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We generally prefer wagons to SUVs on account of their superior fuel economy and handling, but the 2009 Volvo XC70's SUV-like gas consumption and middling performance leaves us scratching our heads.
Wonderfully supportive seats, ample cargo capacity, plentiful safety features, standard all-wheel drive, Swedish flair.
Poor fuel economy, lackluster base engine, forgettable handling.
Available XC70 Wagon Models
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Following last year's complete redesign, the big news for the 2009 Volvo XC70 is the addition of the turbocharged T6 model. In other changes, Bluetooth connectivity is now standard and the new Technology Package includes satellite radio, active bi-xenon headlights with washers, a premium audio system and rear-seat headphone jacks and audio controls.
It's not a popular sentiment in this country, but we'll say it: We love wagons. They offer the maneuverability and fuel economy of a car along with the cargo capacity of an SUV -- and in the case of stylish wagons like the 2009 Volvo XC70, they even look pretty good. Based on the front-wheel-drive V70 wagon, the XC70 adds standard all-wheel drive, a raised suspension, skid plates and rough-and-tumble SUV styling cues. It may not be ready for the Rubicon Trail, but the XC70 does add all-weather versatility for those who need it, and it offers all the virtues of the standard V70 wagon to boot.
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 dizzying array 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 brakes 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 XC70 is one of a very few vehicles to offer integrated height-adjustable child booster seats, and its exterior and interior styling bear the unmistakable stamp of Swedish sophistication -- with a dash of off-road toughness thrown in.
For 2009, the Volvo XC70 actually does its V70 sibling one better with the addition of the exclusive T6 trim level. Sporting a new turbocharged inline-6, the T6 loses a bit of displacement, from 3.2 liters to 3.0, but gains a formidable 46 horsepower and 59 pound-feet of torque over the base engine. Other T6 AWD features include standard 17-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust outlets and a unique instrument cluster.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the XC70 fails to distinguish itself from the teeming pack of crossover SUVs. The base 235-hp 3.2-liter inline-6 sounds unbecomingly truckish under hard acceleration, and it's truckish at the gas pump too, with EPA fuel economy estimates of just 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined -- a couple mpg worse than the V70, and also inferior to the larger Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Flex crossover SUVs. Moreover, the XC70's 2.7 extra inches of ground clearance compared to a V70 put its handling abilities squarely in the crossover SUV league. Meanwhile, 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 XC70'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 Subaru Outback wagon offers similar versatility along with superior handling and better gas mileage at a lower price. 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. In sum, while the XC70 is undoubtedly a competent vehicle, we'd recommend taking a close look at other options.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 crossover wagon comes in either base 3.2 or uplevel T6 trim. Standard equipment on the 3.2 includes 16-inch alloy wheels, skid plates, roof rails, a power front seat with lumbar adjustment and driver memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, faux wood trim, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. The T6 adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust outlets, a "watch dial" instrument cluster and aluminum interior trim.
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 remote and wood trim. The Climate Package adds heated front seats, heated rear seats (not available with child boosters), heated headlamp washers and rain-sensing wipers. Opt for the Convenience Package and you'll get front and rear park assist, a power tailgate, tinted glass and an interior air quality system. The Technology Package tacks on active bi-xenon headlights with washers, satellite radio, a premium Dynaudio stereo and rear-seat headphone jacks and audio controls.
Stand-alone options include 17-inch (3.2 models only) or 18-inch (T6 models only) alloy wheels, 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), a navigation system, wood trim, a 650-watt Dynaudio audio system with an in-dash CD changer, and a rear DVD entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted screens. The height-adjustable booster seats are also optional on all XC70s, unlike the V70, which makes them standard.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 3.2 is powered by -- you guessed it -- a 3.2-liter inline-6 generating 235 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift capability sends 95 percent of the engine's power to the front wheels under normal conditions, though up to 65 percent can be sent to the rear wheels in the event of traction loss. The XC70 T6 shares this transmission and AWD system, but adds a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that pumps out 281 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Volvo claims the XC70 3.2 will sprint to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds -- about the same as full-size crossover SUVs. The T6 should turn in a more respectable time, however. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at a distinctly SUV-like 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for the 3.2, while the T6 is rated at 1 fewer mpg on the highway.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, hill descent control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash front head restraints. Optional safety systems include the abovementioned Collision Avoidance Package and blind-spot warning system.
The wood and leather trim in the optional Premium Package really dress up the XC70's otherwise austere ambience. In any form, though, the XC70'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, however, featuring a mishmash of control stalks, a handheld remote and a screen that pops out of the dash.
The XC70'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 optional integrated child booster seats bump up the XC70's versatility index. With the seats folded flat, the XC70 can hold 72 cubic feet of cargo.
The 2009 Volvo XC70 has a smooth and refined ride befitting its premium status. Don't expect to have any fun, however, as the XC70's light steering, ample body roll and elevated center of gravity put the kibosh on any handling hijinks. Nevertheless, the XC70 is markedly smaller than most crossover SUVs, so it feels more maneuverable in tight spots. Acceleration from the base six-cylinder engine is sluggish and rather coarse for a premium brand; the new turbocharged power plant should help matters considerably.
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Volvo XC70 in WA is: