The freeway also pointed out a lack of damping from the strut-front and multi-link rear suspension system. The XC90 V8 felt bouncy over freeway bumps, and even small imperfections encountered at the tires find their way through to the cabin. The controls feel vague and disconnected, however, from the real world. The steering, although quick in ratio, feels numb, while the brakes provide little feedback. The throttle has a slight lag before it responds, which can be quite annoying. Ironically, with all of the electronic controls and interactions present in a modern car, these sensations don't happen by accident. Some engineer somewhere must have decided that this was the way an XC90 should feel. Sadly, the connections to the handling gurus of the old Volvo company appear to have been lost. It isn't that the XC90 V8 is bad; it's a fine vehicle with a great engine, a technological tour de force. It's just that Volvo's SUV has taken one step back from the kind dynamic response we expect from a vehicle that wears the Volvo nameplate so proudly. If we accept this small step in the wrong direction, will we accept the next and then the next? It's a slippery slope to mediocrity; let's hope Volvo isn't on it.

2006 Volvo XC90 V8
Price as Tested: $51,475
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
4.4-liter V8, dohc, four valves per cylinder
Six-speed automatic
Peak Power: 311 bhp @ 5850 rpm
Peak Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
0-60 mph: 7.0 sec.
Top speed: 130 mph
Fuel economy: 15 city/21 hwy

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