Volvo XC90 is “Mudfest Champion” for third consecutive year, this time with a V8 PORTLAND, OR – Volvo’s all-conquering XC90 SUV, with more than 50 International Awards to it’s credit, has taken a record-breaking third Mudfest Championship title in the face of stiff competition by new entrants from Jeep, Volkswagen, Infiniti and Porsche. “This year there are many really strong competitors and I was reluctant to name the XC90 Northwest Sport Utility of the Year for the third consecutive year, but in my mind it continues to be the best all-around sport-utility vehicle,” says Mike Meredith of MSN, and NWAPA member. Judged by the members of NWAPA (North West Automotive Press Association), the Mudfest competition includes a challenging two-day evaluation that tests a vehicles’ performance, handling, braking as well as its’ on-road and off-road capabilities. In addition, tangibles such as packaging, versatility and overall value for money are factored into the equation. “?our Mudfest event separates the real ‘players’ from the ‘pretenders’,” says Lary Coppola, Editor and Publisher of the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, and past NWAPA president. “So when it came time for me to buy a vehicle for my own family,?for safety, performance and overall capability, there was only one choice I even considered ? the Volvo XC90,” he said. Since its launch in the US market less than two years ago, the Volvo XC90 has become the best-selling European SUV. More than 38,000 units were sold in 2003 and the XC90 is on track for more than 40,000 during 2004. Dubbed the “first of the next generation of SUV’s” the XC90 has consistently led its market sector and has gained a myriad of awards including the 2003 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year, North American Truck of the Year and the Truck of Texas?. “?with its improved V8 power, the XC90 provides all the pleasures of an exceptional on- and off-road vehicle, plus it offers a high-quality powertrain package that made it a natural winner in our NWAPA’s SUV of the Year competition,” said Jerry Smith, Mudfest 2004 Co-Chairman. Now with the newly announced 311-horsepower, 4.4-liter V8 engine, new six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, and refined Haldex AWD system, Volvo’s first SUV is even better positioned to expand its market potential with its first V8 power train. The preliminary reactions are clinging to the new Volvo, like well, mud from an Oregon hillside: “Safety and Sizzle” and “Volvo’s Scoot Ute,” says Bruce Caldwell, member of NWAPA.