Full 2008 Volvo V70 Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Volvo V70 is completely redesigned. Most notably, the V70 comes standard with a six-cylinder engine for the first time, replacing the previous model's choice of inline-5s. There is also additional safety equipment available and several new convenience features.
While most other automakers are fleeing the wagon segment as if it were infected with the Ebola virus, Volvo is staying true to the segment that made it famous. Although the Swedish automaker has gotten into the crossover biz, the completely redesigned 2008 Volvo V70 goes to show that Volvo isn't abandoning its history.
The new V70 is built on the latest underpinnings from the redesigned S80 sedan, and that means it receives that car's impressive docket of standard and optional safety features. The V70 is also the first vehicle to include a pair of height-adjustable child booster seats integrated into the 40/20/40 split rear bench. This feature is certainly a boon for parents who'd rather not lug child seats from car to car.
Most of the car's optional safety features are essentially designed to save drivers from themselves. There's the blind spot warning system (illuminates LED warning lights when another car is alongside), vehicle distance alert (an alarm goes off when the car thinks you're too close to the one ahead) and the lane departure warning system (beeps at you when you nudge over the lane line).
You can spot the redesigned V70 thanks to new, evolutionary exterior styling. It's also slightly longer and wider than last year's model. Under the hood is a new 235-horsepower 3.2-liter inline-6. This is the lone engine choice, as the normally aspirated and turbocharged five-cylinders that resided in the last V70 have been discontinued. The V70 is also no longer available with all-wheel drive, though that is provided by the V70's more rugged XC70 sibling.
The new engine is more powerful than the regular engines offered last year, but fuel economy is disappointing. Though its rating of 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway is similar to those of other premium wagons like the V6-powered Saab 9-3 and Volkswagen Passat, it's considerably down on power compared to those models. In fact, the V70 is only a hair more fuel efficient than many large front-wheel-drive crossovers like the Buick Enclave and Mazda CX-9.
As a wagon, the 2008 Volvo V70 will always have a maneuverability advantage over larger crossover SUVs. However, with those crossovers having similar acceleration, fuel economy and price, it's hard to give this Volvo a ringing endorsement. Meanwhile, wagons such as the Passat, Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series may give up cargo and/or passenger space to the V70, but they offer all-wheel drive as well as a much more rewarding driving experience.
The best middle ground can be found with a fellow Swede: the Saab 9-3 SportCombi. It offers nearly the same amount of luggage space and has a better power/fuel economy balance and a sportier drive. In other words, we'd shop around before settling on Volvo's latest wagon.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Volvo V70 midsize wagon comes in one trim level. Standard features include 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear foglights, power heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat with memory, a tilt-telescoping wheel, a 40/20/40-split-folding rear seat, two dual-height integrated child booster seats and an eight-speaker stereo with six-CD changer and auxiliary audio jack.
The Premium Package includes leather upholstery, a sunroof, a power passenger seat, real wood trim and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass. The Climate Package adds heated front seats, heated headlamp washers and rain-sensing wipers. The Convenience Package will get you front and rear parking assist, a power tailgate and an interior air quality system. Stand-alone options include 17-inch wheels, active bi-xenon headlamps, a DVD navigation system with pop-up screen, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio, a rear seat entertainment system, blind spot warning system and adaptive cruise control with collision warning. Bluetooth and iPod connectivity are dealer-installed options.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 Volvo V70 is powered by a 3.2-liter inline-6 that produces 235 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is standard. The V70 is only available in front-wheel drive, so those interested in all-wheel drive must opt for the closely related XC70 crossover wagon. Volvo claims the V70 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Fuel economy is disappointing at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, which is nearly equal to several large crossover SUVs that offer similar acceleration and much more interior space.
No Volvo would be complete without a full complement of safety features, and the V70 is no exception. Traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, power childproof door locks and two integrated two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts are standard.
There are several optional safety systems including a collision warning system, vehicle distance alert, blind spot warning system and a lane departure system. There is also the Personal Car Communicator included with keyless ignition entry, which sends a warning to the key fob should the car detect the heartbeat of an intruder inside the vehicle.
Interior Design and Special Features
Without the optional Premium Package and its leather and wood trim, the V70 can feel a little somber. However, like other recent Volvos, the V70's cabin is a model of modern Swedish design. Minimalist style is showcased throughout, especially with the "floating" waterfall center stack and its straightforward controls. There's nothing straightforward about the optional navigation system, which oddly features stalk-mounted controls, a hand-held remote control and a screen that pops out of the dash top.
The V70's seats are excellent, achieving a blend of body-soothing comfort and body-holding support. The backseat is also comfortable and is set apart by a 40/20/40-split-folding seatback and a pair of height-adjustable integrated child booster seats. Prepped for cargo, the V70 can hold 71 cubic feet of stuff.
With its soft, forgiving suspension, the 2008 Volvo V70 provides a smooth, isolated ride on all surfaces. Sharp handling isn't in the V70's repertoire, but light steering and a relatively small size make for easier maneuvering than a much larger crossover SUV. Acceleration from the six-cylinder is adequate, but other premium midsize wagons and crossovers are quicker still.