Full 2011 Volvo XC70 Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Volvo XC70 gets more horsepower, an available front-wheel-drive version and a minor shuffling of standard and optional features. Volvo also drops the XC70's price by several thousand dollars to make it more attractive against more modern and efficient crossover rivals.
Introduced more than a decade ago, the Volvo XC ("Cross Country") is essentially a Volvo V70 wagon with increased ground clearance, all-wheel drive and rugged SUV-like styling cues. In its younger days, the Volvo XC was a viable alternative for folks who wanted the foul-weather ability, cargo capacity and look of an SUV without the attendant hard-to-park exterior size, sloppy handling and appetite for fuel. These days, the 2011 Volvo XC70 will have a harder time winning over shoppers.
The XC70 hasn't changed much through the years, but even so, there's a lot to like about it. It offers 8.3 inches of ground clearance, more than the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLK crossovers, and it's available with a turbocharged, 300-horsepower inline-6. The latter, seen in the T6 trim level, gives the XC70 some welcome pep.
Cargo capacity is pretty impressive, and its total capacity of 72 cubic feet is about 11-15 cubes larger than a typical compact luxury crossover. And of course, safety is paramount when you're talking about a Volvo. Though no government or independent crash tests have been conducted as of this writing, the XC70 offers a wide variety of safety features, ranging from the practical (integrated rear booster seats) to the paranoid (a keyless entry system that alerts you to the heartbeats of potential attackers lurking in your backseat) and the preoccupied (driver inattention alert system).
With its combination of safety and style, not to mention available all-wheel drive and spirited turbocharged engine, the 2011 Volvo XC70 is very appealing, especially considering significant price reductions this year. But with a number of compact luxury crossovers (Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK, Volvo's own XC60), full-size family crossovers (Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9) and wagons (Ford Flex, Subaru Outback) offering equal or greater capability often for less money, the Volvo XC70 is a harder sell than it was at the turn of the century.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Volvo XC70 is a five-passenger wagon available in 3.2 FWD and T6 AWD trim levels.
Standard equipment on the 3.2 includes 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear foglights, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, an eight-way power driver seat with memory functions, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, neoprene-like "Tricotec" upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Premium package adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, an eight-way power passenger seat and wood trim. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are a stand-alone option.
The T6 AWD adds the content of the Premium package along with a turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels and upgraded gauges.
For more equipment, you can select the Climate package that adds heated front seats, heated windshield-washer nozzles, automatic wipers and headlight washers. Heated rear seats are also included in this package unless the optional integrated booster seats are ordered. The Convenience package includes front and rear parking sensors, a power tailgate, rear privacy glass, power-folding rear headrests, a cargo cover and a trunk grocery bag holder. The Technology package ups the ante with adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system, a distance alert system, driver inattention alert system and a lane-departure warning system. The Multimedia package adds a navigation system, a rearview camera and a 12-speaker Dynaudio surround-sound stereo with rear seat headphone jacks and controls.
Stand-alone options include adaptive xenon headlights, integrated rear booster seats, a blind-spot warning system and keyless ignition/entry.
Powertrains and Performance
Both front-wheel-drive and optional all-wheel-drive versions of the 2011 Volvo XC70 3.2 come with a 3.2-liter inline-6 that produces 240 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque.
Volvo claims the XC70 3.2 AWD will sprint to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds -- about the same as full-size crossover SUVs. The T6 AWD features a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque.
The 3.2 FWD rates respectable fuel economy at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. The AWD version rates 18/24/20. The T6 AWD earns disappointing figures of 17/22/19.
The 2011 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. Integrated rear booster seats are optional on both models.
Additional available safety features include a blind-spot monitor and Volvo's Personal Car Communicator (offers keyless lock/entry/ignition). The Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, collision warning with "Auto Brake" (primes the brake system in anticipation of panic braking), a driver fatigue warning (monitors a variety of factors including the driver's face to determine whether he or she is dozing off) and lane-departure warning.
Interior Design and Special Features
The available matte wood and leather trim really dresses up the XC70's otherwise austere cabin. 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. Sadly, the navigation system remains cumbersome because of an awkward interface that utilizes steering-wheel-mounted buttons and a handheld remote that duplicates those controls for the passenger.
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 enhances the XC70's versatility, as do the available integrated booster seats. With the seats folded flat, the XC70 can hold 72 cubic feet of cargo.
The 2011 Volvo XC70 has a smooth and refined ride befitting its premium status. It's not much fun, though, as its light steering, ample body roll and elevated center of gravity make it feel less nimble than past Volvo wagons. 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 turbocharged power plant helps matters considerably, but carries with it a fuel economy penalty.