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Thread: 2008 Volvo XC70

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2008 Volvo XC70

    Volvo's XC70 "cross country" wagon faces some difficult challenges going into 2008.

    Though it has received a number of worthy updates - including a roomier interior, revised exterior cosmetics, more powerful six-cylinder engine and unique, height-adjustable integrated child safety seats - it is kinda pricey ($36,775 to start) relative to functionally similar competitors, a tad underpowered - and overly thirsty for fuel.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The '08 XC70 is powered by a new 3.2 liter, 235 hp in-line six that has one more cylinder and 27 more hp than the previous in-line five that powered the '07 (and earlier) XC70. This is the only engine offered in the '08 XC70. It is paired with an also-new six-speed automatic and a standard full-time AWD system that is set up to route most of the engine's power (about 95 percent) to the front wheels until they begin to lose traction - at which point a viscous-coupling routes an ever-increasing share (up to a maximum of 65 percent) to the rear wheels.

    Performance, however, is merely so-so.

    It's not a slow car, but with a 0-60 time of about 8.4-8.5 seconds, it's a couple of tenths behind many of today's hard-charging V-8 powered SUVs and even some V-6 powered crossovers.

    But the real problem isn't that the XC70 is slower than a lot of vehicles in its general segment. The more worrying issue is that its fuel efficiency isn't better than it is, given what it does. EPA rates this model at a pretty dismal 15 city, 22 highway. For comparison, a 4.8 liter V-8 powered Chevy Trailblazer SUV isn't much worse ( 14 city/19 highway) while a larger (7 passenger/three row) AWD-equipped crossover like the Buick Enclave is a couple ticks better at 16 city and 24 highway).

    Subaru's Legacy Outback Wagon, meanwhile, delivers 20 mpg city, 26 on the highway - which is substantially better - along with standard AWD and almost as much interior/cargo space for as little as $22,295 to start.

    Granted, this is the base model Outback and as such, it's much more sparsely equipped than the loaded-as-it sits XC70. But you can also get a comparably equipped Outback like the 2.5 XT Limited with navigation ($34,795) for about $2k less than the XC70 - and still get the better mileage and the almost-as-good interior/cargo space (more on this below).

    RIDE & HANDLING

    Here's where the XC70 hold an ace - or a joker - depending on what you're looking for. It has a pillow-soft ride. The seats literally are pillowy. You don't sit on them - you sink into them. It is really nice - provided you don't care much about high-speed handling capability.

    That's the joker.

    Tire squeal is easily provoked - though on the upside, the XC70 doesn't feel unstable, or even lurchy when pushed hard in a corner - as many of the big, top-heavy crossovers (and almost all SUVs) do. Just little unhappy. But it makes up for this on straights - and under any type of "normal" driving - where its ultra-smooth, ultra-cushy ride can be a welcome thing after a long day at work - or when facing a 400 mile trip.

    STYING & UTILITY

    The XC70 is basically a V70 wagon with some tasteful body cladding and different front and rear clips designed to give it a more rugged look. It also sits higher off the ground than the V70, giving it the extra ground clearance (8.3 inches. or about 2.7 inches more than the V70)) to safely cross small streams or travel up rutted gravel and dirt roads. The body cladding also protects otherwise vulnerable sheetmetal and paint from stone chips and so on. That - plus the standard AWD system and higher-travel suspension system - are the chief differences between the XC90 and the FWD-only (and not so high-riding) V70 wagon, which stickers out a bit cheaper at $32,465.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    One of Volvo's strongest selling points over the years has always been safety - and the XC70 more than makes the cut on this score. In addition to standard traction/stability control, ABS and full-length side-impact/curtain air bags, the XC90 also comes with an industry-first integrated, height-adjustable child safety seats - and Hill Descent Control, which uses the ABS and throttle to prevent the vehicle from picking up excessive speed going down steep inclines.

    Optionally available equipment includes a Blind Spot Information System to warn you about cars near you that you might not otherwise notice - and a Collision Warning System that pre-charges the brake system for maximum effort stops when sensors detect that a crash is imminent. Adaptive cruise control that adjust following speeds in relation to the ebb and flow of traffic ahead can also be ordered.

    Like all other Volvos, the XC70 is clearly a very well put-together car. My test car had leather so creamy looking it almost made me hungry. The aluminum plates for the shifter and other trim bits looked like real metal, too - not aluminized plastic. To me, the XC70's interior was higher-end feeling than the Subaru's - which it ought to be, given the XC70's higher price point. It compares very favorably with expenso wagons from Benz, BMW and Audi - and if you're not hung up on the status thing, you really ought to give the Volvo a shot.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    I enjoyed the week I spent in the XC70 because it is so very different from the majority of cars out there in that it is tuned almost entirely for comfort and quiet rather than even attempting to be sporty. Not everyone drives like its track day -a nd not every car has to have "surgical steering" and "knife-edged handling." The XC70 is a wonderful sanctuary from the increasing awfulness that one finds on our glutted, overcrowded highways and byways.

    Its chief weaknesses are its mediocre acceleration and even more mediocre gas mileage. The first would be much more acceptable if the second were a few MPGs better. But 15 mpg (city) is downright piggy - and 22 on the highway is no great shakes, either. Average real-world driving is probably in the high teens - which is hard to reconcile with an 8.5 second to 60 timeslip. Medium-large SUVs also suck down the petrol - but in their favor, they're usually faster.

    And more capable, too.

    A few years ago, the XC stood out more - and had more appeal - because there were few cars like it on the road, crossovers hadn't yet been invented - and truck-based SUVs were much more ungainly and over-the-top enormous.

    But things are tougher on Volvo now that everyone on the block (just about) has a car-based crossover on the market - many of which are not only bigger/roomier on the inside but just as easy to drive and offer the same level of amenities and equipment, AWD included, as the XC70 does.

    Also, more direct competition like the Subaru Outback wagon come very close to offering the same amount of passenger and cargo space - as well as standard AWD and that "Crocodile Dundee" attitude - for a lot less money.

    The Outback, for example, has 33.5 cubic feet of cargo area behind the second row - and 65 with the second row flat. The XC70 actually has slightly less cargo area behind its second row - 33.3 cubic feet - and only a bit more space with everything folded flat (71 cubic feet). It's close enough, probably, to lure many buyers weighing one or the other car to the Subaru store rather than the Volvo joint across the street.

    The XC70 comes off better when compared with, say the similar in size/features, etc. Mercedes R-Class wagon ($42,100) or the BMW 535xi wagon ($54,100) or the Audi A6 Avant ($49,000) all of which are considerably more expensive. But Volvo has the same problem VW does. It is a solid Blue Chip brand - but not a status brand.

    Volvo's problem is it's being undercut by brands like Subaru on the lower end - but can't really compete with otherwise similar models on the high end.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Part of me was wondering whether it makes more sense to just skip the AWD and body cladding, buy the less expensive V70 - and save myself four grand up front and enjoy somewhat more respectable fuel economy (16 city, 24 highway).

    I bet a lot of buyers have the same thought. And if they cross-shop the Subaru Outback (or just shop crossovers) Volvo may find the XC70 ends up sitting on dealer's lots a longer than it would like.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Volvo XC70

    Is it my imagination or did the XC70 suddenly become an XC90 - or was it, or should it have been, the other way round (or not as the case may be.)?

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Volvo XC70

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    Is it my imagination or did the XC70 suddenly become an XC90 - or was it, or should it have been, the other way round (or not as the case may be.)?

    Ken.
    The XC90 is similar - but it's bigger, based on the larger (full-size) chassis, etc. The XC70 and V70 are Volvo's mid-sized wagons....

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Volvo XC70

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    Is it my imagination or did the XC70 suddenly become an XC90 - or was it, or should it have been, the other way round (or not as the case may be.)?

    Ken.
    The XC90 is similar - but it's bigger, based on the larger (full-size) chassis, etc. The XC70 and V70 are Volvo's mid-sized wagons....
    Right, it was just that you seemed to change from writing about the XC70 in the first part of the article then under Para 4 of 'ENGINES AND PERFORMANCE' changed to the XC90.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Volvo XC70

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    Is it my imagination or did the XC70 suddenly become an XC90 - or was it, or should it have been, the other way round (or not as the case may be.)?

    Ken.
    The XC90 is similar - but it's bigger, based on the larger (full-size) chassis, etc. The XC70 and V70 are Volvo's mid-sized wagons....
    Right, it was just that you seemed to change from writing about the XC70 in the first part of the article then under Para 4 of 'ENGINES AND PERFORMANCE' changed to the XC90.

    Ken.


  6. #6
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    Re: 2008 Volvo XC70

    Posted this article on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...2&Itemid=10893

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