Full 2009 Volvo V70 Review
What's New for 2009
After a complete redesign last year, the 2009 Volvo V70 receives standard Bluetooth connectivity and foglights, as well as a newly optional Technology Package that includes active bi-xenon headlights with washers, satellite radio, a premium audio system and rear-seat headphone jacks and audio controls.
If you ask our editors how they feel about wagons, you'll get a roomful of skyward-pointing thumbs. After all, what's not to like about vehicles that offer the maneuverability and fuel economy of a car along with the cargo capacity of an SUV? Unfortunately, most Americans don't see eye to eye with us on this one, as "wagon" has become a dirty word in the U.S. automotive market, largely brushed aside with the advent of the minivan, then the large SUV and now the crossover. However, a few stubborn holdouts remain -- and one of them is the 2009 Volvo V70.
Based on Volvo's top-of-the-line S80 sedan, the 2009 V70 enters its second year of production with a number of appealing virtues. First off, there's a cavernous 71 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, which is why people buy wagons instead of sedans in the first place. There's also Volvo's typical jaw-dropping assortment of standard and optional safety/alert features, including a blind-spot warning system (which illuminates LED warning lights when another car is along the wagon's side), Vehicle Distance Alert (which activates an alarm when you're too close to the car ahead), Driver Alert Control (which alerts the driver if the car seems to be out of control), a collision warning system (which warns of imminent collisions and applies the brake if necessary) and a lane-departure warning system (which beeps some sense into you when you start to meander into the adjacent lane). Additionally, the V70 is the only vehicle with standard integrated height-adjustable child booster seats, and its exterior and interior styling bear the unmistakable stamp of Swedish sophistication.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the V70 fails to distinguish itself from the teeming pack of crossover SUVs. The sole available engine -- a 235-horsepower 3.2-liter inline-6 -- sounds unbecomingly truckish under hard acceleration. It's truckish at the gas pump, too, with EPA fuel economy estimates of just 16 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined -- that's a virtual dead heat with the gargantuan Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Flex crossover SUVs. Moreover, while the V70 has a lower center of gravity than these beasts, its handling is hardly impressive. And the Volvo's maximum passenger capacity is just five, while the Flex and Traverse (among numerous others) offer third-row seating.
We like the 2009 Volvo V70's combination of safety and style, and for some shoppers, these two virtues may be enough to clinch the deal. However, in addition to the crossover SUVs already mentioned, it's worth noting that the Volkswagen Passat wagon offers similar versatility along with superior handling and substantially better gas mileage. Furthermore, while smaller wagons such as the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series are down on interior space, they're easier on gas and downright fun to drive. If Swedish is your thing, the Saab 9-3 SportCombi is also worth some consideration. In sum, while the V70 is undoubtedly a competent vehicle, we'd recommend shopping around before deciding that it's the wagon for you.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Volvo V70 midsize wagon comes in one trim level. Standard features include 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, power heated mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power front seat with lumbar adjustment and driver 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 a six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Collision Avoidance Package adds adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system with an auto-braking function, Vehicle Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and a lane departure warning system. The Premium Package includes leather upholstery, a sunroof, a power passenger seat, a universal garage opener and wood trim. The Climate Package adds heated front seats, heated headlamp washers and rain-sensing wipers. Opt for the Convenience Package and you'll get front and rear park assist, a power tailgate and an interior air-quality system. The Technology Package tacks on active bi-xenon headlights with washers and a 650-watt Dynaudio audio system with an in-dash CD changer, satellite radio and rear-seat headphone jacks and audio controls.
Stand-alone options include 17-inch wheels, a DVD navigation system, a blind-spot warning system, a "Personal Car Communicator" (including keyless ignition/entry and a heartbeat sensor to detect the presence of an intruder in the car) and a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system. A dealer-installed option is iPod connectivity.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Volvo V70 is motivated by a 3.2-liter inline-6 that generates 235 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only available transmission. The V70 can only be had with front-wheel drive, so those interested in all-wheel drive must opt for the closely related XC70 crossover wagon. Volvo says the V70 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in an unremarkable 7.8 seconds. Fuel economy is underwhelming at 16 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined.
Stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and two integrated two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts are all standard on the 2009 Volvo V70. Optional safety systems include the above-mentioned Collision Avoidance Package and blind-spot warning system.
Interior Design and Special Features
The wood and leather trim in the optional Premium Package really dress up the V70's otherwise austere inside. In any form, though, the V70's cabin is a showcase of modern Swedish style, with Volvo's trademark "floating" center stack panel and artfully designed controls. The optional navigation system is cumbersome to use, however, because of a hard-to-use interface that utilizes steering-wheel-mounted buttons and a handheld remote that duplicates those controls for the passenger.
The V70's front seats are among the best in the business, achieving a rare combination of chiropractor-approved comfort and body-hugging support. The backseat is also comfortable, though perhaps a bit short on legroom. A 40/20/40-split-folding seatback and a pair of height-adjustable integrated child booster seats bump up the V70's versatility index. With the seats folded flat, the V70 can hold 71 cubic feet of cargo.
The 2009 Volvo V70 has a smooth and refined ride befitting its premium status. Don't expect to have any fun, however, as the V70's light steering and ample body roll put the kibosh on any handling hijinks. Nevertheless, the V70 is markedly smaller than most crossover SUVs, so it feels more maneuverable in tight spots. Acceleration from the six-cylinder is adequate, but it sounds too coarse for premium-brand duty, and other premium wagons and even some crossovers are quicker.