Review coming soon!
Over Christmas Break, we had a gathering in which I encountered a family friend. Amid a discussion, I learned that this person and his family currently own three Volvos, two of which are XC90s. Inevitably, I jumped at the chance to review the Volvos. Much to my dismay, I learned that the XC90s are in fact essentially the same car with the same engine choice, albeit with slight cosmetic and trim differences. I thought why not just combine these two cars into a review? With the SUV boom taking over the market in the early 2000s, safety innovator Volvo found itself without a suitable SUV to capitalize on this newly emerging trend. As a result, the XC90 debuted in 2002 as a 2003 model. The XC90 was designed with safety and versatility in mind, two traits that appealed to families. It quickly became Volvo’s best selling vehicle worldwide (in 2005), and it garnered the North American Car of the Year Award in 2003. I remember reading one of Jeremy Clarkson’s books (A former Top Gear host), and when the Volvo XC90 was brought up, it was noted that he’s had three of them. I remember that he said, “The Volvo XC90 seems like it was designed by engineers who actually have children, not just read about them in books.” I thought, if Jeremy Clarkson, one of the most critical and irrational people on the planet likes the Volvo XC90, then it must be good. Let’s see if I feel the same one about these XC90s. Continue reading
In the 1990s, the “SUV boom” was taking place. All of sudden, people started gravitating away from minivans and station wagons to SUVs for their family vehicle. Ford was one of the manufacturers that took advantage of this trend with their midsize Explorer SUV. It was wildly successful as Ford sold over 400,000 Explorers in 1996. However, people looking for bigger SUVs flocked to the Chevrolet Tahoes and Surburbans and their GMC twins. Ford then saw another opportunity for another SUV, one that would be more expensive and bigger than the Explorer. Heavily based off the Ford F-150, the Expedition came to fruition in 1996 as a 1997 model. The Expedition came with third row seating and several features that were not available on the Explorer, as well as more powerful engines for maximum towing capability. The Expedition found many customers, as it was sized between a Tahoe and Surburban yet was as affordable as a Tahoe. The Expedition’s success merited a luxury version for Ford’s luxury division, the Navigator, as well as an even larger SUV, the Excursion. In 2003, the Expedition was redesigned, still based off the Ford F-150. However, this generation was noticeable for being the first body on frame SUV (the chassis and the body are not connected together until the end of the production process) to utilize an independent rear suspension, a sophisticated suspension reserved for sedans. This move was criticized by some as it was thought that the IRS would hamper the Expedition’s towing abilities and off roading ability. Whereas the first Expedition felt like a truck with clumsy handling, jittery ride, and a loud interior, the second Expedition focused on a more comfortable driving experience as well as better interior accommodations.
Competing with the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout SUVs, the first Bronco debuted in 1966. With no automatic transmission or power steering option, the Bronco was considered very spartan for its time, but proved durable and capable off road. It become a favorite for off roading enthusiasts, and it was used widely for off roading competitions. This generation lasted 11 years, before a new generation of Broncos debuted in 1978. Starting from 1978, the Broncos were divided in two categories: the Early Broncos and the Full-Size Broncos. The 1978 Bronco was based off the F100’s platform, and used the truck’s powertrain and other components. Three more generations followed, and they were all a derivative of the F-Series truck. The last generation (1992-1996) was the most well-known, mostly because it was OJ Simpson’s vehicle in a highly publicized car chase. When I asked my mother if she knew what a Ford Bronco was, she said yes. I was shocked, and I asked her if it was because of the Bronco’s heritage or its coolness factor. She asked me, “Wasn’t that the car OJ Simpson was driving in that car chase?”. Go figure. Ford discontinued production of the Bronco in 1996.
The Ford Motor Company takes pride on its SUVs. As one of the country’s best selling SUV in the late 1990s, the Explorer propelled Ford to the top of the SUV market. Then Ford created the Expedition as a larger alternative to the Explorer. Ford decided to get creative and introduced the Excursion as an even larger alternative to the Explorer. After the Excursion, Ford birthed the Escape as a compact substitute. The SUV market shifted from truck based SUVs to car based SUVs dubbed crossovers. Finally the Edge came to fruition as to give Ford’s increasing SUV lineup a midsize SUV contender to the Hyundai Santa Fe and Chrysler Pacifica. Based off the Ford Fusion, the Edge aimed to combine family sedan virtues while appealing to the SUV market. For 2010, a Limited trim replaced the top of the line SEL Plus.