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."
Understand the XC90's very family-minded purpose, and you can make an educated (and correct) guess about how the 2013 model performs. While the 2013 Volvo XC90 is by no means exciting to drive, you can expect confident all-weather performance—though nothing scorching.
With the V-8 that used to be available on this model now a fading memory, the XC90 continues into 2013 with only one powertrain combination: a 3.2-liter straight-six engine rated at 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. And as before, the XC90 can be ordered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive and is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. With that, a Haldex 'Instant Traction' all-wheel-drive system is optional.
In general, the XC90's powertrain feels lively and smooth, with strong pulling power and an engine that's happy to sing up the rev range. Unfortunately the handling doesn't feel the same way; it's responsive enough, but never engaging, and you'll be aware of the XC's heft. But it's a safe handler and never feels unstable or tipsy, even with riders in the third row.
Driving enthusiasts won't find a lot of satisfaction here, but busy parents will find secure, competent performance.