Foreman, the verdict please
A few days ago I was effervescent about the 2008 Volvo V70’s built-in booster seats. As the parent of three toddlers, the whole idea of a built-in seat like this sounded like a downright brilliant idea. If you have little kids, you know what I mean: Lugging the boosters to and from your various vehicles is a pain in the neck, so building them right into the seat bottom seemed like a pretty clever – not to mention obvious – idea.
The cool thing to me was that there looked to be enough room between the two built-ins for yet a third booster seat of your own choosing, making the Volvo wagon an excellent choice for those of us who are particularly fertile. When my colleague Bob Beamesderfer was felled by the flu earlier this week, thus barfing his way out of his time in the Volvo, I snatched up the keys and took it home to pick the kids up from preschool.
The extra booster fit perfectly between the two built-ins, as predicted, although owing to the large size of my booster seat it was a tight fit. Still, the kids climbed in (they love riding in different cars), got situated, and there was no trouble strapping them in.
So it worked, and with a slightly smaller booster seat of my own, the only real complaint I had would be resolved. In the highest position the Volvo seatbelts were slung perfectly over my kids’ shoulders, and they never looked like they were going to slide off the seat, another concern I had. Overall, it’s a great idea, and I'm surprised that Volvo isn't making more hay over it.
Oh, and the verdict from the back seat? The two outboarders liked the Volvo more than our minivan, while the one in the middle preferred the Odyssey. So there you have your ad line, Volvo: The 2008 V70 wagon is preferred two to one by rear seat passengers under four years old.
MyRide Road Test Editor
Sit Yer Butt Here
I’m not a huge Volvo enthusiast. Don’t get me wrong, the cars are fine and all that, but they just haven’t ever gotten my heart pounding, even the “R” editions.
So why am I suddenly configuring a Volvo V70 wagon on the company’s website?
Driving the Volvo into work today, I realized something. This is a pretty good bargain of a car. It’s big, comfortable, nicely equipped, and has a lot of very clever features strewn throughout. It doesn’t cost a lot either, with this lightly optioned model coming in at a somewhat thrifty $34,500 or so.
Still, there are a lot of other similarly-sized and priced vehicles out there, most of which don’t carry the abhorrent stigma of being a station wagon (they’re crossovers which, as we all know, are completely different from wagons). So why am I so enthused about this particular car?
Integrated booster seats, that’s why.
See, I have three toddlers at home, which has necessitated the purchase of a minivan as our primary kid hauler. Don’t get me wrong, I dig my Honda Odyssey’s utility and space and comfort. But it’s also a really big vehicle to have to drive around all the time, and, well, despite all the utility, it’s something of a drag. The thing is, getting another family hauler meant getting a three-row vehicle, which meant more size, less maneuverability and – let’s face it – less driving enjoyment unless I spent way more money than I reasonably could.
That’s where this Volvo comes in. The two outer seats have bottom cushions that lift up, forming booster seats. This we know; family-friendly safety is a primary selling point of the car after all. But the cool thing is that there’s enough room in between for yet a third child seat of your own. My only concern is the car’s ability to hold a squirming three-year-old in place. The cushion is narrow, and there’s not a lot of side support, so I can envision a kid sliding to and fro as you drive along. Even if it were one of those in-a-pinch scenarios, it’d be worth it: Three kids in the back seat of the Volvo, and I don’t have to lug three child seats around.
I mean, not “I” of course. A Volvo customer, that is, which I, currently, am not.
The best part is that the car is pretty nice all on its own, even without clever seating. The ride is comfortable and smooth, pitching it into a corner caused it to lean considerably but it still stuck to the ground well, and there’s decent (if not stellar) power from the inline six-cylinder engine. The front seat is big and soft and comfortable, the kind of easy-driving chair that’s perfect for soaking up the miles, and it has three position seat memory. The standard audio system is good enough for my tinnitus-riddled ears,
I do wish that the six was a little quieter as it goes about its business, and I’m not hugely fond of the rubbery-feeling Tricotec seat fabric. I do like the sliding cargo tie-downs in the cargo area – they’re made of machined aluminum, and slide in aluminum tracks – and the seat warmer is especially effective.
If you really want to, you can blow close to $50,000 on a V70 wagon by checking every option box there is, and I think the value diminishes as you do so. But at the reasonable base price it’s a good buy, and one that family-values buyers would do well to consider, even if the family is on the large side.
MyRide Road Test Editor