• Mar 13, 2008

2008 Volvo XC70 – Click above for high-res image gallery

While station wagons are a very big part of the European automotive landscape, here in the States the two-box design sells much better when it's a crossover. We Americans don't have many choices on the true wagon front, mostly because high volume demand simply doesn't exist. One wagon that has been around for a while is the Volvo XC70, which combines much of the rugged AWD utility of an SUV with traditional wagon packaging.

The XC70 is all-new for 2008, including its Ford Mondeo-derived platform, 3.2L engine and more refined sheet metal. On paper, the XC70 delivers a good-looking, safe and evolved station wagon to go head-to-head with upscale utility vehicles, but how will it hold up in the Autoblog Garage? Hit the jump to find out.



All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.

Our Seashell Metallic XC70 came equipped with heated leather seats, a moonroof, premium audio system, and most of the available safety features. All those options added $9,000 to the Volvo wagon's $37,000 entry price, bringing the total damage to $46,405.

The previous generation XC70 was a major leap in terms of styling compared to the ultra-boxy Volvo wagons of yore, but the 2008 model delivers an evolutionary change. The new XC70 has a more refined look than its predecessor, with a slightly chiseled hood, shapely Bi-Xenon headlights and a larger grille. Attention has been taken away from the lower air dam and instead refocused to the XC70's fog lamps that are ringed with chrome, accentuating the wagon's wider, more athletic-looking stance.





The profile of the XC70 has softer sheet metal than its predecessor, and the plastic cladding surrounding the rugged-looking wagon looks less chunky and cheap in its updated form. Out back, the XC70 receives larger, brighter tail lamps, and emergency brake lights down at the bumper. Overall, the XC70 looks more fitting of a $46,000 wagon than the model it replaces, but that's still a lot of coin.

On the inside, the XC70 carries many of the styling cues from the more expensive Volvo S80 sedan that went on sale a year earlier. The dash materials, gauge cluster and steering wheel are among the items virtually unchanged form the S80. The centerpiece of the cabin is the sharp-looking suspended center console that appears in some form on most new Volvos, with high quality buttons and knobs that are easy to find.

Our XC70's dark brown leather seats were among the more pleasant in which we've sat, with ample bolstering and thigh support. Seat materials were also very high quality, and soft touch materials draped the arm rest and doors. One area of disappointment was the hard plastic against which our knees would bang while driving. In the S80, softer materials were used around these touch points, which made the cabin look and feel more luxurious.

Keeping in step with Volvo tradition, safety is omnipresent. Volvo uses high-strength steel everywhere it can, and considerable engineering effort was put into "deformation zones" that absorb crash energy from larger vehicles. Volvo stocked the XC70 with front and side impact airbags while protecting our necks with the WHIPS whiplash protection system. The automaker also employed optional equipment like adaptive cruise control, BLIS blind spot protection and emergency brake assist to keep vehicle occupants out of harms way altogether. One safety technology that drove us bonkers during our time with the XC70 was the parking assist system. Each time we started the wagon, the system defaulted to the On position, and it beeped loudly whenever we were within about four feet of a surrounding vehicle.

On the road, the XC70 has a nicely composed yet slightly soft ride that provides plenty of comfort for long commutes and family vacations. The 3.2L inline six mates to an Aisin six-speed auto transmission for a very smooth yet somewhat unexciting driving experience. While Volvo's corporate six sounds great and revs freely, 235 horsepower just isn't enough to properly motivate a two-ton station wagon, and it's not what we expect for $46,000. The steering, however, is nicely weighted for a wagon, which basically means that it wouldn't pass muster in a sports sedan but is engaging enough for family transportation. Body roll is quite a bit better than what I get with my taller Ford Freestyle, and the standard Haldex AWD works splendidly in the slushy ice conditions we experienced during our time with the XC70.

Bad weather is the reason most people want AWD, but we were disappointed that the rugged looks of the XC70 didn't carry over to off-road performance, as stability control and AWD neuter wheel slip by locking the rubber all together. We also had little luck testing Volvo's hill descent control due to the fact that we couldn't get up the hill in the first place, and we're not talking Mt. Kilimanjaro, either folks. This was more like a bunny hill.

We were looking forward to our time in the XC70 because we thought it would give us most of what we wanted from an SUV without the extra size and fuel economy. After a week with the wagon, however, it was its fuel economy that left us utterly perplexed. We achieved a miserable 18 mpg in mixed driving, which was worse than what we got in the 5,000 lb, seven-passenger Buick Enclave. We even got 18.5 mpg out of the 4,500 lb, V8-powered flying brick that is the Dodge Dakota. It seems like it would be against the laws of physics for the Volvo wagon to get worse fuel economy than a larger, more powerful CUV, but the numbers don't lie. We even reset the fuel economy gauge half-way through the week, but the results didn't change.


Autoblog reviews the Volvo XC70 station wagon

The Volvo XC70 delivers on good looks, impeccable safety and the European charm that some Americans continue to covet. But as a family man with three children, there are plenty of other vehicles on the market that can haul more people and more stuff than the XC70 while delivering better fuel economy at a lower price.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I purchased the 08 XC70 over a Buick Enclave. I felt the Enclave was too large for me and too SUV-ish. I really like a wagon. If the V70 had been out and offered AWD that is what I would have gone with.

      That being said, I really like the car dispite it's poor gas mileage that is averaging only 18 mpg for me to. Good thing we commute in a Prius during good weather.

      The car has also had a ruff start with front end issues which were met with little empathy from the dealer and Volvo customer care. This car may have been just a bad apple as several of my friends have had no issues with their 08 XC70's.

      I am hoping that someone comes out with a nice, AWD deisel or hybrid wagon in a couple of years. Until that time, we are happy with our wagon and its luxury-utility mix and car like size.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Fernando,

        I can't believe you were so obstinate about not getting the wagon. Were you looking forward to a Camry or something? I would have jumped at the chance to rent the Volvo. I think it would have been the perfect highway vacation car.

        As far as buying one, though, I think I would rather go for an Audi wagon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I was given one of these wagons as a Hertz rental a few weeks back (long weekend in Vegas so they were out of normal cars). At first I frowned upon it and asked the lady if I could please have another vehicle. After she told me for the 10th time that they had nothing else, I settled for the Volvo. It had a little under 500 miles on it and, in 8 days, I was able to pack a little over 1200 more on it. And, after all that driving (including a drive to Phoenix and back), I must say I was impressed. The only negatives being the power and MPG numbers (I averaged just over 20MPG on the highway and under 15MPG city).

        I don't think I'd spend the $45,000 for it, but I'd definitely love to get it again next time I rent a car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd be hard pressed to pick this over the already-excellent V70. I'd say the same for the Outback vs Legacy wagon as well. There's no real utility gain, and the loss of agility and economy is very real.

      Anyone know of the Outback and XC70 are classed as light trucks under CAFE?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Josh,

        When 75% of roads are paved in the US (it's less in Canada) and most cars have at least four to six inches of clearance, does it really matter much? I have a Honda Fit and it's rare--even when I go camping--that I've had to back off. I'll hit the occasional snowbank, but I've yet to see one impassable enough that I wouldn't also need tire chains.

        I'll agree that there's some benefit to the ride height, but I don't think that it's a benefit that's realized very often.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bad news -- the Legacy wagon was discontinued. I agree, I don't have much use for the Outback's ground clearance, but starting about a year ago, if you want a Legacy wagon, Subaru has only the Outback version to offer.

        Bummer.

        -Andrew
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bad news -- the Legacy wagon was discontinued. I agree, I don't have much use for the Outback's ground clearance, but starting about a year ago, if you want a Legacy wagon, Subaru has only the Outback version to offer.

        Bummer.

        -Andrew
      • 6 Years Ago
      Too expensive and if the MPG is indicative of most of them--I'd just get a CUV. A wagon should offer some MPG bonus or people will just pass it by.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it is clear to to the objective customer that as a CUV or off road alternative this isn't the best choice for eco-friendly or performance minded shoppers.

      If a volvo wagon is your choice - the standard model is a good choice but not at such a high price point. But I think a Passat wagon is as luxurious and sporty for significantly less $$$.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That fuel economy is shocking, and considering you could save money by buying a V70 and perhaps gain 1mpg, that option looks a lot better. There's no denying that driving an XC70 (and to an ever-so-slightly lesser degree, the V70) is one of the most relaxing on-road experiences a person can have. That's gotta be worth something. Driving the better-looking obvious competitor - Enclave - is NOT as good(http://goodcarbadcar.blogspot.com/2007/09/buick-enclave-driven.html), but money means something. And so does apperance.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, the V70 is a good choice but it lacks the AWD option in the US.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not sure why the hate keeps flowing for Volovs here on AB. Also not sure why it isn't compared to other wagons in its class versus two vehicles vastly different. Also those safety feature options raise the price significantly like the Blind spot and accident avoidance. Those two alone total $2200.

      I agree mileage could be better but in all the GM crossovers I've experienced worse, Acadia, Outlook and Enclave, not better mileage.

      I found the XC70 extremely nice for the price. Less than an Audi, BMW or Mercedes, safer, kid booster seats built in, a gigantic rear cargo area with trick underfloor storage and solid rails.

      If you go into the test comparing it to an SUV and want to fit 3 kids in it I'm not sure you'd ever come out with a positive review.

      I do agree it should get the new T6 from the S80. That engine is far superior. This engine is decent though.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Though I thought I was a die-hard addict, after 5 Volvo wagons, I'd had it with unreliable Volvos. With my Saab 9-5's OnStar and 29-30mpg on the freeway, it's hard to justify the AWD penalty in mileage. Furthermore, for all those that think they'd rather have an Audi wagon, realize that realistically, even at the steep $46k for the Volvo, an Audi A6, BMW 535ix or MB E-class wagon are $60,000+. No joke. I almost bought the BMW 5 wagon and finally just couldn't justify paying $23,000 more than the Saab for less cargo, worse mpg, horrid run-flat tires and iCrash-iDrive. The Saab or Passat are more appropriate market competition for the XC70.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I had a 2002 Saab 9-5 Aero prior to my (piece of crap) 2006 9-3 Sport Combi.

        I LOVED the 9-5 and miss it !!! It was a great car and I had little in the way of trouble with it.

        I was not averaging more then low 20's in MPG (mixed driving). I wanted to get another 9-5 but the lack of cup holders and it's harsher ride updated look and unusual exterior design tweaks turned me off. Plus, they were not dealing much.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks nice but no match for my Audi Allroad, more power, better awd, nicer cabin, air suspension, better handling and better looking....Wish Audi would sell the C6 version here, would likely run mid to high 40s..and would offer a V8 as well.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd have one of these for driving dynamics alone before most SUVs or crossovers. It's very handsome and more unique on our roads. I have noticed that outside of Subaru wagons the fuel consumptions of wagons like this and the Audi Avant/Allroads isn't good at all. But I think the comfort and driving experience make up for it. It's really a shame cars like this don't make up half of the total vehicles on US roads.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The fuel economy is poor on the S60 and Audi A6 sedan as well, so it's not really the fault of the wagon body, but of the platform as a whole. The weight difference usually doesn't make much difference.

        Wagons actually have a tangible aerodynamic benefit, especially at higher speeds.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Here in germany Subarus are known as very thirsty. A cause for this perception me be the missing diesel (until in a few weeks...). Both Volvo and Audi have great economical diesels in the 150 to 200hp range for the XC70 and the A6 Allroad.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wonder if the mileage will get better after the break in period. I just saw gas at $4.21 in San Francisco. I sometimes wonder if my 01 A6 2.7t gets bad mileage but I average 22 in mixed driving
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow, 18MPG and i am paying 46K for this thing? I would take the luxurious and eye catching Enclave over this thing in a heartbeat and i wouldn't have to carry around plastic cladding all around me.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This car would certainly be the car of my choice wouldn't it be so fu...ing expensive here in Brazil.
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