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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
“We’d like a bit more oomph”
“excellent poor-weather vehicle”
“down on power compared to other midsize premium cars”
Kelley Blue Book
Neither the 2010 Volvo V70 nor XC70 will win any traffic light drag races, but both vehicles offer safe, smooth, and stress-free power delivery, which is perfectly in keeping with their mission.
The V70 makes do with a sole engine option: a 3.2-liter six-cylinder unit outputting 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. This output is reduced to 225 horsepower for models sold in California-emissions states and rated with a partial-zero-emissions (PZEV) tag. The XC70 features this 3.2-liter engine in base form and a 3.0-liter turbocharged unit with 281 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque dubbed the “T6.”
“While the XC70 T6’s turbocharged six-cylinder may sound like a spritely powerplant on paper, in reality it’s a supremely smooth but ultimately unexciting piece of machinery,” says MotorAuthority, adding, “the relatively small twin-scroll turbo nearly eliminates lag, and does a fair job building high-end steam, but there’s no adrenaline-pumping rush, no force-of-nature torque peak that leaves you yearning for more.” ConsumerGuide says the “T6 feels noticeably stronger and does not suffer from turbo lag. The smooth transmission is quick to respond to throttle inputs.”
As for the naturally aspirated 3.2-liter mill, TheCarConnection.com likes to point out that 90 percent of its torque is available from just 2,000 rpm. However, it seems this low-end twist simply pulls the acceleration of the V70 and XC70 into the realm of adequate.
Autoblog likes the engine, claiming, “Volvo's corporate six sounds great and revs freely,” but concludes that “235 horsepower just isn't enough to properly motivate a two-ton station wagon.” In many ways, it seems Volvo is reading right from the station wagon playbook in offering a smooth, torquey engine that’s stress-free around town but won’t set any acceleration records. Kelley Blue Book notes, “Volvo's 3.2-liter in-line six is a strong engine, but delivers only acceptable performance in the 4,000-plus pound XC70. Off-the-line acceleration is brisk, but passing power could be better.” Edmunds laments that the inline-six “provides ample power, though most rivals offer a more spirited drive.”
While the V70 makes do with a front-wheel-drive powertrain, the XC70 comes standard with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. It features an electronically controlled Haldex wet-clutch all-wheel-drive system that apportions 95 percent of the power to the front until wheel slip is detected, at which point up to 65 percent of the power may be sent rearward to resume forward progress. The power is routed mainly forward through an Aisin-built six-speed automatic with manumatic control. Autoblog finds this transmission/drive combo provides “a very smooth yet somewhat unexciting driving experience,” whereas the editors at Popular Mechanics attest that “with the slick six-speed automatic transmission, performance is more than adequate for normal driving.”
Edmunds says “the all-wheel drive is a boon in inclement weather, though the XC70 really isn't rugged enough for off-road adventures.” Road & Track, meanwhile, comments that the “XC70’s all-wheel drive system with Hill Descent Control (HDC) will take you through any light-to-medium duty terrain with little effort.” Additionally, Kelley Blue Book finds that “gravel roads, deep mud and slushy snow prove little match for the XC70's all-wheel drive abilities.”
When driven aggressively off-road, the XC70 has its limits, as Motor Trend discovers: “the harshest bumps elicit a clompity-clomp racket that smacks of excess unsprung weight-or perhaps is the car's way of saying 'slow down.'" Also willing to criticize is ConsumerGuide, which summarizes the ride/handling balance of the XC70 well: “Compared to SUVs, as is Volvo's pretense, the XC70 is nimble and nearly sporty. Compared to the V70, XC70 has slightly less communicative steering and marginally more lean in corners.”
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the V70 is 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, while the XC70 gets by with 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for both engine options. While most reviewers achieve similar results for both models, Autoblog blasts the XC70, complaining they “achieved a miserable 18 mpg in mixed driving, which was worse than what we got in the 5,000 pound, seven-passenger Buick Enclave.”
The 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 offers respectable performance all around, but enthusiasts won't find quite what they want here.