The lack of all-wheel drive is really what made this otherwise well-appointed base model basic. One could argue - and many did - that it was underpowered with a 208-horsepower engine. It was not made in a manual transmission, but most drivers of European SUVs are not interested in shifting, and Volvo must have surmised that they wouldn't sell enough of them to bother making any.
Whether or not the engine was hefty enough for all, this was a very good value in a mid-sized SUV, and the fuel economy was not bad. Various safety and convenience features came standard, such as ABS, , front air bags including side-curtain, power locks, windows, and seats, and traction and stability control.
But it was Volvo's reputation for safety that brought families to the XC90 by the score. It got 4 (out of 5) stars in the NHTSA Frontal Crash Test, but it earned the highest rating possible in the IIHS Frontal Crash Test.
Owners of this vehicle love it for its body-cradling seats, its great styling, and the feeling of safety they have in riding in it. Some user reviews reflected complaints about turbo lag, and an over-the-shoulder blind spot. The good news is that the backseat headrests fold forward, so if you don't have any passengers back there you can alleviate the blind-spot problem to a degree.