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TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the latest versions of the Volvo V70 and XC70 in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's SUV experts then researched available road tests on the new Volvo V70 and XC70 to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.
The 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 combine the brand’s reputation for safety and quaint Swedish flair in a conventional station wagon body. The XC70 goes a step further by offering the ruggedness of an SUV with the practicality and dynamics of a station wagon, providing buyers with an alternative to regular mid-size SUVs. Changes for 2010 are kept to a minimum, though all models are now more fuel efficient.
The 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 won’t win any awards for styling, but they're hardly unpleasant. The XC70 looks a bit manlier, thanks to its protective lower-body cladding and skid plates; however, a new R-Design package for the V70 adds bigger wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and unique styling elements inside and out. Inside, the V70 and XC70 feature a minimalistic look that’s highlighted by Volvo’s trademark “floating” center stack design.
Despite the update, the V70 and XC70 still suffer from poor fuel economy for their respective classes, and performance-wise, there’s nothing to shout about for either. Last year Volvo added a new T6 AWD model to the XC70 lineup in an effort to boost its sporting credentials, offering slightly more performance over the base naturally aspirated 235-horsepower, 3.2-liter model. Its turbocharged six-cylinder engine displaces 3.0 liters and is rated at 281 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Both engines offer adequate pulling power, though fuel economy isn’t very impressive. The output of the base engine dips to 225 horsepower for models sold in California-emissions states and rated with a partial-zero-emissions (PZEV) tag. With the 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, the XC70 can accelerate to 60 in 7.1 seconds—more than a second faster than the base engine. Fuel economy for both engines is 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all variants and provides smooth gear changes most of the time, although it can balk when a downshift is needed for hills. Also standard on the XC70 is a Haldex-sourced all-wheel-drive system that sends 95 percent of the power to the front wheels during normal driving and up to 65 percent to the rear wheels when conditions start to get slippery. This is ideal when off-roading, which the toughened wagon’s higher ground clearance and heavy-duty suspension allow for.
Interior space is impressive for both passengers and their gear. The second row is split into three separate cushions, each of which folds forward flat to amplify cargo space. With the rear seats folded flat, the V70 can hold 71 cubic feet of cargo, while the XC70 can hold 72 cubic feet. All controls are well laid out and intuitive to reach. One nifty feature is the optional navigation system, which neatly tucks inside the dash when not in use. Ride quality is especially good if you get the automatic damping control, which firms up the suspension quickly when needed for sharper cornering control, allowing for a soft and absorbent ride under normal driving.
Volvo is a brand renowned for its safety prowess, so it’s not surprising that the V70 and XC70 come packed with a bevy of safety features fitted as standard. The list includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and anti-whiplash front head restraints. Integrated rear booster seats are standard on the V70 but remain an option on the XC70, as are a blind-spot monitor and recently introduced Technology package. This latter feature adds adaptive cruise control, collision warning with "Auto Brake" (which reduces brake reaction time by priming the pads up against the discs), a driver fatigue warning system, and lane-departure warning. Hill Descent Control also helps with slick, steep downhill slopes.
Standard goodies on the 2010 V70 include Bluetooth connectivity, fog lamps, heated side mirrors, a power driver’s seat, keyless entry, cruise control, and dual-zone climate control. Optional extras 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. Last year saw the introduction of a Technology Package (including adaptive cruise control and several accident-avoidance aids) that groups together the bi-xenon headlamps, the premium Dynaudio sound system, and Sirius Satellite Radio.