Second-Hand: Volvo V70/XC70 gave wagon new life
According to lore, Swedes live long and blissful lives thanks in part to their cradle-to-grave collective society.
Practical furniture, lots of herring and an appalling lack of stress have added years to a Swede’s longevity. Now even their cars watch out for their health.
The new-for-2008 Volvo XC70 constantly samples the air entering the cabin, temporarily closing the intakes when it detects unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Ever vigilant, the car can withhold incoming phone calls if it senses the driver is preoccupied at the wheel.
Add boron steel components and a radar-based collision mitigation system and you have a car that coddles its owner with all the doting devotion of a Montessori nursery.
Volvo introduced the all-wheel-drive XC (“Cross Country”) version of its V70-series wagon way back in 1998. It featured a jacked suspension, all-wheel drive and all the right SUV styling cues. The XC sold like Swedish tortes.
The front-drive V70 and AWD XC70 wagons were reworked for 2008, taking the underpinnings from the flagship S80 sedan, which used the ultra-rigid P3 platform Volvo shared with Ford. The new wagons were about 6 cm longer in wheelbase and 11 cm longer overall than the outgoing models.
Inside, the floating centre console, with its large radio dials and ergonomic climate-control buttons, was a welcome carry-over from the luxurious S80. If you’ve owned Bang & Olufsen audio equipment, you’d feel right at home.
The rear bench split 40/20/40 to present a variety of passenger and cargo configurations. The outboard seats had integrated booster cushions for kids of various sizes. Unfortunately, jump seats were no longer offered in the cargo area for two more Lilliputian passengers.
Initially the lone engine choice was a naturally aspired DOHC 3.2 L inline six cylinder, employing continuously variable valve timing, good for 235 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Remarkably, the aluminum inline six sat sideways in the engine bay, along with a six-speed automatic transmission — showy packaging that tempted owners to peel off the hood permanently.
The XC70 used a Haldex all-wheel-drive system whose electronically controlled hydraulic clutch distributed power between the axles, but favoured the front under most conditions. Ground clearance was a useful 21 cm.
A new T6 model introduced for 2009 featured a turbocharged 281-hp 3.0 L six-cylinder engine coupled to the six-speed automatic transmission. In 2011, all 3.2 L engines gained five horsepower (240 hp total), while the T6′s turbo added 19 horsepower for an even 300. A front-drive model joined the XC70 lineup to replace the milquetoast V70, discontinued after 2010.
ON THE ROAD
Volvo was going for smooth and suave with its new wagons and it didn’t disappoint. Zero to 96 km/h came up in a respectable 7.5 seconds with the base six, and a fleeter 6.6 seconds with the turbo T6.
“The T6 goes like stink. The wife is already looking for Mustangs to put the hurt on,” one owner boasted.
Still, these wagons were intended more for comfort than speed, as evidenced by the soft brake pedal and tepid steering feel. On the other hand, the car went down the road largely unfazed by rough pavement.
Owners disliked the car’s thirst for fuel, however. If the V70/XC70 was supposed to be a more sensible alternative to an SUV, you wouldn’t know it from the gas receipts.
WHAT OWNERS SAY
Volvo purists have adored their wagons for decades and the newest crop has certainly advanced the breed. The naturally aspirated six cylinder is more refined and quieter than the old five-cylinder turbo and the whole car conveys considerable comportment.
Volvos can display both outstanding longevity and miserable reliability at the same time. Older generations of the V70 and XC70 are no stranger to garage hoists; there are stories online of repair bills that exceeded $7,000 per visit.
In our scan, the 2008 and newer wagons have been relatively well-behaved. Owner complaints single out a somewhat jerky automatic transmission, bad radios (particularly AM reception), malfunctioning power windows, broken sensors, dead batteries and rattles.
The last word goes to reader Iain Bell, a seasoned Volvo owner.
“Buyers of these used Volvos need to know that by the time they have been on the road for a few years, these cars are really no better or worse than cars half the price.”
2008-11 Volvo V70/XC70
WHAT’S BEST: Great cargo space, smooth drivetrains, doctor-approved seating
WHAT’S WORST: Big-brother technology, gas guzzler, pricey European parts
TYPICAL GTA PRICES: 2008 -$21,000; 2010 – $32,000