Road Test: 2009 Volvo XC70
Don't take this the wrong way, but when I first saw the Volvo XC70 I could only think that everything old is new again. Remember the station wagon, which was dealt a deathblow in the mid 1980s when the minivan was introduced? Well I can't help but think the exterior design of this crossover is reminiscent of some of the classier wagons.
Obviously, the Volvo is much more handsome and modern, but it's long lean look still begs for the comparison. I never had the opportunity to drive a wagon back then but I would wager the elegance with which this Volvo drives is a world apart from many of those cars. Still, the wagon was popular in the U.S for decades. That's not lost on automakers that occasionally work to revive the style. Although no one at Volvo - at least to my knowledge - has breathed the wagon word in talking about the XC70, it does have the flexibility, comfort and incredible cargo space associated with that family car of the past.
2009 Volvo XC70 Exterior
Volvo likens the XC70 to an 'estate car'? based on many exterior factors including its framed side windows and distinct shoulders. Don't think that means the car's design isn't graceful. Consider its soft nose, large grille and headlamps and dark-colored body panels, which add a richness to it you won't find in many crossovers. The look is understated but luxurious and somewhat athletic. The car also has some hints of sportiness to it, which includes a tailgate with a forward leaning stance, which overlaps the tail lamps.
Don't look for this car in some hot aqua or bright yellow because you won't find it. This isn't built for modsters. Silver Metallic, Oyster Grey Pearl, and Caper Green Pearl are some of the elegant colors offered.
Buyers can also choose optional side scuff plates that add a bit more oomph to the look.
What's great about this Volvo is that it offers plentiful space like a minivan, some sports ability akin to an SUV and rides low like a sedan.
2009 Volvo XC70 Interior
As you'd expect from Volvo, the interior materials and construction are 100% quality. The car I drove had an optional equipment package that included leather seating and wood trim that rivaled some other luxury cars I've driven.
Seating was incredibly comfortable with extra lumbar support and plentiful head and legroom for adults. Some critics gripe that three adults have trouble comfortably fitting in the rear seat. That's true, but in fairness how often do three adults fit comfortably in the rear seat of any car? This isn't a minivan. The bottom line is a third adult could sit in the rear, which really isn't possible in many sedan-like crossovers.
The dashboard design and floating center stack are fairly intuitive. What's nice is that they are large and easy to read. If you think all cars offer that function, you haven't seen many of the latest cars that allow style - or in many cases trendy color - get in the way of function. For you that may well mean barreling down the road at 55 mph while squinting at a bright green blob to make out the time.
The cargo space is plentiful - 33.3 cubic feet with the second row seats up and 72.1 cubic feet with the seats down. One reviewer noted it was large enough to fit a go-kart. I don't know about that, but I easily fit a tandem inflatable kayak and several dry bags loaded with gear and still have plenty of room for a large cooler. That's when I really appreciated the built-in aluminum rail tie-down system that kept the gear from sliding around the rear, which is accessed by a power-operated tailgate.
Think of this car as akin to an athletic super model or actress - perhaps Cameron Diaz - and you have the right idea.
2009 Volvo XC70 Performance
Again, this car isn't a Jeep or Range Rover so don't expect it to drive like one. It has plenty of power to move you through urban traffic and all-wheel drive eats up unpaved roads. This isn't a sports car, either; so don't expect to do donuts in the parking lot. Still it's nimble, which means you won't struggle to pull it into a cramped urban parking slot.
For those that want to use this car for more sports-like activities there are some features to consider including the Hill Descent Control which regulates speed on steep downhill gradients. That means you can park on slick surfaces - such as areas near lakes - and launch a boat. The Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system reduces skidding.
The model I drove had all-wheel drive with instant traction, which gripped the rain-slick roads firmly.
Now the bad news - this car isn't easy at the pump. The T6 model I drove was rated at 15-mpg city and 22-mpg highway.
2009 Volvo XC70 Safety
As almost everyone knows, safety is Volvo's calling card and the XC70 is ready to prove it. Systems include a height-adjustable integrated child booster cushion that provides children of different sizes with a good view through the windows. In combination with the Inflatable Curtain and a strong body side, and two chamber side impact airbags, kids are protected from side impact during crashes.
The structure is divided into zones with different steel grades. All engines are mounted transversely, including the six-cylinder, and help reducing the risk of penetration into the passenger compartment.
This model also has Volvo's Whiplash Protection System and the front has energy-absorption properties, including a soft structure (in front of the bumper) that helps in reducing the risk of leg injuries to pedestrians.
The reinforced, lower spoiler edge has a forward position and is almost on level with the bumper. What that means for you is that if you hit the leg of a pedestrian or cyclist the person has less chance of injury because a honeycomb structure absorbs energy.
The XC70 also has Collision Warning with brake support and emergency brake lamps, which helps avoid or lessen damage during rear-end impact. The car also has a number of other advanced and interacting braking functions, such as Hydraulic Brake Assist, Optimized Hydraulic Brakes and Fading Brake Support. We could go on and on, but you likely get the idea.
The XC70 has an MSRP just over $37,000. The price might seem steep, but remember that the model does give the functionality of three cars in one. Everything old just might be new again.