Volvo XC90 V8 Sport – 2007 Preview: Talk about your dichotomies. Volvo, the once stodgy brand known for its focus on safety, has debuted two models that serve to pay homage to the past while blazing full speed into the future. On one end of the spectrum is the production version of the 2008 C30 sports hatch, which draws its lineage from the old-school Volvo P1800. And then there's the brand's newest SUV – a 311-horse, sport-tuned, V8 bruiser that comes in two unique colors, one of which is Passion Red. It's the 2007 XC90 V8 Sport, and it arrives ready to tackle curvy roads with relative ease, provided you can swallow the $49,995 entry fee.
With the gradual shift away from large SUVs, shoppers are finding a growing number of midsize suvs and crossovers that offer all the same utility with the added benefits of increased comfort and car-like handling. The Volvo XC90 is one among that bunch, but it faces increasing competition from new entries and improved models already on the market. Many of those rides offer not only traditional variants, but also sportier trims, and to compete with them, Volvo needs a direct competitor of its own.
Power for the 2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport comes from brand's transversely-mounted 4.4-liter, dual overhead cam V8 that pushes 311 horses at 5,850 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, aided in part by a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Behind the scenes is a suspension that's been tweaked with stiffer shocks and larger stabilizer bars to provide a sportier response. Likewise, the steering has been tightened up for improved response. A self-leveling suspension is also featured on the 2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport.
Visual enhancements that serve to distinguish the 2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport are subtle, except of course for the Passion Red paint. For those who choose to operate a bit lower on the radar, Electric Silver may also be selected. In addition, the Sport package includes dual chrome exhaust tips, 19-inch alloy wheels with XC pressed into the spokes and wrapped in 255/50 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires, color-keyed wheel arches, and exterior trim done in matte silver rather than the standard chrome. Inside are seat with additional bolstering, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, two-tone upholstery, exclusive carpeting, and unique gauges.
If you don't see a 2007 XC90 V8 Sport already on your local dealer's lot, keep an eye out – the SUV has been scheduled to go on sale by the end of 2006, albeit in limited quantities. With a $695 destination charge taken into account, the base price of the Sport comes to $49,995. That's roughly $3,000 more than the regular XC90 V8 model, though the lesser model lacks the Sport's 19-inch wheels, tuned suspension, and visual enhancements.
According to Volvo's Susanna Johnson, this was a no-brainer for Volvo. "We have had numerous requests for a sportier XC90. They are from customers who appreciate the versatility and comfort of an SUV but who also want a bit more driving pleasure. We have developed the Volvo XC90 V8 Sport especially for them, with a dynamic sport chassis, stiffer anti-roll bars, firmer shock absorbers, a sport-tuned, speed-dependent steering system, and larger, 19-inch wheels. We dare to promise a truly enjoyable experience behind the wheel of a Volvo XC90 V8 Sport."
When a base XC90 V8 fell into our hands last year, we had a blast putting all eight cylinders through the wringer, but were less enthused about the tight rear seat. The 311-horsepower V8 Sport, with its racier nature, may indeed be worth the extra coin that's required, but does it equate to a better choice than rides like the 2007 Acura MDX, which itself boasts a terrific all-wheel-drive system, seven-passenger seating, a smooth 300-horsepower engine, and a base price that's $2,000 less? Possibly, but more likely the XC90 V8 Sport will appeal to Volvo suv fans who happen to be enthusiasts – probably a small niche, which should fit in perfectly with the vehicle's limited production.