Smart and Slightly Sexy
Think Volvo and what comes to mind? Sweden? Of Course. Safety? Naturally. Svelte? For sure, in a minimalist Ikea-kind-of-way. But, there’s more to Volvos these days. There’s Smart, as in brain-child technologies, and thoughtfulness about people and the planet. Now there’s even Sexy, particularly with Volvo’s “R” performance variants and its award-winning, turbo-charged T6 engine that will rock you with head-snapping power, but delight you with ingénue.
And, when you combine slightly sexy with smart, safe, svelte and Sweden, you get the refreshed-for-2012 Volvo XC70. It’s the automotive world’s equivalent of the pencil skirt: polished, conservative and even a bit hot when it’s sashaying down the street.
A Heritage of Classic Design and Safety
Although owned today by Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Volvo is a 100-percent Scandinavian manufacturer that makes airplanes, buses, trucks, engines and autos. The name comes from Volvere and means “I roll” and, since Gustaf Larson and Assar Gabrielson started Volvo cars in 1927, the guiding principals have been safe rolling on the roads and care for the environment we live in and roll through, as well as the interior of the cars we drive in.
Our test drive of the 2012 Volvo XC70 took us across the ocean to Gothenburg, Sweden on a 5-day drive to evaluate this crossover wagon, to tour a swath of the Scandinavian countryside, and to visit Volvo’s worldwide headquarters, with its state-of-the-art Safety Center and crash-testing facility. We also learned about Volvo’s Overseas Delivery (VOSD) program that allows you to pick up a new Volvo across the ocean, and drive it in on an itinerary of your choice in 13 different countries. The program bundles a European vacation with concierge services and delivers the VOSD package at a discounted price to what you would pay at a dealer in the U.S. After you trip, which can last up to three months, your Volvo is then sent back to the U.S. at no fee. Sound too good to be true? We thought so. But, we learned that it’s one of Volvo’s best-kept secrets and began in 1956. (see story*)
What We Drove
The exterior of our 2012 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD was painted an appealing Electric Silver Metallic ($550), while the interior was dressed with a Scandinavian flair with leather, wood and chrome touches sprinkled throughout a tastefully-appointed cabin. This five-passenger premium crossover came with Volvo’s all-wheel drive with instant traction ($2,000), a seamless safety feature that kept our 18-inch tires with “Zephyrus” alloy wheels ($1000) planted at all four corners during our drive, which included city streets, high-speed motorways, and narrow and meandering byways—as well as rain-slickened coastal roads.
Our test-drive model was an upscale Platinum edition (overall price tag: $43,150; $2700 more than next-level-down Premier Plus) and included the Climate Package ($1,000), which adds heated front and rear seats, rain-sensing wipers and heated windshield nozzles, headlamp washers, and a thoughtful and nifty Indoor Air Quality System.
Driving this model on an authentic road trip, rather than a day-long test drive, we appreciated its European looks, its AWD handling, its plethora of safety features and smart technologies, but also enjoyed the roominess of this wagon that has great stowage at the back end, as well as behind the front seats. It’s not a ‘city car’ and, therefore, needs a full-sized parking space. For our needs, this was not an issue, with the exception of finding suitable, small-sized parking spots in Gothenburg. Among our favorite features was the crossover’s perfectly-weighted steering; blind spot detection system that kept us alerted to vehicles behind us; and its well-mannered and always-on-tap turbo-charged power.
Our model’s MSRP topped out at $43,150, with a destination charge of $875.
Pretty on the Inside…
The cabin of the 2012 Volvo XC70 is imbued with Swedish character – sleek, no-nonsense, and intelligent design – a power driver seat with memory including rear view mirrors is a perfect example.
Most prominent among the interior changes from the 2011 model year is a new center stack and Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system, which replaces the current pop-up navigation screen in the S80 and XC70 with an integrated screen at the top of the dash; it is now standard in these vehicles, as well as the XC60 and S60. The seven-inch screen adds a fancier audio system, navigation, backup and panorama cameras, and DVD player.
In addition, Volvo re-contoured its signature “floating” center stack in both cars, softening previously hard corners and rearranging the button layout into a vertical strip similar to that in the S60. “Blond” interior surfaces are now available on the XC70; the trim inlays and interior lighting look more welcoming and streamlined, like good modern Scandinavian furniture design. A new, sportier-looking three-spoke steering wheel rounds out the interior enhancements.
…And the Outside
The 2012 XC70 hasn’t been radically revised on the exterior since the 2011 model year. It retains the long lines of its wagon wheelbase but also has the appealing, smoothed-out curves of Volvo’s signature sport crossover design. However, the crossover has gotten a mild and appealing refresh. Highlights include redesigned headlights, LED turn signal indicators built into the side-view mirrors, and new wheel designs.
Positioned at the high end of the XC 70 stable, the 2012 Volvo XC Platinum AWD T6 is powered by a 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder motor matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Maximum horsepower is 240; torque tops out at 236 lb.-ft. Front-wheel, two-wheel drive is standard and AWD is available. This engine, which is also used in Volvo’s S60 sports sedan, was named as one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines for 2011.
Volvo’s all-wheel-drive traction made a big difference in overall road feel, handling and performance on the model we tested, particularly on slick and narrow coastal roads during our tour of western Sweden’s seacoast villages and hamlets. Its traction was flawless, during numerous rain storms!
The 2012 Volvo XC T6 comes with 16-inch “Cecino” wheels
auto-dimming rearview mirror, Volvo Sensus with integrated 7-inch color display, Bluetooth hands-free phone interface with audio streaming, Sirius Satellite radio with a complimentry 6-month subscription, HD Radio and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
The Platinum model we tested had leather seats and walnut wood trim, as well as some nifty comfort and convenience features such as power-adjusting front seats and rear headrests, a rear parking assist camera and a built-in navigation system with voice-control commands.
Practicing Safety, Staying Sexy
Volvo has added its clever City Safety feature to all 2012 XC70 models. This system monitors what is in front of the vehicle, automatically applying the brakes if the driver fails to respond to an impending collision. The system is most effective at low speeds at bringing a car to a complete stop, but can also reduce the severity of a collision at speeds up to 19 mph by slowing your vehicle before impact.
Other newly available safety technologies include Pedestrian Detection, which functions like City Safety, but is able to distinguish pedestrian figures from obstacles, and will halt the car at speeds below 20 mph- adaptive cruise control that, you guessed it, can bring the car to a complete stop. Mercedes-Benz is the only other manufacturer that offers this technology, but it comes on its higher-priced models.
In addition, the Volvo XC lineup boasts Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), dual outboard two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts and power child rear door locks and active dual xenon headlights. It goes without saying that four-wheel discs with ABS are standard.
Trims and Packages
The variety of trim levels and packages available on the 2012 Volvo XC70 can seem a bit overwhelming, so fasten your seatbelt; here’s a brief overview.
There are four trim levels available on the 3.2-liter I6 model: 3.2, 3.2 Premier, 3.2 Premier Plus and 3.2 Platinum, as well as two packages (Climate and Technology) and a list of a dozen or so options, including wheel treatments and paint/trim colors.
For the T6, there’s the AWD, Premier Plus and Platinum levels, and XC 70’s are also available with the Climate and/or Technology packages and several trim/paint/standalone options.
On the AWD line up (from which we test-drove our model), standard equipment includes Sensus infotainment, leather seats and power-adjusting driver’s and front passenger’s seat.
The Premier Plus version adds a power rear liftgate, keyless drive, front and rear parking assist, Homelink remote garage door opener, cargo cover and grocery bag holder, power folding rear headrests, private locking feature and a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area. Platinum tops off with a rear parking assist camera and high-end sound system and navigation with voice controls.
The technology Package ($2100) adds Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Brake Auto (CWAB) and Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake. Climate package has an upgraded air filtration system as well as heated seats and heated windshield washer nozzles and headlamp wipers.
Optional exterior colors ($550) are Caspian Blue Metallic, Black Sapphire Metallic, Seashell Metallic, Twilight Bronze Metallic, Flamenco Red Metallic and Electric Silver Metallic.
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