2008 Volvo V70 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Volvo V70 is the modern interpretation of the legendary Volvo wagons, with just as much utility but a lot more style and comfort.

As the automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com assembled this review covering the 2008 Volvo V70, they surveyed reviews from some of the best sources. Then to make the review especially useful, TheCarConnection.com’s editors included their own driving experience with the new V70.

The roomy V70 station wagon is now essentially a variant of Volvo’s largest sedan, the S80, and it’s been completely redesigned for 2008. The 2008 Volvo V70 has bolder styling on the outside, more fashionable appointments inside, and new safety features, including integrated child booster seats.

A 3.2-liter, 238-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine is now the only choice offered on the V70, replacing the five-cylinder engines used in last year’s model. A six-speed automatic with a manual-select mode is the single transmission, and the 2008 Volvo V70 comes only with front-wheel drive.

Inside, the 2008 Volvo V70 gets the same very fashionable instrument-panel design that’s used in 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 has laid 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.

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The V70’s somewhat boxy exterior affords an impressive amount of interior space, including an especially versatile arrangement for its rear seats, which have enough room for three adults and fold forward flat in a single motion. It’s also 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 cargo space itself is very impressive, and under the flat cargo floor, there’s another hidden compartment good for smaller items. Up front, the seats in the 2008 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 V70’s ride is quite soft and absorbent, making for good ride comfort even on rough roads, and its interior is hushed. The setup doesn’t feel very sporty, however, with steering that’s light and precise but without much feedback. The six-cylinder engine gives adequate but not particularly fast acceleration, though the transmission can balk when a downshift is needed for hills.

The 2008 Volvo V70 comes in a single, very well-equipped model. Standard features include heated mirrors, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, dual-zone climate control, and a power driver’s seat with memory settings. Major options—which can get pricey, as they’re arranged into larger packages—include a navigation system, active bi-xenon headlamps, a power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking assist, fog lamps, a power tailgate, heated seats, heated wiper nozzles, headlamp washers, and a dual-screen rear DVD system.

As many have come to expect from Volvo, high-tech safety features are also in the offing for the 2008 Volvo V70. A Blind Spot 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. Also included with adaptive cruise control in the Collision Avoidance Package is a collision warning system that will apply 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 keyfob, 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.

The 2008 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.

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2008 Volvo V70

Styling

The 2008 Volvo V70 is more refined than the last version—in some opinions, too refined.

The 2008 Volvo V70 gets an 8 for styling not because it sets any new radical styling directions for the genre, but because it represents a clean, coherent, and highly functional take on the beloved and functional Volvo wagon.

“In lieu of lusty emotional appeal,” says Motor Trend about the 2008 Volvo V70, “these all-new wagons are imbued with more of everything the Volvo faithful appreciate.”

Car and Driver feels that the ’08 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.” It 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.

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.” Several of ConsumerGuide’s testers, however, find “the digital bar graph a poor substitute for a conventional fuel gauge.”

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2008 Volvo V70

Performance

The 2008 Volvo V70 is semi-sporty in a stoic way, but fuel economy is a downer.

The 2008 Volvo V70’s sole powertrain combines adequate acceleration with mediocre fuel economy. At least the engine’s butter-smooth.

In light of the old V70’s weak-kneed 157-horse inline-five, the smooth 235-horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque of the new 3.2-liter inline-six are a blessing. Car and Driver: “Smooth is the name of the game, and unlike in the old turbo, torque steer is nearly imperceptible.” Car and Driver recorded 0-60 times of 7.5 seconds. Kelley Blue Book finds that the new 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 with manual shift control that ConsumerGuide finds smooth and “quick to respond to throttle inputs.”

Where the V70 powertrain falls from grace is in fuel efficiency. 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.” The sensible drivers at ConsumerGuide average 21.6 mpg “in an even mix of city and highway driving.”

In general, reviewers find the V70’s handling safe, predictable, but only semi-athletic. Luckily, the ride is absorbent and plush. 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 when saying “the big brakes demonstrated reassuring retardation.”

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2008 Volvo V70

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Volvo V70 continues a tradition of exceptional comfort and quality feel.

With furniture gallery comfort, Bang & Olufsen design cues, and an entry price undercutting nearly all of its competitors, this might just be the 2008 Volvo V70’s most competitive arena.

Speaking of the V70’s baked-in goodness, 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. 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 that “cabin materials are padded and/or nicely grained where it matters most,” and that “assembly quality is first rate.” They also like the standard vinyl/cloth seat material that feel “durable and expensive,” but complain that the “gray of our test car appeared solemnly bland.”

So the V70 succeeds as an affordable and surprisingly luxurious chariot. But where wagons matter is where the V70 really shines: out back, where 71 cubic feet of cargo space suddenly make 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.”

Car and Driver feels “the quiet comfort that the [2008 Volvo] V70 provides…makes you feel better after a long day”--especially when you consider the blue-plate-special base price.

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2008 Volvo V70

Safety

The 2008 Volvo V70 hasn’t been crash-tested, but it shares the strong body and extensive safety features of the Volvo S80.

The 2008 Volvo V70 is loaded with safety features both active and passive, though crash-test scores are not yet available.

Car and Driver makes note of the S80 platform lying beneath the new V70, which “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.

Of the optional safety features, Edmunds feels they “are essentially designed to save drivers from themselves.” Those optional 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.

Cars.com notes “the sides of the vehicle have been made stronger with high-tensile steel to help better withstand impact.” 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.”

Motor Trend feels 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.” 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.

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2008 Volvo V70

Features

The 2008 Volvo V70 is very well equipped even in base form; options include the latest navigation and audio systems.

A la carte, the 2008 Volvo V70 is a lot of car for a reasonable price. But the side items will cost you.

One of the many standard features on the V70, 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,” says Edmunds. 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.”

“The Four key equipment groups,” says Kelley Blue Book, “highlight the V70's extras list.” Those include a Premium Package (leather upholstery, a sunroof, a power passenger seat, real wood trim, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass), Climate Package (heated front seats, heated headlamp washers, and rain-sensing wipers), Convenience Package (front and rear Park Assist, a power tailgate, roof rails, and interior air quality sensors), and Collision Avoidance Package (Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning System with Auto Brake), as well as multiple stand-alone options. Of those stand-alone options, perhaps the most notable are active bi-xenon headlamps and a DVD navigation system with pop-up screen.

“Even when loaded up with all four option packages, the navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment setup, the V70 3.2 will still slide in under the $45,000 mark,” says Kelley Blue Book. And 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.

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Styling 8
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