Full 2008 Volvo XC70 Review
What's New for 2008
The Volvo XC70 is completely redesigned for 2008. Based largely on the new S80's platform, the 2008 XC70 is larger, has a new engine and boasts more safety features including hill-descent control and built-in child booster seats.
Volvo has quite an enviable reputation. Just not in a "What a gorgeous car! No wonder Diddy rolls in one" sort of way. No, you won't see Volvos gracing the pages of "People" magazine with the flavor of the week behind the wheel. Volvo is known for traits decidedly lacking in automotive excitement or glamour, which involve building the safest cars possible and providing seats so comfortable we wish our offices and living rooms had them.
The first Volvo XC debuted a decade ago to fill what was then a hole in its product lineup. Based (as it is today) on the midsize V70 wagon, the V70 Cross Country (XC) featured a raised suspension, all-wheel drive and SUV-inspired design tweaks. Despite the skid plates and increased ride height, however, it wasn't a serious all-terrain vehicle. Regardless of that perceived shortcoming, this Volvo proved popular among those who realized a full-blown SUV, with its gluttonous fuel appetite and bulky dimensions, had capabilities far beyond what they'd ever use.
Eventually, this cash cow became known simply as the XC70 and continued to please buyers with its comfortable seats, compliant ride, generous cargo capacity, sure-footed nature in the snow and strong reputation for safety and durability.
Completely redesigned and enlarged somewhat for 2008, the Volvo XC70 maintains those hallowed characteristics. As before, it's essentially a V70 wagon, and both models have a lot of similarity to the latest S80 sedan. The XC70 stands out thanks to its SUV-like design elements, such as increased ground clearance (2.7 inches higher than the V70) and more rugged styling details that include cladding on the lower body sides and different front and rear fascias.
Other changes of note include the adoption of hill descent control, the industry's first height-adjustable child booster seats, an available blind-spot detection system and an optional Collision Warning System (which monitors following distance and alerts the driver and primes the brakes for action if the car gets too close). There's also a more powerful engine -- a normally aspirated 3.2-liter inline-6 that makes 235 horsepower (27 more than the previous turbo inline-5). Coupled to a new six-speed automatic, that's enough to get the XC70 to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds, though it's still down on power compared to crossover wagon and SUV rivals.
The new XC70, like its predecessors, doesn't try to do everything. It's just a very sensible and safe Volvo wagon with a bit more path-finding machismo. And in that aspect, it succeeds brilliantly. But it would be in your best interest to shop around a little before settling on the XC70. For example, if you truly have your heart set on a raised suspension, all-wheel-drive wagon, the aforementioned Outback is a better value. And compared to the latest batch crossover SUVs, including the Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Murano, the 2008 Volvo XC70 offers no clear advantage other than slightly better on-road handling.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
An all-wheel-drive midsize wagon, the 2008 Volvo XC70 comes in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, skid plates, a roof rack, a power driver seat with memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, faux wood trim, and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio jack.
A handful of packages are available as well. The Premium Package adds leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat, real walnut trim and a sunroof. The Convenience Package includes front and rear park assist, a power tailgate, privacy glass, grocery bag hooks and an upgraded climate control system.
Other option highlights include keyless starting, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system, adjustable child booster seats, a 650-watt Dynaudio audio system with an in-dash CD changer, and a rear DVD entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted screens.
Powertrains and Performance
The XC70 is powered by a 3.2-liter inline-6 with 235 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual-shift capability 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 economy. When slippage is detected, up to 65 percent is sent to the rear wheels.
Volvo claims the XC70 can sprint to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds. The 2008 fuel economy estimates come in at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, on par perhaps with midsize crossover SUVs but below many other wagons.
The 2008 Volvo XC70 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, hill descent control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, anti-whiplash front head restraints and Volvo's OnCall telematics.
Optional is a collision warning system that comes bundled with the adaptive cruise control. Should the XC70 get too close to a vehicle ahead of it and the driver not react, visual and audible warnings alert the driver, while the brakes are primed for immediate action. A blind spot information system (BLIS) is also available, which alerts the driver via a side mirror-mounted light that a vehicle is in one of the rear side blind spots. 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
In standard trim, the 2008 Volvo XC70's cabin 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, and this year's redesign brings more legroom for rear passengers.
Interior ergonomics are generally good, although a few oddly placed controls take some getting used to, such as the stalk-mounted navigation system controls. A pair of height-adjustable child booster seats (an industry first) is available, though a third-row seat is not.
With the 40/20/40-split rear seats folded down, the XC70 has 71 cubic feet of cargo room available.
With its soft, forgiving suspension, the 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 all-wheel drive is a boon in inclement weather, though the XC70 really isn't rugged enough for off-road adventures. On the move, the inline-6 is reasonably smooth and provides ample power, though most rivals offer a more spirited drive.