TheCarConnection.com researches road tests from across the Web on the 2009 Volvo XC90 and finds it has better handling than many SUVs, but six-cylinder performance is sluggish, and eight-cylinder versions are thirsty and expensive.
Kelley Blue Book notes that the "3.2-liter in-line six gives the base model a significant advantage over the last generation turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine" and "more horsepower and torque help the big Volvo cruise up to speed a bit quicker." Cars.com reports that the XC90's "3.2-liter six-cylinder engine produces 235 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque," and "the available 4.4-liter V-8 generates 311 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque." However, for drivers who must have a V-8, Kelley Blue Book says "the 4.4 trim level's hefty helping of torque and impressive horsepower vastly improves the performance figures." Car and Driver agrees and recommends "the base engine is best avoided as it struggles to move the heavy XC90 around." Not only that, but the "weakling base engine" is rated "less refined than some of its rivals." Edmunds reviewers, however, aren't huge fans of the V-8, either, observing "the XC90 V8 Sport model takes 7.4 seconds to hit 60 mph, about average for a V8-equipped luxury crossover."
According to Cars.com, both engines of the 2009 Volvo XC90 come equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, and "when properly equipped, the XC90 can tow up to 4,960 pounds."
Edmunds feels "fuel economy ratings are a bit below average for this class of vehicle." Kelley Blue Book reports that the Volvo XC90 hits "13 mpg City / 19 mpg Hwy, according to EPA." Additionally, their reviewers cite "subpar fuel economy with either engine." Kelley Blue Book notes "both engines require premium unleaded gasoline.”
Kelley Blue Book gives the most positive reviews regarding handling, saying "the XC90 achieves impressive on-road performance via a combination of unique safety and stability devices." According to Edmunds, for "the 3.2 and regular V8 trims, ride quality is soft and comfortable"; they go on to explain that "although it lacks the silky ride quality of the Lexus RX 350 or the sport-sedan demeanor of an Acura MDX, this Volvo offers an appealing blend of comfort and handling that will satisfy most drivers."
According to J.D. Power, with the 2009 XC90, Volvo claims to have solved the heavy load dynamic typical to an SUV by use of its Nivomat rear suspension, "which can drop the rear of the vehicle, changing handling dynamics, bumper heights and headlight illumination." Car and Driver is one of the few sources to find fault with the XC90 Volvo, stating, "Sport models have a stiffer and often jittery ride." However, Kelley Blue Book maintains that "the combination of a wide stance and Volvo's Roll Stability Control (RSC) system is a big part of the reason the XC90 can perform emergency maneuvers almost like a low-slung sedan." Their reviewers also assert "you'll hardly feel it as you round corners and zip through twisting turns."