2008 Volvo XC70 review

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2008 Volvo XC70 Review

POSTSCRIPT: Some other media outlets have suggested the XC70s on the North Queensland launch drive "drowned" attempting a water crossing at their stated wading depth of 300mm. Caradvice was there at the crossing and due to a rising tide the water depth was considerably more than 300mm, more like 400mm. The real story is that when the XC70s were put through a water crossing that because of unforeseen circumstances exceed their design limits, they got through. The cars that stalled in the water were able to restart and drive out - their engines did not ingest water and they did not "drown", even when pushed beyond their design limits.

Anthony Crawford

Test models: Volvo MY2008 XC70 3.2 AWD & XC70 D5 AWD

CarAdvice rating:

- by Anthony Crawford

Where it sits: Just below the seven seater XC90 SUV which starts at $69,950 for the 3.2 litre.

The nights are significantly more comfortable at a balmy 24 degrees, but even then, you can break into a sweat if you’re chowing down a la fresco, without the aid of a sea breeze.

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The 2008 XC70 has been designed as a multi-tasker from the ground up. Not only has Volvo succeeded, they have got the styling pretty much spot on.

That said it’s unmistakably a Volvo wagon, with the trademark large rear taillight assembly, now with LED powered brakelights which extend and integrate into the roof. There’s also more pronounced Volvo badging, on the grille and tailgate sections.

There’s a modern hexagonal look at the rear of the car, while metal accents have been used extensively around the body, to give a decidedly upmarket finish. You can also opt for real wood inlays, but I wouldn't bother, the metal look better suits this modern interior.

Of course, the very nature of the XC70 with its off road ability, calls for some well deployed plastic body armour on the lower sections of all side, front and rear panels.

Haldex has a fourth generation "XWD" system on the way, which is way more sophisticated, so let’s hope Volvo get access to this on future models.

There was no problem climbing out of the river, on an altogether slippery bank. “Instant Traction” shifts the drive to the rear wheels at warp speed, allowing trouble free starts on ultra-low grip surfaces.

Frankly, I’m not sure how relevant this technology is to the XC70. I’d suggest it has more use in towing applications than actual hill descents.

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German car manufacturers do some beautiful interiors, but Volvo is punching well above its weight in that department too.

The design is clean and functional. So called Scandinavian style, which to be honest, is a welcome change to the ‘button clutter’ employed by some manufacturers.

Almost. My co-driver and I, thought there wasn’t quite enough side-bolster on the ‘seat’ section, especially when enjoying several twisty sections, but several other colleagues disagreed. To each his own, I guess.

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I’m talking about the XC70’s dual integrated child booster seats. Just pull on a lever below the rear seat (both sides if you want) and presto – up pops heavily padded booster seats, which allow for two separate height positions.

There’s plenty of room and load space in the XC70, given its a larger vehicle all round, than the outgoing model. That’s odd, because visually, I would have said the opposite.

You can almost stretch your legs out now, with another 48mm of legroom, whilst knee room as been extended by 21mm.

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The Volvo has a bunch of these hooks, as well as a useful but optional, cargo rail system which will hold fast any number of awkward cargo items.

The 3.2-litre in-line 6 cylinder, lacks low down torque, meaning, you’re into the right pedal constantly, which hurts overall fuel consumption. What it does offer though, is a smooth ride with low ‘in cabin’ noise levels, at least when highway cruising, but it wouldn’t be my choice.

Regardless of whether you need to travel cross-country (let’s say from Yass through Wee Jasper and down to Tumut in southern NSW) or five hundred plus kilometres on the bitumen, this engine, in this wagon, is an entirely effortless drive.

It’s a real shame we don’t have European style roads and the speed limits that go with them in the greater part of outback Australia, because the D5 would be happy sitting on 170km/h all day long, and would still deliver less than 12 litres/100kms. Not bad, when you consider its tare weight of 1890kg.

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Standard transmission across the XC70 range is a 6-speed auto unit, which although smooth enough, is like all Volvo transmissions – shifts up or down, seem to take forever. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but I’m quite sure, an equally friendly, yet quicker shifting box, could be sourced from somewhere deep in the Ford Group parts bin.

You can join the XC70 club for as little as $58,950 for the 3.2-litre petrol, but don’t think for one minute, it’s a poverty pack edition. On the contrary, standard kit includes; Dynamic Stability Traction Control, Dual zone climate control, Rear Park Assist, a truly premium eight speaker audio system, Retractable outside mirrors, rain sensor, Electric driver’s seat, and cruise control and that’s not the complete inventory.

And if you’ve had a really good year and your kids are earning their keep at Maca’s, then you may as well stick your hand up for the “Technology Pack” for another $6000. That’s another bargain, which adds Satellite Navigation, Active Bi-Xenon Headlights (follows the steering wheel around bends), Bluetooth, Compass in rear vision mirror and BLISS (Blind Spot Identification System – this works).

The Swedes are a humble race – I think too humble. I can’t find any mention whatsoever of the superb leather bound sports steering wheel, in any part of the XC70 media kit. This is a standout piece of kit, quite thick and very sticky (as in tactile).

Brakes are front line hardware when it comes to safety, and the XC70 has employed some additional wizardry in that department.

When you jump on the brakes in most cars these days, you are assisted by vacuum pressure from the servo.

On board the XC70, you have a far more effective emergency braking system, which Volvo calls Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA).

Rather than simply relying on the servo, brake pressure is also applied hydraulically, which works in concert with the cars ABS to maintain strong pedal feel even after prolonged use. Little or no brake fade is the end result, and that can be lifesaving in some decent situations.

Something else. When you’re hard on the brake pedal and deceleration exceeds 0.7g or the ABS is activated, the brake lights start flashing. Think of it as an early warning system for those ‘not so alert’ drivers behind you.

Volvo own Safety, always have, always will.

There are simply too many safety systems on board the XC70 to begin explaining. It would be an exhaustive process to go through each and every feature on this car; such is the company’s obsession with occupant protection.

2008 Volvo XC70

Engine: 3.2 litre in-line 6 Cyl, 2.4 litre 5 Cyl direct injection common rail turbodiesel
Power: 175kW (235hp) at 6200 rpm, 136kW (185hp) at 4000 rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 3200 rpm, 400Nm at 2000-2750 rpm Transmission: six-speed Geartronic automatic
0-100: 8.6 sec, 9.9 sec
Top Speed: 215km/h, 205km/h
Length: 4838mm
Weight: 1878kg, 1890kg
Luggage capacity: 575/840/1600 litres
Safety: ABS – DTSC – AWD with Instant Traction – Hill Descent Control - Power Park Brake – Hydraulic Brake Assist – Ready Alert Brakes – Optimised Hydraulic Brakes – Fading Brake Support – Second-generation WHIPS – Dual adjustable Child Booster Seats – Extended Inflatable Curtain airbags – Dual Chamber side airbags – SIPS.
ANCAP Rating: not tested
Wheels: 17 inch alloys with optional 18 inch
Turning Circle: 11.5
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres
Fuel tank: 70-litres
Fuel Consumption combined: 11.4-litres/100km, 8.3-litres/100km
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded 95-98, Diesel

“Volvo’s XC70 has superior on road dynamics to any of the current crop of high riding, soft roading SUVs. It’s also a whole lot better looking”

2008 Volvo XC70