- Smooth, comfortable ride
- Lots of cargo space
- Accessible load bay
- Comfortable seats, front and rear
- FWD fuel efficiency
- Far from sporty to drive
- AWD efficiency only average
- Prices soar quickly with options
features & specs
The 2016 Volvo XC70 Cross Country is the brand's last wagon-based crossover, a tough and utilitarian vehicle—but despite new fuel-efficient powertrains, the design is starting to show its age.
Way back in 2008, Volvo launched the XC70 as a tougher variation on the then-current V70 wagon—but with a higher ride height and all-wheel drive. That created an alternative persona as the XC70 Cross Country crossover—and in due course, the XC70 bumped the V70 out of showrooms altogether. Today, in its ninth model year, it personify why old-school Volvo wagons once were beloved. It's comfortable, practical, and still bears some of the latest new and advanced safety technologies.
The 2016 Volvo XC70 Cross Country is now the oldest car in the Swedish maker's lineup, and its last connection to several decades of boxy, sedan-based wagons. And while it serves as a crossover utility vehicle for all intents and purposes, it's actually based on a beefed-up version of the large S80 sedan's architecture. It's bigger than the sleeker XC60 crossover, but smaller than the luxurious three-row (and brand-new) XC90 SUV. For 2016, the XC70's all-wheel-drive version gets a new powertrain and heated front seats are made standard.
With the launch of the all-new XC90 this year, the XC70's shape is starting to show its age. It's a little fussier than the newer and understated XC90 design, blending strong and sporty lines with prominent body armor and skid plates. But despite usefully higher ground clearance, it's not an off-road car like a Jeep. It's an all-wheel-drive wagon, plain and simple—but one with a lot of add-ons to show its toughness.
Inside, the same no-nonsense control and floating center console found in the rest of the lineup except the new XC90 show a decade of Volvo tradition and simple Swedish luxury. The cabin is roomy and configurable, and its dimensions will seat real adults. The front seats are supportive, excellent on long trips, and sized just right for 6-foot-tall adults. The same applies to the second-row seat as well. The rear seatback offer maximum flexibility by splitting into three sections, and folding the seatbacks forward offers up to 72 cubic feet of cargo space—far more than swoopier crossover designs.
For 2016, the XC70 lineup has been simplified. There's just one powertrain each for the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (AWD) versions. This year, for the AWD version, a "T5" 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 replaces the pair of six-cylinder engine options offered last year. As before, it powers the wheels through a (sometimes hesitant) 6-speed automatic transmission.
As for the AWD system itself, under normal driving duties, the sophisticated Haldex differential sends 95 percent of power to the front wheels. But, when needed, it can shift up to 65 percent of its torque to the rear wheels—giving the Volvo excellent capabilities on, say, snowy driveways.
Last year, the front-wheel-drive XC70 too received a new standard engine. This one's from the new Volvo "Drive-E" family, a 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter that produces 258 lb-ft of torque. It powers the front wheels through a new 8-speed automatic transmission.
It is fitted with a start-stop system that switches off the engine when the car comes to rest, and Volvo's version is one of the better ones we've driven, restarting almost instantly the moment the driver begins to lift a foot off the brake pedal. This powertrain is the same one used in the mid-size S60 sedan, V60 wagon, and XC60 crossover, and it's notably more fuel-efficient than the old 3.2-liter six and 6-speed automatic it replaced. Regrettably, packaging constraints only allow the more efficient Drive-E engine to fit in the XC70 If you forgo AWD. If you absolutely need AWD, you'll have to stick with less efficient running gear.
EPA combined gas-mileage ratings for the Drive-E front-wheel-drive XC70 are 23 mpg city, 31 highway 26 combined—a good number for a vehicle this large and capacious. The AWD model with the 2.5-liter inline-5 and 6-speed automatic comes in at 19/26/22 mpg—better than last year's ratings of 21 or 22 mpg combined for the pair of six-cylinder options.
Volvo has always had an excellent record of safety ratings. Remarkably, however, the XC70 has never been tested, either by the NHTSA or the IIHS. So there are no safety ratings, pro or con. Given the company's sterling reputation for safety innovation over half a century and top crash ratings, that's less worrisome than it would be for family vehicles from other makers.
The XC70 contains some of the world's most advanced accident-avoidance and active-safety technology as standard equipment, however. On top of that, optional safety equipment includes a package that bundles together lane-departure warning, collision warning, radar adaptive cruise control, and a system to alert the driver when her driving indicates she may be fatigued. A Dual Outboard Booster Seat option is available—among the only custom-fit original-equipment child seats offered in a new car. Then there's the forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, which stops the car automatically at low speeds to avoid hitting a pedestrian. At higher speeds, it reduces the speed of impact to reduce injury to the extent possible.
The 2016 XC70 Cross Country comes with a long list of standard features. That includes dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, heated side mirrors, satellite radio, and Bluetooth connectivity and device pairing. A power driver's seat is standard on all models, as is a power front passenger seat—and for 2016, both are heated.
The upper Platinum trim level now includes the blind-spot monitoring system that Volvo pioneered, and options are now bundled into packages, as well as keyless ignition, a moonroof, leather upholstery, walnut wood trim, and a Personal Communicator. A Climate Package now includes heated wiper nozzles and rear seats. Of note is the Tech Package, including both an Active High Beam system and the Road Sign information system, which shows the prevailing speed limit in a replica of the sign displayed in the instrument cluster. It also includes the bi-xenon headlamps with Tunnel Detection, and the Dynaudio system. Other options include a rear-view camera, and a 650-Watt Dynaudio surround-sound system.