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METALLIC GURU

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Apr 25, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Volvo XC90 T6

METALLIC GURU By DAVID GARDNER

BEFORE leaving home to pick up my test drive Volvo I wanted to make sure I was dressed appropriately. I took off my yellow, palm-tree festooned boardshorts and Vacant T-shirt - our winter wear here in California - and pulled on my sensible corduroy pants, my neatly-pressed Ben Sherman and one of those Burberry jackets with leather patches on the elbows. To finish off the look, I threw the Volcom truckers cap in the corner and donned a dogtooth checked farmer's hat and a pair of scuffed brown brogues.

If I was going to drive a Volvo, I was going to make darned sure I looked like a Volvo driver. The only accessory I was missing was an IKEA flatpack to tie on the roof. Imagine my surprise to find a Ruby Red Metallic XC90 SUV, or "Special Purpose Vehicle" as Volvo prefers to call it (so I suppose that makes it an SPV), waiting for me in the parking lot. It was all streamlined and compact and sprightly and when you open the door it smells leathery and clean. It was like I'd arrived for a line dance and found myself at Studio 54.

I suppose I'd always taken Volvo's "For Life" slogan at its word. I grew up with farmers and sensible grown-ups with families driving around the old box-shaped Volvos. You could tell them apart because they always had their headlights on and a dog or two in the back. Oh, and they never needed to buy another car. The same old farts would be driving those things forever and I always thought that one day, when the time came, I would settle down and buy a Volvo to take to grave with me. Who wants to drive a BMW when you are 70, I ask you? I've driven a V70 and I felt reasonably at home in it with my Volvo uniform. A few inches of grime on the floor mats would have helped, but that's easily sorted out with a couple of camping trips. But even the V70 had its edges kind of ironed out. I had rather hoped the XC90 T6 AWD A SR7 (sounds more like a bar code) would offer the full Volvo experience.

Then I saw the metallic paint job. Apart from probably being the best paint job I have ever seen it was, as I think I have already mentioned, metallic.

A mustardy yellow color, yes. A pastoral green? Maybe even a muddy brown. But ruby red and metallic? I don't think so. The interesting thing about this review is that I know existing Volvo owners won't be reading it because they won't be needing a new car in this life. For those pondering buying the 2004 SPV, here's a word of advice: If you are looking for a car to smoke a pipe in and wear sensible clothes, get an Oldsmobile. The SPV is probably too trendy for you. It stills has tons of security features, which include a high strength steel safety cage and a rollover protection system with a super-tough steel roof. The Roll Stability Control - unique to this vehicle - is supposed to detect a possible tip and activate the anti-skid system to prevent the possibility of a tumble. There are airbags all over the place and even an inflatable curtain head protection set-up, in addition to all the usual safety and security stuff.

The engine is a decent 2.9 liter, intercooled 6 cylinder twin turbo which has everything you need without being spectacular. The alloy engine with double overhead cams has continuous variable valve timing, 268 HP @ 5200 RPM and 280 Lbs. Ft. torque @ 1800-5000 RPM.

Perhaps it was just my over fertile imagination (I just saw The Others on DVD) , but it sounded like a child's muffled scream every time I put my foot on the gas and I can't have run over that many kids so I can only assume it was the car creaking in some indefinable way. It has front independent strut suspension with fully independent rear multi-link suspension and is 4-wheel power assisted with ventilated disc brakes, ABS, electronic brake assistance and electronic brake distribution. The 17ins. Alloy wheels come with all-season tires and dynamic stability traction control helps it stick to the road better than your average SUV (or SPV!).

The power glass moonroof comes standard in the basic $40,565 version, as does the leather upholstery. It's very compact inside, but comfortable for a family of four and a bit of a squeeze for the extra fifth passenger it is supposed to carry with ease. As with many of the pseudo-jeeps on the market these days, there isn't any more room than you get in your average saloon. If you want to add two seats in the back, the versatility package will add another $1,600 or so onto the bill and the sixth and seventh passengers are not allowed to have legs as there is no room for them. For some reason, it also has a two-piece tailgate, which works okay but seems a bit pointless. The mileage isn't as good as I would have expected - 15 mpg around town and 20 mpg on the freeway. For the greens among us, the SPV is also equipped with PremAir, a coating on the radiator that helps transform ground level ozone into oxygen as you drive along. One thing is for certain; when the end of the world is nigh the last cars on the road will be the Volvos. And now it seems some of them will be metallic and colored ruby red.

For more information on Volvo products, go to www.volvocars.us.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle: 2004 Volvo XC90

MSRP: $40,962 Vehicle Type: Crossover SUV AWD Powerplant: 2.9L, intercooled twin-turbo, six-cylinder DOHC Output: 268 horsepower @ 5200 rpm / 280 lb. ft. torque @ 1800-5000 rpm Suspension: Front independent strut w/ anti-roll bar & anti-dive geometry Fully independent rear multi-link Wheels & Tires: 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. Brakes: 4-wheel power assisted, ventilated disc brakes with anti-locking braking system, electronic brake distribution, electronic brake assistance

Overall length: 188.9 inches Overall width: 74.7 inches Overall height: 70.2 inches Curb weight: 4,791 pounds (7 passenger model) EPA Mileage Rating: 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway

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