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2003 ICOTY Awards
Minivan/Sport Wagon

Most Compatible - VOLVO XC90

2003 Volvo XC90There are a number of "firsts" going on here in 2003 in the RTM's Most Versatile category. First, this award usually goes to a traditional minivan or a station wagon. And this year's worthy winner, the Volvo XC90, is neither a minivan nor a station wagon, but rather a true sport-utility vehicle. Remember, though, that one of Volvo's longtime strengths has been building safe, secure station wagons, so it's only fitting that if an SUV is going to compete in the Most Versatile category, then this Volvo isn't such a stretch after all.

Another first: this is the first time Volvo has ever developed an SUV. After all, tippy, ponderous SUVs inherently have been somewhat at odds with Volvo's well-known, safety-first mantra. So Volvo engineers had their work cut out for them if there were going to make this truck happen.

The result is without a doubt the safest SUV on the road, offering more protection for its driver and up to six additional passengers than any SUV has offered before. How about curtain air bag protection for all three rows of seats? How about a stability control system that can actually predict and help prevent rollovers? How about world-class brakes that can achieve stopping distances that rival some sports cars? Suddenly, a Volvo SUV makes sense.

That said, the XC90 wouldn't have won this category on safety alone. Other XC90 hallmarks are seating for up to seven passengers, excellent ergonomics, tons of cargo space and Swedish flair inside and out. Power comes from your choice of two engines: a 208-hp turbocharged five-cylinder that is far from quick but that actually can claim highway fuel economy of 24 mpg, or a stronger, 278-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 that can easily run with costlier SUVs from BMW and Mercedes.

All in all, this is an SUV we can wholeheartedly endorse for safety freaks. Yet another "first" indeed.

Most Respected
Luxury Car of the Year
BMW 7 Series

Most Likely to Change the World
ECO- Friendly Car of the Year
Honda Civic

Most Likely to Survive Anything
SUV of the Year
Hummer H2