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TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Volvo XC70 in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's SUV experts then researched available road tests on the new Volvo XC70 to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 brings an extra dose of real off-road ruggedness to a wagon that’s comfortable and spacious but has been regarded as not incredibly sporty.
However, for 2009 Volvo increases the sportiness of the XC70 by introducing the new T6 AWD model. The T6 takes the standard XC70 and adds a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, 24-valve, inline six-cylinder engine with 295 lb-ft of torque and 281 horsepower—a 43-horsepower increase over the normally aspirated 3.2-liter inline-six propelling the standard XC70 AWD. The standard six-cylinder engine is smooth and delivers adequate power, but it doesn’t exhibit much pep from a standing start, and the six-speed automatic transmission can balk when a downshift is needed for hills. Its fuel economy isn’t any better than that of most mid-size crossover SUVs, however.
The 2009 Volvo XC70’s all-wheel-drive system sends 95 percent of the power to the front wheels during normal driving and can transmit up to 65 percent to the rear wheels for better traction via a Haldex clutch system. 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. Volvo’s Four-C automatic damping control is available on the 2009 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 XC70’s instrument panel is 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.
Cargo space inside the 2009 XC70 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. The seats 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 2009 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.
For 2009, both models receive a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface as standard equipment. Returning standard equipment includes fog lamps, heated side mirrors, a power driver’s seat, keyless entry, cruise control, and dual-zone climate control. 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. The new T6 model is recognizable by its 17-inch Sargas alloy wheels, tailgate badge, and dual tailpipes and on the inside by its watch dial instrument cluster and cross-brushed aluminum inlays.
Volvo’s new-for-2009 Technology Package includes active bi-xenon headlamps, Dynaudio sound system, and Sirius Satellite Radio. 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 notifies 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. Another top-technology option is a Blind Sport Information System (BLIS) that detects when a vehicle is beside and just behind the Volvo and informs the driver with a light at the base of the side-view mirror.