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So, before Volvo started to redesign its V70, its larger station wagon, executives researched J.D. Power and Associates APEAL studies — which try to gauge the emotional appeal of the vehicle, its features and how much the owner enjoyed it — to learn what didn’t work for current owners.
What they found wasn’t disheartening, but three problems – ride comfort; noise, squeaks and rattles; and the desire for more storage space, especially for cassettes and CDs – gave them reason to pause.
Volvo’s dealt with these less than APEAL-ing issues with a thorough revamp of the V70’s structure and shape. I had a chance to drive the new V70 a few weeks ago on a loop from Nice on the French Riviera toward Grenoble in the French Alps on well-tended European roads, and in between scenic raptures, found the new V70 ready to counter those minor quibbles.
While the V70 is a front-wheel-drive station wagon, its mechanical underpinnings came from the S80 luxury sedan, which Volvo introduced as a 1999 model. (The previous V70 was based on the 850 platform, which is now the S70, which will soon be the S60.) (Don’t even bother.) Improvements in ride comfort and reductions in noise, squeaks and rattles were handled by increasing torsional stiffness by 60 to 70 percent over the previous model, say Volvo engineers.
That’s why the new model felt very solid even on rumpled and broken surfaces while tooling across southeastern France. The suspension did a good job with impact harshness on these surfaces, better than the previous-generation model, which I drove about a month ago. Too, the wheelbase (108.5 inches) was increased by 3.6 inches to make the ride even smoother and to increase interior space, making the V70 as large as its competition.