2010 Volvo XC70 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 9, 2010

The 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 wagons offer lots of practicality and safety, providing buyers with an alternative to regular mid-size SUVs.

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.

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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.

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2010 Volvo XC70

Styling

The styling of the 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70, inside and out, is attractive and sophisticated but not exactly exciting.

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.

“The redesigned XC70 looks a little more manly than it did before, but I don’t mean that in a World’s Strongest Man sort of way (although it can probably carry two kegs of beer at a time). It’s refined and sleek-looking, with brushed-metal accents on the fog lights and front bumper,” says MotherProof. “Going with the new 3.2 R-Design trim level [on the V70] gets you 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and the content of the Premium package as well as special R-Design pedals, trim, floor mats, gearshift knob, steering wheel and gauges," notes Edmunds.

The changes from the previous V70 and XC70 are evolutionary, but reviewers seem to appreciate the more subtle integration of these new models, especially when it comes to the XC70’s macho bits and pieces. “Gone is the tacked-on side cladding, replaced by a more streamlined treatment covering the molded bumpers and lower door panels,” comments Kelley Blue Book. “Certainly more interesting to look at than past versions,” says Cars.com.

Whether or not you cotton to soccer moms, swim meets, farmer’s market produce, and “College of William and Mary window stickers” (thanks, Jalopnik), you have to respect the staying power of the Volvo wagon. “One company that has steadfastly continued the tradition,” adds Car and Driver, “even when wagons weren't fashionable, is Volvo.” “Clearly, the Swedish purveyor of sensible sedans and wagons is afraid of alienating its clientele,” says Car and Driver in a statement that could either be taken as outright contempt or faint praise.

When talking about the interior, Edmunds finds that the “wood and leather trim in the optional Premium package really dresses up the V70's otherwise austere cabin." Cars.com notes about the V70’s and XC70’s interior: “the materials are exceptionally pleasing to the touch…elegantly simple dashboard with a nicely grained finish.”

Kelley Blue Book remarks “the clean and simple dash design puts controls within easy reach of both driver and passenger, while Volvo’s new signature open-back center console adds a touch of style not usually associated with the family wagon.”

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6

2010 Volvo XC70

Performance

The 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 offers respectable performance all around, but enthusiasts won't find quite what they want here.

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.”

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9

2010 Volvo XC70

Comfort & Quality

The respective cabins of the 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 are the epitome of modern Swedish design and are hard to criticize for anything comfort- or utility-related.

The interior of the 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 is where the Swedish automaker’s designers really shine.

Popular Mechanics likes “the handsome layout of the instrument panel, with its sweeping horizontal lines, precisely placed controls and easy-to-read instruments.” The only real criticism is “the hard plastic against which our knees would bang while driving,” laments Autoblog, whose editors quip that the S80 uses more plush materials in that particular portion of the interior. 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.

The V70 and XC70 are convincing as luxury cars and, at their respective price points, yield impressive value to boot. ConsumerGuide remarks that “cabin materials are padded and/or nicely grained where it matters most,” “gauges are large, clearly marked, and easy to read,” and “assembly quality is first rate.” Kelley Blue Book reports “engine noise and vibration are barely detectable from inside the car.”

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. Most praise the seats of the V70 and XC70, with Edmunds going as far as describing the front seats as being “among the best in the business, achieving a rare combination of proper, chiropractor-approved support and plush, body-hugging comfort.” Autoblog also lauds the chairs, saying “our XC70's dark brown leather seats were among the more pleasant in which we've sat, with ample bolstering and thigh support." ConsumerGuide declares that the front buckets have “plenty of headroom and legroom, even for taller occupants.” “Both the driver and front passenger seats are exceptionally comfortable,” proclaims Cars.com. ConsumerGuide backs this up, commenting that the leather seating and real wood trim of the premium package “impart a convincing luxury feel.”

In the cargo area, "aluminum rails on the floor offer attachment points where items can be secured in place,” reports Popular Mechanics. TheCarConnection.com notes that with the rear seats folded flat, the V70 can hold 71 cubic feet of cargo, while the XC70 can hold 72 cubic feet. Cars.com finds that “the XC70’s rear seats fold down flat with one easy motion” and that “the load floor's low height also makes everyday tasks like loading and unloading groceries or luggage much easier to handle.”

Kelley Blue Book remarks “the clean and simple dash design puts controls within easy reach of both driver and passenger, while Volvo’s new signature open-back center console adds a touch of style not usually associated with the family wagon.”

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 the ride to be quite soft and absorbent under normal driving.

Popular Mechanics reports that it's “most impressed by the interior, which was noticeably quieter than those of more traditional SUVs and even than that of the last-generation XC70.”

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2010 Volvo XC70

Safety

Volvo didn’t invent the station wagon, but with the 2010 V70 and XC70, Volvo is at the top of the segment when it comes to safety.

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 a recently introduced Technology package, which 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.

There's no data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since neither have tested the V70 and XC70, but several reviewers feel confident that they would do well. “Safety and Volvo go together hand-in-hand,” points out Cars.com, and “because cars from other manufacturers score just as highly in crash tests, Volvo has to do even more now.”

TheCarConnection.com notes that the IIHS has tested the Volvo S80 sedan, which is closely related to the V70, and rated it "good" in all tests, also designating it a Top Safety Pick for 2010.

Edmunds points out that a Collision Avoidance package is available for $1,695. This feature “monitors following distance and alerts the driver and primes the brakes for action if the car gets too close.” Cars.com lists some of the optional features, such as “Volvo's $695 blind-spot monitor,” which “acts as a nanny for the driver,” and the “built-in booster seats for a pretty decent price of $495.” Incidentally, as Motor Trend points out, “the side-curtain airbags now extend 2.4 inches lower down the door to better protect kids” in the event of a side impact, effectively working in concert with those booster seats.

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2010 Volvo XC70

Features

Against its rivals in the crossover and SUV segment, the 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 offer a lot of kit in base trim, but adding options can quickly inflate their prices.

Both the 2010 Volvo V70 and XC70 come packed with a bevy of standard features but adding just a few of the options can quickly inflate the price tag. Last year Volvo introduced a new Technology Package that featured active bi-xenon headlamps, a premium Dynaudio sound system, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

While the V70 may lack the driving verve of competitors such as the Subaru Outback 2.5XT, it dramatically trumps them in price, as well as in luxury and amenities.

As for the XC70, think of it as a luxury wagon wearing hiking garb and riding on 8.3-inch stilts. Even in base form, the all-wheel-drive XC70 is well-equipped, with features such as Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, Hill Descent Control (“keeps the vehicle at approximately six miles per hour when descending steep grades,” points out Kelley Blue Book), front and rear skid plates, heated side mirrors, dual-zone electronic climate control, and eight-way power driver’s seat.

Cars.com points out that in order to get the leather seats and real wood inlays so well loved by reviewers, one “must add a $2,995 Premium Package.” Additionally, audiophiles can spend $1,650 for a Dynaudio/Sirius Premium Sound System. Motor Trend suggests the “costly rear-seat DVD system” might help “quell rear-seat whining.” Kelley Blue Book remarks that some options, “including the Blind Spot Information System and Adaptive Cruise Control, [makes] driving easier.” They also praise the fact that “stowing groceries has never been easier thanks to the power tailgate, which opens and closes via a push-button key fob.” One safety measure that isn’t universally praised is the parking assist system, which Autoblog describes as driving them “bonkers,” explaining that the system would switch on automatically each time the car is started, and then proceed to “beep loudly whenever we were within about four feet of a surrounding vehicle.”

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