Road Test: 2009 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD
Before the XC90 and the technologically advanced 2010 XC60 came along, Volvo's first ever crossover was actually the XC70 which was little more than a raised, four-wheel drive version of its full-size wagon, the V70. Now in its third generation, the Volvo XC70 still combines the spacious interior of a soccer-mom station wagon with a tough all-wheel drive system that continues to be a big hit especially in mountainous regions. For 2009, Volvo threw in a few tweaks on its crossover station wagon to keep it fresh against the sea of competition.
Sitting in the luxury crossover market, the XC70 goes up against vehicles such as the Saab 9-3X, Audi A4 Allroad quattro and the Subaru Outback as well as luxury crossovers like the Cadillac SRX to the Mercedes-Benz R-Class. The 2009 Volvo XC70 is available in two trim levels based on the engine: the base 3.2 and the all-new T6. The model we tested was the new XC70 T6 that comes with a starting price of $39,500 but also included a couple luxury and convenience packages for a total as-tested price of $46,985. This price range is the reason that most will probably shop it against mainstream crossovers like the Caddy or the Mercedes.
2009 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD Exterior
Visually, nothing is new for the XC70 heading into the 2009 model year, which means that it is still easily distinguishable from the regular V70 thanks to matte-grey plastic lower body cladding and roof racks, a taller ride height and meatier tires. The cladding not only helps give the XC70 a more rugged look that is matched by both the XC90 and the XC60, but it also helps protect the lower parts of the vehicle from small scratches and helps accommodate the wider all-weather tires. Adding even more of a rugged styling, our test vehicle came in a military-esque olive hue that Volvo calls Caper Green Metallic (that added $525 to the total MSRP) and used a stout set of 17-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels. To signify the likeness with the other Volvo 'cross country' vehicles, the XC lettering is engraved in the exclusive wheels and the plastic roof rack rails.
2009 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD Interior
While the XC70's exterior and powertrain portray the car's tough, rugged demeanor, the interior is just as plush and luxurious as we've grown to love from Volvo. The 2009 XC70 T6 continues to use lightly colored soft leather on the seats and real wood inlays on the door panel, instrument panel and center stack. One change that we instantly noticed and appreciated was the switch from a high-gloss wood accent trim to a satin-finished, more realistic wood trim similar to what was used in the 2010 XC60 we recently reviewed. The trademark waterfall center stack design still remains one of the more fashionable design aspects of the cabin, but our test vehicle added a couple options to make the driving experience even more enjoyable.
The biggest chunk of change added to our test XC70 was Volvo's $3,170 Climate/Child Booster Seat/Technology Package and the $2,995 Premium Package. The first package added mostly safety and comfort devices such as the dual integrated, two-stage booster seats for children in the outboard seating positions of the rear seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers and heated front seats, but it also added active Bi-Xenon headlamps and the Dynaudio premium sound system that included Dolby ProLogic II surround sound, rear seat audio controls and headphone jacks and Sirius-ready stereo. The Premium Package added leather seats, real wood inlays, power moonroof, power passenger seat and a rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink.
Showing off its versatility, the XC70 offers a generous cargo capacity that is made possible by the tall, wagon-like stature. With the rear 40/20/40 split seat folded flat, the XC70 can hold up to 72.1 cubic feet of cargo not including the hidden storage compartment under the rear cargo floor. Even with the rear seats up for passengers, the XC70 still manages 33.3 cubic feet of cargo space and offers standard roof racks if additional cargo space is needed.
2009 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD Performance & Handling
Generally speaking, the second model year of a new design rarely introduces anything new or exciting, but the big news for the 2009 Volvo XC70 is what's under the hood. All XC70 models come standard with Volvo's proven Haldex-based all-wheel drive system with Instant Traction, but the 2009 model added more power thanks to the T6 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine. Compared to the base 3.2-liter naturally aspirated engine (which is still the only engine available in the V70), the T6 bumps horsepower output from 235 up to 281 and increases torque from 236 lb-ft up to 295 lb-ft. Both cars use Volvo's six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission for shifting duties with a sport mode and manual shifting mode for those interested. Despite the new engine's heavier weight and more powerful output, we were surprised that the EPA fuel economy estimates stayed about the same as the base model achieving 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway (the XC70 3.2 AWD gets 15 city/23 highway).
Towing capacity hasn't improved with the stronger engine, but the turbocharged engine should help eliminate some of the power loss associated with driving vehicles in higher altitudes - a region that generally sells a higher number of XC70s. The maximum towing capacity of the 2009 XC70 T6 is 3,300 pounds which should be plenty for towing a trailer full of dirt bikes and ATVs. For those drivers who will actually take their XC70 off road, the 235/55R17 tires help to increase the ride height to an impressive 8.3 inches which is more than a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander. With a purpose to go off road, Volvo made sure the undercarriage was well protected thanks to front and rear skid plates. For better off-road performance, the all-wheel drive system's Instant Traction feature monitors wheel speed, throttle position, engine torque and engine speed and automatically diverts power from a wheel losing traction to a wheel that still has traction. Hill Descent Control (HDC) is standard on both 2009 Volvo XC70 models.
2009 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD Safety
Surprisingly, the latest XC70 and V70 haven't been tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but the IIHS did test the S80 sedan (which the wagons are based off) and it scored it perfect Good scores across the board. Having the same architecture of the sedan, we would expect similar levels of safety for which Volvo has become synonymous. Helping improve its safety, the 2009 XC70 comes standard with numerous safety systems including a full assortment of airbags, whiplash protection headrests for front occupants, dynamic stability control and four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution.
In the automotive world, the crossover name gets tossed around a little too much, but in the case of the Volvo XC70, this is the perfect application. The 2009 Volvo XC70 blends the traditional wagon styling associated with Volvo with a new, powerful engine option and a rugged, capable all-wheel drive system.