The Volvo V70 is gone and the Subaru Outback has morphed into a conventional crossover, but rest easy, New England college professors, Trader Joes shoppers, and liberal bumper sticker printers; the XC70 remains with us. It also remains worthy of consideration over “real” crossovers, even for those don’t fall into one of the above demographic segments.
Volvo styling hasn’t changed much since Peter Horbury re-imagined the brand’s look in the 1990s, but it has aged incredibly well. I still find the cat-like headlamps and broad shoulders attractive. Grey body panels have never suited my taste, but clearly the American motoring public has outvoted me. The interior likewise is extremely familiar to anyone who’s spent time in a newer Volvo, with amply proportioned, cozy seats and a thoughtfully arranged, floating center stack. Unfortunately the XC70 also employs an old-school navigation/back-up camera screen that takes a long time to rise from the dash. I do like the fact that it displays your distance from obstacles when you’re backing up. The rear cargo hold easily swallowed my groceries and has a clever pop-up separation panel that keeps small items from bouncing around.
The XC70 is by no means a sport wagon, but it nevertheless corners well, has nicely weighted steering, and hustles away from stoplights with the effortless authority one expects given its 300-hp inline six. Of course, its big advantage compared to more popular crossovers is its carlike ride height, because not even the modern wonders of stability control and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive can completely mask a high center of gravity.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The higher-riding XC70, formerly known as the Cross Country, is a pretty nice consolation prize for Volvo devotees who are disappointed that the automaker no longer sells the V70 wagon (sadly, the smaller V50 wagon is not long for this world, either). This is it, folks, the last Volvo wagon standing. Our fully loaded test car had the optional turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic, a very sweet powertrain that’s available in various other Volvos, including the XC60 small crossover and the new S60 sedan. Hit the accelerator pedal and you’re rewarded with a rush of linear power and torque, instant acceleration, and plenty of passing power even if you’ve loaded the XC70 for bear.
The XC70’s interior is quite nice, with splendid seats, in the traditional Volvo idiom, but there are some dated components, such as the slow-acting navigation screen that must rise from the dash. That’s also where the rearview camera images are projected, but by the time that screen wakes up and comes up out of the dash, you’ve already backed out of the driveway.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I’m a Volvo devotee, and it pains me to no end that they no longer import a proper wagon. This car is a pretty good substitute, though it really seems a bit long in the tooth compared to the XC60 and the new S60. Volvo has done a nice job tweaking details here and there to keep things from getting too stale, but this car, particularly with it’s limited paint options and the heavy presence of gray plastic seems (and looks) like it’s been around forever.
Inside, things are typical Volvo: fantastic seats, nicely executed materials and details throughout, but some features are woefully out of date. While I don’t mind the up-high position of a retractable screen for the nav function-eyes don’t need to wander far off the road for a glance at the map-but coupling the back-up camera to this system is a joke. I had turned around in my driveway before the screen snapped to attention every time. (Though the distance meter was extremely helpful when parking in the garage.) I can’t say I was impressed with the not-quite-flush position of the screen when retracted either. It just looked awkward protruding out of the dash.
Those minor complaints aside, the XC70 performs admirably in its intended role. It swallowed a massive cartload of groceries and my family with ease, and got us home safely in the surprise blizzard that ambushed us while we were inside the store.
This car is priced significantly lower than the Audi A6 Avant, and upcoming Saab 9-5 SportCombi will probably land in the $50s as well. The XC70 feels significantly nicer and more substantial than the cheaper Outback, and the similarly priced Saab 9-3X is smaller and significantly older. When you consider the prices of the most direct competitors, the Volvo looks pretty good.
I dream of the new V60 (available in Europe), but it sounds like it will never come here.
– Matt Tierney, Art Director
When is a wagon not a wagon? When you lift it, slap a bunch of body cladding on it, and call it a different name; at least, that’s what Volvo wants you to think with its XC70. But it’s hard to buy into the notion that the XC70 is anything but a wagon, particularly given the way it drives.
While Subaru’s Outback has grown bigger and softer to appease buyers shopping for larger crossover models, the XC70 holds true to the original principle applied to the first XC model back in 1997: take a V70, add ground clearance, make it look a little more rugged, and strip the word “wagon” from all marketing materials. But beneath that skin there’s still the body, heart, and soul of a V70-and fortunately, this car still drives like one. Body roll is well controlled, steering is relatively sharp, and the turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 is an absolute rocket, both on- and (lightly) off-road.
Inside, the XC70 is identical to the departed V70 and the previous S60 sedan. The cabin, despite being several years old, is still nicely grained and feels well assembled. The dash wraps neatly around the driver, with controls arranged in a logical, legible fashion-except for those having to do with the ungainly navigation system, which are located on the back the steering wheel and on an unusual remote control.
Will this satisfy the Volvophiles who long for a pure, car-like V70? Perhaps not. But the XC70 still presents most, if not all, of the V70’s spirit in a package that’s easier to sell in North America. The V70 is dead, but long live the XC70.
– Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
2011 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD
Base price (with destination): $38,850
Price as tested: $45,550
3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Hill decent control
18-inch alloy wheels
Dynamic stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Power glass moonroof
Leather seating surfaces
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Dual-zone automatic climate control
40/20/40 split rear seat
Options on this vehicle:
Multimedia package — $2700
Dolby 650-watt, 12-speaker Premium Sound System
Rear Park Assist camera
Navigation system with real-time traffic
Convenience package — $1300
HomeLink integrated garage door opener
Electric folding rear headrests
Climate package — $900
Heated front seats and headlight washers
Heated windshield washer nozzles
Interior air quality system
Blind Spot Information System — $700
Metallic exterior paint — $550
Personal Car Communicator — $550
Key options not on vehicle:
Technology package — $1850
Lane departure warning
Adaptive cruise control
Fuel economy: 17/22/19 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I-6
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4152 lb
Wheels/tires: 18-inch alloy wheels; 235/50R18 Pirelli Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico all-season tires