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The Volvo XC70 is an all-weather version of the now-discontinued V70 midsize wagon that boasts all-wheel drive as well as increased ground clearance and SUV-like styling cues. The latter two features are mostly for show, however, as the XC70 has never had much in the way of serious off-road hardware. What the XC70 has consistently offered is a more sure-footed demeanor in foul weather conditions, and it has become progressively more stylish and luxurious through the years, while maintaining its SUV-grade cargo space and superior reputation for safety.
The current generation Volvo XC70 is ruggedly handsome, and it continues to offer many of the same virtues as previous versions: confidence-inspiring all-wheel drive, top-notch safety, a luxurious cabin and enough cargo space to satisfy all but the most haul-happy families. With the base inline six-cylinder engine, however, performance is lackluster -- other midsize wagons and a handful of crossover SUVs are both more satisfying to drive and comparably or more frugal at the pump. The turbocharged T6 model addresses the speed issue at least. The XC70 is a solid family vehicle, especially for those living in colder climates. Still, there are competing models that have similarly appealing traits, as well as superior power and/or efficiency.
Current Volvo XC70
The Volvo XC70 technically competes in the midsize wagon segment, although its available all-wheel drive, raised ride height and SUV-like features make it competitive with crossover SUVs as well.
Offered in base, front-wheel-drive 3.2 or uplevel all-wheel-drive T6 trim, the XC70 comes well equipped with alloy wheels, skid plates, roof rails, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio and an iPod interface. The T6 adds bigger wheels, dual exhaust outlets, a power sunroof, leather seating and a "watch dial" instrument cluster. Major options include front/rear park assist, a navigation system, heated front and rear seats, a rearview camera and adaptive bi-xenon headlights. Of course, there are also available cutting-edge safety features that include adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system.
Under the hood of the base model is a 3.2-liter inline-6 that sends 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels (all-wheel drive is optional) via a six-speed automatic transmission. Although those numbers aren't bad, the XC70's acceleration and fuel economy are both decidedly unimpressive. The T6 shares the six-speed transmission and AWD system, but adds a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that pumps out a more satisfying 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque.
The stylish XC70 should please any family that requires all-weather capability, carlike handling and an upscale cabin with plenty of cargo space. But with the proliferation of crossover SUV offerings in recent years, there are numerous competing models that boast similar strengths along with better overall performance, particularly compared to the XC70 3.2. We'd recommend taking a good look at what the market has to offer before deciding on the XC70, though those who ultimately go with the Volvo likely won't be disappointed.
Used Volvo XC70 Models
The present-generation XC70 debuted in 2008. At first it was available only with the base, 235-hp 3.2-liter inline-6. But the following year Volvo brought out the more spirited T6 model with its turbocharged 281-hp 3.0-liter engine. For 2010, the grille's styling was tweaked (including a larger Volvo emblem) and the navigation system was revised, though still clunky to use due to its odd steering wheel controls. The next year saw both engines get their output boosted to current levels, and a front-wheel-drive variant debuted. These latter XC70s are similar to the current version, apart from their lacking the newer car's superior infotainment system (which boasts a 7-inch color monitor and more intuitive interface).
Prior to this, Volvo sold the second-generation XC70 from 2001-'07. Like its V70 sibling, this V70 XC sported a sleeker shape and a new platform shared with the first-generation S80 sedan, as well as a striking interior layout largely borrowed from the S60 sedan. In 2002, Volvo changed business tactics, dropping the "V70" from the car's title and marketing it separately from the V70 line as the Volvo XC. In 2003, the "70" designation returned, giving us the first official Volvo XC70.
Second-generation cars could be equipped with a navigation system for the first time. The 2.4-liter engine was tweaked to produce 197 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, yielding satisfactory if not thrilling performance. In 2003, the 2.4-liter mill was replaced by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that pumped out 208 hp and a healthy 236 lb-ft of torque, which made the XC70 feel rather quick. Rear-seat room was improved over the rather cramped first-generation car, though we still weren't overly impressed, and a third-row seat was available in every model year except 2007. Other available features included adjustable rear seats, four-zone climate control and a DVD entertainment system with front headrest-mounted TV screens.
Well-optioned second-generation XC70s were pricey in their day, but depreciation has helped matters somewhat. Still, the European and premium status of Volvos frequently translates to an expensive repair bill, should you run into problems. Those looking for a used Volvo XC70 should consider a certified pre-owned car or one that still has the factory warranty. If you care about performance, 2003 and later XC70s are the logical choice, as they offer a useful 26 extra lb-ft of torque as well as 11 more hp. Otherwise, you won't be missing much if you go with the 2001 or 2002 model.
The XC70 originally debuted in 1998 as the "V70 Cross Country" (XC for short), an upgraded trim level for the V70 wagon. With its advanced safety features (including side airbags from its inception), capacious interior, all-wheel-drive utility and trendy SUV looks, this endearingly boxy people mover quickly became a strong seller. Powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine, the first-generation V70 XC was rated at 190 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque -- adequate in its day, but not exactly scintillating.
Read the most recent 2013 Volvo XC70 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volvo XC70 page.