COAL: 2008 Volvo XC90 – How Swede It Is

In 2012 my ’07 Tahoe was burning oil faster than GM knew what to do with it, so my dad decided to trade it in. I was given task to choose my own car; my dad had given me the title to the Tahoe, and told me to trade it in for something equal or lesser value. At the time the Tahoe still had a decent trade-in value, despite its ongoing oil consumption tests. Now, before we get too carried away here on what I choose, my family has always driven Volvos for as long as I can remember. I knew that I didn’t want a GM product, and my budget was still limited. I had always liked the styling of the XC90, and didn’t care if it was a mom car. As luck would have it, Crain Hyundai in Bentonville had two used XC90s on the lot right at budget. Since the nearest Volvo dealer is two hours from me, I decided to go look at them knowing that these probably didn’t come up for sale often.

I stopped by the dealer, and test drove the 2009 and then the 2008 XC90. The 2009 was red with AWD, navigation, and HID headlights, and I had decided that it was too much even with my trade in. So, the 2008 XC90 it was. It was a Willow Green FWD model, with heated seats and blind spot monitoring. Upon receiving the Carfax, I discovered it was a lease vehicle with roughly 25,000 miles. The dealer needed to sell the car, as it had been on the lot for some time. So with little work negotiating, the keys were mine on election night 2012.

As I had mentioned before, the car had heated leather seats, and BLIS (Volvo’s blind spot system). The leather was a tan color, which I hated since blue jeans would transfer onto it easily. The dash was a nice chocolate brown that I think complimented the interior nicely. One of my favorite things that this car had was the split tailgate. It came in handy on several occasions when loading things into it.

The Volvo was relatively trouble free for my two year ownership period. Not long after I bought the car, the check engine light came on, so I took it back to the selling dealer. They discovered I had not tightened the gas cap tight enough, and that was that. I also recall a small oil drip in the garage one time. When I took it to our local Volvo mechanic he discovered that during the previous oil change that the Hyundai dealer did, they didn’t tighten the oil filter tight enough, causing it to “weep”. Other than those issues, that were not at all the car’s fault, it was a pretty good car. It did have the 3.2 inline 6 cylinder, which was tremendously under powered, but hey, its a Volvo.

I drove this car a lot. It carried me to my freshman year in college, about 45 minutes south. Almost every weekend, I came home to do laundry, as the dorm laundry was always busy. Not to mention I am an only child, and my mom would give me the guilt trip over the phone as the weekend approached. I believe within the two years of ownership, I put about 50,000 miles on it. I took it to Canada to visit Niagara Falls, Dallas several times, and Memphis once. The biggest feat the car had was a trip up to Detroit to pick up my 1974 Volvo 164. As I mentioned, it had the 3.2 6 cylinder engine, but could still tow 5,000 pounds. When I struck up a deal on an old Volvo, it was time to hitch up the trailer and go get it. It performed well with a heavy car behind it, but it probably helped I had rented a U-Haul aluminum trailer. The self adjusting Nivomat shocks leveled the car out after a few miles, and I took the hills slow on the way home.

This car did have to hold true to its safety reputation. I had just gone through driver’s education classes, where they scared you into driving sensibly. They made you believe if you took your eyes off the road, you would die. I was leaving my job as a teller to go home for the day. I had just pulled up to a stop light when out of no where I was hit from behind pretty hard. I immediately jumped out of the car to check on the other driver, and we pulled off to the side of the road. Come to find out she was uninsured, and had a warrant out for her arrest. Needless to say it was a bad day for her, but it did nothing to the XC90.

Another time I was driving on our one and only interstate here in a torrential downpour. At the time I-49 was a four-lane interstate separated by a grass median. I had just moved to the passing lane to avoid a vehicle on the shoulder when out of nowhere the car in front of me slams into the car in front of it. Having very little time to react, I hit the brakes, but slid on the water, and clipped the corner of his rear bumper. The entire event caused $8,000 damage to the XC90, but after a bit in the body shop it came back good as new.

Looking back, it really wasn’t a bad car, just under powered. Not to mention, all the parts that were stamped on this car “FoMoCo” always seemed to be the parts that would fail. After about 2 years of ownership the car had 80,000 miles and I decided that since moving to Fayetteville I needed AWD. I had my sights on my next car, so I listed this one privately, and after a few weeks locked down a buyer. I did actually just see my car listed for sale recently, from the same people I sold it to. It has roughly 200,000 miles on it now and looks almost as good as it did when I sold it to them. After this car I had the Swedish itch that I couldn’t scratch.