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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hej all! I'm seriously considering getting an XC90 for my next vehicle! I love the way they look, the safety aspect of them, the Scandinavian desgn, etc.

The main thing I worry about and kind of a sticking point for my next vehicle is whether or not it can manage deep snow, this being a Swedish vehicle I imagine it should be able to.

Background - I live in the PNW and am an avid skier. I usually have access to a ski in-ski out ski lodge next to one of the resorts that is pretty easy to get in and out of and I don't have any worries about that, however with a growing, I will be staying further down the road in a family cabin that is not necessarily plowed in the morning on storm days which are the days I want to get out of there early. In my head it needs to be able to manage driving through up to 10-12 inches of cascade concrete up a hill.

The 2006 and later V8 XC90's seem to match my needs just about perfectly and they're more reliable (hopefully) than the other SUV's I'm considering.

So, onto my questions -
- With a set of either BFG A/T's (255/55r18 seems to be about the max size I've been able to find info on) or Nokian Hakkapeliitta's would a V8 2006-2013 XC90 be able to manage this, I'd appreciate other people experiences in this type of situation. I've seen ~1.2" lift kits on ebay that I would be hesitant to purchase, but if someone else can speak for these not immediately screwing suspension things up and allowing bigger tires/better clearance for this purpose that would also be a positive consideration.

- What is the largest size of tire you can run on these vehicles without contacting/rubbing? My research has led me to believe that these SUV's don't have much room for enlarging, but a lot of the info I've found from members is just that Volvo doesn't recommend larger tires.

- I also live down a not very well maintained dirt road and although usually fine, last winter we got 2' or so in the lowlands and my wife's AWD car couldn't escape, the neighbors Subaru got out but only halfway back in, and I had to use my truck with a spec'd 8.4" of ground clearance to go on several beer runs. So while my xc skis would get me to the store, I'd rather have the ability to drive, or at least confidence that I'll probably make it, especially in the event of a medical emergency. The tires made most of the difference for that.

I've gone through this forum quite a bit and the vast majority of my questions have been answered positively and some of those R-line XC90's are absolutely gorgeous.

Cheers! :beer:
 

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I would recommend to go with the late production of 2007 or earlier year of V8. This will meet you needs with great power and nice ride. If you could find sport/R-design model, would be better

As for winter tires, I would highly recommend Nokian Hakk R tires. For winter tires, you should not go beyond 255 size for better snow/slush traction.

As for largest tire size, I run 275/45/20 size summer tires without any issues at all


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I would take a look at the Toyo Celcius CUV as well. An awesome tire and a direct competitor to the Nokians. My fathers 2013 Toureg TDI has the Nokian WR G3 and to be honest, we like the Celcius more. Seems to be wearing better too -- I put 23,000 miles on mine in a year with LOTS of summer driving and they look great still.

As for snow/AWD performance, the XC90 might not be "unparalleled" but it is pretty epic. You've got plenty of ground clearance, TONS of vehicle weight and a competent AWD system and a fair bit of power to push those wheels around. Volvo's winter mode really shouldn't be underestimated either -- It doesn't do a ton but stiffens brake pedal feel and lets ABS kick in sooner, changes vehicle acceleration to help you keep traction etc...

I don't have a V8, I have a 2004 T6 in Nautic Blue. I am originally from Seattle and just moved out to the East. The XC90 (with the DSTC option -- make sure you get one with DSTC, I'm not sure if it is standard in the later V8 or not, so make sure) is a freaking beast. The first night I got 8 inches of snow I took the car out to see what she'd do in -10. The answer is basically everything, including pretty good donuts with DSTC and winter mode off :D:D

Hill climbing was easy even from a standstill. Braking was pretty solid and winter mode helps you keep it in check a lot. Even cornering wasn't bad -- Volvo's AWD corrections feel a lot less agressive and more natural than my dad's car from 2013 to be honest. The car just kind of stops you from getting screwed rather than overriding the driver entirely -- felt a lot more symbyotic than the car fighting me.

Remeber that wider wheels will give you substantially worse snow performance. I would stick to 8 inch wheels. They don't look to have as much "stance" as a 9 or 10, but my dad has 10s, and they feel like sleds in the snow and can't wade at all.

Cheers :)
 

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My V8 with Blizzaks handled over a foot of midwest snow pretty well (it ain't cascade concrete, but it's not champagne either); I haven't driven the Nokians but based on their reputation I think you'd do at least as well. (I'm on Michelin x-ices for winter now, giving up a little deep snow traction to get better dry handling and hopefully better tread life). Had the BFG ATs on a different vehicle (Ranger 4x4); they were good in snow but nowhere near the Blizzaks or x-ices.
 

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I would recommend to go with the late production of 2007 or earlier year of V8.
I think you meant late production of 2007 or later year, not earlier year. :)
 

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I own 2 vehicles:
1. 2005 Volvo XC90 AWD 2.5T with 120K.
2. 2006 BMW X5 3.0i 6spMT xDrive with 130K.

The BMW X5 is superior when it comes to snow handling, especially with snow tires.
The Volvo AWD is an "after-thought" of the engineers. The BMW xDrive is way better.
Go to you tube and watch some BMW xDrive technology.

I think 2006 was the best year for X5, if you search hard enough, you will find some with < 100K.
Do a cooling overhaul and the BMW will serve you well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the information everyone! It definitely appears to be that a 2007+ V8 XC90 would be an excellent choice for my needs since it should be able to handle the deep stuff with proper tires.


The BMW X5 is superior when it comes to snow handling, especially with snow tires.
The Volvo AWD is an "after-thought" of the engineers. The BMW xDrive is way better.
Go to you tube and watch some BMW xDrive technology.
I am actually considering a BMW X5, rwd biased AWD does sound like a lot of fun. I have been less than impressed with xDrive youtube videos when it comes to low speed snow maneuvers (busting out of deep snow), but it's always hard to tell if it's the AWD system or the tires they have on. I also have a hard time believing that AWD was an "after-thought" (although I'm always interested in vehicle design history if you care to expand on this) on XC90's since it's a Swedish SUV from a company that has had AWD in their line up since 1997, that's not to say that its a superior AWD vs. xDrive especially for 'aggressive' driving.

For context, the vehicles on my short list are:
1. VW Touareg T1 V8 (low range and a center/rear diff lock is a big plus for me. Lack of a 3rd row seat is not)
2. Volvo XC90 V8
3. BMW X5 V8 (or I6 w/ 6spd manual :cool:)
 

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I own 2 vehicles:
1. 2005 Volvo XC90 AWD 2.5T with 120K.
2. 2006 BMW X5 3.0i 6spMT xDrive with 130K.

The BMW X5 is superior when it comes to snow handling, especially with snow tires.
The Volvo AWD is an "after-thought" of the engineers. The BMW xDrive is way better.
Go to you tube and watch some BMW xDrive technology.

I think 2006 was the best year for X5, if you search hard enough, you will find some with < 100K.
Do a cooling overhaul and the BMW will serve you well.

I thought the XC90 was being driven as FWD since the angle gear failure in 2016. Just trying to put some context to the comparison...
 

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4th gen Haldex is a pretty significant upgrade that the later (2007-on?) P2-chassis XC's got. That'll engage the rear wheels instantaneously.

You're still playing with a pair of open diffs, but the AWD is pretty competent at getting the power down to the right wheels. The last of the P2 XC90's do about as well as most of the AWD Euro-barges in the roller tests.

I will say that you want to be willing to DIY (hence this forum) before you jump into an XC90, but this is true for pretty much any second hand vehicle.

-Ryan
 

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I thought the XC90 was being driven as FWD since the angle gear failure in 2016.
Speaking of which, for the OP's reference, I got through last winter with FWD only on the X-Ices...was able to climb the short hill to the cabin up north in 8" or so with no power to the rears. (Later in the winter, when it was more like 10-12" settled over the ruts I had left on previous trips, couldn't quite get there. But almost).
 

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Even before the angle gear sleeve failure, the XC90 is not as good as the X5 on the snow.
I agree with this statement. I drive both my XC90 (Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus 255/55R18) and 2011 535i xDrive Msport (19" Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+) through blizzards. While the XC90 has the ground clearance, the BMW xDrive is better in the snow and more predictable. The xDrive is a full-time AWD with (depending on model) ~60% rear/~40% front power bias fixed by mechanical design. Then the xDrive has wet clutches which can vary the amount of power to send to either axle. The XC90 doesn't behave as consistent in the snow since the Haldex AWD is an on-demand system and reacts after slip happens.

I am helping with some E53 X5 3.0 and E83 X3 3.0 maintenance. The worst that happens with these xDrive units is there is a plastic gear that wears out and it activates the varying torque (clutches). Stronger replacement gear is less than $20 and less than 1 hr at home to fix. I fear the day the Volvo's angle gear sleeve in the XC90 needs replacement. While the cost of the sleeve and parts is less than $150, the time to replace it is a lot (removal of axles, drop exhaust?, etc.). It will cost more if a complete angle gear unit is needed.

I still drive the XC90 in the snow more because it is a tank. I know the steel body panels help resist the dings of salt and rocks, plus I know I will be safe if there happens to be a vehicle sliding into me. The BMWs have a better ride, but the Volvo has really nice seats. One main deciding factor is on the length and weight you want to drive around. The XC90 is considerably longer and top heavy than the E53 X5. Another consideration is the X5 6cyl is more reliable than the V8s and the BMW (GM) transmissions are bulletproof with cheap AC Delco Dex VI fluid changes.
 

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Last winter end of October high mountain over 2330 m altitude and first snow my night 60 cm on mountain pass up and down we are only
run smoothly with new Winter tire Goodyear Ultragrip Performance MS XL Suv I recommend so good traction in snow.
See my photos 60 cm I just pass over and clean in front of Hotel in St.Moritz Swiss Alps.
Last 2 winter I used Wredestein 4 Extreme but I can assure Continental is much better.

https://www.span.si/GOODYEAR_POTNISKE_MS/Goodyear_UltraGrip_Performance_g1_MS_XL_3.html

With one good original part that I purchased - 4 mm alu plate under the engine. Its perfect for sliding. Plastic will snap for sure
if snow is hard.


Trust me this plate is very strong for snow and rocks.

See in the morning we had wonderful
sunshine day with view to Italy from Swiss :)


 

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Goodyear tires not Continental its mistake. Conti is for summer...

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Last winter end of October high mountain over 2330 m altitude and first snow my night 60 cm on mountain pass up and down we are only
run smoothly with new Winter tire Goodyear Ultragrip Performance MS XL Suv I recommend so good traction in snow.
See my photos 60 cm I just pass over and clean in front of Hotel in St.Moritz Swiss Alps.
Last 2 winter I used Wredestein 4 Extreme but I can assure Continental is much better.

https://www.span.si/GOODYEAR_POTNISKE_MS/Goodyear_UltraGrip_Performance_g1_MS_XL_3.html

With one good original part that I purchased - 4 mm alu plate under the engine. Its perfect for sliding. Plastic will snap for sure
if snow is hard.


Trust me this plate is very strong for snow and rocks.
Great photos! Crazy conditions! Does anyone know if this aluminum plate will fit under a 2011 3.2L? I've found the install literature in VIDA, but can't find the part.

Thanks!

-Ryan
 

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Thanks for the information everyone! It definitely appears to be that a 2007+ V8 XC90 would be an excellent choice for my needs since it should be able to handle the deep stuff with proper tires.



For context, the vehicles on my short list are:
1. VW Touareg T1 V8 (low range and a center/rear diff lock is a big plus for me. Lack of a 3rd row seat is not)
2. Volvo XC90 V8
3. BMW X5 V8 (or I6 w/ 6spd manual :cool:)
Touareg with a locker seems to be a unicorn. Very rare. Though, lockers and other trick diffs are definitely very good to have. My ol' 945 has the G80 locker in the rear diff, and with snow tires it was surprisingly competent in the snow. Unfortunately, I've decided that car is too nice to keep running in the salty winters, hence the XC90.

The X5 is very nice. My kid sister had a 6-spd V8 special ordered around 2004-ish. The X5 has a solid feeling you just don't get with the Volvos. X5 will handle much better than the XC90 out of the box. Stick-shift X5's are a major rarity. BMW people don't want manuals anymore. So much so, that my sister got dinged on the trade-in value because of the manual trans. For a BMW. WTF?

That said, my 2011 XC90 has been quite good in the snow. I'm running good all seasons for at least another year, when I hope to track down a spare set of wheels to put snows on. The black interior resists UV's so the rattles are non-existent. Volvo claims a 50/50 weight distribution. Other thing working in the XC90's favor is that I was half-joking with friends that the XC90 is more comfortable than any furniture in my house, including our bed. I threw my back out for a couple days last spring, and I found that the XC90 driver's seat with the seat heater was like what I imagine morphine feels like. :)

-Ryan
 

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My ol' 945 has the G80 locker in the rear diff,
G80 is the option code used for the Eaton Locker used in GM pickups. Could it be the same thing? A bit heavy duty for a passenger car...
(A locked differential in a RWD vehicle can get a little exciting!)
 

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It's indeed the Eaton locker. Previously, they were running Dana 30's in the rear end before switching to the G80. Overbuilt was the order of the day back then. Differential problems were few and far between.

-Ryan
 
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