What's New for 2013
The 2013 Volvo XC70 is an agreeable luxury wagon but offers few advantages over more popular crossover SUVs.
Whether you like it or not, SUVs have essentially made the traditional station wagon virtually obsolete for most consumers. Yes, most modern wagons now offer all-wheel drive and most folks don't need seven-passenger seating. But in our image-conscious society, a tough-looking SUV tends to trump a sedately styled wagon. Ah, but what if you made a wagon look more like an SUV? Well, you'd pretty much get the 2013 Volvo XC70.
The Volvo XC inherits the company's legacy of wagon design, and by and large it's a successful formula. With available all-wheel drive and a raised ride height, the XC70 provides a comfortable and sure-footed way to get to the trailhead or ski resort. Its SUV-like styling isn't just all flash, either; those lower body panels are dent-resistant, and underneath you'll find skid plates to protect the car on that washed-out dirt road to the cabin. The XC70 is also quite practical, with more available cargo space than most crossover SUVs. Finally, Volvo (http://www.edmunds.com/volvo/) has given the XC the full gamut of safety equipment.
The biggest issue facing the Volvo XC70 is that it doesn't provide the dynamic advantages that you think a wagon would. Acceleration is mediocre with the base engine, and while the top-of-the-line turbocharged inline-6 engine is much quicker, it gets about the same fuel economy as much roomier crossovers like the Ford Flex. Another downside is its passenger package, as there just isn't the same kind of rear-seat room that you'll find in a more upright crossover. A wagon's assets are fuel-efficiency and easy cargo loading; a crossover is better as a people-hauler.
As such, we think your choices are pretty wide open at this price point. Top small luxury crossovers such as the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK and the Volvo XC60 combine good people packaging with a surprisingly engaging driving experience. We're also fond of the Ford Flex given its greater interior room and Subaru Outback for its less expensive price. But if you want a midsize luxury wagon with some SUV attitude, the 2013 Volvo XC70 will work out well.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Volvo XC70 is a five-passenger wagon available in two model designations -- 3.2 or T6. The 3.2 stands for the 3.2-liter inline-6 engine, while T6 stands for the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6. The 3.2 is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, while the T6 is AWD only.
Standard equipment on the 3.2 includes 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, front and rear skid plates, roof rails, 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, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The T6 adds a more powerful engine, standard all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels and keyless ignition/entry.
The Premier package adds leather upholstery, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry (3.2), a power passenger seat and rear privacy glass. The Premier Plus package adds to that active xenon headlights, a power liftgate, front and rear parking sensors and power-folding rear head restraints. The Platinum package adds a rearview camera, a navigation system and a premium audio system. The Climate package adds heated front and rear seats, heated windshield-washer nozzles and an air quality sensor. The Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, road sign information, automatic high beams and warning systems for impending collisions, distance alert, driver inattention, lane departure and pedestrian detection. Some of these systems allow the car to brake automatically in certain situations. Other options include a blind-spot warning system and integrated rear child booster seats.
Powertrains and Performance
Base engine for the 2013 Volvo XC70 is a 3.2-liter inline-6 that produces 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.
Volvo claims the XC70 3.2 will sprint to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which would be a slow time compared to small luxury crossovers. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 18/24/20 with all-wheel drive.
The T6 AWD steps up to a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, the T6 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, which is about a second quicker than the average small luxury crossover. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 17/23/20.
The 2013 XC70 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, hill descent control, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash front head restraints. Also standard is Volvo's City Safety feature that helps drivers avoid collisions with vehicles in front of them. Integrated rear booster seats and a blind-spot warning system are optional on every XC70.
The available Technology package adds warning systems for impending collisions, distance alert, driver inattention, lane departure and pedestrian detection. Some of those systems allow the car to brake automatically in certain situations. The Personal Car Communicator included with keyless ignition/entry warns the driver through the key fob if a heartbeat is detected inside the car.
In Edmunds brake testing, the XC70 T6 AWD came to a stop in 133 feet, which is about 10 feet longer than average.
Interior Design and Special Features
Favorable first impressions come soon after you enter the 2013 Volvo XC70. If you choose the available matte-finish wood and leather trim, the cabin is a showcase of modern Swedish style, with Volvo's trademark "floating" center stack panel and artfully designed controls. Volvo's infotainment system allows drivers to manage audio, navigation and other functions from a 7-inch high-definition color monitor. Although its unorthodox interface is not quite as good as systems found in competitors, it works well enough once learned.
The front seats are among the best in the business, achieving a rare combination of chiropractor-approved comfort and body-hugging support. Legroom is a little tight in back, yet the seats seem to swallow up every body type with ease. The rear seat is also versatile, with its 40/20/40 split-folding design and the incredibly useful integrated child booster seats. Lay down the backseat and the XC70's total cargo room expands to more than 72 cubic feet. With the rear seat up, cargo is limited to 33 cubic feet. This is more than most small crossover SUVs. Due to its comparatively lower overall height, it's also a little easier to load recreational gear, such as kayaks and bikes, atop the XC70.
The 2013 Volvo XC70 has a refined, sophisticated ride befitting its premium status. However, light-effort steering, noticeable body roll and an elevated center of gravity leave us yearning for the tighter, nimbler ride associated with older, more traditional Volvo wagons. The base six-cylinder is sluggish while accelerating on the freeway and sounds coarse for a premium brand. Our preferred engine choice, the turbocharged T6 version, adds much-needed kick around town and remains potent even when driven at altitude.