2002 Volvo V70

By March 21, 2002
2002 Volvo V70

The V70 is part of a new generation of Volvos, a generation that combines the traditional Volvo virtues of safety and practicality with an avant-garde style and a sassy attitude.

All-new last year (2001), the V70 is a mid-size wagon based on the same mechanical platform as Volvo’s prestigious S80 sedan. The kinship shows: While V70 surrenders nothing in practicality to other mid-size wagons, and exceeds most, if not all, in safety. And this sexy Swede does more than haul moldings home from Home Depot. In T5 form, especially, it just plain hauls, but with the refined demeanor of a European luxury sedan.

V70’s practical side shows in an adaptable seating arrangement, and a cargo compartment with tie-down hooks and other useful accessories. Its safety heritage lives on with a safety-cell structure and active seats rigged to thwart whiplash injuries. Occupants are shielded by airbags positioned ahead, beside and above. Responsive steering, electronic brake enhancements, and optional traction control help avoid accidents in the first place.

But with a selection of turbocharged engines, aggressive suspension tuning and low-profile performance tires, the V70 also likes to go out and play.

Model Lineup

The V70 line has expanded both up and down for 2002.

At base-level now is a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) version, powered by a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine that develops 168 horsepower. Badged simply V70, it retails for $30,025 with a five-speed manual transmission, and $1000 more with a five-speed automatic. Either way, the price includes power four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, and a long list of luxury, safety, and convenience features.

Returning for 2002 is the V70 2.4T ($34,225), which uses light-pressure turbocharging with intercooling to coax 197 horsepower from the same basic engine. The five-speed automatic is standard on this model, while Volvo’s Geartronic automatic with manual override is a $200 option. Befitting its extra brawn, the 2.4T comes with wider tires on larger wheels, and adds a power glass sunroof plus a memory function for power seats and mirrors.

Also returning is the V70 T5 ($36,425), whose 2.3-liter inline-five with high-pressure turbocharging musters 247 horsepower through a five-speed manual gearbox. The Geartronic is the only automatic available, and it costs $1200. The T5 also comes with firmer suspension settings and even wider tires for a sporty flavor, and adds a few more comfort/convenience items to the standard-equipment list. Traction control is standard as well.

The other new model for 2002 is an all-wheel-drive version of the 2.4T, which lists for $35,975. The V70 2.4T AWD normally sends 95 percent of its driving torque to its front wheels, but uses a viscous coupling to direct power to the rear wheels when necessary. The rear differential is open, but an electronic system called TRACS can selectively brake either rear wheel to control slipping. The V70 2.4T AWD can be identified by a slightly higher ground clearance and by special seven-spoke alloy wheels, and the only transmission available is the Geartronic. Otherwise it’s equipped the same as the front-drive V70 2.4T

Additionally, Volvo manufactures the V70 XC, or Cross Country, an SUV-like cross-over vehicle based on the V70 much the same way that the Subaru Outback is based on the all-wheel-drive Legacy Wagon. (See review of the Cross Country in a separate NewCarTestDrive.com report.

Volvo’s computer-linked Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system may be added to any of the 2.4-liter models for $1100. A navigation system is offered as well.

All V70s uphold Volvo’s tradition of safety, with dual-threshold front airbags, dual side-impact airbags, front and rear head-curtain airbags, WHIPS active whiplash protection, and both ISO-FIX and LATCH anchors for child seats.


The overall shape of the V70 looks boxy at first, a natural reaction to almost any wagon. But closer scrutiny reveals fresh styling ideas for such a large package, and an aggressive stance due to a relatively wide track. There’s also something here that was missing from the typical tank-like shape of previous Volvo wagons: Shapely curves.

The form evolves from a basic wedge-shape, with a high tail and low prow capped by Volvo’s signature diagonal-slash grille. Hard creases in the bowed hood taper from canted A-pillars down to the sides of the grille, and thrust it forward as the leading edge of the vehicle. Headlight clusters unified behind curving polycarbon lenses notch into recesses flanking the grille, while body-colored bumpers trimmed with black molding wrap around the Volvo’s face to meet the front wheel wells.

Above prominent rolled shoulders, roof pillars and side glass curve inward to meet the roof panel, softening hard corners and diminishing the visual massiveness of the wagon’s rear bay. The rear liftgate also bows slightly in a curvy profile, but maintains an essentially vertical plane to maximize interior cargo space. Composed of steel-reinforced polyresin fiberglass, the back door tucks between two thin vertical taillights mounted high in a format carried over from the previous wagon.

Interior Features

A stylish interior features rich appointments with an understated air of elegance. Muted tone-on-tone colors are enhanced by sparing touches of ersatz redwood trim. It’s a clean design, with buttons and switches in logical positions and analog gauges housed in an uncluttered instrument panel.

Up front are two bolstered bucket seats astride a multi-purpose console. The seats are anything but conventional. They’re extremely comfortable and also smart, performing tricks when necessary for safety or saving space. The front seatbacks incorporate mechanisms to guard against whiplash from a rear-end impact. During such a crash, the seatback moves rearward to reduce acceleration forces on the rider’s back and neck, as the headrest pushes forward and upward slightly to meet the neck and head as they are thrust backward.

The rear bench seat accommodates three passengers easily, and features three-point safety belts in all three seating positions, which are anchored in the backrest. Individual seat-back sections in the rear seats move to two different positions: one with a 30 degree tilt for comfort, the other more vertical at 25 degrees. The latter is useful when a few more inches of space would make room for more gear in the rear.

The rear seatback also folds forward easily to form a flat cargo floor.

That back cargo bay can be fitted with available convenience items from Volvo, like a container for shopping bags or a table that pops up from beneath the second-row seat, for use with an optional third seat sized for children. (A new $1300 Versatility Package includes the third seat with integrated booster seat, and the folding table.) For infants and toddlers, anchors are in place to secure two new designs for rear-facing child safety seats. One style fits infants weighing up to 20 pounds, and another works for toddlers up to 40 pounds.

Luxurious appointments include power controls for virtually all equipment and an automatic climate system, with deluxe audio equipment and an optional Dolby Surround Pro Logic stereo with nine speakers and in-dash four-CD compact disc player.

Driving Impressions

On the road, it’s easy to forget that the V70 is a Home Depot hauler from a company best known for safety. That’s because it has the spirit of an elite touring car and moves with downright sporty manners.

The T5 delivers sheer driving excitement, handling kinks and curves with precision and control. Its lively kick and lithe attitude kindle a soothing sense of confidence, a sense that though it’s an unpredictable path we travel, with pitfalls along the way, the going doesn’t have to be dangerous or even uncomfortable in a Volvo.

The T5’s high-pressure intercooled turbo puts out 247 horsepower and churns 243 pounds-feet of torque across a flat band spread between 1800 and 4800 rpm. With high torque at relatively low engine speed, and the typical turbo lag minimized, this engines impresses with its quick surges and quiet demeanor.

The five-speed manual gearbox, rarely found in a wagon, has a sporty short-throw stick and brings crisp control. The optional five-speed Geartronic allows shift-it-yourself maneuvers by simply throwing the gear selector lever to the left and locking it in the gate. Then push the lever forward to bump up a gear, or tip it rearward to shift down.

The new V70 platform, lifted from Volvo’s larger S80 sedan, has a longer wheelbase and broader track than the pre-2001 model. That creates a solid foundation to attach the MacPherson-strut front suspension and multi-link rear axle. Bonding of body panels in lieu of spot welding contributes to exceptional torsional stiffness, which in turn defines the car’s predictable linear behavior.

Push the T5 through downhill curves and it remains anchored to the pavement, with the body maintaining a level stance. There’s little lateral lean through the turns, and scant dive from the nose when standing on brakes. Nor does the tail dip during a sudden acceleration.

All V70s now feature ABS to prevent brake lock-up, along with Emergency Brake Assist and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) to ensure maximum stopping power under all conditions.

Now standard on T5 is Volvo’s Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), employing an on-board computer and various motion sensors tied to the anti-lock brakes. This sophisticated device monitors the vehicle’s forward progress and, if potentially dangerous oversteer or understeer is detected, acts automatically to correct the instability by braking one or more wheels.

It all adds up to an agile but controllable car, capable of sporty moves and high performance; but with the flavor of a plush luxury sedan.


Volvo promotes the V70 as the safest station wagon in the world. The V stands for “Vagen” but it could just as well signify Versatility. The V70 transcends the traditional image of a station wagon as practical but mundane family transportation; it’s genuinely luxurious and fun to drive, too.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:V70 ($30,025), V70 2.4T ($34,225), V70 24.T AWD ($35,975), V70 T5 ($36,425)
Engines:2.4-liter dohc 20-valve inline-5; 2.4-liter dohc 20-valve turbocharged inline-5; 2.3-liter dohc 10-valve high-pressure turbocharged inline-5
Transmissions:5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):dual front airbags, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, side-impact door beams, 3-point front seatbelts with adjustable anchors, front seat Whi
Safety equipment (optional):Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system
Basic warranty:4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:Torslanda, Sweden
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):V70 T5 ($36,425)
Standard equipment:electronic climate control, central locking system with keyless entry, security system with battery back-up siren, exterior approach lighting with mirror puddle lamps, fog lights, power heated exterior mirrors with memory, auto dimming interior rearview mirror, power windows, tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, AM/FM/cassette/CD with eight speakers, trip computer, power eight-way front bucket seats, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, power glass sunroof
Options as tested (MSPR):leather seating surfaces ($1350); premium audio system with four-disc in-dash CD and Dolby surround sound ($1200); 17 x 7.5 in. Amalthea alloy wheels with 235/45/HR 17 All-Season Pirelli P6000 tires ($500)
Destination charge:$625
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$40100
Layout:front-wheel drive
Engine:2.3-liter dohc 20-valve turbocharged inline-5
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):247 @ 5200
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):243 @ 2400
Transmission:5-speed manual
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:21/27 mpg
Wheelbase:108.5 in.
Length/width/height:185.4/71.0/58.7 in.
Track, f/r:61.1/60.9 in.
Turning circle:39.0 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:39.3/55.0/42.6 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:38.8/54.8/35.2 in.
Cargo volume:71.5 cu. ft.
Towing capacity:N/A
Suspension, f:Independent
Suspension, r:Independent
Ground clearance:5.3 in.
Curb weigth:3533 lbs.
Brakes, f/r:disc/disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Fuel capacity:21.1 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of March 21, 2002.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-550-5658 - www.volvocars.com

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