2015.5 XC70 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo XC70 is an impressive and versatile wagon. Striving to combine the benefits of a luxury car with SUV ruggedness, it's smooth, stable, secure, fast and very comfortable on the open highway.
Most models have 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.
The Volvo XC70 3.2 uses a 3.2-liter inline-6 engine making 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, while the XC70 T6 AWD holds a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 to make 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet.
The XC70 3.2 has standard front-wheel drive. That should appeal to flatlanders in warm weather: for example, Texans and Floridians. All-wheel drive is optional, and standard on the T6. Equipped with that full-time AWD, an XC70 is prepared for serious travel through unpaved wilderness areas. Furthermore, 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.
Like other Volvo models for 2014, the XC70 gets a substantial freshening. The grille has been revised, front and rear bumpers are new, and the lower front intake redesigned. New LED daytime running lights are installed, along with reworked taillights. Standard Valder alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires. Inside is a new standard analog instrument cluster. An enhanced tire pressure monitoring system now alerts the driver as to which axle has a tire that's lost pressure.
Premier trim adds an auto-dimming mirror and adaptive digital instrument cluster with three selectable themes for 2014. Premier Plus gains a quick-fold front passenger seat and rear park assist camera. The Technology Package adds cyclist detection to the passenger detection system. The Climate Package gains a heated windshield and heated steering wheel.
Advanced Quick Shift in the T6 AWD includes revised shift-management software for the automatic transmission, for quicker gear changes. The T6's Technology Package includes adaptive cruise control with queue assist, collision warning with full auto brake, distance alert, driver alert, lane departure warning, road sign information, and active high beam.
Either XC70 model is engineered for serious gear-hauling rather than posing at the mall. Cargo capacity of 72.1 cubic feet is on par with mid-size SUVs, slightly better than a Subaru Outback. 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.
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 winter. We know, we've done it. We've also driven it off-highway in Baja, and on unpaved logging roads. 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 give the driver lots of control. Bumps in the middle of turns never upset handling.
On paved roads, the XC70 is stable and comfortable. It's a good car for long trips and great daily transportation. It rides smoothly, doesn't float or lean excessively through curves, and should deliver better real-world gas mileage than most mid- and full-size truck-based SUVs. Also, it's equipped with all the safety features that form Volvo's well-deserved reputation for safety engineering.
Volvo XC70 3.2 ($34,500) comes standard with front-wheel drive, 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, Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity, and leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls. Also standard are rain-sensing wipers, headlight washers, a 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 17-inch alloy wheels. All-wheel drive is available ($2000).
The XC70 3.2 Premier ($37,900) upgrades with leather seating surfaces, walnut wood inlays,a panoramic roof, tinted rear windows, silver roofrails, an adaptive digital display, Keyless Drive, and a quick-folding power passenger seat. The 3.2 Premier Plus ($39,450) adds a power liftgate, rear-view camera, cargo cover, and power rear headrests. The Platinum ($41,950) adds a premium sound system and navigation.
The XC70 T6 AWD ($40,950) 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 different 18-inch alloy wheels. The T6 Premier Plus ($42,950) and Platinum ($45,650) add the same items as with the XC70 3.2.
Options include a Climate Package ($1550) with heated front and rear seats, a heated windshield and steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles, and an Interior Air Quality System. The Technology Package ($1500) provides an array of extra Volvo safety features.
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) and a tire-pressure monitor are also standard. 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. Tunnel Detection automatically turns on headlights when the car enters a tunnel, then shuts them off when exiting.
Volvo's 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.