The Volvo XC70 Cross Country has the most traditional design among a thoroughly updated Volvo lineup. The XC70 is a boxy wagon built on the full-size S80 sedan platform. The XC70 is bigger than the sleek XC60 but smaller than the all-new three-row XC90. It boasts all that Volvo wagons have been loved for: It’s solid, safe, comfortable, practical, and user friendly.
This third-generation XC70 was introduced as a 2008 model and updated for 2015. For 2016, XC70 comes standard with heated front seats.
The engine in the front-wheel-drive XC70 was new for 2015, a turbocharged 2.0-liter from Volvo’s new Drive-E family, making 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, through a new 8-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain is way more efficient than the one it replaced, a 3.2-liter six-cylinder with 6-speed automatic. The new powertrain is also used in the mid-size S60 sedan, V60 wagon, and XC60 crossover.
With front-wheel drive, the XC70 gets an EPA-rated 26 miles per gallon Combined, a good number considering its size and weight. The fuel economy rating is slightly boosted by a stop-start system that shuts the engine off when the car stops. The Volvo system is a good one, as the engine restarts almost instantly, as soon as the driver takes pressure off the brake pedal.
The sophisticated Haldex differential is front-wheel-drive oriented, with 95 percent of the power going to the front wheels on dry pavement. But when traction needs change, it can cut that to 35 percent, with 65 percent at the rear. Great for snowy driveways.
Volvo is known for safety, but the XC70 has never been crash-tested by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). With Volvo’s record for safety, we’re not worried about the XC70.
The front-wheel-drive XC70 ($37,000) comes with the DriveE 2.0-liter turbo engine. The all-wheel-drive XC70 ($38,600) comes with the older 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbo. Premium ($42,050) and Platinum ($47,175) levels upgrade the trim.
Standard features are bountiful, with power heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, heated side mirrors, satellite radio, and Bluetooth connectivity and device pairing. However a rearview camera is optional.
A Climate Package offers heated wiper nozzles and heated rear seats. A Tech Package has self-dimming bi-xenon headlamps with tunnel detection, and the 650-watt surround-sound Dynaudio system that’s also a stand-alone option.
Even though the XC70 shape is growing dated, it still boasts strong lines along with its body armor, skid plates, and high ground clearance. It’s no Jeep, just a tough all-wheel-drive wagon, pure as can be.
The instrumentation shows a decade of Swedish design, with simple controls and a center console that’s as user-friendly as sensible shoes. The cabin is roomy enough for grownups, while the supportive front and rear seats stay comfortable on road trips with six-footers.
The rear seatback splits into three sections that fold forward to create 72 cubic feet of cargo space, much more than crossovers with their swoopy styling that compromises interior space.
We drove the all-wheel-drive XC70 hard over unpaved logging roads presenting mud and snow, and enjoyed the stability, handling and ride. The suspension had just the right amount of compliance, which is to say long travel, and it gave the driver confidence. The 8.3 inches of ground clearance is more than many truck-based SUVs, and the skid plates that come on every XC70 offer even more security against broken limbs or rocks. Unlike the larger XC90 SUV, the XC70 is made for outdoor enthusiasts.
Despite that long suspension travel, the ride isn’t mushy. Nor is it stiff or loud, like in the truck-based SUVs. The XC70 leans in corners that are taken hard, and its nose pitches a bit between hard acceleration and hard braking, but find a crossover that doesn’t. That same lean and compliance provide great grip in corners on gravel.
The excellent brakes stop the XC70 immediately, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution balances things from front to rear.
Hill-Descent Control is very useful on snowy or icy downhill streets, as it manages the throttle and braking to maintain traction; the driver just steers, feet off the pedals, and it’s all taken care of for him or her.
We are fans of the XC70. It may be old school, but that means it’s proven, as new school doesn’t always work. However, for us it’s a deal-breaker that the all-wheel-drive XC70, the only one to buy, doesn’t come with the new 2.0-liter engine, the only one to buy.