2002 V70 New Car Test Drive
The V70 is part of a new generation of Volvos, a generation that combines the traditional Volvo virtues of safety and practicality with an avant-garde style and a sassy attitude.
All-new last year (2001), the V70 is a mid-size wagon based on the same mechanical platform as Volvo's prestigious S80 sedan. The kinship shows: While V70 surrenders nothing in practicality to other mid-size wagons, and exceeds most, if not all, in safety. And this sexy Swede does more than haul moldings home from Home Depot. In T5 form, especially, it just plain hauls, but with the refined demeanor of a European luxury sedan.
V70's practical side shows in an adaptable seating arrangement, and a cargo compartment with tie-down hooks and other useful accessories. Its safety heritage lives on with a safety-cell structure and active seats rigged to thwart whiplash injuries. Occupants are shielded by airbags positioned ahead, beside and above. Responsive steering, electronic brake enhancements, and optional traction control help avoid accidents in the first place.
But with a selection of turbocharged engines, aggressive suspension tuning and low-profile performance tires, the V70 also likes to go out and play.
. The problem with the common sport-utility is that it's more than 80 percent truck, when you probably need a truck less than 20 percent of the time. This can lead to a bad case of SUV-itus. Symptoms include a jarring ride, uncertain handling, and a wallet-emptying thirst for fuel.
Volvo has the cure, or maybe we should say antidote, or just anti-SUV. The Cross Country isn't a truck; it's a car, based on Volvo's versatile V70 station wagon. Yet it boasts an elevated chassis for ground clearance, no-dent body armor to brush aside trail debris, and all-wheel-drive traction on the ground.
Cross Country can plow down rough routes to reach a backwater fishing hole or favorite camping hideout. Yet on pavement, Cross Country displays the sophisticated traits of a refined road car, with agile handling and a smooth ride quality. It's nimble, while coddling passengers in luxurious comfort.
Volvo's traditional focus on active and passive safety carries over to the Cross Country, with its safety-cell body structure and seats that react to collision forces to thwart whiplash injuries. Occupants are shielded by airbags ahead, beside and above. It's still better to avoid the crash, however, so the Cross Country provides quick steering, traction control, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist.
As a bonus, this go-anywhere wagon comes with a flat and generous cargo bay. An optional third-row seat may be added. A second-row bench splits and folds in three sections to vary the mix of passengers and gear. Most important, an electric cooler is available that plugs into the center seat section to chill your road food or beverages.
The V70 line has expanded both up and down for 2002.
At base-level now is a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) version, powered by a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine that develops 168 horsepower. Badged simply V70, it retails for $30,025 with a five-speed manual transmission, and $1000 more with a five-speed automatic. Either way, the price includes power four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, and a long list of luxury, safety, and convenience features.
Returning for 2002 is the V70 2.4T ($34,225), which uses light-pressure turbocharging with intercooling to coax 197 horsepower from the same basic engine. The five-speed automatic is standard on this model, while Volvo's Geartronic automatic with manual override is a $200 option. Befitting its extra brawn, the 2.4T comes with wider tires on larger wheels, and adds a power glass sunroof plus a memory function for power seats and mirrors.
Also returning is the V70 T5 ($36,425), whose 2.3-liter inline-five with high-pressure turbocharging musters 247 horsepower through a five-speed manual gearbox. The Geartronic is the only automatic available, and it costs $1200. The T5 also comes with firmer suspension settings and even wider tires for a sporty flavor, and adds a few more comfort/convenience items to the standard-equipment list. Traction control is standard as well.
The other new model for 2002 is an all-wheel-drive version of the 2.4T, which lists for $35,975. The V70 2.4T AWD normally sends 95 percent of its driving torque to its front wheels, but uses a viscous coupling to direct power to the rear wheels when necessary. The rear differential is open, but an electronic system called TRACS can selectively brake either rear wheel to control slipping. The V70 2.4T AWD can be identified by a slightly higher ground clearance and by special seven-spoke alloy wheels, and the only transmission available is the Geartronic. Otherwise it's equipped the same as the front-drive V70 2.4T
Additionally, Volvo manufactures the V70 XC, or Cross Country, an SUV-like cross-over vehicle based on the V70 much the same way that the Subaru Outback is based on the all-wheel-drive Legacy Wagon. (See review of the Cross Country in a separate NewCarTestDrive.com report.
Volvo's computer-linked Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system may be added to any of the 2.4-liter models for $1100. A navigation system is offered as well.
All V70s uphold Volvo's tradition of safety, with dual-threshold front airbags, dual side-impact airbags, front and rear head-curtain airbags, WHIPS active whiplash protection, and both ISO-FIX and LATCH anchors for child seats. The Cross Country arrives in a single body style, spun off of Volvo's mid-size V70 wagon. V70 itself is offered in all-wheel-drive, but Cross Country adds a higher ground clearance, unique appearance, and a longer list of standard equipment. The only available drivetrain is a 2.4-liter inline five-cylinder with light-pressure turbocharging, linked to Volvo's five-speed 'Geartronic' automatic transmission.
Pricing begins at $36,500, a figure that includes just about everything most folks would need: power glass sunroof, Dolby cassette stereo, and dual-zone automatic climate control, dual-mode front airbags, dual side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, and traction control, and anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist and electronic brake distribution.
If you must spend more, Volvo offers leather upholstery ($1350); a Touring Package ($1110) that includes laminated side windows, 12-volt power outlet, HomeLink transmitter, trip computer and more luggage-bay accessories; a premium audio system with in-dash four-disc CD player ($1,200); and Volvo's pop-up navigation system.
During 2002, Volvo will offer Cross Country in a limited edition Ocean Race model, painted Ocean Blue with silver cladding and wearing special Ocean Race identification.