New & Used Volvo XC70: In Depth
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The Volvo XC70 is a mid-size crossover that’s more rugged than you'd would expect, given its history as a wagon. It’s a rare breed of car on today’s market, with only two real competitors: the Audi Allroad and the Subaru Outback. Even though the XC70 is a luxury wagon, it still has the capability to tackle some light off-roading from the extra ground clearance in its simple, yet durable design.For now, the XC70 is also the only wagon you can buy from Volvo, though it's announced a new V70 wagon will be sold in the U.S. soon.
Read our 2014 Volvo XC70 review for car prices with options, specifications, and gas mileage information.
The roots of the XC70 date all the way back to the mid-1990s, when the Volvo V70 replaced the previous 850 Wagon--albeit with all but identical styling. For 2001, a completely redesigned V70 was released. It had smoother, less boxy, more flowing lines, and running gear mostly shared with the large S80 sedan.
For several years, there was also a 300-hp, all-wheel-drive version called the V70 R. The base engine for was at first the 168-hp, naturally aspirated in-line five-cylinder engine, in the 2.4 model; 2.4T models got a low-pressure turbocharged five making 197 hp, while the sporty T5 got a high-pressure turbo making 247 hp.
Between these models, ride quality varied quite a bit, with base models on the soft, almost bouncy side and T5 models providing a very firm calibration that favors handling but might not be to the liking of those who live in the Snow Belt. Among these, our favorites were the 2.4T models (or 208-hp 2.5T models, from 2004 on), which offered the best compromise.
From those roots, the XC70 was launched in 2008. The XC70 can now be ordered with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with the former having taken the place of the last-generation V70. Both that departed V70 wagon and the XC70 crossover share running gear with Volvo's largest sedan, the S80. The engine is a 235-hp, 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission--the same powertrain used in the larger XC90 seven-seat crossover, launched way back in 2002.
All XC70 (and V70) models, old and new, are cargo workhorses. Their split-folding back seats fold flat, and the cargo floor is much lower than you might expect from a crossover, making it easy to load. Front seats are excellent, although some owners may find the back seat a little more cramped for adults that the generous exterior might suggest. While the latest generation for 2008 and beyond loses a bit of performance against its predecessor, the ride and handling were vastly improved and far more premium content was added.
Other than various equipment changes and new wheels and trim, the XC70 has evolved little in recent years. The front-wheel-drive version of the XC70 replaced the V70 wagon for 2011. That same year, standard features were also bolstered for the whole lineup, meaning the base model now includes a power driver's seat, fog lamps, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth, and Sirius satellite radio.
For 2013 Volvo again added features, making headlight washers and rain-sensor wipers standard across the XC70 range, with Keyless Drive and the Personal Car Communicator (PCC) included in T6 models, and new Tunnel Detection added to the headlamps. A Road Sign Information system and Active High Beam were added to the Technology Package.
Volvo provides all the usual and expected safety features, then adds adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, active bi-xenon headlamps, and a nice pop-up navigation system as options. There's also a new Personal Car Communicator (PCC) keyfob system that alerts owners if the vehicle has been broken into, and even detects a heartbeat inside. We also recommend the excellent-sounding Dynaudio sound system—it's one of the best offered on any vehicle.