2009 V70 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo V70 is all-new for 2008. Completely redesigned, the 2008 Volvo V70 is smoother, quieter, and better than ever.
Volvo's flagship wagon, the V70 has endured the tides of automotive taste, which for years have ebbed away from minivans and station wagons as those seeking family-friendly transportation turned to bigger, heavier SUVs and crossover vehicles. Yet if Volvo can boast a following, it's with brand loyalists who have held steadfast to its wagons for more than 50 years. They're as faithful a bunch as any, with good reason: The V70 is a comfortable, practical, nicely finished car, with a lot of utility, and it's pleasant to drive.
The V70's staying power is due in large part to the emphasis Volvo has always placed on safety. This is a costly strategy that has come at the expense of style, pricing and interior materials.
For 2008, Volvo's emphasis on safety is stronger than ever. The third-generation V70 comes standard with an array of features designed to protect its occupants. Among them: advanced-technology airbags, whiplash-reducing seats, new-generation electronic stability control and the latest anti-lock brake system (ABS). New safety options include a blind spot warning system, a collision mitigation system that preps the safety gear in advance of a pending crash, and two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts.
The most refreshing news for 2008, however, is that Volvo has injected its big wagon with a healthy dose of Scandinavian style.
It starts inside, with what might be Volvo's best interior yet. It's quite sophisticated and we think it's fantastic. The layout of the various controls is smart and immediately accessible, and the ease with which the driver interacts with the car trumps most of its European competition. There's seating for five, with a 40/20/40 split rear seat and flat-folding front passenger seat that allows for a very flexible cargo space. With the rear seats folded flat, the 72.1 cubic feet of available cargo volume surpasses what you'll find in many SUVs.
On the outside, the V70 is not a radical design departure; Volvo loyalists wouldn't have it. Instead, it maintains its familiar box silhouette, ensuring the car remains identifiable from 200 paces. But the details have been tweaked. The face is more defined than in the previous model, marked by a larger grille and bigger headlights. In back, the rear glass slopes forward slightly, with giant brake and taillights that no one will miss.
Power comes from a new inline six-cylinder engine: a first for the wagon, which has traditionally relied on five-cylinder engines. The 3.2-liter straight six turns out 235 horsepower, with 236 pound-feet of peak torque available at 3200 rpm. The automatic transmission gets upgraded to six speeds, from five. (The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive models offered in previous years have gone away, at least for now.)
The new six-cylinder is considerably more powerful than the previous V70's standard engine. It's much smoother and more refined than the five-cylinders of the past. It delivers power more evenly. The automatic transmission works well, responding to orders from the gas pedal in short order, and the package delivers solid acceleration. The new V70 is the smoothest, quietest Volvo wagon ever.
Those looking for a bit of off-road capability might opt for the rugged new XC70, virtually identical to the V70 in design but featuring standard full-time all-wheel drive, increased ground clearance and brush-friendly lower body cladding and protective skid plates underneath. In the daily grind through the suburban jungle, however, the V70 is the better ride.
All told, the 2008 V70 features everything Volvo wagon fans have always loved, and more of it: more safety, more utility, more civility. It focuses more attention on delivering a luxurious and stylish package, without sacrificing its familiar, beloved character. And.
The 2008 Volvo V70 wagon ($32,465) comes with a new 3.2-liter inline-6 rated at 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.
Standard features include fabric upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with three-position memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, 160-watt AM/FM audio with single-CD and eight speakers, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and remote garage door opener, fog lights, a fold-flat 40/20/40 split rear seat with a locking cargo-floor storage bin and a fold-flat front passenger seat that considerably increases cargo flexibility. The standard wheels are 16-inch alloys.
The Premium Package ($2,995) includes a power glass sunroof, leather seating, a power passenger seat and walnut or walnut-root trim. The Convenience Package ($1,395) adds front fog lights, power-operated tailgate, front and rear park assist, a humidity sensor for the climate control system, an air filtration system, dark tint rear windows, and a grocery bag holder and 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area. The Climate Package ($725) includes heated front seats, headlamp washers, heated windshield washer nozzles and Rainsensor windshield wipers. The Volvo Navigation System ($2,120) uses DVD-based map data with driver controls on the steering wheel and remote control. The rear-seat DVD system ($1,800) adds two seven-inch LCD monitors in the front headrests, with an auxiliary jack for video games or cameras, wireless headphones and remote control. SIRIUS satellite radio comes with a complimentary six-month subscription ($295). Stand-alone options include active bi-xenon high-intensity gas discharge headlights ($800), bright silver roof rails ($300), 17-inch alloy wheels ($475) and metallic paint ($475).
Safety features include multi-stage front-impact airbags and curtain-style head protection airbags for all outboard seats. The front passenger side-impact airbags have two compartments: a lower one for the hips, which can handle more force without injury, and a second one that deploys more gently around the shoulders. Volvo's latest generation Whiplash Protection Seating System (WHIPS) is design to minimize neck and back injuries in a significant rear impact. Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), the latest-generation anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a tire-pressure monitor are also standard.
Integrated child safety seats are built into the rear outboard seats, and can be adjusted specifically to the child's size. This optimizes the seatbelt geometry regardless of the child's stature. The safety belts have specially adjusted force limiters to reduce the risk of restraint injury, and the side-curtain airbags are lengthened for better coverage.
The new V70 also features a few new safety options. Volvo's Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS ($695), is one of the original systems designed to warn the driver of approaching vehicles that might not be visible in the mirrors. Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Mitigation by Braking ($1,695) uses the radar-managed active cruise control to warn the driver of a possible collision. The system issues a warning if the V70 is closing quickly on an object and pre-loads the brake system, and it can actually engage the brakes if the driver fails to respond.
The Personal Car Communicator ($495) adds keyless starting. More to the safety point, it allows you to determine from anywhere whether you locked the car, though you'll have to call your spouse or friend to lock it for you if you are already on the plane, because it can't actually lock the V70 out of range of the remote. This device also allows you to tell if the car has been tampered with as you approach it in a dark parking lot, and includes a heartbeat sensor to determine if there is a villain lurking inside.