2008 Volvo V70 Wagon

Sam Smith David Gluckman

You might think that Volvo wagons are desired only by affluent suburban mothers, but think again: my friend Richard, a 38-year-old hair stylist, is ga-ga over this car. As soon as he saw it in my driveway, he gushed, "That Volvo wagon is BEAUTIFUL! I want it! It would be perfect for me and Walter - I could put a crate in the back for him." Walter is not another man, but rather Richard's snow white Siberian husky. And I agree, both stylish Richard and handsome Walter would look good in the Volvo V70.

Both the exterior and interior of the Volvo V70 have the same, very elegant, very pleasing Scandinavian design sense that permeates the new S80 sedan. The exterior is stunning in an understated, smoothly sculpted way. The strong, characteristic shoulder line of all recent Volvos is retained but is integrated a bit more fluidly. I really, really like the looks of this car. Inside, we find even more simple elegance. I note the lack of a big, multi-function, touch-screen display that seemingly every car with upscale aspirations has these days. But I don't miss it. Such a screen would shout, in an interior that whispers. I note also the lack of leather seats in our $34,410 test car and, again, I don't miss them. Volvo's smooth, tautly woven cloth fabric is rich and pleasing to the eye and touch.

I note the modestly powered, 235-hp, 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine and the six-speed automatic transmission. With it, the Volvo is hardly a sport wagon, but power is sufficient. I don't need my Volvo wagon to hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and as equipped, the V70 is rated at 16 mpg city, 24 highway.

Other highlights: The big aperture for the cargo area, the low liftover height, and the flat floor. The extraordinarily comfortable front seats. The well-damped ride. The excellent sightlines.

What you might not like: The aforementioned lack of big-time power. The somewhat-numb steering. The lack of third-row seating. The somber color palette of our test car.

The standard safety features that you surely will like: stability control; tire pressure monitor; side curtain air bags; anti-whiplash head restraints; integrated child booster seats; and other items too numerous to mention.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

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