i had a 1993 240 wagon - no issues other than maintenance. my 2007, however, has had several issues in the first year of ownership (2016-17). yes, it's 9-10 years old but come on...rear back left light console socket burned out/melted in socket and had to replace entire console. suspension spring broke!! major issue - ripped up tire and could have been deadly if i were driving!! local volvo dealership didn't seem concerned at all even though it is dangerous. no recalls so it's not covered! i am having all 4 springs replaced as others have said when one went, so did another at a later time on their car. very $$$! fuel gauge reads half full when i "fill" it at the gas station. dealership couldn't find problem. miss my '93 but its frame was rusted beyond repair.
I bought this car with 99,600 miles on it and paid $9,995, capitalizing on its fairly low resale value. Since then, I've put over 31,000 miles on it in just a year. While my fuel economy has not been impressive, especially coming from a 2011 Outback, I have been impressed with what the XC70 has to offer. Mid-way through the first year I was hit with some high repair costs, as a rear wheel bearing, front ball joint and a tie rod needed to be replaced. I was initially upset, but once I got the car back all of the things that annoyed me driving it had been fixed! Sometimes ignorance is not bliss. Who knew? This past summer I was living/working in Montana, and took this thing on countless miles of forest service backroads. It handled things I honestly thought it wouldn't be able too, including an accidental trip on a 4WD only road. If you're looking at this year range for an Outback or XC70, I would recommend the Volvo. You can get a lot more for your money in terms of packaging, material quality and comfort. However, be ready to spend more time as the gas station using premium and the potential for higher maintenance costs. That being said, I have had no real issues in a year and a lot of the maintenance is easy enough to do on your own and save tons of money.
Two year update: Somehow this car has gotten better with age. Now with 150K on the odometer, it honestly drives better than the day I got it. I had to replace the rear suspension at the beginning of the summer but with the car being 10 years old and me constantly overloading it, I wasn't surprised. I would 100% buy this car again and am putting off getting a new outback because I love it so much. Go for it!
My current 2007 XC70 is my second; the first was 2004. All prior model year problems (e.g. transmission) seem to have been fixed on the 2005-2007 model years and '07 was the last year before Ford made Volvo cost reduce the vehicle and substitute the problematic Mitsubishi OEM T6 engine for Volvo's bulletproof 2.5T.
I now have almost 180k miles on this car and my only significant unscheduled repair have been to replace the steering wheel position sensor "clock spring" at 148K, fuel rail pressure sensor at around 160K, and the front oxygen sensor at 170K. At this point (180K miles) I've recently replaced all front suspension bits including front struts, rear shocks, lower front control arms and ball joints and completed a tune up with new plugs and coil packs.
Now, at 180K miles, the car starts, runs, and drives down the road as new Seats still look practically new. The chassis is tight and free of rattles. All in all, a very solid and well built vehicle - very comfortable, big storage in back, and tight if not razor sharp European style handling. I particularly admire the 2.5T engine. Torque peak at 1,900 rpm is right at 55mph where you need it for passing. Light boost turbo maintains power at altitude, yet runs nicely on US regular 87 octane gas - unlike Mercedes, Audi, etc.
Good sound system, comfortable seats, intuitive controls, great visibility, sure handling, and higher ride height that makes for easier in/out for us older guys plus eliminates annoying scrapes in front while parking (and you don't plow snow with the front bumper unless it's well over six inches.
My only niggle with this vehicle is road noise which can be an issue with most aggressive tread patterns. Pirelli's P7 AS plus and, just recently, Bridgestone's Turanza Serenity - both Tirerack's highly rated Grand Touring tires - are as quiet as they come with crisp handling and commendable grip in all conditions. However, I was disappointed in the durability of the Pirelli, the quieter of the two, so recently switched to the Bridgestones.
I've considered a newer xc70, but found that about one in 25 of the 3.2 six motors experiences excessive oil burn, leading to ring & piston replacement (no cyl wall scoring) or total engine replacement. Volvo dealers might tell you that Volvo offers a 4yr/48K mile extended powertrain warranty if you buy a used unit from a dealer; otherwise, good luck.
Another age related repair was to replace the upstream oxygen sensor at 170K and, subsequently, the catalytic converter.
Finally, if you read the owner blogs Dealers are often referred to as "the Stealership". I've found them capable but very expensive. Could be worse if you have a Mercedes or Audi.
We purchased this car hoping to get well into 6 figures on the mileage. Well within 2000 miles of the warranty expiring i am incurring $8000 in repairs. Failed water pump and timing belt and then the transmission failed. Volvo and dealership seem to care less. I get it that i am outside the warranty, but come on Volvo! 2000 miles?
I have owned two of this generation of the Volvo XC70. I upgraded from a 2001 to a 2007 to gain electronic stability control, a more powerful and cleaner running engine, and the Haldex AWD. The only reliability problem I have had in the 11 years since my first XC70 was delivered was a bad transmission in the 01. It covered by warranty, and at no point was I unable to drive the vehicle - even once it became obvious the transmission was going (it simply became loud and clunky).
The best thing about this car is its character. It has all of the comfort and security you would expect out of a Volvo wagon, but is built so that the occasional rocky dirt road, snow storm, or runaway shopping car won't ruin your day. In addition, the 2.5L Turbocharged engine makes it a car that is both fun to drive and easy to merge onto a highway with. The large, flat cargo area behind the rear seats combined with the steel cargo barrier accessory also make this an ideal road tripper for dog owners (the rear seat bottoms can be folded forward when the dog is in the back and secured with a tether, leaving plenty of room for your bags even if your pooch takes up the whole cargo area!).
I would have liked if a more powerful engine was available on the 2001 - 2007 models, especially something as nice as the 325HP available on the 2012 XC70 T6 with Polestar Performance Package.
I also wish the fuel economy was a bit better. I generally get 19 - 22 MPG depending on the time of year with a strong mix of city and highway driving.