2009 Volvo V70 Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 8, 2009

The 2009 Volvo V70 looks a lot more with the times than the Volvo wagons of the past, but there’s just as much of an emphasis on utility and safety.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors have driven the Volvo V70 and bring you their driving impressions and overall take on this versatile wagon. Then TheCarConnection.com researched posted reviews on the 2009 Volvo V70 to gather the most useful observations all in one place.

The Volvo V70 is the modern interpretation of Volvo’s traditional boxy wagon. Carried over from last year’s redesign are bolder exterior styling, fashionable interior appointments, and safety features such as integrated child booster seats.

The only transmission for the 2009 V70 is a six-speed automatic with a manual-select mode, and the V70 comes only with front-wheel drive. Powering the V70 is a 3.2-liter, 238-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine. The six-cylinder engine gives adequate but not particularly fast acceleration, though the transmission can balk when a downshift is needed for hills. The ride is soft and absorbent, making for good ride comfort even on rough roads, and its interior is hushed. The setup doesn’t feel sporty, however, with steering that’s light and precise but without much feedback.

The interior space of the 2009 Volvo V70 is split into three sections to optimize the mix of cargo and passenger space. For the smallest passengers, the second row can be outfitted with integrated two-position booster seats—a world first, Volvo says—that eliminate the need for aftermarket strap-ins. The versatile arrangement affords seating for three adults in the rear, while also folding forward flat in a single motion.

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The V70’s instrument panel is the same fashionable design of the S80 sedan, with its simplified, horizontal layout complemented by a "floating" center stack that borrows its look from flat-screen monitors and high-end audio systems. Instead of using complex screen-driven controls, Volvo lays out the climate controls in particular in a very intuitive way, and the available navigation system’s screen tucks neatly inside the dash when not in use.

Cargo space is impressive, and under the flat cargo floor, there’s another hidden compartment good for smaller items. Up front, the seats in the 2009 Volvo V70 are among the best in any vehicle, for taller occupants especially; the standard units are firm yet comfortable, while the available perforated heated and cooled options are definitely worth the extra money.

The 2009 Volvo V70 has not yet been crash tested in North America, but it’s loaded with other safety features such as front side airbags, side-curtain bags, active front head restraints, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control.

The 2009 V70 comes in a single, well-equipped model that includes standard features such as heated mirrors, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, dual-zone climate control, and a power driver’s seat with memory settings.

High-tech safety features are, of course, part of the 2009 V70’s repertoire and includes a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which detects when a vehicle is beside and just behind the V70 and warns the driver with a light at the base of the side-view mirror. Also included with adaptive cruise control in the Collision Avoidance Package is a collision warning system that applies the brakes when a crash is anticipated. There’s also a keyless entry and ignition system called the Personal Car Communicator, which will actually detect the heartbeat of an intruder and warn the owner at a distance on the key fob, and Driver Alert Control, a system that follows lane markings and warns the driver if it suspects concentration is waning and it’s time for a coffee break.

For 2009 there have been a few more standard items added, such as Bluetooth hands-free phone interface and fog lights. A new Technology Package is also now available and includes active bi-xenon gas discharge headlamps with washers, Sirius Satellite Radio, a Dynaudio Premium Sound System, and rear seat headphone jacks and audio controls. Most major options are arranged in packages—the aforementioned Technology Package and the Premium, Collision Avoidance, Convenience, and Climate packages—the addition of which can make the V70 an expensive acquisition.

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2009 Volvo V70

Styling

The 2009 Volvo V70 doesn’t set any new radical styling directions, but it is clean, coherent, and highly functional.

The 2009 Volvo V70 is more refined than the last version—in some opinions, too refined.

“In lieu of lusty emotional appeal,” says Motor Trend about the 2009 Volvo V70, “these all-new wagons are imbued with more of everything the Volvo faithful appreciate.”

The 2009 V70 retains some modern Volvo wagon cues such as bumper-to-roof taillights, part of what Edmunds calls the vehicle’s “new, evolutionary exterior styling” that wraps a car slightly longer and wider than the one it replaces. Claiming that the “all-new sheetmetal imparts a more athletic flair, with bolder character lines that rise from its chiseled front fascia and carry through a power-bulged hood and onto prominent shoulder ridges,” it seems that Kelley Blue Book finds the new styling more daring than before. Car and Driver feels that the V70 is a “step backward” from the boldness of the last-generation vehicle, stating that “its character has been ironed out in the form of smoother, rounded sheetmetal.”

Several Consumer Guide testers find “the digital bar graph a poor substitute for a conventional fuel gauge.” Otherwise, the interior isn’t quite as polarizing, with near universal praise for its luxurious trimmings and clean, modern design. Calling it “a Swedish-modern motif,” Kelley Blue Book likes the V70's “legible analog gauges with supplemental driver-info readouts to Volvo's distinctive slim-line center stack with intuitively arrayed audio and climate controls.”

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2009 Volvo V70

Performance

The 2009 Volvo V70 has adequate acceleration with mediocre fuel economy, and handling is unremarkable.

The 2009 Volvo V70 is semi-sporty in a stoic way, but fuel economy is a downer. The sensible drivers at ConsumerGuide average 21.6 mpg “in an even mix of city and highway driving.” Says Kelley Blue Book, “the V70's EPA fuel economy numbers of 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway are only average, and are equaled by BMW's pricier, but far-quicker, 300-horsepower all-wheel-drive 535xi Sport Wagon.”

Besides the bad fuel-efficiency figures of the 2009 V70, reviewers appreciate the 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine’s smooth 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Kelley Blue Book finds the engine has “sufficient muscle” but “won’t do much to satisfy anyone with even modest enthusiast leanings.” The 3.2 is backed by a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with manual shift control that ConsumerGuide considers smooth and “quick to respond to throttle inputs.” Car and Driver remarks, “Smooth is the name of the game, and unlike in the old turbo, torque steer is nearly imperceptible.” Car and Driver records 0-60 times of 7.5 seconds.

The ride of the 2009 Volvo V70 is plush and absorbent, but its handling lacks athleticism and is otherwise safe and predictable. Says Edmunds.com, “sharp handling isn't in the V70's repertoire, but light steering and a relatively small size make for easier maneuvering than a much larger crossover SUV.” ConsumerGuide feels that the V70 offers a commendable balance of road feel and bump isolation.” They call its handling “almost sporty” and find the vehicle “benefits from direct, responsive steering and well controlled lean in corners.” Motor Trend sums up the others’ feelings, remarking “the big brakes demonstrated reassuring retardation.”

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2009 Volvo V70

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Volvo V70 offers designer comfort, plus a lot more quality than you’ll find at IKEA.

The 2009 Volvo V70 continues a tradition of exceptional comfort and quality feel. Car and Driver feels “the quiet comfort that the [2009 Volvo] V70 provides…makes you feel better after a long day”—especially when you consider the blue-plate-special base price.

Edmunds raves that the “V70’s seats are excellent, achieving a blend of body-soothing comfort and body-holding support.” They also like the rear seat comfort, as well as its 40/20/20 split-folding seatback and available height-adjustable integrated child booster seats. ConsumerGuide weighs in on the interior ambiance, finding “cabin materials are padded and/or nicely grained where it matters most,” and “assembly quality is first rate.” They also like the standard vinyl/cloth seat material that feels “durable and expensive,” but complain the “gray of our test car appeared solemnly bland.” Car and Driver asserts that the V70 “only comes across as a wallflower because it takes a while for its charm to sneak up on you.” And there’s a lot of goodness for a car loaded with standard equipment at an MSRP of just above $33,000.

With 72.1 cubic feet of cargo space, the 2009 Volvo V70 is the largest station-wagon model in the Swedish automaker’s lineup and makes the heft and height of an SUV seem superfluous. ConsumerGuide praises the “large, boxy, nicely finished cargo area” that “features flat folding second-row seats and handy under floor storage.” Road & Track also likes the “sliding load floor, a storage compartment under the load floor and an optional power tailgate.”

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2009 Volvo V70

Safety

The 2009 Volvo V70 is loaded with safety features both active and passive, though crash-test scores aren’t available.

The 2009 Volvo V70 hasn’t been crash-tested, but it shares the strong body and extensive safety features of the Volvo S80. Says Car and Driver, the S80 platform “means the same crash structure and the same safety equipment: front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-whiplash headrests; and panic brake assist.” Also standard are traction and stability control.

Kelley Blue Book touts the V70’s “powerful four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes” that “incorporate both Electronic Brake Assistance and anti-fade compensation circuitry.” Cars.com notes “the sides of the vehicle have been made stronger with high-tensile steel to help better withstand impact.”

Optional safety features include BLIS (blind-spot warning system), vehicle distance alert, and lane-departure warning system. And finally, there is the optional Personal Car Communicator included with keyless entry, which saves drivers from vehicular intruders by alerting them of a heartbeat pumping in their parked car. Of the optional safety features, Edmunds feels they “are essentially designed to save drivers from themselves.”

With the advent of this V70, Volvo is now worried about even the pedestrians; Road & Track points out the inclusion of “a soft structure ahead of the front bumper” to help reduce leg injuries. Motor Trend contends that “the biggest innovation” is the pair of integrated second-row child safety seats “designed to keep children in a booster seat for as long as possible.”

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2009 Volvo V70

Features

The 2009 Volvo V70 is a lot of car for a reasonable price, but the side items will cost you.

The 2009 Volvo V70 is very well equipped even in base form. The addition of a few more standard items for the 2009 model include Bluetooth hands-free phone interface and fog lights. While the V70 may lack the driving verve of competitors such as the Subaru Outback 2.5XT, Saab 9-5 SportCombi, or BMW 535xi, it dramatically trumps the last two in price, and the first in luxury and amenities, again underscoring a solid value. However, TheCarConnection.com editors point out, the V70 can get surprisingly pricey when well optioned.

A new Technology Package is now available and includes active bi-xenon gas discharge headlamps with washers, Sirius Satellite Radio, a Dynaudio Premium Sound System, and rear seat headphone jacks and audio controls. Most major options are arranged in packages: Technology, Premium, Collision Avoidance, Convenience, and Climate. “Even when loaded up with option packages, the V70 3.2 will still slide in under the $45,000 mark,” says Kelley Blue Book.

Edmunds declares that the 40/20/40 split rear bench seat with integrated child booster seats is “a boon for parents who’d rather not lug child seats from car to car.” Similarly, the standard dual-zone automatic climate control is a boon for husbands and wives who have very different ideas of what “comfortable” is. Those unexpected bits and pieces, plus an eight-speaker stereo with six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack (for that Raffi burned on your iPod), round out a comprehensive roster of standard features in what Kelley Blue Book calls a “high content vehicle.”

Of the stand-alone options, perhaps the most notable are active bi-xenon headlamps and a DVD navigation system with pop-up screen.

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