2012 XC70 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo XC70 is an impressive versatile wagon. It's smooth, stable, secure, fast and very comfortable on the open highway. Most models are all-wheel drive, which makes the XC70 a good choice for foul weather, be it torrential rain, deep snow, or glare ice. But it's on primitive roads where the Volvo XC70 shines. It handles gravel and dirt roads quickly and ably, with stable, predictable handling and excellent traction. We think it's the most compelling car in the Volvo lineup. If you've ever wanted a Volvo, this is the one to get.
The Volvo XC70 3.2 uses a 3.2-liter inline-6 making 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, while the XC70 T6 AWD uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 to make 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet (with another 25 hp and 29 lb-ft optional). The turbocharged T6 engine was named one of Ward's Ten Best engines for 2011, a prestigious award. It's the first Volvo engine to ever win.
The XC70 3.2 is front-wheel drive. That should appeal to flatlanders in warm weather, for example Texans and Floridians. The T6 is all-wheel drive. It's prepared for serious travel through unpaved wilderness 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.
Either XC70 model is engineered for serious gear hauling rather than posing at the mall. Its cargo capacity of 72.1 cubic feet is on par with mid-size SUVs, slightly better than 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.
Inside is one of Volvo's best interiors: Scandinavian in style 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.
We found the handling of the Volvo XC70 T6 AWD 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. We've also driven it off-highway for many miles in Baja. 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's a good car for long trips 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.
Also, it's equipped with all the active and passive safety features that form Volvo's well-deserved reputation for safety engineering.
The 2012 Volvo XC70 3.2 ($32,950) is front-wheel drive, and is equipped with a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 6-speed automatic transmission. It comes with fabric upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with three-position memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with eight speakers, USB and auxiliary inputs, 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.
The XC70 3.2 Premier ($35,900) upgrades with leather seating surfaces, panoramic roof, tinted rear windows, silver roofrails, leather steering wheel, power passenger seat. The 3.2 Premier Plus ($37,750) adds keyless drive, power liftgate, front and rear park assist, cargo cover, and power rear headrests. The Platinum ($40,450) adds a premium sound system, rearview camera, and navigation.
The XC70 T6 AWD ($39,100) is all-wheel drive, powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, making 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The T6 also uses a 6-speed automatic. It's equipped like the 3.2 Premier, but with 18-inch alloy wheels. The T6 Premier Plus ($40,950) and Platinum ($43,650) add the same things as with the XC70 3.2.
Options include a Climate Package ($1,800) with xenon HID headlights, heated front and rear seats, headlamp washers, heated windshield washer nozzles, rain sensor windshield wipers, an Interior Air Quality System and a humidity sensor for the electronic climate control.
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. Available all-wheel drive enhances safety in adverse conditions.
The Collision Avoidance Package is based on research that suggested that driver distractions cause up to 90 percent of all traffic accidents. The package includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning. Adaptive cruise control issues a warning if the XC70 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.