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