Volvo, minivan

Why Doesn t Volvo Have A Minivan In Its Lineup?

Volvo's flagship XC90 is a large, luxurious land yacht. With seating for seven, a stately interior and the world's best SUV safety rating, it's like a comfy three-room apartment on wheels.

In other words, it's a minivan — with all of the amenities, but none of the embarrassment, of driving that much-lampooned soccer mom-mobile.

Don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are soccer moms. I love minivans and have owned several.

My daughters' childhoods were no longer nor more violent than normal, but we destroyed two perfectly good minivans before they finished middle school. By the time the girls left for college, both vehicles were totaled — from the inside, without ever having made contact with another car.

The XC90 is the first SUV designed and produced by Volvo since it was acquired by Chinese automotive giant Geely in 2010. It was re-imagined from end to end — new drivetrain, new chassis, new braking and suspension systems, and new interior appointments. Among other things, it's longer and wider than its predecessor.

Volvo calls it a "mid-size luxury SUV, " but it's the biggest vehicle the company makes. And it's big. At just under 4, 700 pounds and 194 inches long, it's almost the size of a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck — and longer than my last minivan.

But the supercharged, turbocharged engine gets that platform moving nicely. The engine may be a smallish two liters, but it makes 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and felt plenty beefy even in stop-and-go situations on Silver Lake's steepest streets.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this story incorrectly said the Volvo XC90 weighs a quarter-ton. It weighs just under 4, 700 pounds.

The drive is a little stiff, true to Volvo heritage, and produces a smooth ride — but only on very smooth pavement. The handling, thanks in part to electric power-assist steering, makes the big car feel a little less so around the corners.

Outside, it's a handsome hunk of car — a plumped-up version of Volvo's XC60, with lower, longer lines than the smaller SUV.

Inside, it's plush. The fit and finish is typically Swedish, and top-drawer.

The front seats are generous with head and leg room. The rear seats are capacious too, and are fitted with their own climate-control switches, reading lights and cup holders. (Heated front seats are standard; heated rear seats are an option as part of a package that also includes a heads-up windshield display and heated windshield washer nozzles.) The Bowers & Wilkins sound system boasts 10 interior speakers — with nine more included in the premium sound package.

The third row features two smaller bucket seats that fold flat easily to turn the passenger compartment into enough cargo area to convert the rear of the vehicle into an Airbnb rental unit. The rental comes with a sunroof so broad and wide that you can sit and observe the entire Milky Way without moving your head. Stand up and you can parade around like the pope.

Around town and on the highway, the XC90's all-wheel-drive and T6 supercharged and turbocharged engine make for sure-footed maneuvering and snappy acceleration. Torque and handling sharpen with the change from Comfort to Dynamic driving modes. (There are also settings for Eco and Off-Road.)

As is fitting for a car of this legacy and price point — this is Volvo's most expensive vehicle, with a starting MSRP of just over $50, 000 — the XC90 includes many intelligent features as standard. The 9-inch touch-activated navigation screen is like a big iPad in the center of the dashboard, and is attached to an onboard Wi-Fi hot spot. (Make sure you have someone under 21 to teach you how to use these devices, which left me baffled.)

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