It was with considerable fanfare Volvo entered the jealously coveted SUV marketplace back in 2003. Coming on the heels of the controversy surrounding the rollover incidents plaguing Ford’s Explorer, Volvo was intent upon proving its new suv was safe even in a rollover situation.
(Ironically, the word Volvo means “I roll” in Swedish.)
This writer was part of a cadre of journalists invited to the state of the art Volvo Safety Center, where extreme crash tests and all sorts of other destructive mayhem are perpetrated upon Volvo vehicles in an effort to determine how well they stand up to adverse situations. For the XC90, the diabolical testers at Volvo had rigged a stand to make an XC90 roll over repeatedly, like an excited Bassett Hound.
The test duly conducted, yours truly walked up to the Volvo, which had miraculously rolled some three full revolutions before coming to a rest upright. Upon pulling a door handle of the stricken XC90, the door opened. Repeating the process on the other three doors had an identical result. Volvo had built an SUV that would roll over, play dead, and still allow passengers to open the door after the incident and walk away.
However, what they didn’t count on was what would happen if the XC90 wound up at the bottom of the sea. A cargo ship, loaded with 300 of the first XC90 models being shipped to the United States, collided with another cargo ship in thick fog in the North Sea. All its cargo was lost 82 feet beneath the waves. A minor setback to be sure, but a colorful start to the story of the Volvo XC90 in the United States nonetheless.
To date, there has been but one generation of the Volvo XC90 produced.