2011 XC70 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo XC70 wagon is an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers a high level of capability off road. It's superb on primitive roads, gravel and dirt roads, and in 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.
For 2010, XC70 has been dressed up with Volvo's new and bolder grille design, and with new bright trim highlighting the side windows. Options and packages have been revised, and the T6 has been upgraded with standard leather seats, a power front passenger's seat, more deluxe wood inlays for the interior, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
All-wheel drive comes standard. The base-level XC70 3.2 comes with a powerful inline-6 rated at 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The high-performance XC70 T6 boosts the power to 281 turbocharged horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Its maximum cargo capacity of 72.1 cubic feet is on par with mid-size SUVs, and slightly better than the Subaru Outback's 71.3 cubic feet. The seating arrangement is flexible and 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. It's rated to tow up to 3,300 pounds, enough for a small boat or camper or a couple of snowmobiles.
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. Standard 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, whether creeping along over rugged trails or hurtling down an unpaved road at rally speeds.
On paved roads, the XC70 is stable and comfortable. It isn't as sporty as the pavement-oriented Volvo V70, but it makes a good grand touring car 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 is 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 2010 Volvo XC70 comes in two models: the XC70 3.2, , and the XC70 T6. A six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and all-wheel drive come standard on both models.
The XC70 3.2 ($37,950) comes with a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine rated at 235 horsepower, 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/MP3, eight speakers, USB and auxiliary inputs, and preparation for Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, fog lights front and rear, fold-flat 40/20/40 split rear seat, locking cargo-floor storage bin, a fold-flat front passenger seat that considerably increases cargo flexibility, and 16-inch alloy wheels; 17-inch wheels are optional ($750). The Premium Package ($2,950) upgrades to leather seating, a power passenger seat, a power glass sunroof, wood interior trim, a rearview mirror with Homelink and compass, and silk metal accents on the steering wheel.
The T6 ($42,800) comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder rated at 281 horsepower. The T6 upgrades with leather seats, a power passenger seat, deluxe interior wood trim, silk metal accents for the steering wheel, a special Watch Dial instrument cluster, dual exhaust outlets, and 18-inch wheels. The sunroof is optional ($1,000).
Options for both models include the Multimedia Package ($2,500), which combines a Dynaudio sound system featuring a 650-watt amplifier, Dolby Pro-Logic II Surround Sound, 12 speakers, rear seat headphone jacks, and Sirius Satellite Radio with a navigation system featuring DVD map data and remote control. An expanded Climate Package ($900) includes heated front seats, headlamp washers, heated windshield washer nozzles, Rainsensor windshield wipers, an Interior Air Quality System and a humidity sensor for the electronic climate control; on the base model, it also adds heated rear seats and a Blueband windshield. The Convenience Package ($1,200) adds front and rear park assist, power tailgate, dark tint rear windows, grocery bag holder, 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, and other niceties.
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 longer than standard for better coverage. All-wheel drive enhances safety in adverse conditions.
Safety options include the Technology Package ($1,700), which combines Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Warning with Auto Brake (CWAB), Distance Alert (DA), Driver Alert Control (DAC), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). Integrated child safety seats are optional ($500) on the 3.2 but standard on the T6; they 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 ($700), is designed to warn the driver of approaching vehicles that might not be visible in the mirrors. The Personal Car Communicator ($550) adds keyless starting, and 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). Dual xenon gas discharge headlights with Active Bending Light (ABL) are also available.