By on December 10, 2007

11034_2_12.jpgSo Ford’s taking Volvo upmarket. Never mind why. How? On the face of it, the Swedish brand is as suited to life at the top as Volkswagen, whose mighty Phaeton died for their premium-priced aspirations. Volvo owns the sensible, safety-oriented, “car for life” mindspace. While it’s become a full-line automaker, Volvo’s station wagons best exemplify the underlying ethos. And here comes the all-new XC70, and extremely pricey people mover. If Volvo can take their station wagon upmarket, well, Ford might be onto something…

Only a deeply committed Volvo fan could/could be bothered to distinguish an ‘08 XC70 from its predecessor. The new wagon’s rear glass extends further down than the side windows (for improved rearward visibility), and the sloping rear window and “hexagonal style” add a stump of chic. Up front, alternating silver and black rings ‘round the fog lights give the XC70 an outdoorsy, raccoon-like look. Clean, simple, modern, done.

11044_2_1.jpgIf the words “Scandinavian Luxury” have any meaning, it’s found inside the XC70’s cabin. Organic shapes with smooth, flowing lines intersect with seamless precision. Surfaces are swathed in high quality materials, [optionally] accentuated by warm natural wood. In terms of ergonomics, the XC70’s interior design is like an Audi for long-sighted, glove-wearing architects. Or, if you prefer, the XC70 is the anti-iDrive BMW. That said, while Volvo’s now signature floating center console is logical enough for a Vulcan, the cubby behind remains less than useless.

In the toy department, a liberal hand with the options tick list unleashes Fredrik Arp’s Wonder Emporium. Volvo’s trick pop-up satellite navigation system returns (and then hides). Volvo’s 650-watt MP3-ready Dynaudio surround sound system with twin subwoofers will restore some valuable street cred for teenage drivers. The dual screen (headrest-mounted) rear video system is a much-appreciated palliative for younger family members. And a brace of Sponge Bob fans can rest easy on the world’s first height-adjustable integrated child booster cushions.

Behind Volvo’s trick power tailgate lie more aluminum rails and tie-down points than a dominatrix’s basement (and a useful grocery bag holder as well). In five-passenger mode, there’s 33.3 cubic feet of köttbullar-schlepping. Fold the 40/20/40 rear seats– now a one-step affair– and anal retentive owners are rewarded with 71 cubic feet of cargo carrying capacity. For antique dealer’s grandfather clocks and surfers too lazy to strap their board to the roof, Volvo’s front passenger seat also folds flat. Try THAT in your Jeep Grand Cherokee.

11174_2_1.jpgTo strengthen the XC70’s case against PC poisonmobiles (i.e. fuel-sucking SUVs) and amp-up the lifestyle marketing angle (wagons ho!), Volvo has raised the station wagon’s ride height to 8.3”, which is HIGHER than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Volvo makes a point of advertising the XC’s approach, departure and break over angles (19.2, 19.8 and 24, in case you were wondering).

Although most XC70 buyers would no more venture off-road than go fur trapping, the new XC is an amazingly competent mud-plugger. Volvo’s “Instant Traction” part-time all wheel-drive system channels the power where it’s needed, and the Hill Descent Control gets five stars from Off-Roading for Dummies.  

10993_2_1.jpgRiding on Volvo’s new large car platform, the XC70’s on-road manners offer effortless highway cruising and stressless pothole surmounting. But when it comes to cornering, the high-riding XC70 floats like a bee and stings like a butterfly. Hustling the wagon is both counter-intuitive and counter-productive– especially if the rear passengers’ digestives systems aren’t fully developed. Sadly, the active suspension system from last year’s XC– which completely quelled the cetaceous behavior typical of crossovers– is a Euro-only option.

Volvo’s 3.2-liter powerplant nestles into the XC70’s engine bay, sideways. The inline six brings yet more honor to the excellence of its basic configuration. The acceleration is automotive cashmere, and the sound emanating from the twin tailpipes under wide open throttle is intoxicating. Unfortunately, the XC70 has gained weight. Pitting 235hp against 4100 lbs. yields an 8.4 second zero to sixty sprint. That’s a full second slower than last year’s XC70 (with a turbocharged five cylinder engine underhood). Worse yet, fuel economy is a tad lower than before.

11039_2_1.jpgAye, there’s the rub. No car can have it all: safety, passing power, handling, practicality, reliability, luxury, excellent fuel economy and a competitive sticker price. If Ford wants to take Volvo upmarket, the brand must become a master of one core competency, rather a Jakob of all trades.

Meanwhile and in any case, the XC70 will please those relatively few fans who can pay the freight. But the idea that this $37k to $50k wagon will deliver massive profits to Ford is entirely mistaken. At this price, the XC70 has to hunt with upmarket German wagons– and it's still a small niche. If Volvo stripped-out the XC70 and dropped the price by $10k (and then some) they’d have a better chance of a major hit. In that sense, the all-new XC70's excellence proves that Ford’s got their Volvo brand strategy exactly backwards. 

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53 Comments on “Volvo XC70 Review...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    Best to buy used, especially if last years model is a little better on gas

  • avatar

    $50k for this? I don’t think so. These have always been nice vehicles IMO but you have to be kidding me at that price point.

    A fellow at work here has a V70 R, that’s an impressive model. But still not worth $50k.

  • avatar
    phil

    “Up front, alternating silver and black rings ‘round the fog lights give the XC70 an outdoorsy, raccoon-like look. Clean, simple, modern, done.”

    I have to disagree; it is this specific trim piece that, to me, looks garish and completely out of place. in fact it was enough to make me avoid this vehicle (along with the relatively poor MPG) and end up with an RX400h.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The V70 R is rare, I saw one 2 years ago. They are all gold in color.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    What is “a stump of chic”?

  • avatar
    BerettaGTZ

    I suppose “Scandinavian Luxury” only applies to the optional beige two-tone interior. The all-charcoal interior on the S80 I just test drove was positively depressing.

  • avatar
    JJ

    The Phaeton isn’t killed. They are still built for the European and maybe other markets, just not for the US anymore.

    It doesn’t do to well I guess but I like it personally, it’s a timeless car. Only bad thing it is so heavy, but well. You can get them with a V6 TDI which helps too.

    The problem I think is the same as with this Volvo, the American market is to badge sensitive, especially in those price segments. I’m not saying in Europe this isn’t the case, but there is a larger group of people who likes having a Volvo or VW instead of some flashy Mercedes, and don’t mind spending the money on them because they are willing to pay for the car, not the badge. Sometimes they actually pay for the car not having an “expensive” badge.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    For my tastes this new Volvo went too far towards Lexus, not enough towards sporty.

    Its really a shame that Saab’s 9-5 hasn’t been updated — while in current form its overdue, when it first came out it was highly competitive in this class — and in Aero trim a real gem.

    I’ll be due for a new car in about 2 years — and at this point, I honestly can’t say what I’d like (well, at a reasonable price!).

    A sporting wagon would be ideal — at less than a Bimmer’s price. But clearly this new Volvo won’t be it.

  • avatar
    djkronik57

    “A sporting wagon would be ideal — at less than a Bimmer’s price. But clearly this new Volvo won’t be it.”

    Remember this is the XC70, not the V70. This is designed to replace an SUV. The new V70 will come with a 285hp variant of the inline 6.

    And no, not all P2 V70R’s are gold…in fact none of them are.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I went straight to the price and almost puked. Good luck with this endeavor, Volvo. I’m a major proponent of wagons, but they need to be made more accessible, not more esoteric in style/purpose/pricing.

    At that price, the goes-like-stink AWD Passat V6 wagon is a bargain (sub-$38k) if you’re already planning to venture into the world of questionable reliability. But a faded John Kerry ’04 sticker is more apropot on the back of of the Swede ;)

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    Had one of these as a loaner a couple weeks ago when my wife’s Landrover was in the shop. Neither of us were remotely impressed, nor was a buddy who was considering buying one and happened to have lunch /w me while I had it…

    It seems to be severely lacking in the luxury department – while everything is well put together, then interior package in the loaner (tan /w some sort of weird striped grey plastic) seemed very dated – ie, a really clean room from the 80s. The engine was for the most part muted, but felt rather anemic – stomp on the gas and you get to wait for the action – at first I thought I was driving one the turbos instead of the 3.2V6. I suppose if I had considered the vehicle as an offroad machine I would have been more forgiving /w the cornering, but as it was, I was just plain disappointed. My friend that was interested felt the ride was actually similar to his 6 year old Crown Vic (I wouldn’t go that far), but without the punch of a V8.

    I did like the power hatch, and the sound system (upgraded) seemed quite decent for a factory system. Interior space seemed a bit tight given the exterior dimensons of the vehicle (which I personally don’t mind) and this may be attributable to safety in some shape or form.

    Can’t say that I could recommend this vehicle, unless you are really looking for a wagon with some offroad creds.

    For what it’s worth, I do actually like Volvos, but only seem drawn to their smaller vehicles – ie V40/50 & C30….

    And as for this…

    DESIRABILITY: 95% of SUV buyers need this vehicle. A handful want one.
    MILEAGE:15/22

    My wife’s ’02 Landrover Freelander (V6) gets a combined 19MPG – real world driving (60/40 Hwy/City) /w 87 Octane.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I love Volvos, too. But no XC70 for me, I’m waiting for the rebirth of the 240 or 940 wagon.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The biggest problem facing the XC70 in the US market is the simple fact that anyone interested in this thing for its utility can get far more vehicle for considerably less money.
    Today a Volvo is just that a Volvo, no big deal! The XC70 have no more cache value than a loaded Odessey, Seinna, Highlander, or Pilot.
    This Volvo is NOT fast, do NOT handle very well, has NO advantage in cargo or passanger room,yet it is rather pricy BEFORE you start to add the options.
    Any of the other veicles I mentioned earlier can be had FULLY LOADED for about 40 grand, that is the starting price for the Volvo! All but the Odyssey can be had with AWD. All are more reliable, arguable better built, and have excellent resale value. They all also have a considerable atvantage in terms of cargo and pasasnger space.

    As I have said many times before, those swedish auto brands were already irrelevent before Ford and GM foolishly went shopping. Volvo and SAAB made sense in the US market before the Japanese brands began making mid to high-end vehicles. Today, IMHO these brands offer up and do nothing better than your average Honda, let alone an Acura. Volvos move to FWD killed the one unique attribute that brand had.

  • avatar
    baabthesaab

    We looked at these in ’05 when my wife was car-shopping. She got about a half-mile in the demonstrator, and said “I’m done. It’s lethargic. This car never lets you forget you’re driving a tank. Getting in this after the Outback, I expected to feel ‘WOW’, but I don’t. Why should we spend the extra 10k?”
    Now you tell me the new one is more expensive, heavier, and slower. How cool is that! An Outback is really a pretty nice car.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Used Allroad anyone?

  • avatar
    Kman

    Volvo makes desirable vehicles, but has been screwing up the pricing for years.

    Wether with this XC70, or most other models in its lineup, Volvo’s pricing creeps up into BMW, Audi and M-Benz territory that it can’t compete in.

    A S40/V50 would be interesting in the TSX / 9-3 area, but add a couple of options that are necessary (sunroof, leather, …) and you’re deep into BMW 328xi, equipped, territory. No contest then.

    Foolish, foolish.

    FWIW, while the Phaeton died because Americans want the right badge for their money, at least, the Phaeton had the ultra-luxury to justifiy its price. It was actually “worth it” as a car. The Volvo lineup is not worth its price.

  • avatar
    dalglish7

    I’ve had (or rather my wife has had) 2 of these – 02 model and the lightly refreshed 05 which is due off lease in May. The best thing about them is the seats – they’re superb. They are truely bad to drive. I cannot believe that the new one is higher off the ground. I had already seen details on the poor gas mileage and its a major negative in the decision to get another XC70. On the price issue, people don’t actually buy them new. Open the Sunday New York Times and every dealer in Westchester County is advertising leases in the $369-399 range. XC70s are not referred to as ‘the offical wagon of Westchester Co.’ for nothing. Its actually more expensive to lease a V50.

  • avatar
    JJ

    And no, not all P2 V70R’s are gold…in fact none of them are.

    No, in fact most of them are that light greenish tint used at the introduction. Or very dark blue/ black or grey. kind of like the regular V70s

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    I was surprised to learn in the comments above that my “titanium gray” V70R is, in fact, gold. The R came in a slew of colors: silver, red, gray, black, dark blue, “flash green (kind of a very light teal)”. The old V70R (now two platforms ago, 1998-1999) came in the saffron orange as well as silver and, i believe, black.

  • avatar
    bleach

    Slower than the prior model? That means in real life in my neighborhood these will be going 0-40 in 60 seconds instead of the already glacial pace of 0-40 in 50 seconds.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    If Volvo stuck the T6 in the XC70, they might have a more winning combo. The quality of the car really is excellent, you’d have to sit in one to appreciate the finer touches on the upholstery, the carpets, etc. However, the price is a problem(mine was a 100% fully loaded car with every single last option, radar cruise control, sat nav, kiddie TV screens, booster seats, heated seats all around, front & rear park assist, power hatch, etc etc etc.). The starting price is only a hair above last year and the base equipment ahs improved, so it is no less a “good deal” than it used to be, but it remains a premium ride.

    Side notes: the V70R was not gold only, it had a wide variety of colors, most popular of which were silver and grey. The 2008 V70 is not available in the USA with the T6, it gets the same 3.2L I6 as the XC70. Stay tunned for my review of the V70 at some point in the future. I have however driven the T6 V70 in Europe, and I have to say it is a FANTASTIC engine, but it just goes to show that it should be the only engine sold here in these vehicles as the 0-60 speed is good, but not exceptional with the T6. It is smooth, quiet, and oozing torque however.

  • avatar

    The V70 R the co-worker here is Dark Blue with the brown leather interior (think King Ranch style leather). I like the interior of it actually, it’s nice. I do not think it’s 80’s at all.

    If you want 80’s interior, step inside a Chrysler 300. That’s some scary plastic in there.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Around here, the Volvo wagon is a common step-up from the Outback/Legacy wagons; but they’re really not any better. And the price difference is unjustified.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    In my view Volvo lost its competitive edge when other car manufactures started being rated as safe in not safer in a collision than Volvo. Volvo just can’t bridge that gap between safety vehicle and sports vehicle. They never were noted for luxury except in a non-conformist way of saying less is more.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Paul, I have to respectfully disagree on the Outback/XC70 comparison. This is as much of a difference as comparing a Honda/Acura in a way. The Volvo has much better quality components, much better fit and finish, slightly better name (even if it is drenched in crunchy granola) and the car is quite a bit larger. Now, is that worth the extra price? I’m not sure yet. However, you pay for the name, the overseas labor, the bad Euro/Dollar exchange and let’s face it snob value. Volvo is not a snobby brand, but you can park your XC70 at the country club next to the S600s and 7 series and it won’t be as out of place as a Subie.

    On the equipment front, the tech that Volvo shoves into the XC70 makes some of the options prices by themselves understandable: radar cruise control, etc. But taken as a whole they do make the price lofty.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    IMO, Gottlieb’s comment really hits the mark. Now that every car in the NA and Euro markets is regulated to be exceptionally safe, the brand doesn’t really know what to do with itself.

    In the past, people paid more for Volvos to be safer, not because they were more luxurious. Now they’re playing the lux card, but that doesn’t really resonate with buyers or the brand’s history.

    I personally wonder why Volvo hasn’t capitalized on the recent “coolness” of boxy, anti-styling statements, as in the xB, Cube, Hummer, Flex, et cetera. A well-conceived, updated “turbo-brick” design theme could give the brand some of the nonconformist appeal it once enjoyed. A long shot, maybe, but they’re only going to keep losing loyalists with the current anodyne soap-bar look.

  • avatar
    JJ

    (…)next to the S600s and 7 series…

    Wow, the differences between America and Europe. Right here you would still look less out of place in your Volvo than in a Subie, but you would be parking next to E-Classes Estate, and 5 Tourings or maybe MLs and X5s. Or maybe some Audis Avant and Range Rovers. Point is, what is with the sedans?

    Also…

    However, you pay for the name, the overseas labor, the bad Euro/Dollar exchange

    I’m guessing the Yen/Dollar exchange rate isn’t so good either for Americans now. Or is this Subie made right there as well? Maybe Canada.

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    The P2 V70R was available in black, red, gray and green, blue and silver at various times over the years it was made (I have a gray ’04). No gold, not ever.

    Having owned both Subaru and Volvo wagons, I’ll not be going back to Subarus any time soon, although the quality of the materials in the latter has certainly improved of late.

    I have not driven the new XC70, but I’ve seen them at the dealer and I’ve driven the 3.2L in an S80 loaner. My reaction on both counts was underwhelming. The interior is nice, but losing the 4C (adaptive suspension) option is silly. The exterior design is a step backwards in my view, as is the emphasis on making it more SUV-like (e.g. the ride height) at a time when going in the other direction would make more sense.

    What’s really hard to understand is why it’s so slow. The old XC70 wasn’t exactly fast, but it would move pretty well when you stomped on the accelerator. From my experience driving the 3.2L S80, the uninspiring auto transmission was the weak link. Depending how this model is received, I’d expect Volvo to make some quick revisions–and I’d wait until then before considering one. My V70R happily zooms on.

  • avatar
    baabthesaab

    Alex Dykes – I have already posted on my wife’s decision to get the Outback instead of the XC70, basically because she was underwhelmed by the difference. Do you really care whether your car looks out of place at the club?
    So what?! If I’m enjoying my club membership and activities, I don’t have to care about my car looking out of place, do I? They drive what they want, and I’ll drive what I want. And an Outback is many thousands cheaper than an XC70, allowing me to enjoy those club activities even more. Snobbier members can wonder how I can afford to be there on a Wednesday, for instance.

  • avatar
    debushau

    The V70 starts out around $34k (more like $37 to $40k as stocked by dealers). That’s not that bad particularly since it has a lot neat gadgets like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, proximity warning, neat trunk arrangement, lifting second row seats, automatic rear hatch, etc. The interior is every bit as good as an A4/A6 which is the real competitor to this model. The pricing is consistent with the A4 Avant which is a smaller vehicle.

    Compared to an Outback, the XC70/V70 isn’t that competitive on price though having given serious thought to an Outback recently I find it hard to get over the so-so interior and lousy transmissions.

    I think there’s not many vehicles in this niche, Outback, Audi A4/A6 and V70/XC70. The BMW and Mercedes are in a higher price point, Saab is just not competitive and a VW Passat wagon is scary. No doubt Acura and Lexus will cotton on to this.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Alan Dykes: “and the car (Volvo) is quite a bit larger (than the Outback)”

    Length: Volvo +1″
    Front headroom: Outback +2″
    F legroom: Outback +2″
    R headroom: Outback +1″
    R legroom: Volvo +1″
    Luggage: Tie

    The Outback starts at $21k

  • avatar
    rpn453

    phil :
    December 10th, 2007 at 9:24 am

    I have to disagree; it is this specific trim piece that, to me, looks garish and completely out of place.

    Agreed. I think they’re way overdone.

  • avatar
    warriorfred

    Having just sold a Subaru to purchase a XC 70, I had to submit a post. Let me say that my wife and I originally looked at some of the popular SUVs (MDX, XC90, Honda Pilot) and quickly ruled out the SUV route. The SUV space was not much greater than the larger wagons offered by Audi, MB, BMW, and Volvo, and unless you move up to a large SUV (Suburban) or a minivan, there is no real benefit to most of the SUVs on the market. The handling and fuel economy penalties aren’t worth it.

    My wife and I spent about three months test driving and pricing wagons and really wanted to buy the Subaru, but could not buy one in the end. Full and fair disclosure, my wife is a life-long Subaru fan, but that was not enough to overcome the Subaru’s weaknesses. The XC 70 did not excel in any one area, but was the winner based on a number of factors.

    Price

    – Subaru Outback approximately $34k
    – Volvo XC70 approximately $45k
    – Audi A6 Avant approximately $55k
    – MB E350 4Matic approximately $57k
    – BMW 535xi approximately $58k

    Subaru wins on price, but Volvo is also lower than the Germans.

    Space

    – MB E350 (maybe bigger than the Volvo?)
    – Volvo XC70 (it still is a brick)
    – BMW 535xi (Angled rear)
    – Audi A6 (Angled rear)
    – Subaru Outback (smaller than all the rest)

    The Volvo and the rest of the German wagons are significantly larger than the Subaru.

    Interior fit and finsih and Ergonomics

    – Volvo XC70 (Swedish simple)
    – MB E350 (chicklets for all)
    – BMW 535xi (idrive – why?)
    – Audi A6 (MMI makes iDrive a joy)
    – Subaru Outback (not bad, but there is a difference)

    My wife and drove the Subaru for about 2.5 hours and then immediately drove the Volvo for another two hours. But after ten minutes in the Volvo we knew it was superior to the Subaru. Try as many commenters have, there is no escaping the fact that a few thousand dollars buys better materials, soundproofing, fit and finish. The Volvo was not quite as good as the Audi, but on par with the MB and BMW.

    Safety

    I would call this a draw for all models.

    Handling and ride

    This is where it becomes incredibly subjective. We liked the Subaru (XT is sweet) and the Audi (the best for sheer drivability). The Volvo, and oddly the BMW seemed almost the same. Still cannot figure that out, what happened to BMW?

    Final Analysis

    While we really wanted to go with the Subaru, the Subaru’s deficiencies become apparent after an hour or two (yes, we take afternoon-long test drives). Maybe I am reaching Buickonian levels in my expectations of a pillow soft ride, but the Subaru felt like I was going back to Civic I drove in the 80’s. Sure it handled well, but it’s still an Outback and not a Legacy or Impreza. Also, the wind noise in the Subaru once you hit 65 became jet engine-like, but that’s a slam against jet engines. If I wanted a car to run errands, and make a quick drive dirve (less than two hours) to the ski hill, the Subaru would have won.

    If money and reliability were no object, the Audi would have won, barely. The BMW and MB did not do much for us, and the price was a real challenge.

    After much time and effort, the Volvo was our winner because it did well enough in all areas. Curiously, in every glossy car mag comparison test that I’ve seen, the XC70 has come out on top, and generally for the same reason. The Volvo is very competent. Bravo for comparison tests.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I have to agree with the pro-Volvo XC70 group here.

    Some of us don’t want an SUV or minivan. We do want AWD, lots of space, and the best interior environment you can get for the money.

    The folks who look at the XC70 are not looking for the proverbial speed demon. If that were the case, a Hemi would be in the cards… and somehow I don’t see the Magnum in the same demographic mix as the Japanese and German wagons.

    Last month I bought my mom a 1998 Volvo XC70 Cross Country that had one grandma owner (that passed away unfortunately), and had 82k overall. She HAD to have the same type of car my wife has whenever we go to Myrtle Beach, and wanted all the trimmings as well. Our family always has FWD Volvo’s, but if we were in the snow belt the XC70 would probably be our car of choice. She wanted AWD and all the options. Since she tolerated me as a teenager, I figure it was a reasonable request.

    As a long distance cruiser the Volvo wagons are absolutely marvelous machines. The Audi may be more sporty and svelte. The Mercedes may have more room and cache. The Subaru may be more involving and youthful. But for a family of four, or for a buyer that’s looking strongly at the luxury and safety sides of the equation, the Volvo 70 Series is the best out there.

  • avatar
    salhany

    Pro-Volvo guy here (I own an S60).

    Lots of complaints about the price, but I went to Volvo’s site and “built” one for fun. Leaving off some of the unnecessary frippery (nav system and DVD in the seats) nets an extremely well-equipped vehicle for $41K. Add to that the exceptional bad weather abilities the XC70 has always had and I think you’ve got a very fine vehicle on your hands. No one drives these things like performance cars; 8.4 to 60 is plenty good enough for this vehicle.

    Here in Maine, XC70s of all years are as common as air molecules, and for good reason: they’re great in the snow and muck, very comfortable to drive and ride in (Volvo’s seats are exceptional), and are more stylish and luxurious than the equally ubiquitous Subarus. Plus I am 5′ 11″ and I cannot get my legs to sit comfortably in an Outback’s driver’s pod; it’s too shallow and my legs cramp up. I have no such problems in my S60 and will undoubtedly have no problems in an XC70.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Paul, That would be Alex Dykes, not Alan Dykes.

    Are you looking at the current (reviewed) XC70 or the previous generation?

    Base ’08 XC70 vs Outback 3.0 LL Bean
    Price: +$5,000
    Weight: +400lbs
    Length: +5″
    Width: +4″
    Track: +5″
    Fr Headroom: +.1″
    Rr Headroom: +1.5″
    Fr Legroom: -2″
    Rr Legroom: +1
    Fr Shoulder room: +3″
    Rr Shoulder room: +3″
    Fr Hip room +3.8″
    Rr Hip room+3″

    Seems to me that my statement of the XC70 being a larger car is 100% valid in every way except front leg room.

    Also remember the XC70 brings you EBA, rain-sense wipers, an extra cog in the tranny, a hair more towing capacity and a better warranty (5/50 vs 3/36).

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Volvo snobbery? Now that IS some great comedy.

    I guess I’ll slum it, keep my scoobie…and charter a Hinckley in several locales for the cash difference. Poor me?

  • avatar
    pb35

    I had a long post typed out but closed the window before I could post. Here are the main points:

    -As others have mentioned, Volvo has arguably the best seats in the industry. I took a 4 hr. drive recently and didn’t have to stop once.

    -Nobody is paying MSRP for Volvo. For instance, I got a 12k discount when I leased an XC90 earlier this year. Not saying the discount would be as deep on the new XC70 but there are incentives available.

    -Sure, other marques have caught up in the safety arena. Nobody other than Volvo (Saab?) have an in-house safety center that investigates real-world crashes that I’m aware of. Sure, Subarus (which have always had a good safety record I believe) is as safe as a Volvo on paper but if the unthinkable happens, I want to be in the Volvo. My .02.

    I like the way my Volvo drives/rides. Like someone said in another comments section here, I don’t autocross to work.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Alex: Sorry about the typo on your name.

    But the specs I used are for the 2008 model that I got from Edmunds. If they’re wrong, your gripe is with them. For what it’s worth, the 2007 XC70 had more headroom, legroom, luggage space and wighed 400lbs less (as per Edmunds specs)than the ’08 XC70. Now that’s progress.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Paul, Don’t get me wrong, I think the weight gain for 2008 is a problem, and I think the I6 as smooth as it is should be replaced with the turbo 5 for the base model as it provides a better torque curve.

    Still, the fit and finish is honestly superb inside. The detail in design of the patterned rugs, unique cross stitching on the seats (quite unlike the previous XC70) and attention to kid hauling and cargo hauling is very Volvo. The interior dimensions really are the result of rearranging the interior space, rear leg room is improved and the feel is more spacious than before. The cargo room is (according to Volvo) 3cu ft smaller than the last model as a result of the sloping rear windshield.

    I gave it 4/5 stars which is in essence 80% or a “B” if you like. The car could be so much more. If the base model was $5k lower with the turbo I5 and the up model got the turbo I6 it would solve the power problem. If the prices on the individual options were brought down to reality, the overall price tag would come down, and lastly if they wedged that V8 under the hood (it fits since this is the same platform as the S80) it would broaden the appeal more. Bottom line: lower the price a tad, keeping the same price range stuff more goodies in, bring back the active suspension and perhaps I’d give it an A.

    But that still doesn’t address Volvo’s brand position. I’m not sure just how “premium” Volvo wants to be. The interior is certainly BMW/Audi/Merc class, but the whiz-bang features are usually a step behind, and they lack the performance abilities of their German rivals. Perhaps 285HP T6 engines base with a fire-breathing twin turbo 350-400HP twin turbo 6 would give them more competitive ability, but then, maybe not.

    PB35. I agree with you 100%. The NHTSA and IIHS tests are not always real world, and with everyone getting 5 stars it is hard to tell one from the other. Perhaps Volvo is still king because of their intense research into crash safety? I don’t know. The Euro NCAP rates them quite high and helps separate the men from the boys a bit, with US made cars getting 5 stars here and 1-3 stars there it makes you wonder where the truth lies. Until the crash tests are made more thorough and severe we may not know. Volvo and Saab’s headrest designs however do seem to reign supreme in terms of actual force transmitted to the neck in a crash.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Alex, here’s my point: The Subaru wagons have effectively become/replaced what Volvo wagons were a few decades past. Most 240/740 class wagons were pretty utilitarian, and offered some surprising zip with the turbo engine models. That’s what Subaru offers today. The buyers of Volvo wagons of yore didn’t care about what the country club members thought. They were hauling their kids to the alternative/Waldorf school. And Subaru wagons have effectively replaced them there. But perhaps not for long, because that crowd is not too happy with Subaru’s not-so-hot mileage. When the Prius wagon comes out in a couple of years, that’ll replace the Subarus with the granola crowd.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Paul, I think we are in agreement over your point. Volvo was always more expensive than the corresponding Japanese and American wagons in the 240 days, but the premium was not as high. I think this is why Volvo has been trying to move upwards in their market as they have been encroached upon and there seem to be enough people in the USA willing to pay a premium for the Swedish brand that their sales have overall improved since the 240 days.

    Volvo’s safety image is still in the buyer’s mind when I talk to Volvo owners, but I think they have done a horrible job at working that angle. We should be seeing commercials on TV with drivers saying how their Volvo saved their life, THEN do the “who would you give a Volvo to” line. I don’t care if knee airbags are not needed if the car is properly designed as Volvo says, stick those damn things in there anyway, Volvos should have more airbags than a mother-in-law convention. Perception is reality in the customer’s mind and with Honda and VW selling safety, Volvo needs to refocus. I’d be OK with the upmarket push if it rode on a revamped safety bandwagon.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Volvos are fast car. This is the only car that I have a hard time passing on 95. The interior looks cheap though like it was designed for retired baby boomers with no fashion at all. But durability and reliability is great. If you drive A Volvo truck the feeling is the same.

    Remember those old Volvos they looked like they were designed by a 3rd grader.

  • avatar
    8rings

    I was really hoping that Volvo would bring this XC over with the T6 motor from the new S80. 235hp at this weight just doesn’t cut it. I think the price is still fairly competitive if you skip the option boxes, but too high with the boxes checked.
    For my money we went with the Passat AWD wagon, 280hp and all the lux features of any Audi or BMW for 10-15k less. Premium nameplate, no! Spotty reliability, maybe? But mine’s a lease.

    I always stop at the Volvo store when I’m shopping for a new wagon, but I have never left with one.

  • avatar
    pb35

    That was another one of my points in the post that I erased. I shopped the last gen XC70 but didn’t like it too much. It felt a little too disconnected for my taste (even if I’m not autocrossing :))…

    I would have considered the new XC but it wasn’t available yet and even if it was I didn’t want the 3.2.

  • avatar
    Kman

    To: warriorfred

    Thanks for the comprehensive post; it’s always best to hear from someone who just went through a relevant purchase experience.

    I’ve found that an opinion of a car can change drastically when it comes to the real world of putting down bucks on one.

  • avatar
    djkronik57

    Alex Dykes:

    Amen! I agree with all you’ve said about Volvo’s brand situation. Sticking a V8 under the XC70’s hood might be a bit extreme, but can you imagine the buzz that would generate? Marketing is becoming less and less about traditional outlets and more about what people are saying. Knee airbags? Wow! I’m telling all my friends…

  • avatar
    LeviStombock

    Opinions are like youknowwhat, everyone has one. That said, I’ll try to be brief and to the point.

    Functionally and structurally, I’ve not really ever heard one bad word against a Volvo. A Volvo has been groomed for us to believe it is a really, really safe car with a subtle hint of luxury, right?

    Does anyone outside a Ford boardroom think positioning Volvo above Lincoln is a good idea? I understand that Lincoln is a North American brand, and now that PAG is being dissolved, Volvo is the closest thing in Ford’s coffers to being a global luxury brand, but outside of Ford trucks, Volvo is the one Ford brand that is without a personality disorder. Why make one?

    No one disagrees that Lincoln is not what it once was, but Lincoln as a shadow is still closer to that upmarket brand segment than Volvo is now. Right?

    FoMoCo still sells most of its cars in North America, and Volvo is making money internationally as it is. Lincoln sells more cars in NA than Volvo does across two continents. Plus, it has the platform sharing going for it.

    I’m sorry, Ford, it just doesn’t make sense. Some one or some persons are creating an identity crisis inside the company that would not exist otherwise.

  • avatar
    Drew

    Ash 78: “I went straight to the price and almost puked.”

    It is expensive, but look what a new BMW all wheel drive wagon will do to your wallet:

    A 328xi wagon starting at $36,100 or a 535xi starting at $54,000!

    The Volvo is bigger than the 328 and a much much cheaper than the 535. Yeah, the 535 has that sweet engine, but for that price it had better.

    The most comfortable seats that I’ve ever felt were in a previous gen (or was it previous, previous gen?) XC70. Man, were they nice.

    Now, you can argue all you want about whether Volvo, as a brand, should be playing in these price ranges. However, if you look at the actual product being offered, the Volvos seem to be fairly priced. Not a screaming bargain, but not laughably expensive either.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Why on earth do you say that only a committed Volvo fan could tell the difference between an ’08 and ’07 XC70? That’s not true at all. I’m no Volvo fan, and am truly apathetic towards the brand, and yet I could differentiate whether the model was the ’08 or the ’07 from 200 feet away. Strange how everyone always overuses statements like that after less than dramatic redesigns.

  • avatar
    tenmiler

    I am just coming off an 04 XC70 lease. The car has been awesome (and I’m anything but a soccer mom) in the Colorado mtns. But I struggle with this car’s mileage, the emissions output (not mentioned here, but also higher than the previous XC) and the engine. I’ve become okay with the new design.

    So the natural approach would be to take another look at an Outback XT. But I struggle with seeing myself every single block (literally, 9 out of 10 wagons here are Subaru Outbacks), and the comparison in fit and finish in my friends Subies just don’t have that nice feel that my car does.

    And at the end of the day, if you’re leasing, Volvo is subsidizing the crap out of the XC. It’s actually CHEAPER to lease than an Outback.

    We’ll see where that goes, but I liked this review. I just wish they’d not created a fatter and slower beast. I want my turbo!

  • avatar
    Logdog

    I have been looking for a SUV replacement since our current ride has over 150k on the clock. I like the looks of the Volvo XC70 OK (mostly) but for our use prefer the XC90 for ride height. Still, for the bucks IMHO the Honda Pilot does the job and for many many dollars less. For the difference we could spend a month in Europe and have money left over. To each his own.

  • avatar
    changsta

    I think that the main reason Volvos do not sell well is because their options packages are ridiculously priced, especially here in Canada. I was looking at a Volvo C30 the other day, but the price of the options scared me away before I could even consider test driving it. I believe it started out at about $29,000 and it came with ugly hub caps!! Keep in mind that base Canadian C30s do not even have the turbo engine, but instead the naturally aspirated one. Once a car gets in the price range of 30 large, it should at LEAST have nice wheels!

    Volvo should seriously reconsider the way they package their options, because I really think they would sell more cars if more options were stand alone.


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