2009 XC70 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo XC70 wagon has been a top choice among serious outdoor enthusiasts for years, and for good reason. It offers a high level of capability off road, it's superb on primitive roads, gravel and dirt roads, heavy snow. Yet it's smooth, stable, secure, fast and very comfortable for long highway slogs, regardless of the weather. It's quite practical, engineered for serious gear hauling rather than posing at the mall. And, of course, it's equipped with all the active and passive safety features that form Volvo's well-deserved reputation for safety engineering.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 lineup includes the new high-performance 2009 XC70 T6, which boosts the fun factor with 281 turbocharged horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from its six-cylinder engine.
The 2009 XC70 lineup includes the T6 and the standard model, which was all-new for 2008. The standard XC70 comes with a powerful inline-6 rated at 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.
It provides good passenger-cargo flexibility and more cargo volume than some mid-sized SUVs, but its exterior dimensions are relatively compact, and it's easy to park. It's rated to tow up to 3300 pounds, enough for a small boat or camper or a couple of snowmobiles. Its maximum cargo capacity of 72.1 cubic feet is on par with some mid-size, truck-based sport-utilities.
Though it looks like a traditional wagon, the XC70 is prepared for serious travel in unpaved areas. It comes with full-time all-wheel drive, and its suspension is raised to increase both movement range and ground clearance. Dent-resistant lower body cladding and protective skid plates underneath protect it from damage. Hill Descent Control makes ascending steep, slippery trails easier and safer.
We found the handling of the XC70 on primitive logging roads to be excellent. This would be a good car to drive to the top of Alaska in the middle of the winter. We know, we've done it. More recently, we drove an XC70 over 120 miles of logging roads in the unpaved wilderness of northwestern Montana. The all-wheel drive made driving around corners easy and predictable on gravel, dirt, mud, and snow. The suspension had just the right amount of compliance to keep the tires on the trail yet gave the driver lots of control. Bumps in the middle of turns never upset the handling. The car was comfortable, weather creeping along over rugged trails or hurtling down an unpaved road at rally speeds.
Yet the XC70 is maneuverable and quite comfortable on paved roads, where most of us drive most of the time. It isn't the most exciting vehicle to drive, and it's not as sporty as the pavement-oriented Volvo V70 wagon, but it makes a good grand tourer and great daily transportation. It rides smoothly and doesn't float or lean excessively through the curves, and it should deliver better real-world gas mileage than most mid- and full-size truck-based SUVs. We think it's the most compelling car in the Volvo lineup.
Inside, the XC70 has one of Volvo's best interiors: very Scandinavian, and elegantly understated. It's easy to master its multitude of controls, and it's simpler and more efficient than many of its European luxury competitors. The XC70 seats five, and the seating arrangement is flexible. The cargo compartment has tie-downs and other useful accessories. With the rear seats folded, the XC70's flat floor and low lift-over height make loading bulky cargo easier than with many SUVs. For 2009, a Bluetooth interface comes standard.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 comes in two models: the XC70 ($37,250) with a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine rated at 235 horsepower, and the XC70 T6 ($39,500) with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder rated at 281 horsepower. A six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and all-wheel drive come standard on both models.
The XC70 comes standard with 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, fog lights front and rear, a fold-flat 40/20/40 split rear seat with a locking cargo-floor storage bin, a fold-flat front passenger seat that considerably increases cargo flexibility, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity has been added for 2009. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are optional ($550).
The T6 upgrades to Volvo's Watch Dial instrument cluster, brushed aluminum interior inlays, dual exhaust outlets and 17-inch alloy wheels; 18-inch wheels are optional ($750).
Options for both models include a Navigation system ($2,205) with HDD, DVD map data, and remote control; and a rear-seat entertainment system ($1,800) with two seven-inch LCD monitors in the front headrests, an auxiliary jack for video games or cameras, wireless headphones and remote control.
The Premium Package ($2,995) upgrades with leather seating, a power passenger seat, walnut or walnut-root trim, a power glass sunroof, and a rearview mirror with Homelink and compass. The Technology Package ($2,295) adds xenon gas-discharge headlights with active bending light, plus the Dynaudio sound system featuring a 650-watt amplifier, Dolby Pro-Logic II Surround Sound, 12 speakers, rear seat headphone jacks, and Sirius Satellite Radio. The Convenience Package ($1,195) adds front and rear park assist, a humidity sensor for the climate control system, Interior Air Quality filtration, power tailgate, dark tint rear windows, grocery bag holder, 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, and other niceties. The Climate Package ($875) includes heated front and rear seats, headlamp washers, heated windshield washer nozzles and Rainsensor windshield wipers. Stand-alone options include metallic paint ($525-675) and satellite radio prep ($95).
Safety features that come standard 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 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. 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.
Safety options include a Collision Avoidance Package ($1,695), which combines Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, and Lane Departure Warning. Integrated child safety seats ($495) are available that are built into the rear outboard seats and can be adjusted specifically to the child's size. Volvo's Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS ($695), is designed to warn the driver of approaching vehicles that might not be visible in the mirrors. The Personal Car Communicator ($495) adds keyless starting, which allows you to determine from anywhere whether you locked the car, whether the car has been tampered with, and whether there is a villain lurking inside (via a heartbeat detector).