Our long-term SUV left the urban wilds of greater Detroit and made a beeline for Interstate 75 North with two people and enough gear for a week in northern Ontario, including furniture for the cabin, tools, coolers, and groceries. The Volvo comes with a cover to hide your belongings from sight, but if you are fully loaded, you essentially have to remove and store it—there is no built-in nook for it.
The trip got off to a slow start. A test of the navigation system took us on a circuitous route through a number of unnecessary cities on the way to the freeway and cost us about a half hour of extraneous time. It was an odd aberration.
Once on I-75, we headed north, pausing to savor the incredible 5-mile span of the Mackinac Bridge that separates the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan, and kept going until the freeway and the U.S. both ended in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. A second bridge took us into Canada’s Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
A third bridge took us onto St. Joseph Island, where a 16-foot Smoker Craft aluminum fishing boat had weathered a snowy winter and was itching to go.
We had a trailer hitch added to our XC90—it is a $950 factory option or about $1,370 as a dealer add-on. Backing up to the trailer was a breeze with the rear camera view on the big 9.6-inch touchscreen. And it made it easy to watch husband Steve finalize the mating of a 4,400-pound SUV to about 1,200 pounds’ worth of boat on a light trailer.
Yes, the Volvo is far nicer than the boat and trailer we latched on, but don’t mistake good looks for lack of brawn. The XC90 did not flinch with the additional weight as we headed up the lane and onto the dirt cottage road to the public boat launch available to anyone with a toonie ($2 Canadian coin).
Rear cameras made me look like a pro backing into the cold waters where the Huron and Superior lakes meet. It was the smoothest launch, both down and back up the crumbling ramp, we have ever had. All we needed was our all-wheel drive and a low gear.