2007 Volvo XC90 V8 review: What do two cylinders add?

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport

The big difference, as one might expect, between the Volvo XC90 3.2 and the Volvo XC90 V8 is the engine. The 3.2 is powered by a 235-horse 3.2-liter naturally-aspirated inline six. We gave it a full review.

The XC90 V8 on the other hand has—you’re getting ahead of us—a V-8 engine, in this case the same 4.4-liter 32-valve 311-horse engine found in the S80, which we’ve also reviewed. And yes—you’re ahead of us again—it makes the XC90 go faster. It also makes it thirstier.

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport (click to enlarge)

How much so? Well, on the performance side, the V8 doesn’t leave the S80 as much at the mercy of non-yielding semis when trying to merge from a slow speed into fast traffic. In fact, the XC90 V8 has enough gumption for rather, um, assertive moves. It’s not equipped for supercar duties. It’s tall and punches a big hole in the air, and at 4,825 pounds for our test Volvo XC90 V8 Sport, it’s hardly Tinkerbell.

The V-8 is rather nifty—the mechanically indifferent can skip to the next sentence—with among other things variable valve timing. That means there’s no step in power as the revs increase, just creamy power. The Geartronic 6-speed automatic transmission is unobtrusive in normal driving and responds remarkably well in manual mode. All-wheel drive is also standard on the V8.

The XC90 V8 didn’t suffer greatly compared to the 3.2. Although we found it hard to get the XC90 3.2 below 19 mpg in all-around driving, the V8 clocked in 17.5 mpg with a high of 21 mpg in high-speed highway work. The EPA estimated the all-wheel drive six-equipped XC90 at 16/22 mpg for city/highway tests. The XC90 V8 should get 15/21 mpg city/highway respectively. Hmmm.

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport

The 2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport features two-tone seat color treatment. (click to enlarge)

Our tester, in luscious Passion Red (think 1950’s lipstick), was the premium Sport model, a model packaged and assembled for those who liked the standard XC90 but wanted something capable of attacking curves aggressively. So, starting with the 2007 model year, Volvo plugged in stiffer shocks and anti-roll bars, plus quicker steering for crisper response. Noticeably, the spring rates weren’t changed. Generally speaking then, the V8 Sport we tested wasn’t significantly harsher on the highway than the 3.2—though we didn’t drive them side-by-side.

Our test notes say, “Ride is comfortably firm. It will take a set in Interstate cloverleaf ramps and hold it quite well, and resists leaning most admirably.” Still, there’s no denying its height and Sport only takes the XC90 V8 so far.

The base price for our test Volvo XC90 V8 Sport was $49,300, which compared to $46,425 for the ordinary XC90 V8. That’s not just for the handling bits, however. Sport also adds 19-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, plus spiffs up the interior with “sport” perforated-leather steering wheel, leather gearshift knob, Alu-Deco center console inlay and more, including nifty gray seats with a lighter grey insert. We liked it a lot.

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport

2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport (click to enlarge)

Our test XC90 pushed up the base price quite easily, tacking on $2,707 for a Climate and Technology package (active bi-xenon headlamp, headlamp washers, Dynaudio, heated front seats and Sirius satellite radio. Another $1,295 bought the Convenience package, which includes park assist, interior air quality system, power retractable outside rear view mirrors and an auto-dimming/compass inside rear view mirror.

A $595 dollars went for the Blind Spot Info System (BLIS) that illuminates a lamp under each outside rearview mirror whenever there’s another car off that rear quarter of the car. It’s nice but something of an extravagance. You decide.

With $695 destination charge, our 2007 Volvo XC90 V8 Sport had a MSRP of $54,592. That’s getting into rarified price territory for the Swedish marque, and those spending over $50 grand generally want the neighbors to know that their Volvo can be equal to a Benz, and that message, we believe, is getting out. Sweden has leveled the playing field with Germany. And the Volvo XC90 V8 Sport is just another reason why.