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Volvo XC90: better and better

As most vehicles age into their lifeline, the 2007 Volvo XC90 just gets better and better, really more refined, and in its case the styling is enhanced with a new grille, bumpers and taillights.

The car gets an all-new 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine that replaces the previous five cylinder, resulting in 235 horsepower, an increase of 27 hp, and an identical 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Volvo is still offering the V8 option that develops 311 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. The new 6-cylinder and the V8 both meet the stringent ULEV II emissions standards.

The new six-cylinder produces enough power so that potential buyers don't have to automatically default to the V8 if they're looking to ensure they have enough power. It receives color-coordinated side moldings and door handles while the V8 gains aluminum roof rails and color-coordinated wheel arch moldings. Both models sport new outside mirrors with integrated turn signals that flash three times with light pressure on the turn signal stalk.

An upgraded interior features a standard leather gearshift for the cylinder.

Changes for the V8 include new watch-dial instruments and optional Sovereign Hide Chestnut Brown leather upholstery. Selecting the Touring Package for the V8 adds new Sapeli wood inlays including the gearshift knob and steering wheel, plus 18-inch “Camulus” alloy wheels to its already excellent Volvo parts. An auxiliary input, MP3 capability and satellite radio preparation is standard on both models.

Volvo maintains its benchmark status with the XC90 because as Volvo's most popular selling vehicle in the U.S., it's done something other high-end brands haven't been able to do -- and that is really reflect the brand's values and identity through design and performance. There's a couple other high-end SUV makers that always leave you with the impression all they've done is slap their badge on a truck because they wanted to give their customers the option to have a high-end SUV. For the moment these other brands shall remain nameless.

But the focus here is on the Volvo XC90 that delivers a traditional SUV driving experience. It doesn't have the car-like characteristics of the newer crossovers. SUVs got popular because of the upright, high-performance, near-truck-like driving characteristics which you get with the XC90.

For someone looking for a high-end SUV, the Volvo XC90 remains a great car. The center console dominated by two large round dials for audio controls, the rest of the panel comprised of easy-to-read flush black buttons. And you've got to love the little human graphic sitting in a seat that guide you on the climate control functions. The dash and driver cockpit includes laptops and cellphones.

Steering wheel mounted controls are clean and simple to understand without diving for the driver's manual. They include audio and cruise control functions with flat black buttons on the wheel's center padded area, and Volvo has put easy to use front and rear wipers on the right stalk, with light controls on the left stalk, both mounted on the column.

It comes with third row seating that's standard with the eight-cylinder engine and optional with the six.

It has “active” Bi-Xenon headlights with beams that swivel up to 15 degrees for enhanced nighttime visibility [that cost 0]. A high-power Dynaudio sound system is offered on the V8. An auxiliary input, MP3 capability and satellite radio preparation is standard on both models. Available on both models is Volvo’s state-of-the-art digital video Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).

Adhering to Volvo’s core value of safety, all XC90 models are equipped with Roll Stability Control (RSC), Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), Side impact Protection System (SIPS) with side airbags and Inflatable Curtains for all three rows.

The 2007 Volvo XC90 with the 3.2 liter six-cylinder engine starts at ,135, while the V8 begins at ,425; both have a destination charge of 5. Some option packages to look out for are the climate package that includes heated seats, for 5, as well as the navigation system that goes for ,120. The all-wheel drive package our tester had runs ,850.

About the Author: Corey Putton is a 28-year old bachelor from Pittsburgh, PA who has been around cars for the better part of his life. He now works online and writes all about his passion: cars. He is also a certified mechanic.

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