Performance » 7
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Unfortunately, at speeds above 50 mph the engine struggles to motivate the XC90's 4786-pounds and all-wheel drive system.
Car and Driver
smooth 6-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration from a stop and for passing and merging
The overhead cam is almost too refined, with a six-cylinder message that's more comfortable than a roomful of Swedish furniture.
handling is competent but not particularly sporty
the whiz-bang V-6 is so much fun and so satisfying that you're to be pardoned if you rationalize away the gaffes quicker than a dealer can say, "Sign here."
The 2012 Volvo XC90 is targeted at families and not the sports car crowd so as you may suspect it performs more or less like what any busy mom or dad might expect. That means it’s fast enough to do the school and grocery store run but not quite enough to excite you.
Making matters worse for performance fans, the previous V-8 option has been dropped for the 2012 model year. That leaves the XC90 with just one powertrain option, a 3.2-liter straight-six engine rated at 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.
This engine can be ordered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive and is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a smooth operator whose strong pulling power belies its relatively small size, though it never feels sporty. The same can be said for the handling, which is responsive but not engaging. The body stays in check, however, even in quick maneuvers.
Ride quality is another high point. Overall ride quality is excellent, with less pitchiness and side-to-side motion than in many other crossovers.
The 2012 Volvo XC90 does its family-hauling duties with aplomb but drivers who yearn for something a little sporty best look elsewhere.