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The 2006 Volvo XC70 is a viable alternative for those who need an all-weather wagon but don't want the bulk of an SUV. Subaru Outback offers more power, better handling and true off-road capability for less money.
Superb seat comfort, variety of safety features, solid construction, strong brakes, excellent snow vehicle, optional rear-facing third-row seat.
Not much power for this price range, not as nimble on pavement or as capable off-road as Subaru's Outback, tight legroom in backseat, stability control isn't standard.
Available XC70 Wagon Models
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For 2006, the Volvo XC70 gets a new electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. The Convenience Package has been beefed up to include power child locks, a holder for sunglasses, rear park assist, tinted rear windows and a split-folding rear seat, and setting information for the optional Four-C adaptive suspension now appears in the driver information menu. Midway through the year Volvo introduces a sailing-inspired Ocean Race Edition model with upgraded trim and a few additional standard features.
Volvo station wagons been popular with families looking for safe transportation. Over the years, they've come in a wide variety of styles, from basic cloth-upholstered grocery getters to leather-lined luxury haulers to turbocharged sport wagons. But they've all had one thing in common: safety that is engineered into every nook and cranny.
In the mid-1990s, as consumer interest in SUVs was booming, Volvo decided to try and capitalize on buyer desires for family vehicles that didn't look like family vehicles. The company took a standard-issue V70 station wagon, raised the suspension, installed all-wheel drive, fastened some cladding to the body, added foglights and special trim and swiped the name of a high school sport for its new concoction. The Cross Country, as it was known, employed the same winning philosophy as the Subaru Outback. Turn a car into an SUV and buyers would come. Come they did, and soon the Volvo Cross Country was accounting for half of all V70 sales.
When the V70 was redesigned for 2001, so was the Cross Country. Designers tried to make it into a more serious SUV, adopting a masked front fascia and sturdy-looking wheels to impart a rough-and-tumble image. Inside, however, were traditionally comfortable leather seats and all of the safety and luxury goodies for which Volvo has become known. The Cross Country name changed to XC70 in 2003 to keep in line with Volvo's emerging nomenclature for SUV-type vehicles. Now the smaller sibling to the seven-passenger XC90 SUV, the XC70 has effectively been eclipsed by the newer and larger offering. Other than a slight price advantage, we see little reason to buy the 2006 Volvo XC70 instead of the new XC90 unless all you really want is a rugged-looking all-wheel-drive station wagon. Even then, Subaru's Outback is a better bet, as it offers more power, better handling and true off-road capability for less money.
The Volvo XC70 is an all-wheel-drive midsize wagon available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats, a trip computer, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a CD stereo, heated front seats and simulated wood trim. Notable options include a DVD-based navigation system, a premium audio system, leather seating, real walnut trim, HID headlights and a sunroof. You can also get a rear-facing third-row seat large enough for two children. The Ocean Race Edition package provides special blue paint, silver exterior moldings, 17-inch wheels, darker-tint rear windows and a moonroof.
Only one engine is offered, a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder. It's rated at 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and sends power to all four wheels in varying degrees, depending on available traction. Under normal conditions, 95 percent of the engine's power is routed to the front wheels for the sake of fuel-efficiency. A five-speed automatic with manual gear selection and a winter mode is the only transmission choice. EPA mileage ratings are 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
The Volvo XC70 comes standard with side-impact airbags for front occupants, side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, pre-tensioning seatbelts in all five seating positions, a whiplash protection system and four-wheel antilock disc brakes. A traction and stability control system is also an option, along with integrated child booster seats. In government crash tests, the XC70 earned a perfect five stars for its frontal- and side-impact protection.
In standard trim, the Volvo XC70 doesn't look or feel particularly luxurious, but leather upholstery is available for those who want a more upscale cabin. The front seats provide excellent comfort, but legroom in the second row is tight. Interior ergonomics are generally good, although a few oddly placed controls take some getting used to. With the rear seats folded down, the XC70 has 71.5 cubic feet of cargo room, slightly less capacity than most midsize SUVs provide but considerably more than most other station wagons.
With its soft, forgiving suspension, the 2006 Volvo XC70 provides a smooth, isolated ride on all surfaces. Sharp handling isn't in the XC's repertoire, but light steering and a relatively small size make for easy maneuvering. The fully automatic all-wheel-drive system assures surefootedness in inclement weather but the XC70, despite its raised suspension, really isn't rugged enough for off-road adventures. On the move, the turbocharged engine is economical and smooth with adequate power for most situations, but the automatic transmission is sometimes slow on the draw.
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