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2007 Volvo XC90 Mid-Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle

What was tested? 2007 Volvo XC90 3.2 V6 ($36,135).

Options: Premium package ($2,995), versatility package ($2,250), convenience package ($1,295), Instant Traction AWD ($1,850), metallic paint ($475).

Price as tested (including $695 destination charge): $45,695.

2007 Volvo XC90 Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

If you think your job is boring, consider what it must be like working for the Swedish military.

It wouldn't have been so dull back in the '80s because Sweden had an unspoken enemy, the big red bear to the east. They could practice shooting down MiGs, blowing up Red Army transporters, defending themselves from Kalashnikov bullets and covering from nuclear blasts.

What fun!

But ever since the USSR imploded, what do the Swedes have to worry about? Polar bears attacking from the north? A Lego legion invading from Denmark? The Swiss Army advancing with their flappy-foldy knives?


Joining the Swedish army has to be boring. Their most exciting military drills probably involve napping and heating green tea over campfires.

At least the Swedish generals can find comfort in knowing that, should they ever actually need an armored tank, they can simply call their local Volvo dealer and order an XC90.

This beefed-up station wagon is built for Afghanistan circa 1981. It's a big, heavy, lumbering beast that's seemingly made of pig iron and reinforced with granite.

People like to say a Mercedes-Benz feels solid as a bank vault, but this Volvo makes the Merc feel like a piece of limp spaghetti. The XC90 is the Incredible Hulk, and every other vehicle on the road is your sweet Grandma Ruthie.

In fact, in every way other than size, this Volvo is the Swedish equivalent of the Hummer H1.

It's certainly not the biggest SUV on the road. Slide it between a Chevy Suburban and a Nissan Armada, and you won't be able to find it in the parking lot.

But what it lacks in sheer size it makes up with sheer brawn. It has a four-wheel drive system that could conquer the Sierra Nevadas. It feels so solid, so thick and so purposeful that you'd think the Swedes are preparing to mount guns on their XC90s and take over Poland. They won't, though. This wagon is so supple on the inside that it would turn their hardest, battle-trained, special-forces troops into softies before they reach the border.

"Time to attack, soldiers! Wait a sec ... did you guys feel how soft this leather is? Why don't we just turn on the satellite radio and - yawn - take a nap, eh?'

There are vents peppered throughout the cabin so even the back-seat passengers can stay toasty warm in those polar winters. And there are three rows of seats that can hold up to seven passengers, or roughly half the Swedish army.

Of course, you can't mention Volvo without mentioning safety. This particular Volvo comes with so many acronyms that you've got to suspect it's intended for the military - things like BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), RSC (Roll Stability Control), DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) and plenty more. And yes, it has air bags mounted in places you don't even want to know about.

If you want this kind of tough luxury for your family, it will cost $36,000 for a V6 and almost $46,500 for the V8. That may seem steep for a station wagon, but when you think about how solid it is, how safe it is, and how it could help you defend yourself from the terrifying Finnish army and their sharp ski poles, that's not a bad price at all.

Pros: It's roomy, comfortable and solid enough to feel like a piece of military hardware.

Cons: No matter how it feels, it's still a station wagon at heart.

RATINGS (1-10) Style: 7
Performance: 6
Price: 6
Handling: 9
Ride: 10
Comfort: 10
Quality: 9
Overall: 8