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Volvo's V70 XC offers space and safety in addition to snow-busting capability.
Versatile all-wheel drive, superb comfort, plenty of safety equipment, solid construction, amazing braking ability.
High price, lacks the true off-road capability of an SUV, odd control placement.
Available XC Models
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Like the rest of its platform mates (S60, S80 and V70), the V70 XC (the Cross Country) will get Emergency Brake Assistance (EBA), enhanced traction control performance and improved throttle management, resulting in quicker response in everyday driving situations. Integrated child booster cushions, previously optional, have been added to the standard features list. Other new features include a DVD-based navigation system, an upgraded premium audio system, xenon headlamps and deep-tinted windows. Cypress Green Metallic is now an exterior color choice. A limited-edition model aimed at sailing enthusiasts, the Ocean Race Cross Country, will offer leather upholstery, exclusive Ocean Blue exterior paint, silver body molding, special exterior badging, an additional rear skid plate and unique floor mats.
Ask your neighbor to name a sensible family wagon with a reputation for safety, and most likely he or she will name Volvo. But when the second-generation V70 wagon and its rugged cousin, the V70 XC (Cross Country), arrived in 2001, Volvo was hoping to stir your emotions, as well.
As an alternative for SUV-intenders, the current Cross Country wagon was designed from the start to feature all-wheel drive and additional ground clearance. As such, it has its own front suspension and a slightly longer wheelbase than regular V70s, plus a wider track front and rear to accommodate larger wheels and tires. The result is a higher, wider stance that is much more aggressive-looking (read SUV-like).
Motivating the Cross Country is a 2.4-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine that produces 197 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission choice is a five-speed automanual. Under normal conditions, the AWD system directs most of the power to the front wheels (about 95 percent); when slippage is detected, nearly all power can be sent to the rear wheels via a viscous clutch. Volvo's TRACS system enhances the package by permitting side-to-side transfers of torque when needed.
On the road, Volvo's all-terrain wagon handles much like any other V70 -- the ride is smooth on all but the harshest pavement, and a quick steering ratio makes it easy to navigate the switchbacks. Although the XC's taller stance and larger, more versatile rubber lead to increased body roll and road noise, you'll find these compromises worthwhile when you venture to that out-of-the-way campsite or negotiate unplowed roads after a snowstorm.
The Cross Country's interior dimensions are identical to those of regular V70 wagons -- there's plenty of space in the front, while the second-row seat is bit tight on legroom. Folding down the 40/20/40-split rear bench yields 71.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is slightly less capacity than the Audi allroad provides. As an added bonus, the front passenger seat folds flat, as well. If you have more bodies than cargo, you can purchase the optional rear-facing third-row bench, which seats two children (preferably diminutive ones).
The XC comes with a long list of safety and convenience features perfect for hauling the brood and associated gear. The front seats offer the kind of comfort and support we've come to expect from Swedish automobiles, while also providing Volvo's anti-whiplash protection technology (WHIPS). Additional safety features include side airbags for front passengers, head curtain airbags for front and rear passengers and ISO-FIX child-seat attachment points. Highlights from the options list include leather seating, heated seats, a DVD-based navigation system, an Audio Max premium sound system and a shopping-bag holder for the cargo area.
The Cross Country is an impressive vehicle, and it offers an excellent combination of all-weather utility, performance, safety and luxury content. Pricing is on the high side, but consider that you would have to pay thousands more to get a similarly equipped (albeit more performance-oriented) Audi allroad. Of course, you should also test-drive less expensive AWD wagons like the Subaru Outback H6-3.0 and the VW Passat 4MOTION Wagon before deciding on Volvo's XC.
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