The Volvo XC70 is an impressively versatile wagon. It's smooth, stable, secure, fast and very comfortable on the open highway. Most come with all-wheel drive, which makes the XC70 a good choice for foul weather, be it torrential rain, deep snow or glare ice.
But it's on primitive roads where the Volvo XC70 shines. It handles gravel and dirt roads very well, with stable, predictable handling and excellent traction. Indeed, it can dispense with unpaved roads quickly and ably. The XC70 is engineered for serious gear hauling rather than posing at the mall. And of course it's equipped with all the active and passive safety features that form Volvo's well-deserved reputation for safety engineering.
For 2011, XC70 gets a horsepower boost in both engines. The 2011 Volvo XC70 3.2-liter inline-6 gains 5 horsepower to 240 hp, and the 2011 Volvo XC70 T6 gets a 19-hp boost to 300 hp from its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6. The turbocharged T6 engine was named one of Ward's Ten Best engines for 2011, a prestigious award. It's the first Volvo engine to ever win.
For 2011, Volvo XC70 3.2 is available with front-wheel drive for the first time. That should appeal to flatlanders in warm weather, for example Texans and Floridians, although it seems a shame to pass on the all-wheel drive.
For 2011, Sirius satellite radio become standard equipment and comfort and convenience packages have been upgraded. 2011 also brings some amazing price drops, by nearly $4,000 for the 3.2 and more than $6,000 for the T6.
All-wheel drive comes standard in those models. The XC70 3.2 comes with a powerful inline-6 rated at 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The high-performance XC70 T6 boosts the power to 300 turbocharged horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, the latter an increase of 30 lb-ft for 2011.
Its maximum cargo capacity of 72.1 cubic feet is on par with mid-size SUVs, and slightly better than the Subaru Outback's 71.3 cubic feet. The seating arrangement is flexible and the cargo compartment has tie-downs and other useful accessories. With the rear seats folded, the XC70's flat floor and low lift-over height make loading bulky cargo easier than with many SUVs. It's rated to tow up to 3,300 pounds, enough for a small boat or camper or a couple of snowmobiles.
The XC70 is prepared for serious travel in unpaved areas. It comes with full-time all-wheel drive, and its suspension is raised to increase both movement range and ground clearance. Dent-resistant lower body cladding and protective skid plates underneath protect it from damage. Standard Hill Descent Control makes ascending steep, slippery trails easier and safer.
We found the handling of the Volvo XC70 on primitive logging roads to be excellent. This would be a good car to drive to the top of Alaska in the middle of the winter. We know, we've done it. More recently, we drove an XC70 over 120 miles of logging roads in the unpaved wilderness of northwestern Montana. The all-wheel drive made driving around corners easy and predictable on gravel, dirt, mud, and snow. The suspension had just the right amount of compliance to keep the tires on the trail yet gave the driver lots of control. Bumps in the middle of turns never upset the handling. The car was comfortable, whether creeping along over rugged trails or hurtling down an unpaved road at rally speeds.
On paved roads, the XC70 is stable and comfortable. It isn't as sporty as the pavement-oriented Volvo V70 wagon, but the XC70 makes a good grand touring car and great daily transportation. It rides smoothly and doesn't float or lean excessively through the curves, and it should deliver better real-world gas mileage than most mid- and full-size truck-based SUVs. We think it's the most compelling car in the Volvo lineup.
Inside is one of Volvo's best interiors: Scandinavian in style and elegantly understated. It's easy to master its multitude of controls, and it's simpler and more efficient than many of its European luxury competitors.
The 2011 Volvo XC70 3.2 offers a choice of front-wheel drive ($32,150) or all-wheel drive ($34,150) and is equipped with a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower. The XC70 3.2 comes with fabric upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with three-position memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with eight speakers, USB and auxiliary inputs, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, fog lights front and rear, fold-flat 40/20/40 split rear seat, locking cargo-floor storage bin, a fold-flat front passenger seat that considerably increases cargo flexibility, and 16-inch alloy wheels; 17-inch wheels are optional ($750). The Premium Package ($2,950) upgrades to leather seating, a power passenger seat, a power glass sunroof, wood interior trim, a rearview mirror with Homelink and compass, and silk metal accents on the steering wheel.
The Volvo XC70 T6 ($38,200) comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder rated at 300 horsepower. The T6 upgrades with leather seats, a power passenger seat, deluxe interior wood trim, silk metal accents for the steering wheel, a special Watch Dial instrument cluster, dual exhaust outlets, and 18-inch wheels. The power moonroof is standard on the 2011 XC70 T6.
Options for both models include the Multimedia Package ($2,700), which combines a Dynaudio sound system featuring a 650-watt amplifier, Dolby Pro-Logic II Surround Sound, 12 speakers, rear seat headphone jacks, with a navigation system featuring DVD map data and remote control; a rearview camera has been added to this package for 2011.
A Climate Package ($1,000) includes heated front seats, headlamp washers, heated windshield washer nozzles, Rainsensor windshield wipers, an Interior Air Quality System and a humidity sensor for the electronic climate control; on the base model, it also adds heated rear seats and a Blueband windshield. The Convenience Package ($1,300) adds front and rear park assist, power tailgate, dark tint rear windows, grocery bag holder, 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, a cargo cover and power rear head restraints.
Safety features that come standard include multi-stage front-impact airbags and curtain-style head protection airbags for all outboard seats. The front passenger side-impact airbags have two compartments: a lower one for the hips, which can handle more force without injury, and a second one that deploys more gently around the shoulders. Volvo's Whiplash Protection Seating System (WHIPS) is design to minimize neck and back injuries in a significant rear impact. Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), the latest-generation anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a tire-pressure monitor are also standard. The safety belts have specially adjusted force limiters to reduce the risk of restraint injury, and the side-curtain airbags are longer than standard for better coverage. All-wheel drive enhances safety in adverse conditions.
Safety options include the Technology Package ($1,850), which combines Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Warning with Auto Brake (CWAB), Distance Alert (DA), Driver Alert Control (DAC), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). Integrated child safety seats are optional ($500) on the 3.2 but standard on the T6; they are built into the rear outboard seats and can be adjusted specifically to the child's size. Volvo's Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS ($700), is designed to warn the driver of approaching vehicles that might not be visible in the mirrors. The Personal Car Communicator ($550) adds keyless starting, and allows you to determine from anywhere whether you locked the car, whether the car has been tampered with, and whether there is a villain lurking inside (via a heartbeat detector). The rearview camera included in the Multimedia Package can help the driver spot a small child behind the vehicle when backing up. Dual xenon gas discharge headlights with Active Bending Light are available to help the driver spot deer and pedestrians around turns.
The Collision Avoidance Package is based on research that suggested that driver distractions cause up to 90 percent of all traffic accidents. The package includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning. Adaptive cruise control issues a warning if the XC70 is closing quickly on an object and pre-loads the brake system, and it can actually engage the brakes if the driver fails to respond.