2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country
Click image to enlarge

The Cross Country combines luxurious appointments like super-comfortable leather seating surfaces with the load carrying flexibility of a 40/20/40 split rear bench seat that folds flat and a variety of ingenious interior features. And all-wheel-drive gives the Cross Country the all-road, and even off-road capability of an SUV, without sacrificing the comfort, safety and handling of a luxury wagon. But reliability is still a question mark.



Minor electrical glitches spoil otherwise fine machine

Volvo’s new for 2001 V70 Cross Country combines comfortable seating, a solid ride, versatile cargo carrying capability and unbeatable safety features with the go anywhere ride height and all-wheel-drive of an SUV.
It is the perfect vehicle for all occasions – equally adept on snow covered roads and muddy trails as it is on city streets and urban freeways.

But it doesn’t take much to spoil a good thing.

Anyone about to plunk down $50,000 plus for a new car would cringe at this line about the Volvo V70 in Consumer Reports 2000 Annual Auto Issue: “Recently reliability has taken a turn for the worse, and we no longer recommend this model.”

Not exactly the message one would want to convey to well-heeled, but value conscious buyers – exactly the kind of people that buy Volvos.

2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country dash
2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country interior
Click image to enlarge

But that was 2000 and this is 2001 and the 2001 V70 Cross Country is not the same car as the model that was introduced in 1997. It is much improved over the previous V70, with a thoroughly revised and more powerful 2.4 litre, five cylinder engine with light pressure turbocharging, a new electronically-controlled 5-speed automatic transmission with “Geartronic” manual-style sequential shifting, a lighter-weight all-wheel-drive system, enhanced ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution and traction control that controls wheel spin on all four wheels and operates at speeds up to 80 km/h.

The new V70 shares the same platform and suspension as Volvo’s luxury sedan, the S80. On the Cross Country, longer front and rear springs boost ground clearance (200 mm total), while revised rear links move the rear axle back about one centimetre, providing room for taller 215/65R16 tires. The front track was increased about 60 mm, while the rear track was narrowed slightly to accommodate the larger tires.

But reliability is not something that can be measured in millimetres or horsepower. And spending a lot of money on a vehicle is no guarantee of reliability either, although the more you spend the more you expect a vehicle to work well and continue to work well.

So it was a disappointment to find our V70 Cross Country test vehicle, priced at $53,720, displayed a variety of minor, but aggravating electrical problems. The power doors would not lock, the dome light would mysteriously switch itself on in the middle of the night and the alarm system armed itself once – with doors unlocked – in a gas station while refueling. The alarm rang when the door was opened, but shut off when the key was placed in the ignition.

2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country
Click image to enlarge

New cars have teething troubles and some problems are to be expected. That’s what a bumper to bumper warranty is for.

But this was the second V70 Cross Country I had tested and the second to display bizarre electrical failures.

In June last year, I drove a Cross Country on a challenging Volvo-organized off-road test that took us first along a swampy country lane with water holes and lengthy stretches of mud. The Cross Country performed well – we didn’t get stuck – but en route to the next leg of the off-road test, that would have taken us up a rocky slope that no one in their right mind would ever drive a $50,000 car up, things started to happen. First the trip odometer reset itself to zero, then the trip computer stopped working. While waiting to go up the mountain, we turned the car off only to find that it wouldn’t start when it was time to go. After a few tries it did start, but my driving partner and I decided that we weren’t going to risk a breakdown in the boondocks and we headed back to our hotel instead.

Coincidence? Maybe. But it is enough to give one pause. Too bad, because these glitches aside, the Volvo V70 Cross Country is a marvellous machine.

2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country - SIPS air bags
Click image to enlarge

It is the safest wagon Volvo has ever built and quite possibly the safest wagon anyone has built.

The V70’s comprehensive list of standard safety features includes seats designed to reduce whiplash, three-point seatbelts and adjustable head restraints in all seating positions. Standard on the V70 are dual-stage front airbags that use sensors to register the severity of an impact and adapt the airbag inflation accordingly while coordinating actions with the seat belts and an inflatable side curtain installed in the headliner that inflates downward to protect the head and upper body of both front and rear seat passengers.

The V70 Wagon offers the world’s first rearward-facing ISO-FIX child safety seat mounting – an optional child seat system that includes a dual purpose seat for babies up to nine months old and a larger seat for children between nine months and three years. The rear bench seat also includes integrated booster seats for larger children.

2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country - safety cage
Click image to enlarge

The V70’s body structure is designed to absorb significant frontal, rear, side and roll-over impacts. While the new V70 has not yet been tested by either the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the V70 is based on the S80 platform, which is the only car to have received the top score of five plus five stars in NHTSA side-impact tests.

The V70 is also an environmentally responsible vehicle. The PremAir catalytic radiator technology eliminates smog-producing ozone, while an interior air management and filtration system help ensure the Cross Country is clean inside and out. Volvo also issues with each car an Environmental Product Declaration that certifies the design, manufacture, operation and eventual recycling of the car meet stringent environmental control guidelines.

2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country
Click image to enlarge

The V in V70 stands for “versatile” which is Volvo-speak for wagon. And versatile it is – the Cross Country combines luxurious appointments like super-comfortable leather seating surfaces with the load carrying flexibility of a 40/20/40 split rear bench seat that folds flat and a variety of ingenious interior features like a folding rear table with cupholders for children in the rear seat, a litter bin, a hook near the front passenger for securing a purse, and optional grocery bag holder beneath the cargo floor or rear facing third seat. And taking versatility one step further, all-wheel-drive gives the Cross Country the all-road, and even off-road capability of an SUV, without sacrificing the comfort, safety and handling of a luxury wagon.


Technical Data:

2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country
Base price $48,995
Price as tested $53,720
Type 4-door, 5-passenger mid-size wagon
Layout transverse front engine/all-wheel-drive
Engine 2.4 litre 5-cylinder, light pressure turbo
Horsepower 197 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 210 lb/ft @ 1,800 – 5,000 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic with Geartronic and winter mode
wheels and Tires 16″ x 7″ alloy (Tellus) 215/65 HR16, Pirelli Scorpion (A/S)
Curb weight 1630 kg
Wheelbase 2763 mm
Length 4733 mm
Width 1860 mm
Height 1562 mm
Cargo Capacity Rear seats up – 37.5 cu.ft
  Rear seats down – 71.5 cu.ft
Towing capacity 1500 kg
Fuel consumption City: 12.8 L/100K (22 mpg)
  Highway: 8.7L/100K (32 mpg)
Warranty 48 months/80,000 km comprehensive with Volvo On Call 48 months

Connect with Autos.ca