2008 Volvo XC70 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Volvo XC70 brings an extra dose of real off-road ruggedness to a wagon that’s comfortable and spacious but not all that sporty.

While compiling this review that covers the 2008 Volvo XC70, the experts at TheCarConnection.com first looked to some of the Web’s best reviews, then included firsthand driving experience behind the wheel of the new XC70.

The 2008 Volvo XC70 combines the body of Volvo’s large V70 station wagon with more rugged styling cues, increased ground clearance, and skid plates for those who plan to travel on rutted forest paths or deep snow—resulting in a more size-efficient alternative to mid-size sport-utility vehicles.

Only a 3.2-liter, 238-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine is offered on the 2008 Volvo XC70, along with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Its fuel economy isn’t any better than that of most mid-size crossover SUVs, though, at just 15 mpg city.

Inside, the 2008 Volvo XC70 gets the same very fashionable instrument-panel design that’s used in the V70 wagon and S80 sedan, a 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 has situated the climate controls in an especially intuitive way, with the available navigation system’s screen tucked neatly inside the dash when it’s not in use.

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The seats in the 2008 Volvo XC70 are among the best in any crossover vehicle; the standard units are very firm and comfortable, while the available perforated heated and cooled options rank high among all vehicles. The XC70 also has a particularly versatile arrangement for its rear seats. The second row is split into three separate cushions, each of which folds forward flat to amplify cargo 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 cargo space itself is impressive, and under the cargo floor there’s another hidden compartment for smaller items, along with a tie-down system to help keep items from moving around.

Volvo’s Four-C automatic damping control is now available on the 2008 Volvo XC70; the system firms up the suspension quickly when needed for sharper cornering control while allowing the ride to be quite soft and absorbent under normal driving. The six-cylinder engine is smooth and delivers adequate power, but it doesn’t exhibit much pep from a standing start, and the transmission can balk when a downshift is needed for hills.

The all-wheel-drive system that’s included with the 2008 Volvo XC70 uses a Haldex clutch system to shuttle power to the wheels where it’s needed most; in normal driving, it sends 95 percent to the front wheels, but it can transmit up to 65 percent to the rear wheels for better traction. The XC70 has more ground clearance and a heavy-duty suspension, along with protective lower-body cladding and skid plates, to handle light-duty off-roading. An electronic aid, Hill Descent Control, also helps traverse steep, slippery downhill slopes at low speed.

The 2008 Volvo XC70 comes in a single very well-equipped model. Fog lamps, heated side mirrors, a power driver’s seat, keyless entry, cruise control, and dual-zone climate control are all standard. Options include front and rear parking assist, heated front and rear seats, heated wiper nozzles, headlamp cleaners, active bi-xenon headlamps, a dual-screen rear DVD system, adaptive cruise control, and a 650-watt Dynaudio surround sound system.

Several other top-technology options should appeal to those who want to play it safe. A Blind Sport Information System (BLIS) detects when a vehicle is beside and just behind the vehicle and warns the driver with a light at the base of the side-view mirror. Included with adaptive cruise control in the Collision Avoidance Package is a collision warning system that applies the brakes when it anticipates a crash. There’s also a keyless entry and ignition system called the Personal Car Communicator, which will detect the heartbeat of an intruder and warn the owner at a distance on the keyfob, and Driver Alert Control, a system that follows lane markings and warns the driver if it suspects concentration is waning.

The 2008 Volvo XC70 has not yet been crash tested in North America, but it’s loaded with other safety features, such as front side airbags, side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control.

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