590|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.2L/240-hp/236-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4729 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||189.3 x 74.7 x 70.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.9 sec @ 84.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||130 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.74 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||29.0 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||16/23 mpg|