From Sweden with ULEV: The Volvo XC90

My cousin owns a slick Merc CLK, which he wraps in receiving blankets and hides from the world, November till April. He simply feels safer leasing a Volvo XC90 in winter. Is it justified? Maybe.

There’s fine skiing within a couple of hours any of XY Canada city (don’t pinch the Torontonians; they think Collingwood’s world-class) and the XC90 would be a smart choice. But this @##%&& winter? You don’t need to leave any of XY Canada’s towns to appreciate this SUV.

Swedes know from snow. You won’t be stuck: 4-wheel drive is standard; a massive V8 engine puts out a muscular 311 hp @ 5850 rpm and 325 lb ft torque @ 3900. Relax, it’s ULEV (ultra low emission vehicle) rated, among the cleanest engines around. And the geartronic transmission is simply a joy for wringing the most performance from it.

The blind spot information system, a.k.a. “BLIS”, gently alerts you to boneheads accelerating into your blind spot. Ignorance of these guys is never BLIS; as long as they’re there, it’s on.

Being higher usually creates a false sense of safety for many SUV drivers. But the XC90 has a noticeably low centre of gravity, reducing the risk of rollover, and the 20″ tires provide more gription.

Maybe those SUV drivers want big in winter, but this was a bit much for me. Seating 7 luxuriously, it feels even bigger from the inside. Collapse the seats six ways from Sunday (insert Ikea joke about modularity here) like a Honda Fit that made the NFL. Flatten the back rows and you could have a campsite. It’s an attractive beast but you need to be patient parking it, regardless of the season.

When spring comes, we’ll ask my cousin how it performed in tight garages.

MSRP $65,895
Price as driven $69,195

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