2009 Volvo XC90 AWD

Inline sixes seldom shake like wet dogs at idle. This one does. The reason why few makers cram such an engine sideways between the front wheels is that it results in a huge turn circle. In the Volvo XC90, you need a full 40 feet to complete a U-turn between curbs, 2.4-feet more than in an Acura MDX. To check out winter mobility, I drove into the teeth of a Michigan storm, an assignment this hulk completed with pride. Except for a slightly lazy stability-system engagement, the XC90 soldiered forth like a letter carrier anticipating the end of his route. To study passenger accommodations, I ushered four adults and three kids aboard to attend Detroit's gala boat show. Loading the back row posed a more awkward climb than is typical of minivans but otherwise this mid-size SUV performed like a consummate servant. For $40,000+, it should. But since fun-to-drive is missing, I'd sooner invest in a Grand Caravan and pocket the $10,000 price difference.

Don Sherman, Technical Editor

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