Concern: Volvo, like Volkswagen, has been blessed and cursed by its recent good fortune in North America. The blessing is that its sales are rising. The curse is that Volvo service bays, according to reader complaints, have had a hard time keeping up with the sudden huge volume of vehicles they've had to handle. But the companies -- and some readers -- say progress is being made.

Praise: The XC90 is to premium midsize crossover SUVs what the Honda Element is to entry-level SUVs: an excellent market entry that's changing the meaning of "SUV."

Ride, acceleration and handling: Easily beats the Lexus RX300 in all categories, especially handling. Acceptable acceleration.

Head-turning quotient: Luckily, the XC90 didn't attract any police attention in that vacant Virginia lot. But it surely snapped necks everywhere else it went.

Engines/transmissions: The tested XC90 2.5T came with a 2.5-liter, 20-valve, light-pressure-turbo in-line five-cylinder engine that develops 208 horsepower at 5,000 revolutions per minute and 236 foot-pounds of torque from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. A 2.9-liter, 268-horsepower, twin-turbo in-line six comes with the top-of-the-line XC90 T6. The 2.5T gets a five-speed Geartronic (combined automatic/manual) transmission. The T6 gets a four-speed version of that gearbox.

Capacities: Seats seven, holds 93.2 cubic feet of cargo and tows 5,000 pounds. The fuel tank holds 19 gallons; premium unleaded gasoline is required.

Mileage: I averaged 19 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving, which is misleading, because I spent a lot of time idling in snow-bound traffic jams.

Safety: In addition to ROPS, emergency brake assistance, and traction and anti-skid controls, the XC90 comes with a steel-reinforced roof to help reduce roof crush in a rollover. Inflatable curtain bags, to protect vulnerable heads, are standard.

Price: The base price on the tested XC90 2.5T is $33,350. Dealer invoice price is $31,349. Price as tested is $35,975, including an estimated $2,000 in options and a $625 destination charge.

Purse-strings note: Compare with Acura MDX, BMW X5, GMC Envoy, Lexus RX 300, Lincoln Aviator, Nissan Murano.