The driving experience is adequate. Ample power, but somewhat vague steering. Surprisingly, the engine note is judged second only to the Porsche, something we didn't expect from the reserved Swede. Another surprise are the metallic blue instrument dials that polarize opinions. Some found them to really set the interior apart, while one tester thought they would look more at home in a Kia.

Everyone is impressed with the front skidplate, though. Unlike the running boards on the Mercedes, a skidplate is useful for off-roading, so it has less of a poseur connotation. It's the feature we're most surprised to find missing from the other vehicles. Another attribute unique to the Volvo is the split rear tailgate. It proves to be easier to manage than the others and requires less space behind the vehicle to open and close.

Breaking It DownAfter Nature surrendered and the dust settled, we chose our winners. It was appropriate to pick two, one for people who actually need off-road capability and one for the majority. If it were us, we wouldn't buy an SUV unless we spent a considerable amount of time off-road. With gas prices rising constantly, we think more and more drivers will finally see it our way.

Make and Model BMW X6 xDrive35i Land Rover LR3 Mercedes ML550 Porsche Cayenne S VW Touareg 2 Volvo XC90
Price (base/test) $52,500/$63,675 $54,025/$58,350 $52,400/$67,800 $57,900/$81,105 $48,320/$55,750 $49,870/$59,232
Seating 2+2 2+3+2 2+3 2+3 2+3 2+3+2
Layout Front engine, longitudinal,
all-wheel drive
Front engine, longitudinal,
all-wheel drive
Front engine, longitudinal,
all-wheel drive
Front engine, longitudinal,
all-wheel drive
Front engine, longitudinal,
all-wheel drive
Front engine, transverse,
all-wheel drive
Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.)
Wheelbase
Curb Weight
192.1/78.1/
66.5
115.5
4,894 lb
190.9/75.4/
74.5
113.6
5,796 lb
188.5/75.2/
71.5
114.7
4,795 lb
188.9/75.9/
66.9
112.4
4,950 lb
187.2/75.9/
68
112.4
5,300 lb

189.3/74.7/
70.2
112.6
4,826 lb
Engine
3.0-liter inline six, 24-valve, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter, V8, 32-valve 5.5-liter, V8, 24-valve
4.8-liter, V8, 32-valve
4.2-liter, V8, 40-valve 4.4-liter, V8, 32-valve
Transmission
Six-speed automatic Six-speed automatic Seven-speed automatic Six-speed automatic Six-speed automatic Six-speed automatic
Wheels and Tires 20-inch
275/40 (f),
315/35 (r)
19-inch
255/55
19-inch
255/50
20-inch
275/40 (f),
315/35 (r)
19-inch
275/45
18-inch
235/60
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