By on October 2, 2013

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If you had to pick a Q-Car, the vehicle you see above would be nobody’s first choice. Something like a Camry V6, a Pentastar Avenger, or perhaps even a Verano Turbo with a Trifecta tune would be a more suitably anonymous roller skate with enough power to pummel most “civilian” cars on the street. Or perhaps a Regal GS. In grey or some other nodescript color. I am thinking about this as I wander aimlessly within my lane on Lakeshore Boulevard, the Polestar-tuned I6 humming along at a sedate 1800 rpm in 6th gear. CBC Radio is broadcasting yet another nebulous documentary extolling Canada’s secular state religion of diversity, as my Costco grocery list scrolls through my head. How banal and bourgeois.

And then I hear the staccato vocalization of a small block Chevy V8 breathing through a set of big pipes. A glance in the mirror reveals a 4th generation Camaro convertible coming up fast behind me in my mirrors. In a flash, he’s past me by a few car lengths, and I can just make out the “SS” badge on the decklid. If I were in another T6-powered Volvo, say, my parents XC60 T6, I’d step on the gas, wait a brief second for the turbo to spool up, and hope that I’d be in the powerband long enough to catch him. With a standard T6, peak power (295 hp) comes in at 5600 rpm while peak torque (325 lb-ft) arrives at 2100-4200 rpm In this car though; 354 lb-ft comes in from 3000-3600 rpm, while all 325 horsepower are available from 5400 all the way to redline. From a roll, this car is a monster.

It doesn’t take long after nailing the throttle for the gap to close between us, and while the Camaro is droning out its V8 song, there’s just a muted hum from the Volvo’s blocky hood, while barely audible diverter valve noises can be heard through the open windows. A red light conspires to bring us next to one another, and I can see him regarding me with the faux-menacing glare typical to most underemployed 20-somethings brimming with insecurities. He’s much more handsome than I am, and his girlfriend is in the passenger seat.  I smile and give him the thumbs up.

“You think you can beat me?” No change in demeanor from him.

“Actually, I do.” I respond.

There’s no revving, no theatrics, no Fast and Furious Limp Bizkit sound track despite the corny but spontaneous exchange. But when the light goes green, he disappears behind me. And I didn’t even get a good look at his girlfriend.

This is really a silly car. The XC70 sells in inconsequential numbers, even for a Volvo. Last year,  the smaller XC60 outsold the XC70 by a ratio of 4:1, as Volvo customers, my parents included, opted for the higher driving position, easier ingress/egress and crossover-look of the XC60. Wagon fans insist that if only Volvo would bring back a real wagon, then all would be well, the brand would have its mojo back, and American consumers would finally learn that their enlightened European brothers had it right along.

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Notgonnahappen.com, whether we’re discussing social safety nets, rail transportation networks or diesel engines. But there is good news. The XC70 and the XC60 are basically the same car. I know this because I had the chance to test them back to back. It’s true that the XC60 has a bit more ground clearance and a higher ride height, and the XC70 is perhaps a bit higher than a regular V70, but to tar either them with the “crossover” brush, is incorrect. These are as much crossovers as the last generation Outback was, and the extra cladding and slightly taller springs are red herrings. Of course, driving a wagon signifies that one has sophisticated, Continental tastes, which is more important to many than how these vehicles actually perform on the road.

What’s most interesting is the changes in spec between the XC70 and the XC60 owned by my folks. Their XC60 has three adjustable steering programs as well as the Volvo 4C system, which employs active shock absorbers made by both Ohlins and Monroe. Three modes are available, labeled Comfort, Sport and Advanced. Comfort is fairly soft, with Sport cranking it up by just a bit. Advanced, however, is truly stiff, sacrificing ride quality for flatter cornering. The XC70, by contrast, has one steering setting (equivalent to the heaviest setting on the XC60) and no 4C system. My own handling loop was illustrative of the differences: the XC70 felt as if it possessed more bodyroll, whereas the XC60  felt a bit more surefooted with the 4C shocks set to “Advanced”. But Advanced mode also makes the shocks rather unpleasant in everyday driving, and when set to “Sport” or “Comfort”, it’s a wash between the two cars.

All this talk of performance for a station wagon may seem out of place, but when the car’s main marketing proposition is the Polestar engine tuning, it’s hard to ignore it. The XC70 is also a very practical vehicle. Despite my bearishness on wagons as a commercial proposition in the marketplace, I quite like them. I tried in vain to convince my parents to buy the XC70, hoping that the giant stuffed German Sheppard in the back of the showroom demo model would sway them (it looked identical to an old stuffed dog from my childhood). Instead they hemmed and hawed and made vague remarks about the “height” of the XC60′s cargo area (for the one time of the year when they’d bring home tall garden plants) and the extra length (8 inches longer, which does count when parking in urban areas) as reasons to get the XC60. This time, I was determined to induct them in the “cult of the wagon”.

Tossing the keys to my parents for a “blind taste test”, they were more impressed with the revised interior than the driving dynamics or the lower seating position (which they also enjoyed, in a reversal of their previous stance on the car). While my folks car invokes the usual “Swedish furniture” cliche, with black baseball stitched leather and aluminum trim (no surprise if you know them: they wear more black than an amateur theatre troupe and my mother obsesses over modern furniture like we do over rear-drive BOF Fords), the XC70 is much more organic, with generous helpings of wood and natural tone leather. Volvo’s IP and telematics interface remains unchaged, and is thankfully devoid of touch screens or haptic controls.

It takes a few minutes to learn the ins and outs of the buttons-and-knobs, but once you do, it becomes second nature, and one can navigate their iPod music selections without taking their eyes off the road. The navigation system was far less cooperative – while the controls were easy enough, it failed to recognize even well known streets, forcing me to use my iPhone as a navigation aid. The XC70 also came with Volvo’s “Premium Sound System”, something my father chose to forgo when he declined the navigation system in the XC60. It’s worth the money, something he readily acknowledged after one playthrough of Gil-Scott Heron’s Bridges. Cargo proved to be one area where the extra length didn’t lend the XC70 too much of an advantage. The XC60 has 67.4 cubic feet of space, with 30.8 cubic feet with the seats up, while the XC70 has 72.1 in total, with 33.3 if the rear seats remain intact. In practical terms, it’s possible to easily fit a full-size mens bicycle with the seats down in the XC70, while the XC60 takes a bit of finagling. For most every day items, it was inconsequential, with grocery bags and suitcases fitting fine in both cars. The XC60′s reduced length does make it easier to park, something I can appreciate given that my parents live in an area with abundant street parking that seems to be sized for C-segment cars at best.

In that light, it’s understandable why they chose the XC60, but after driving the wagon, I am not ready to take their side. Nonwithstanding my mocking of the commercial viability of the station wagon, I like this one a lot. It’s difficult to find a car that does it all so well. Where else can you find something that can turn on a dime from being an invisible luxury commuter appliance, to a bike hauler to a stoplight dragster that can be used in every weather condition, 365 days of the year? It just makes so much sense. Which is its biggest problem. We as humans rarely want what makes sense for us, whether it’s choosing an incompatible lover, a consumer item we can’t really afford or voting for a politician that sways us with charming rhetoric rather than policy that may be beneficial to our station in life.

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At $50,310, it’s not exactly within the reach of the common American family either. This car, even without the Polestar, is an incredibly niche proposition. But that’s a big part of its charm. It will never be loved like the Brick Volvos of yore, nor the upcoming V60 (which will be lauded as a return to form for Volvo), but it has earned its place, along with the Subaru Legacy 2.5GT and Audi S4, in the lore of “great wagons we got in America that nobody appreciated”.

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163 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2013 Volvo XC70 T6 Polestar – Brown Wagon Edition...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Funny I was browsing the 08+ model just yesterday, considering how it’d be a fine all-year car. I live alone in sometimes-bad winter Ohio, don’t want a big SUV, would rather not have car + separate AWD vehicle, and have a house, which necessitates I get large items and drive them home from Lowe’s.

    I hadn’t thought of one of these til yesterday, but in the right colors (not silver) I really like them. The XC60 is too expensive used (and smallish) and I wouldn’t ever buy an ancient looking never-updated-ever XC90.

    I also feel like the design of these really fits in anywhere, and will age really well. It’s one of the three jacked-up wagon AWD’s you can have, accompanying the Allroad and the Outback. I think it looks better than both*.

    *Older model Allroad only, I don’t count the little new A4 one.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      C’mon now, the weather in Cincy isn’t that bad.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        For my GS, a small amount of slush can create a very difficult driving experience. I’m faced with getting another car with AWD (which would have to be parked outside all the time) to getting new rims and winter tires for the GS. A proposition which would cost nearly as much as a cheap late-90s GM SUV.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Corey I would just get the cheap FWD winter beater and park the GS 3-5 months out of the year. I’m in Pittsburgh and have similar climate challenges, and yes the AWD craze alive and well in the sheeple here, but its very expensive and unnecessary.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t know if I’d save much by getting an FWD winter beater though, as $3k is about the entry price on “stuff that runs.” I can spend the same and get an SUV, and have something to carry around larger items for my home.

            Otherwise I’d just go get an older Park Avenue and be done with it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think it depends on the future of your GS. If you were in love with it and planned to keep it for the next 5-10 years, I would def spend the money now on a beater to keep it out of ice and salt. If its “just a car” to you, then the sensible financial argument comes into play a bit more.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I do really like my GS, and it’s been flawless from a reliability standpoint. I could sell it for the same/slightly more than what I paid for it in 2010. Given it’s an 01, I doubt I’d keep it 10 years, maybe 3-5.

            Within my decidedly not big price range (and considering I want AWD) would be an 05+ RL, 06+ GS AWD (80k+ miles), or one of the XC70s with ~60k miles. I’d be taking a car payment, which I don’t have now. With a 3k cheapo car, I don’t have a car payment – but now I have two liabilities to clean and insure.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m in a similar position, but the difference is my primary is an ’08 and my secondary a ’98, I intend to keep the ’08 until at least 2018 if not longer, and the ’98 at least through the winter (slipping trans).

            Because I have no payments, I’m comfortable maintaining the two (well three plus the Volvo 240). If I had to make a real car payment again, I might rethink the strategy.

            “but now I have two liabilities to clean and insure.”

            I had to chuckle because I never clean my beaters.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I guess that’s true – I’d save on no payments and no full coverage as required by car loans (this is true, right).

            I consider any car I get at a cheap price which sits outside, a beater. The Bravadas I’ve been checking out are actually very nice – only thing wrong with them is miles over 100K and a bit old. I don’t care about fuel economy really.

            But I keep any car I own pretty spotlessly clean. Each time I take the GS out in snow/salt I think, “Yeah, one step closer to rust bubbles.”

            Last time I had a cheapo car to insure, I think it was something like $25/month. (Subaru Impreza hatch, 97)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My Saturn has 164K and in reality is worth about scrap value, yet the liability insurance is I believe $380/12 months (State Farm) which works out to be about $31.67. Honestly I still think this is high given the vehicle insured, but Allstate was $450 with half of the coverages (25K/50K vs State Farm’s 50K/100K). These prices might vary in Ohio.

            I always liked Oldsmobiles and the Bravada would probably be the “newest” one I’d buy (also Silhouette which I believe was 3800 powered). If you could find one in decent condition I’d snatch it up, I imagine those have depreciated to the point where you could always resell it based on its AWD and “uptrim” qualities for what you’d have in it if you decided to wax the GS and the Bravada simultaneously.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think you’re right. I’m gonna keep looking for one. They even had nicer seats than the equivalent loaded Jimmy option. An Envoy would work too, but those had an air suspension (?) for that model only.

            I wonder though about the reliability difference in the Bravada AWD vs. the other models 4×4 – which is what GM typically would use at the time.

            So I wouldn’t lose money on my GS, and none on the Bravada either – sounds pretty good.

            -As an aside, the KBB on Bravadas is something like $5400-5600, and they routinely sell at $~3k. Just one instance where KBB is totally wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I would bet Ohio has cheaper insurance prices than PA. The Yinzers have to drive the prices up right? My friends and coworkers that live in Ohio always talk about how cheap it is to insure cars in Ohio. I live 2 miles from Detroit, so I pay $2400/yr in insurance for our two primary vehicles and thats a good price.

            The Bravada has the seats from the Aurora I think, so its much better than the others. I would assume that the 4300 Vortec is bulletproof.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Here’s my insurance specs.

            01 GS430, 50/100K,$0 deductible comprehensive at cash value. Garaged.

            I pay $510/year with Allstate. This includes a homeowner discount.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Olds Bravada to MY01 ran the good ole (and ubiquitous) 4.3 V6 so other than being a bit of a gashog there’s not worries there. From MY02-04 it ran the Atlas I6, so in both of the newest generation it sounds like reliable (if not generic) GM under the hood. I don’t know enough about them to know the differences vs say Trailblazer or Envoy, but I know I lusted after a high miles ’95 at the lot I worked at when I was in college. The body and interior were immaculate for 157ish otc, and other than a weak alternator and some flaky sensors it seemed perfect. Trouble was $3500 my price was too rich for my blood in 2004 (they sold it to a very butch lesbian for $4400 IIRC, $5395 stickered).

            I always liked the look of the Envoy and I wasn’t aware of air suspension being used (WTF? GM) but due to the whole “professional grade” and automatic up trim marketing GMCs tend to go for more than base Trailblazers. I recently heard about an ’07 base Trailblazer 4×4, 97K, going for $9500 cash and was $15,995 stickered [!]. If I was going to go GMT360, I personally would look for a V8 Buick Rainer (yummy 5.3 LM4 goodness) but you’re not going to find one for 3s and 4s. Olds seems like the most logical alternative, heck due to the Olds stigma you could pound for pound prob get the loaded Bravada cheaper than the same year base Trailblazer. Go for it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldsmobile_Bravada

            @bball40dtw

            I imagine drunk driving Yinzers are doing their part, but I’d imagine you have Philadelphia and to a lesser extent Harrisburg to bear in mind for higher insurance rates.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Damn. In Michigan, I pay almost $500 a year just for the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund. We offer lifetime, uncapped medical benefits, to people catastrophically injured in car accidents. That’s whether you have insurance or not.

            I would assume that Philly would be the major contributer to insurance going up in PA. Driving in Philly is horrible. I just take any opportunity to use Pittsburghese when possible. God Bless Myron Cope.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Since we’re comparing rates

            2008 Grand Prix $800/year with collision, 50/100, $500 deductible, $100 comprehensive.
            1998 SL2 $380/year liability only, 50/100
            1993 240 $420/year liability only, 50/100 (will be reduced in winter months due to storage).

            You’re getting a pretty good deal there on your GS, IMO, although I don’t have a homeowner discount.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, I’ve only been looking through the 01, as the 02+ seem to have more electrical and trim issues, and the size is a bit larger than what I want. I also find the smaller Bravada/Trail Blazer were a bit more dignified looking than their newer counterparts.

            The Jimmy Envoy is hard to find, since it was a VERY expensive trim package, with real wood on the interior door panels and embroidery on the seats. I agree the GMC variants always are a little more costly than other models, even if not as well equipped.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That’s it, I’m moving away from the Michigan again. This state is bending me over a barrel with $2400 a year in auto insurance(with a homeowners discount), higher gas taxes with crappy roads, and property taxes north of $5000.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I realize you’re in Ohio but here are some results from the local CL:

            This guy wants $1600 for a 97 with 190K:

            http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/4104934665.html

            This one looks pretty nice for 4 grand/131K:

            http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/4054298156.html

            Here’s one in Ohio for $2500/157K

            http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/4054298156.html

            Oooo here’s one $2250/only 80K wherever the heck New Florance is:

            http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/4073456358.html

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball40dtw

            I won’t knock a place I’ve never been, and I imagine the northern part of the state is beautiful, but from what you just said, f*** that noise, time to move.

          • 0 avatar
            wstarvingteacher

            I just bought a Bravada. It seems there are two recurrent problems with them. They have an automatic four wheel drive (AWD) that seems to wear frequently needing repairs. The fanbois say that Moog parts are the answer there. The other item is the valve body which seems to be the weak point of the 4L60E, at least with this setup.

            I bought it with no research since I needed to help a daughter out of a situation. It’s a 99 with leather seats and other luxury items that matter not to me. I’m leaning towards fixing those two items (probably under 2K) and fixing it. It will haul a trailer and I don’t put very many miles on my vehicle.

            It sure drives nice and the 4wd will get used.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I really like the city/neighborhood that I live in, so there’s that. There is something to be said for a city of 3200 houses that are 99% owner occupied. At least I get services for my taxes. I spend a lot of time in Northern Michigan in the summer as well.

            I love Detroit, but the city is 75% post-industrial apocalyptic wasteland. When moving back to the Midwest, we came home instead of Pittsburgh or Columbus. If you came here, I’m sure you’d like most of it. I can walk to the dream cruise for goodness sake.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball40dtw

            The classic rock and a hard place.

            Incidentally in Allegheny County your basic home’s property taxes start in the mid 2s and mostly go to mid 3s varying by borough no matter the home value (plus a borough income tax of 1-3%). Choice properties in the nice boroughs run you 4-7 or more, and these properties run in the $170-$270 range. For some perspective my friend in Providence pays $1800 for her $220K townhouse, but of course Rhode Island taxes are ridiculous in many other ways.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @28 Thanks for the links, they seem to be about those prices here, but don’t come up a lot. I might have to expand my search and do some driving with my dad to go get one. I was hoping to avoid that, though!

            @Teacher I will check those two items out to make sure they’re functional before I get one, for sure.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I pay $700 a year in property taxes on my town home in Tucson. Its actually $1500 now because it isn’t owner occupied.

            I just happen to live in a city with one of the higher milage rates in Michigan. Oakland County in general has higher property taxes than most places. It sounds like desirable areas around Pittsburgh have a similar property taxes to where I live as well.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            @ 28-Cars-Later

            If I were you, I would just buy one of those remaining new Acura TLs with SH-AWD. They are having a huge discount now.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @wsn

            I think you meant to address Corey, I’m not in the market to spend a serious amount of money on any car until I get my housing situation square next year.

            @Corey

            You’re very welcome, I hope you find the right car for your needs. If you’re going to end up traveling with your dad, I’d start looking in the south for rust free examples (Bravada or no), I highly doubt they’d cost any more than the ones in Ohio/PA. I personally find the primary/secondary two car strategy to be the best one unless you’re putting monster miles on your cars.

            @bball40dtw
            I’d kill for even double what Tuscon is charging your for your property. Next to my building are some townhomes and I was seriously considering a 30yo 2BR/1 car garage in March for $125K, what put me off was $160 HOA, $110 PMI, and the largest offender, $3200 property taxes. On a town home. With a hill for a “yard” and no street parking. It’s not even in the fru fru school district a mile from it and yet $3200. Total bill would have been I believe $1150/mo with 3% down not including any real expenses such as utilities. I do alright and all, but it was a little rich for my blood, for that kind of money all told I want a property I can do more with (deck, detached garage, yard, basement, etc). I suppose if you’re happy where you are stay put, I know I won’t be going anywhere.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Winter tires change everything. I traverse the Canadian Prairies all winter long in my Alero, with winter rubber, and its never let me down.

          2WD with proper rubber > AWD + All Seasons

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            2WD at the front is very different from 2WD at the back + V8 torque.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            @Dave
            Which winter tires do you like?

            Except for pickups, all I’ve owned since the ’80s are FWD. Never tried snows on them, though.

            But I seriously think current salt compounds are “greasier” than former ones and I’m noticing the rear end very easily going sideways in paltry amounts of snow/icy slush.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            True enough, that’s a slightly different situation. I have found that 2WD trucks respond well to winter tires also . I haven’t had a truck for a few years but a coworker drives his RAM R/T 2WD year round with two sets of rims, and I used to rock a V6 2WD Sonoma (torque to weight over rear wheels definitely not optimal).

            Sorry if I came across arrogant. I know most of what I am saying here isn’t news to most of the B&B. Winter tires (or the general lack thereof) are a peeve of mine. I think everyone who lives in a place like Calgary or Winnipeg or Edmonton should equip winter tires no matter what. AWD doesn’t help people turn and stop any better on ice or snow, just get off the line faster. Stopping and turning don’t care how many driven wheels you have, It all depends on contact with the road. I can’t speak to the weather in Ohio, but locally to me it is an issue.

            Have you considered that once you make the initial investment in new rims and tires, both sets of rubber should wear at about half their previous rate, making it a one time investment compared to insuring and maintaining two vehicles? (I am sure you have, just throwing it out there, because its a common thread when I discuss winter tires).

            I can relate to wanting a second vehicle to haul stuff. That definitely makes an old SUV make sense.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            No, not arrogant at all.

            I did consider it – but I’m also considering the resale value, which would not be upped by having extra rims and tires. In just under 3 years, I’ve put 17k miles on it, so tire wear isn’t a huge issue. When I go to sell, I have invested $2500-3000 in accessories which a new owner won’t price in his KBB assumption.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Kenmore-

            I’ve run cheap Firestone Winterforce tires on cars and they have been fine. They were great on my Focus, GTI, and now C-Max.

            People swear by Nokian Hanspiltteiklagahensters (sp?) and Bridgestone Blizzaks. I am putting Michelin Latitudes or General Atlimaxes on my MKT and downsizing the rims from 20″ to 17″.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @Kenmore,

            I personally use, and have gotten as many family and friends who will listen to use Nokian tires. They are a Finnish tire company. Their Hakkapeliitta winter tire is absolutely phenomenal, and their WRG2 is a certified winter tire (mountain and snowflake label) that they say go ahead and use all year, and still give 100,000 kms warranty, for those who maybe don’t have room to store a second set of tires, and can deal with slightly reduced summer performance. The WRG2 is a compromise tire but a damn good one.

            (Please note, I am not affiliate with Nokian in any way, they just work well and the more people driving on good rubber, the happier I am)

            In Canada they are available from Kaltire everywhere except Quebec and the Maritimes. For the States, I recommend asking Google.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Dang it bball, I read “Hanspiltteiklagahensters” just as I was drinking some water. Almost needed a new keyboard.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Sorry. Great tire, long name. I didn’t know they had a 100K KM warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Thanks for the tire advice, dave & bball.

            I’ve never before had a problem with all-seasons on my FWD cars but I do now.

            Since I’m in the same climate all these years and I only drive more cautiously every year… gotta blame the blue stuff they put on the roads, I guess.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @bball,

            I know for a fact the WR has a 100k kms warranty, series 55 and up. (50 series is a reduced warranty)

            I don’t know know off the top of my head what the Hakka warranty is.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “When I go to sell, I have invested $2500-3000 in accessories which a new owner won’t price in his KBB assumption.”

            Snow tires and wheels for a Lexus GS are $864 on TireRack, mounted and balanced.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You never get money back out of a car for accessories or wearable items, its simply a nice perk to make your sales argument with, but if a car is worth X, I’m going to going to give you X + your cost for accessories. Simply having accessories entices me to buy your offering vs others I compare against.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @racer

            True, I didn’t realize they were that affordable. I wonder how much better they’d be, given still RWD and too much torque. I’m not thrilled with putting it in salt all winter either, rust certainly can become an issue quickly.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            @CoreyDL “I did consider it – but I’m also considering the resale value, which would not be upped by having extra rims and tires. In just under 3 years, I’ve put 17k miles on it, so tire wear isn’t a huge issue. When I go to sell, I have invested $2500-3000 in accessories which a new owner won’t price in his KBB assumption.”

            That’s simply false. I sold my Civic with extra rim and winter tire with the cost added in. No problem with selling at all.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            @CoreyDL “True, I didn’t realize they were that affordable. I wonder how much better they’d be, given still RWD and too much torque. I’m not thrilled with putting it in salt all winter either, rust certainly can become an issue quickly.”

            Are you kidding? A Lexus with rust issue? I mean, it’s not stainless steel, but the other parts of the car would have failed long before any rust surface. My 1994 made in USA Camry has no rust at all in Canadian winter. Why would a genuine Japan made Lexus GS have a rust issue? That’s supposed to be very close to the pinnacle of durability, if not there already.

          • 0 avatar
            Carrera

            Dave,
            I have those Nokian WRG2 SUV tires. I am using them in a Ridgeline. They are a great year around tire with the snowflake on them. The big compromise is that after about 30K miles, they are worn out for winter use. I am using mine in the Maritimes and they have been great. They are kind of pricy though but I don’t use winters on my Ridge…just the Nokians.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @Carrera

            I wonder if a Rdigeline is too heavy? My experience with them has been after about 80k kms they are ready to be replaced, and I then get a bit of pro rating from Kaltire. But I have always run them on cars.

            My brother has the WRs on an 08 Avenger with the 2.7, and he is damn near at 100k kms on his set.

            Kenmore should be fine with them on his Kia, gently driven.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Those praising the Nokian for their snow munching ability are correct. I’m a huge fan of the brand.

            However, if you want 90% of that ability at about 1/2 the cost, check out Hankook i*cept evos. I don’t even love Hankook, generally, but both a set of i*Pike W409s (which are a blatant rip off of the Nokian-R) and now a set of the newer version of them, being the i*cepts, are nothing short of amazing in terms of capability and quality.

            Do not confuse either of these with Hankooks first attempt at making a proper snow tire – the Icebear – which was an unmitigated PoS.

            And yes, snow tires with the snowflake symbol on the sidewall are nothing short of miraculous in terms of how they can transform even the most hapless, rwd vehicle into a Yetti.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Wow, so much input on this subject! I should have asked it as a Sanjeeve question!

            @wsn It has a tiny spot turning brown already around the upper right hand side under the trunk lid, so don’t say it’s not possible before failed components! Not sure why it’s rusting there, as it’s not a place water rests, and it’s not exposed to salt since it’s protected by the trunk lid.

            @bball I’m not opposed to an Explorer/Mountaineer – but around here in Ohio they often have rust issues around the doors and wheel wells. It also seems like people thinking “cheap SUV + reliability” turn to Ford first, so they get used up more often and have higher miles. The MPG isn’t as good either, since most have a V8 from 96-01. To me, in terms of styling and interior as well the GM products were miles ahead. The leather in Explorers is just nasty, and the interior fit and finish isn’t great, too many hard plastics. The general shape of the GM ones has aged better as well, but maybe that’s because I see fewer of them in poor, trailer-trash condition than the GM models. Overall though if I found a fancy Mountaineer with 5.0 in good shape, I might go for it. Explorer Limited would work too. But those are rare in the 90s versions.

            @davecalgary Thanks for the input on the tires, I’m feeling better now about my ability to actually drive+turn with snow tires on it. The traction control is also very aggressive – cutting the throttle entirely after 3 attempts with slippage occur. It sounds like they do make a huge difference, and I can’t imagine it being worse to drive than the MPV that gtemnykh mentioned. Currently I’ve got Michelin Primacy MXV4′s on it, at about 50% tread. Let’s assume last winter they had ~60% tread. They were just awful.

            Overall:

            I’m thinking now I’d really enjoy the utility of an extra car like 28-cars said. I feel I should keep looking for an ~3k fancy GM variant in the condition I desire, and when it starts turning winter in 6-8 weeks if I’ve not found one, I’ll order up some winter tires and rims and suck up the $800. Still puts my nice car in the snow, so that’s gonna be my secondary option. Anyone who lives around the Cincinnati area knows that everyone flips their $#!! when it snows and drives terribly, so the chances of getting plowed into increase greatly.

            @davefromcalgary You’re the tire dude – are my Michelin’s good all-season tires? I do believe they are OEM. They produce a little too much noise for my tastes – I wonder if there’s a more quiet option, given I’m not an M5-style driver. Also, which tire would you recommend from some place like Tirerack (I know you Canadians shop elsewhere) for my car? I’m only about 60% optimistic I’ll find a GM of my dreams in time for winter.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I perfer the GM SUVs from that era too. I like the previous gen Explorer, but you are right about the rust. I just see them cheaper than the GMT330s around here.

            Michelins are typically very good tires. I have the Primacys on my C-Max. I didn’t like them in the winter last year, and they were basically brand new. I will be running winter tires this winter on the C-Max.

            If you are looking for an all-season tire that does excellent in the snow I highly recommend the Conti ExtrmeContactDWS. It rides great in the other seasons, is cheaper than the Michelins, and has a 50K or 60k mile warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @bball On those ContiExtremes, do you notice more or less road noise than the Primacy?

            I was asking Dave for a winter tire specifically, since I can do it all for $800 or so and then have extra rimzzz.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I think its about the same. The C-Max is quieter than the Focus, so the Michelins sounded a bit more quiet.

            I liked the Conti’s more because I could wait longer to put my winter wheels/tires on. You know how the Midwest is, it snows one day, then its 65 for two days, then snow, warm, etc.

            As far as winter tires go, I am planning on putting Michelins with downsized and thinner wheels/tires on my MKT. Based on TireRack prices, you can’t go wrong with Conti, Michelin, or Bridgestone. The Conti ExtremeWinterContact are a very good tire for $113 a piece. they also have a $50 mail in rebate. I have Firestone WinterForce tires for my C-Max. I actually like them a lot, even though people dog Firestone. I paid $500 bucks for steelies and 4 tires installed. I added reproduction wheel covers that look like the Ford Focus Eco wheels for $50.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Thanks bball, I will go with one of those (probably the one with the rebate at the time) if my SUV search fails me. I keep waiting for one to pop up for sale on my street or something, and I’ll be like BINGO.

            Edit: This one might be a possibility!

            http://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/4096250818.html

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Corey

            That Bravada looks very clean on the outside, go take a drive and check all of the fluids. I do not believe GM was using DexCool in MY97 so you shouldn’t find it, but be sure to check the trans fluid and ensure the engine is not burning oil. If all of those check out the only other thing I would worry about would be frame rot underneath, a trip to a lift and confirm or deny. Good luck.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’ll check all those things for sure – guess if it’s got orange coolant that’s DEX and I should stay away?

            You see these smaller headlamp versions much less often than the later ones with the bigger grille. I do like the older wheel design better – much taller sidewalls though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s a tough call. I know Orange Death did expensive damage to the 60 degree V6s (3.1, 3.4) but I don’t recall it being a specific problem on the 3800s or SBCs. If you find it, be sure to get some information on the last time it was changed, Dex Cool’s issue was IIRC it degraded into something acidic over time. I flushed it out of my Pontiac at 5 years and 60 some K, and it was already starting to look nasty. I would also have the coolant system immediately flushed no matter what color you find if you purchase it, because if the rad or hoses are leaky better to come out now than broken down in the snow, IMO.

            While coolant is certainly important the one fluid I’m always leery about is the auto trans fluid. 90% of people just don’t seem to understand it needs changed every 50K or so. If its been changed properly to me that’s a green light to buy. If you check it and its black or smells burnt this doesn’t bode well for the car. If its just dirty or pink but not bright pink, its probably ok for your purposes. Sajeev did a great article on tranny fluid colors last year. Wost case scenario you put a used tranny in it down the line for maybe $1500 tops (or dump it before it completely goes). For your winter only purposes you’re probably ok as long as the fluid is not black or its already slipping.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah we will see what his maintenance records look like since he’s had it for 6 years. He sounds like someone who’d keep records to me.

            Here’s a question – timing belt or chain on these models? I don’t think I’ve ever read anything on the subject for this long-running engine.

            This one is located about 45 minutes from me – I’d go look at it TODAY but it’s storming all damn day.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            GM to their credit had always used timing chains, I doubt this is something you’d ever have to worry about. If you buy this and depending his records I would be concerned about the fluids, coolant hoses, alternator, spark plugs/wires, water pump, and serp belt. My broke ass once took a factory GM water pump to 149K before it seized, but as a rule I like to change them around 100K. If you change the pump do the serp belt and tensioner at the same time unless he has records to show they are nearly new.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Alright, so belts and engine fluids, frame rust. Should be able to remember all that, I’m always pretty thorough.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @corey

            What size are your stock rims and tires? What year is your car?

            Umm, my experience with Michelin has always been really good, especially performance wise. Can’t speak to noise.

            Also in my experience, I have almost never liked any stock tire. But, I have never bought something fancy like a Lexus either.

            I’m about to leave for a road trip. I’ll Check on Tire Rack, see what looks good for your car, and post later.

            (Side note: Tire Rack ships to Canada now! Woo!!)

            DISCLAIMER: I am by no means an expert :) Just enthusiastic.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @davecalgary

            Cool, it can wait til you get back, have a fun trip!

            I’ve got an 01, with 225/55 – 16′s. 17 inchers were the optional size.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Well what a waste of time that listing was. The guy turned out to be a dealer with a small lot, selling the Olds for a “close personal friend” who didn’t want to sell it herself. He didn’t put it on his lot “cause he didn’t wanna pay a salesman to sell it.”

            -It had a couple of medium-type dents – OK
            -Tires and wheels were indeed nice – great
            -The owner had flung the door open lots into objects, paint chips all along the edge of the door – ugh
            -The lock cylinder was pushed into the door, making key entry impossible – wtf. I asked what the deal was, he said “Oh I forgot about that, I think it just broke once.” Yeah, right.
            -Substantial rust next to the right hinge on the rear hatch. He had told me “no rust” on the phone. He didn’t think it was a big deal since there was no perforation. But it was a pretty deep rust, in a stress area under/next to a hinge, probably the diameter of a baseball.
            -Leather was damaged front and rear, like the seats had been used for cargo. Never conditioned for sure.

            So anyway, I told him how disappointed I was, and he recommended the Blazer/Jimmy if I kept looking, as they’re 4WD versus AWD, and have fewer components to wear out. He also warned me against any 2001 XJ Cherokee, citing a casting issue with the engines on that one particular year. We talked about B-body Fleetwoods too LOL.

            SEARCH CONTINUE.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Nooooooooooooooooooooo. I wanted Bravada, in the snow, action shots.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It will happen!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I vote late 90s GM SUV, possibly an Oldsmobile Bravada. The most obscure of the GMT330s.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You’ve seen me talk of those before ;) I’m browsing 98-01 Bravada/Jimmy/Envoy/Trail Blazers.

            I found a great Bravada in nice condition, 107K miles, $3000. Sold before I could get to it.

            Also acceptable:
            Pathfinder
            QX4
            Cherokee XJ

            The secondary options all tend to get rust issues, though. I like the AWD and mandatory-loaded-option nature of the Bravada. Came in better, more modern colors than the mostly 90s-green Jimmy’s too.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Now I want a Bravada. This is what happens with TTAC. An article on a Volvo wagon with a tuned and turbo’d straight six spawns a conversation about late 90s GM SUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Platinum, rite? Black on pewter is nice.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My buddy had one in that color in high school. I have another friend that still has his GMC Jimmy Diamond Edition.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I like the tackyness of the Diamond, but they’re too hard to find. They look great with the grille guard with integrated fog lamps.

            http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2007/12/02/05/14/2000_gmc_jimmy_4_dr_diamond_edition_4wd_suv-pic-39617.jpeg

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “Also acceptable:
            Pathfinder
            QX4
            Cherokee XJ”

            You’re right, all of those rust much worse than the GMT330s, the Nissan pair in particular, to the point where the strut mounting points rust out! There was a recall for these I believe. Most of the ones I see here have gaping holes in fenders partially hidden behind their plastic fender flares.

            The Cherokee you will find is a much more primitive and rough riding truck, with less interior room and comfort than the other choices. Rock solid engines and transmissions, but some of the auxiliary stuff is less than durable, from what I’ve heard.

            Don’t kid yourself that a whole other car is anywhere close to being as ‘sensible’ as buying snow tires for your GS, unless you really do need the utility of a second vehicle. The purchase price is just the start of things with an old luxury SUV. There’s just a lot more going on than in an old FWD econobox beater. The drivetrain alone needs much more attention: front and rear diff, transfercase, auto-hubs. I wish I gave myself the same pep talk before I jumped head first into my 4runner purchase!! That’s not to say it isn’t a fantastic vehicle, it’s just one more thing to insure and maintain is all.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Most XJ Cherokees around here were modded for mudding long ago. It’s possible to find rust free ones with high miles, but they’re snapped up quickly. There was a clean 92 with 156K for $2400, and it was sold within 7 hours of the posting!

            I want to know what % improvement in traction and drive-ability I’m gonna get out of winter tires. If I’m still gonna be sliding all over, I’d rather have something AWD. Last year I nearly crashed making a left hand turn at 5mph in a light slush. Turned the wheel, nothing happened for about 4 feet – then it caught some traction and finally turned. I had a near heart attack every damn time any snowflakes fell and I had to think about driving to work in the morning in my undented car.

            Also:
            -I’ve wanted a wheelbarrow since spring, wont fit in car.
            -Needed a new outdoor garbage can since early summer, wont fit in car.
            -Put 10 bags of filthy mulch in the trunk and passenger footwell this year.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I don’t know what the percentage increase in traction is with winter tires compared to all-season or summers, but it is significant. 4WD/AWD with winter tires is the best case senario, but FWD with winter tires does very well. TireRack has some great videos about the subject though.

            The problem is, you will probably get more utility for you buck out of a GMT330 than most econobox beaters. Ford and Mazda compact wagons fetch a premium over the Bravada (plus rust), and there really isn’t much else. You seem like a GM guy so I won’t suggest an Explorer (plus more rust!). I’ve had good luck with mid to late 90s GM products too. They’ve always started, even if the interior looks terrible and cost cutting is obvious. The powertrains work. There is always a dustbuster van….

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The thing is, AWD/4wd in a heavy SUV is still a handful coming down a hill or even turning, if you’re running plain old all seasons, especially worn ones. Once I bought dedicated snow tires/rims for my MPV, it was unreal. Infact I didn’t even bother engaging 4wd most of the time, RWD with fresh snow tires was more than adequate, even driving on barely plowed back roads in the hills of upstate NY to go skiing. A good all season tire that has siping (those narrow zig-zag slits in the tread block) similar to snow tires, is General Grabber HTS. My brother’s GF has some on her Rogue and they live on a dirt road in Central Pa that can have over 6 inches of snow on it, the Nissan does great. Lucky for me my 4runner has a fresh set of Grabber HTS that the previous owner had just put on before I bought it. We’ll see how it does in Indiana this winter (my first winter here).

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Hey Corey,

            “I want to know what % improvement in traction and drive-ability I’m gonna get out of winter tires. If I’m still gonna be sliding all over, I’d rather have something AWD. ”

            Just for some background, my first winter tire experience was when I owned my 2004 Mazda 6, 215 wide tires on 17 rims with Michelin Pilot MXM4, an “all-season” terribly suited to winter but awesome in summer. The car was really quite useless in snow/slush on those tires. I don’t really know how to express the difference winter tires made without sounding like a turbo gas mileage enthusiast, but I was able to get moving from a dead stop on as yet unplowed streets with snow pretty high above the level of the bottom of my bumper no problem. Pop the clutch, dig, dig, traction, movement! My gut feeling is a set of proper winters on a heavy car like your GS would feel very stable and be pretty good at clawing through the white stuff.

            (not arguing for winter tires/against your SUV here, just sharing my experience. I know winter tires won’t satisfy your utility need)

            Out of curiosity, what are you running on your GS right now?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Damn. In Michigan, I pay almost $500 a year for the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund. We offer lifetime, uncapped medical benefits, to people catastrophically injured in car accidents. That’s whether you have insurance or not.

    • 0 avatar
      AdamVIP

      I gave these a good look when shopping for my last car. I loved the car but the availability for the top trims is pretty scarce. I had to test drive a 3.2 which while adequate didnt have the fun factor I wanted. To get a feel of the T6 I actually drove the XC60 as they had plenty of those. Polestar editions/r-Designs were nowhere to be found in my area. I would be buying that without a test drive comparison.

      I guess I could have waited and had one made, or even done the overseas pickup that they offer which is actually a pretty cool deal but in the end I leased something else cause I wanted more infotainment tech.

      It seems they’ve upped the tech for the new 2014s so Ill be sure to check them out again when my current lease ends.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Sounded pretty good til I saw the price, $50k!? No wonder they sell nearly none. Clearly consumers think the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The interiors are really quite nice – shared with the S80, but it’s a less expensive car overall.

      Also, used! Big time depreciation(s)!

      • 0 avatar
        Brawndo

        Love me some Volvo interior. The available premium interior in this XC70 and the S80 is much nicer than what you can get in the XC60 or nearly anything sub $100k. However, I’m not sure what Volvo reliability is like these days, which might make it a bad deal at any price.

        Is this Polestar version available in the States?

        Derek’s parents are right, 8 inches is a whole lotta extra butt to drag around and park in a crowded city.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Even looking at used Volvos I run into the same problem. There is always something much more compelling available for the price.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      If you want one go used. Depreciation on Volvos is pretty awesome.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You can get an 08/09 in perfect shape, 60K miles or so for $19k.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Call me when they hit $15K with 75K miles or less.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Well that’s just unrealistic! It’s a premium AWD car!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Volvo is not what it used to be, a whiff of new trouble comes out about them used and the resale will take another nice dump like it did back in 06-08 on the 01s. Plus these are not cars designed to be purchased used and ridden hard as their predecessors. They’re somewhere in between shop queen and I only take my car in once a year for inspection.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            You can get the S80 T6 for that easily. I think the S80 V8 is cheaper than a same year Charger R/T or 300C these days.

            The wagonophiles seem to keep XC70 prices up a bit more.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t find any evidence to support that the XC70 in 2007+ restyled format is anything but very reliable.

            Also, the S80 just looks too old to me, and is too small to fit in it’s large car designation. AND you couldn’t give me that Yamaha V8 after hearing all the issues people have with them in their XC90. Also, the fuel economy is complete crap for a car that size.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m not saying it isn’t but Volvo had serious problems with the cars built from 2000 to at least 2003 and when this came out in 2006-08, the resale of the earlier ones dropped like a stone. If this were to repeat reliable or not your 2006+ variety would suffer. Last I checked Manheim the 2006+ Volvos were going for significantly more than examples of MY05 (which are cheap in comparison).

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “You can get an 08/09 in perfect shape, 60K miles or so for $19k.”

          But I can also get a Turbo’d Ford Flex in the same comparitive ballpark (a few years newer, but not much more money).

          This is the Volvo dilemma.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            If you don’t need the third row, I bet if you drove both you would pick the Volvo.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I know they’re based on the same platform, and I like the Flex in facelift form (older one looks REALLY old now) but these aren’t shopped together. The XC has much more off-road capability, and more brand prestige, and a much nicer interior.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I’m unconvinced. If I can find a Volvo wagon in that range, I’ll try it and report back. Finding one appears to be a difficult task.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Here, all from Cars.com. All the XC70, from dealers.

            2008, 60k, $19,990
            2008, 70k, $19,990
            2008, 73K $19,407
            2008, 53k, $18,994
            2008, 65k, $18,990

            Here’s my search link:
            http://www.cars.com/for-sale/used/volvo/xc70/_/N-ma9ZfgsZh7tZm5d?prMx=20000&sf1Dir=ASC&prMn=0&mkId=20044&mdId=22313&rd=500&zc=45242&PMmt=1-1-0&stkTypId=28881&sf2Dir=DESC&sf1Nm=modelYear&sf2Nm=price&rpp=50&feedSegId=28705&searchSource=UTILITY&crSrtFlds=stkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId-pseudoPrice&pgId=2102&rn=100

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Good luck finding a boosted Flex. I know they are out there, but I had a tough time finding one I liked. People seem to keep them awhile. Part of it is that the lease deals suck.

            I looked at the XC90 and XC70 before buying an MKT. I like the EcoBoost V6 the best out out of all the engine choices. The interior of the Lincoln is also as nice as the Volvo’s(its more personal preferences). For the year and mileage I was looking at, the Lincoln was a much better deal. I will say the Volvo looks way less ugly. I would ask my wife if she feels like Jonah while driving the MKT, but she never went to Sunday school or Catholic school.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Here are recent auction sales of 2008 XC70s

            09/05/13 RIVRSIDE Regular $21,750 33,016 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
            09/06/13 PA Regular $21,300 41,333 Above GREY 6G A Yes
            09/06/13 PA Regular $11,750 92,956 Below BROWN 6G P Yes
            09/13/13 STATESVL Regular $18,700 55,388 Avg Green 6CY A Yes
            09/26/13 ST LOUIS Regular $14,950 66,837 Avg SILVER 6G Yes
            09/27/13 PA Regular $18,400 61,994 Avg GREY 6G P Yes
            10/01/13 ORLANDO Regular $14,000 85,586 Avg GREEN 6G

            So the results are a bit mixed. I personally feel once you get beyond the 60K mark (which I believe is the first $800+ timing belt service) you shouldn’t pay a dime over 15, but the data speaks for itself.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Where’d you come up with your $15k figure? It’s simply not realistic.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I just picked it out of the sky to be quite honest. Personally I could stomach 15 and then the 60K maint costs out of pocket… 20K plus those costs puts you at least around 21Kish plus tax which is too much IMO.

            Additional: If I had more data to calculate the depreciation curve I might fee more comfortable close to the 20K mark, but as you point out this model was only refreshed the year before.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I know they’re based on the same platform, and I like the Flex in facelift form (older one looks REALLY old now) but these aren’t shopped together. The XC has much more off-road capability, and more brand prestige, and a much nicer interior.”

            Disagree. An AWD Flex has about the same off-road prowess as an XC70. Lets be honest, neither is going rock crawling or mudding, they’re going to perform about the same under the conditions they will be used. They could easily be cross-shopped.

            As for Volvo brand prestige, I just don’t see it. Other than safety and general quirkyness, there’s nothing more premium about this Volvo wagon than a Flex Limited. I’d venture to say the high end Flex is more “premium” than the XC90 I last tried. Not the exact same, I know, but still. The Flex is even quirky for a Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Are you certain about the off road ability? The XC70 has significant ground clearance (8.1″ IIRC), and I know the Flex is nowhere near that – as my neighbor across the street has one and it’s long n’ low. The 08+ XC had more ground clearance then the current Grand Cherokee of the time.

            The XC also has things like hill descent control as standard.

            I really feel the Volvo badge still carries a premium air to it, especially so given the unique design of the XC. You aren’t going to mistake it for something else. Same thing can be said of the Flex – and while sturdy, unless it’s in the Limited trim, in the refreshed spec, in the right colors, it doesn’t look premium.

            Volvo has a starchy, upright image to me. Ford is much more a car for everyman-rental. *Hopes not to bring upon wrath of Fordists*

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            @ 28-cars-later: The timing belt interval on anything 2008+ with the 3.2L is 105k miles. Heck, some of the later 2.5L I5′s were not done until 120k.

            I just wanted to point that out.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Flex is very premium for Ford. The new ones with the two tone paint and matching wheels look sweet.

            I do agree with you that there is a huge difference between a Flex SE and a Flex Limited with the right paint color.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @CoastieLen

            From the Volvo standpoint, I’m mostly surrounded by 850s, S70s, the RWD variety, as well as the occasional Gen 1 S60/80 and somewhere I picked up the timing belt was part of 60K maint. Either I’ve just been wrong the whole time or the interval changed to what you stated, in any event thank you for clarification.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I have no doubt the greater ground clearance of the XC would make it more capable than a Flex in true deep off road conditions. What I’m saying is I suspect that precisely the same amount of Flexes as XC70s would find themselves in those conditions, none.

            Those looking for an off-roader would probably go buy a better one. Those looking for a station wagon could easily cross shop a Flex and an XC

  • avatar

    “But when the light goes green, he disappears behind me.”

    He prolly took a right turn at the light? :-P

  • avatar

    My parents went in the opposite direction and bought the XC70, almost identical to what you reviewed here minus the Polestar upgrade. My father usually gets a new Volvo every 3-4 years, rarely puts any miles on them as its his Canadian car, 5 months of use each year. Many moons ago I used to whip around the neighbourhood in his 850 Turbo, loved that car, best seats in the biz. I suspect their next car will be the XC60 for the ingress/egress ease as they’re in their mid ’70′s now. My Mum bought a 3 series last year, not sure why, silly choice for somebody her age. She drives her car even less than my father.

    I personally like the XC70, it would be perfect for my wife and I and our wee one. Problem is, I can’t find any recent safety ratings on it. The XC60 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, the only other one with a + rating in that category is the new ’14 Subie Forester. The 2013 (built after 8/13) Subie Outback is another choice which is a IIHS Top Safety Pick+ as well. I prefer safety, value and comfort over useless gizmos I’ll bore of in due time.

    PS: that first shot looks like Queen West around Dark Horse Coffee yay/nay?

  • avatar
    slance66

    Just looked at these and the XC60 T6. The challenge really is that the normal 3.2 isn’t up to motivating the bulk of either car. These things are heavy, even for the category. It struggles. The T6 is sweet, even with no Polestar, but bumps the price.

    I liked the XC60, but didn’t love it. Given the price, I wanted some love. Volvo really needs to find a way to make these things lighter, as they are not MPG competitive with the German competition. Then they need to peel a couple thousand off the price, to slot somewhere between a Ford Edge and an X3/Q5.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    “or perhaps even a Verano Turbo with a Trifecta tune”

    Comedy gold!

    Also, I like the styling of the XC70 (traditional blocky Volvo) much better than their new V60 “wagon”.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Verano Turbo with Trifecta tune leave you like you thought you left that Camaro, best out of three. V8 Camaros have 1/4 mile trap speed of aroun 110 mph where Alex Dykes’ review of the XC60 Pole was 99 mph.

      A tuned Verano will run the 1/4 mph at over 100 mph with just a tune, no other modifications. Some on the BuickForums just ran similar in the 1/8 mile. Besides a used 2013 Verano Turbo is half the price of this car.

      Then there is gas mileage comparison…

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      But on the open road the Trifecta tuned Verano Turbo will walk away from your wagon and so will the SS.

      http://buickforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33147

      Besides a used 2013 Verano Turbo is half the price even with a $300 tune.

      But then there is gas mileage…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Do want but then if I suddenly had $50,000 to spend on a vehicle I’d likely end up with something with 8 cyl just because it is in my nature.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    And the Elders weep…

    “Nailing the throttle” in a Volvo review.

    What next…”the fookin seat belt keeps snaggin my dog collar”?

  • avatar
    salhany

    I just bought a 2010 XC70 T6 with 35K on the clock back in June. I paid 31.5 for it. This is my second Volvo.

    It really is a remarkably good vehicle. Derek mentioned the body roll, which is the only real driving drawback, so I had an IPD rear sway bar installed right after my purchase and it vastly improves the car’s handling and ride. No more bounce. Best $200 I’ve ever spent car-wise.

    The 2010′s can be chipped by Polestar too, up to 311 HP. I am saving up to have that done, but honestly the regular T6 has plenty of power.

    It’s very comfortable, the interior is handsome and upscale, it has tons of room for my 3 year old and all her stuff, and it’s a good looking car to me. Plus it’s fast but doesn’t draw a lot of attention on the road because hey, it’s a station wagon!

    I love it. Mine’s blue, which means I failed the TTAC Brown Station Wagon Rite of Passage, but no one’s perfect. It’s blue and huge inside, it’s a damn TARDIS in there.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Am I the only one really bothered by a transverse I6?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Transverse anything but I4s make me worried, but an I6 isn’t much compared to the transverse 8-cylinder FFs Ford and GM built in the 2000′s, must’ve been a blast turning those things around.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Well, in my transverse I4, the transmission is only a bit off center (way to much for my OCD but whatevs). V8′s are fairly short, so it shouldn’t be too bad. But I6 blocks are so long, to me its the worst candidate for transverse mounting.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @davefromcalgary: Volvo’s ability to package a transverse I6 with a turbo and AWD is most amazing to me. I almost want to buy an S60 T6 just for that reason, except they’re also beautiful inside and out.

      I once inquired here about the transverse I6, and IIRC Volvo’s the only mainstream mfr doing this.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        My issue is mainly with a case of the OCD. Every car I own gets dual exhaust, with the quietest muffler(s) possible, purely for symmetry. Single exhaust drives me nuts!

        In the case of transverse packaging, I hate knowing my transmission is hanging off to one side of the center-line, and that I have extremely unequal length drive shafts. I have never had an actual problem that I could blame on transverse mounting… It just bothers me. And to my poor brain, an I6 must be the worst due to the length.

        I absolutely love Subaru’s symmetrical drive train layout for this reason. It calms the OCD. Now, to own actually own a Subaru some day!

        (I also appreciate the Chrysler LH cars, FWD, longitudinal V6!!)

        I need help… :)

  • avatar
    WestoverAndOver

    I owned one of these for a year with the T6 sans polestar. I sold it and bought a brown diesel wagon with a DSG (true story, honestly). Fast in a straight line but very heavy. Abysmal mileage. Inexcusably small back seat and poor legroom back there. Otherwise, I did like it, but not as much as the brown diesel wagon for some strange reason. The Volvo turned out not to be right for my situation but I certainly do understand the appeal.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    “There’s no revving, no theatrics, no Fast and Furious Limp Bizkit sound track despite the corny but spontaneous exchange. But when the light goes green, he disappears behind me. And I didn’t even get a good look at his girlfriend.”

    He must have taken a right turn because he certianly wasn’t racing you…

    No one else have a problem with a writer talking about racing on the STREET?

  • avatar
    tp33

    Solid story Derek, but I have to call B.S. on your street race. There is virtually no way a 4200 lb wagon with an E.T. in the mid/high 14s reels in, pulls away from, or in any way outruns even an LT1 powered 4th gen fbody, much less an LS1 powered one. Bone stock, an LT1 SS would scoot to 60 in the mid to high 5s and the 1/4 in the (very) low 14s. Your wagon might be putting down at most 20-30 more HP to the wheels (after parasitic drive train loss), while carrying 700-800 extra pounds a flab. So unless his g/f weighed a quarter ton (which you probably *would* have gotten a good look at, lol) or he was running 6-7 cylinders (which wouldn’t sound like an SBC), he probably wasn’t racing you. If he had an LS1 (1998+), he probably wouldn’t even have bothered to race you, since that wouldn’t even be a driver’s race. Still a great story though…

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    XC60T was a nice drive, very nice drive when we had it packed to the gills. But then I looked under the skins and, damn, there is no room for anything, everything is super packed. I imagine that maintaining it is going to be rough, where you have to take off bunch of stuff to get to something vital. Kind of like taking off the entire front console to replace the heater fan in 240.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    @davefromcalgary

    As you appear to be the winter tire guru, I’d like to know:

    We have an ’08 Kia Rio5 with only 9100 miles on it. We always have a mid-size car for out-of-town driving. The Kia has only been used for short work commutes and local grocery-getting.

    Given such gentle use, would it be feasible to simply keep a set of Blizzaks (or eqivalent) on it rather than seasonally switching?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Absolutely if you can deal with a bit of extra road noise, a little bit worse mileage and slightly poorer handling. From the sounds of how you utilize this vehicle, plus it’s a Kia, none of that should matter much.

      I had a shorty Caravan I ran on snow tires all year round when I had it, I actually liked the ride better.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Cool…I obviously don’t want the expense of the extra set of rims & tires (the Hankooks on it profoundly suck so it’d also need new all-seasons).

        I just wanted to make sure dry-pavement driving wouldn’t chew the winter tires up like a gummy eraser. Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          You might actually have a better ride with a good set of winter tires compared to the garbage Hankooks.

          I would say to also look at the Continental ExtremeContact DWS. It isn’t a winter tire, but does extremely well in the winter for an all-season. I would almost think about using them year round in Detroit.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I’ve actually been looking at those Contis for my Camry.

            The big problem right now is the Kia. The few times I’ve used it for my own commute in snow I found the rear end way too slide-happy on wind-swept rural turns.

            I want to kill that quick.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Winter tires are probably the best bet then, especially in Green Bay. I would highly recommend the Contis for the Camry in the future. I liked them better on our Focus than the $300/tire Michelin PS3s that the Focus Titanium comes with.

          • 0 avatar
            mypoint02

            I run the Conti DWS on my ’01 E39 Touring and I had them on my ’00 A4 Quattro before I sold it. No complaints at all. They’re not as good as a dedicated snow tire of course, but they’ll get you through all but the deepest snow. They wear very well too. (I was in Milwaukee up until a few months ago).

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          Since winter tires became mandatory by law in Quebec, many people have taken to running snows all year round. While that’s kind stupid to do on a daily driver in a climate that only really needs winter tires about 4 months per year (my summer-tired Miata and former motorcycles were used April to early December), on a car that sees limited use and will probably age-out a single set of tires before wearing out the treads, you could definitely get away with it.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      @kenmore,

      Thanks, but I wouldn’t say I am a guru, just an advocate due to the safety inherent in having the proper rubber for the season and living in a place that has fairly intense winters.

      Danio is right, for gentle use, they will wear a bit faster, be sloppier in handling and be louder, but as long as you know that going in, it should be ok.

      I wouldn’t use Blizzaks though. They tend to have a very soft rubber compound and all of the above noted effects would be really pronounced.

      Something like the WRG2 I mentioned above is actually perfect for what you describe, since they honor the warranty even with year round use, but still provide great winter traction. If you can’t find something like the WRG2 or equivalent locally, something like the Michelin X-Ice works great for year round use, because they have a less blocky tread pattern and a harder compound than the Blizzaks and so don’t flex as much and aren’t as noisy/sloppy. I ran a set of original series X-Ice over the summer and they were decent.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Thanks again, Dave.

        I’m going with your voice of experience and will see who in Green Bay can get me some WRG2s. The manufacturer actually supporting year-round use is awesome.

        Since I can’t menage to get my wife into the car store to test drive a replacement, we’ll see how they do on the Kia this winter.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Just make sure whatever tire shop you go into also honors the warranty :)

          Kaltire is extremely great at honoring warranties. I hope your local shop will as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Will do. Actually found a google hit for “Nokia WGR2 from Ray’s Tires” in Green Bay… I’m guessing they must be popular in these parts.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I keep hearing about this Buick Verano with Trifecta tune stuff…how much more power does that provide? Because the old Neon SRT-4 could easily be boosted to 300 horsepower, so for a car that’s somewhat more modern, I would expect to match or surpass that number.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      The SRT Neon had a 2.4L engine. I wonder if that extra .4L (20% volume) over the modern GM 2.0T makes a difference in making big power in a stable manner.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        All the GM 2.0T since 2005 and current 1:4T are tunable with ecu flash you do on your laptop through BNRacing/Trifecta. Expected gains for $300 2:0T ecu only tune will put the turbo-4 300hp/320trq. Updates if you wanted to do intercooler, intake, and exhaust are included in the price. All you have to do is find an onramp to run through a single gear operating range while datalogging and send it in. Automatic transmission(TCU) gets an update included.

        I have the tune on my Verano and just got it on the Encore. Running premium fuel the ecu/tcu tune really perks up the cars. Both have downpippe and intake on both cars to help flow air better and they have really turned into beasts on the highway and docile Buicks when you want them to be.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Sounds like fun, though I would probably go with a blacked out Regal GS for some modern day Grand National fun.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The Regal GS is the bad boy of the Buick lineup for sure, though at almost 3,800 lbs it is porky compared to the 300 lbs Verano. accordimg to Car & Driver the Verano Turbo runs the same acceleration times but with less power. So when you compare they share the same engine and transmission the Verano will be quicker once movimg(no hyper strut like the GS).

            Search yahoo autos under Premium for $24K 2013 Turbo Veranos. Skip the CPO and save $400.

  • avatar
    z9

    My dad’s white whale of a 760 turbo wagon was a continually entertaining acceleration experience. The turbo lag was interminable and then the thing suddenly took off like a rocket. It never got old. Sadly the car itself did, very quickly, starting with the bane of any teenager’s driving existence: the broken gas gauge. I remember once running out of gas and having to coast down the hill on CA 152 to the Chevron at Casa de Fruta, ending up about 15 feet from the pump and pushing it the rest of the way. I guess it was at least as good at coasting as it was at accelerating. So that’s something. The Volvo turbo wagon drag race is as Derek describes. It’s truly one of the great automotive thrills — as much for its incongruity and theatricality as anything else.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I’ll keep my 9-5 wagon tuned to about 300 hp and even more torque. At svelte 3,700 lbs it will almost double the mpg and still haul the same 73 cu ft of cargo.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    sorry if this was already posted (I didn’t want to read through 106 responses and a quick page search didn’t find this), but to me this isn’t a real wagon. a true wagon is identical in stance to the sedan it is based on. This (and prior outbacks) were not real wagons. It’s still an SUV/crossover wannabe.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    Corey,
    do yourself a favor and buy a good set of snow tires.

    I drove a 2000 Trans Am through 2 NH winters (very bad winters) and had 0 issues. It was actully the best car I’ve ever had in the snow (only one I’ve ever had snow tires on). I would easily pass FWD cars stuck at intersections. Don’t worry about torque/rwd…its all about the tires and the driver.

  • avatar
    Tostik

    “Volvo wagons, while suburban cliches, are highly regarded for good reason: They do the job they were designed to do better than anything else.” – Motortrend, August 2005

    And my wife and daughter are deep into the “cult of the wagon”. I thought about having them de-programed, but, then I thought, Volvo needs someone to buy their XC70s.

  • avatar
    CrapBox

    I thought our secular state religion was socialism and that diversity was just a sacrament of the doctrine.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Do we still use the term “Q Ship?”

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I kinda sorta had a race of my own when getting onto the highway today, I was going 50-60mph as usual so I could merge over, the road was closing up ahead, and a Dodge Dakota was taking my lane at the same speed, I matched him until he woke up and let me over, one of the last things I ever do on the highway is slow down unless if theres traffic ahead.

    While not really a street race per say, I didn’t need 300Hp+ with a chip and turbo to pull this off, just whatevers left in my 20+ year old 240 and a bit of guts.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    All Volvos revert to brown eventually. It is their ground state.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Funny you mention the 2.5GT Legacy, this Volvo seems more like the creamy frosting version of our Outback XT, a car Subaru hasn’t made for years now but still great. The Outback, even in turbo mode far outsold the Legacy so much so Subaru dropped the LGT wagon in the US but the Outback turbo was old right up to 2009 with 5-speed (auto or man). We make due with only 250hp but we bought ours used and did not pay anything like 50k for it. Don’t have Polestar either but it is a Subaru there oh about a bajillion parts to make it whatever you want, 325hp is pretty pedestrian as the Subies go. Ours is just a family hauler its fine enough stock I already had to replace the turbo around 100k.

    The jacked up sport wagon is about a versatile as it gets IMO. Just sporty enough, fast enough, roomy enough, great in snow, holds tons of cargo. Does pretty much everything well, nothing outstanding.


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