Safety and comfort have been Volvo’s hallmarks for decades, and until recently, the Swedish company was one of the few automakers on the planet to reliably provide both. But now that everyone wants a car with great crash-test scores, cutting-edge occupant protection technology, and seating that soothes for hundreds of miles at a time, Volvo’s lock on safety and comfort has been weakened.
To ensure the popularity of future products, Volvo has turned to design and performance as complements of its traditional virtues. Volvos have traded angular creases for sensual curves, and the introduction of an R performance line based on S60 and V70 models has delivered street credibility as a legitimate builder of Euro-sport sedans and wagons.
That’s one reason for the new V8 engine under the hood of the 2005 Volvo XC90 V8 – performance. The other is that without a V8 badge on the grille and the tailgate, Volvo couldn’t woo luxury-ute shoppers who absolutely, positively must have eight cylinders under the hood to medicate their affluenza. Nevermind the potential drop in fuel economy – for the XC90 to be taken seriously by consumers looking for a luxury SUV, a V8 engine is a necessity.
We spent a week with a 2005 Volvo XC90 V8 to see how an infusion of power and refinement works to the buyer’s benefit, and deduced that this Yamaha-sourced engine is quite a piece of work, making the XC90 more appealing than ever. Better still, the V8 gets the same EPA-rated fuel economy as the less powerful six-cylinder in the XC90 T6.