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Good idea; Bad idea: Volvo XC90 edition.

My work acquired a 2006 Volvo XC90 2.5T AWD that’s going to our wholesale/auction lot. I had them put a hold on it for me because it’s in stunningly good shape, and I’m contemplating buying it before it goes to auction/wholesale.

Should I bother?


  • Newer than my daily driver by 2 model years.
  • Less-traveled than my daily driver, but only by 7k miles (94k vs 87k).
  • More airbags for the driver alone than my car has for all passengers, I believe (oddly enough, my silver 6 had side airbags, which my 1-year-newer 6 doesn’t have, despite being the same trim. Different options by the original buyers, apparently).
  • Better resale value and lasting value, presumably.
  • No mechanical or electrical faults that I’ve found on my 20-minute cursory inspection (not had a tech look at it yet on a lift). In contrast, my Mazda6 has a few minor quibbles including a minor oil drip.
  • A few additional features/amenities my Mazda doesn’t have. Notably: rear wiper (why can’t all cars have them?!), parking sensors (not needed, but nice), two-stage front seat heaters (instead of an on/off switch), power-folding side mirrors, headlamp washers, rear fog light(s? Can I enable the one on the passenger side?), DRLs (ugh), 10 radio presets per frequency, plus SUV features like the third row, roof rack, etc. I’d probably like to add a rear camera, just because there’s little kids in my neighborhood, and I do frequent busy parking lots.
  • AWD - while not necessary where I live (Missouri) - does have its advantages. Seeing as my wife and I are extremely unlikely to ever have any kids (damn you, cancer!), I intend to reach out to my siblings and cousins and their kids and spend more time with them. Most of them live on farms at least an hour away, so ground clearance and some off-road capability wouldn’t go amiss there. I’d rather go in the larger, comfier Volvo that I don’t mind getting beaten up, rather than my wife’s 2016 CX-5 Grand Touring that we bought new and are trying to keep as close to that condition as possible.
  • Stupendously well-cared-for. Dealer-serviced, well-maintained, and the only defect on the body is an easily-PDRed ding on one of the doors, and the headlamp washers seem to be missing their covers. The center console is also strangely missing, but appears readily available. There’s some other aesthetic items that need attention, but those are covered later.
  • Volvos have delightfully-comfortable seats. My Mazda’s aren’t uncomfortable, but the driver’s seat has a collapsed bolster which is irritating.
  • Easier ingress/egress. I just have to make sure not to brush up on the seat controls when getting in/out as the panel they mount on easily cracks (though replacements are less than $30 and 20 minutes of effort).
  • Apparently the 2.5L is the engine to have in these. Yet I’ve had acquaintances with the 2.5L in other Volvos that have had issues with them, although those were in higher-strung applications (S60/V70Rs, notably).
  • I’ve missed having a Volvo: My 1990 760 Turbo Wagon was the car I’ve yet owned the longest, and it definitely held a special place for me and my friends.
  • Plenty of room for shopping runs (I do most of the shopping for the household, and sometimes it gets cramped in the Mazda) and ferrying home items I’d want (and, in some ways, wouldn’t want) to use my wife’s CX-5 for (including transporting the dogs to/from the groomer/vet). Added advantage of being older so I’d be OK hauling potentially more-damaging items in the Volvo than the CX-5 (like the dogs). Plus it’s roomier.
  • Image-wise, it’s a better fit for where I am in life; I’m soon to be in management, so an orange sporty sedan begins to feel on the immature side in contrast to the rational, safe, and confident Volvo. A few minor tweaks (tail lights from the “facelifted” model make it look 5 years newer alone to start) would make it look newer than it is, which could be a plus seeing as I work at a used car dealership.


  • It’s bigger than I have any rational need for. Its potential outside of basic single-occupant commuting would only be used once-in-a-while, much like the pickup that gets its bed dirtied only a few times a year. I’d prefer an XC60, but this is priced right for me and for what I get for the money. I’d spend more money for a decent XC60 with similar fuel economy but not much gained. I’d also like a CX-5 or XC40 of my own, but there’s no way I’m spending 5 figures to drive less than 10 miles a day. Plus my pending promotion includes an option to demo cars.
  • Worse gas mileage than my Mazda, naturally.
  • Less horsepower but only by 12, presuming all the ponies are still in both cars.
  • Higher potential repair costs. Even a somewhat minor repair on the Volvo could be as much as a major repair on the Mazda.
  • Needs $800 in tires almost right away. Thankfully they’re 17" so relatively affordable, and about what I was planning on paying to replace the tires on the Mazda late this year or sometime next year (or so). On the plus side, I know that I’d only be choosing between either the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus or the Pirelli Scorpion Verde A/S Plus for the Volvo, in contrast to the 5-6 contenders I’ve been considering for the Mazda.
  • It’s double what I paid for my Mazda. Some more features, a bit newer, and fewer miles, yes, but it’s a somewhat tough pill to swallow.
  • I finally got all the dents taken out of the Mazda, polished the headlamps, and upgraded all the lighting. While I don’t entirely mind doing it again for the Volvo (despite the headlight cloudiness, which admittedly isn’t as bad as other XC90s I’ve seen), it is a bit frustrating having to do lighting all over again. Plus I don’t like feeling like I need to update the tail lamps to the newer versions, presuming they’re plug-and-play.
  • Insurance is likely more expensive for the Volvo.
  • The gas door is on the wrong side of the damn car. Not that I fuel up that much, but when I do, I like it on the driver’s side.
  • My Mazda6 makes me smile just looking at it. While I’m not certain yet that I’d sell it, it would be redundant unless the Volvo had a failure. I like driving it, but I’d almost prefer an actual sports car at this point for the fun-to-drive factor.
  • Fun-to-drive factor would be in a different category. I doubt the almost 3-ton SUV has the same sort of giddy-up my V6 sedan has, despite the turbocharged 5-cylinder. The XC90 isn’t a slouch, but I do like to be able to pass at will or get up to speed in traffic as quickly as I can within reason & safeness.
  • There is no massive upgrade or improvement in terms of features or amenities, and I even lose some things: I go from a 6-disc CD player to a 1-disc., for example I didn’t note any Bluetooth or auxiliary input, but I also haven’t looked in all the storage spaces. Seeing as it’s a 2006, I don’t expect to find them, but it could be a pleasant surprise.
  • I drive less than 10 miles a day, so I definitely don’t need much more than a econobox, so this is definitely in the want category, especially since the Mazda works.
  • The Mazda has no major services due for a long time, and I did the spark plugs & the back bank of ignition coils prior to buying it. The Volvo will need the timing belt and spark plugs done in the next 20-30K miles, though given how much I drive, that might be a while away (if ever; I only drive about 3K miles a year). Price wise that’s not too bad, though, looks like it’s between $500-900 to have done, even at a dealership.

Thoughts, fellow Opponauts?

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