Car Review: 2005 Volvo XC90 V8


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By Andrew Frankl

As senior Volvo executives confessed to me off the record in Arizona during the XC90 V8 launch, Ford, Volvo's parent company did two good things. The first was to buy them, the second-to leave them well alone. Rare, if not unheard of in the world of automobiles.

Even though Ford is not unknown for stupid mistakes-think of those abominable Norwegian plastic elctric cars in this instance they’ve really scored a bulls-eye. On the one hand they are learning a great deal about safety from the Swedes but on the other they leave them alone. Instead of trying to stuff one of their venerable V8-s into the XC 90 (it would not have fitted anyway) they allowed Volvo to search for a suitable V8 to give the award winning XC a little bit of extra oomph.

Even though I am not a great Richard Perry-Jones fan, this time he did give some good advice. I am only guessing but Yamaha as the V-8 engine source may well have come from conversations with Herbie Blash who works for the FIA as well as for Yamaha in the UK.

Regardless of the circumstances they found a gem, a jewel in the crown. The 60 degree Yamaha V8 sounds great and does a superb job. The displacement is 4.41 liters, the compressions ratio is 10.4:1. There are four valves per cylinders in an engine which has a maximum torque of 325 lb/ft. The gearbox is a six speed automatic which can also be used as a manual which I found very useful on some steep hills on the infamous Apache Trail. One mistake and we would have been in the Roosevelt Dam 600 feet below.

The acceleration is a very respectable 6.9 seconds from 0-60 and on a private road we also had the Volvo zooming along at a perfectly safe 100 miles per hour. Exactly what a wealthy German family would be doing on the autobahn on their way to Zurs or Lech in Austria for a week’s skiing. The V8 is quite a milestone for Volvo, they’ve been in business since 1927 and this is the first time they’ve got round to having one. It is no coincidence that the Volvo is seen as a “blue car”, according to a politician who’ll remain nameless, if you own a Volvo, do yoga and care about the environment you are most probably voted for Kerry. I am sure Volvo are happy to sell their cars to anyone and everyone but with their highly commendable ULEV II success it does not strike me as a Texas automobile. ULEV II by the way stands for ultra low emission vehicle, stage II) and the Yahama V8 is the first one to achieve it. With four catalitic coverters even the folks in Mill Valley in Marin County would applaud Volvo’s attempts as producing as clean a vehicle as possible. Volvo plans to sell a very modest 15 thousand units a year, which at around 45 thousand dollars strikes me as a very modest target.

Dislikes? I wasn’t crazy about the instrumentation, some of the dials were hard to see. Would I buy one? Probably not. I have 7 year old S70 in the UK which runs like a dream and in the United States I would probably find the XC 90 too big for my requirements. A four wheel drive 70 is all I need but if you have a lot of children or are doing the school run with a lot of children then let me stick my neck out and say that I do not know of a safer way of transporting them. VOLVO XC90 V8 Annouyncement and Engine Details.

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