For 2005, the Volvo XC70 shares several upgrades made to its V70 station wagon cousin. Outside, there are new headlights with clear plastic lenses, high-pressure headlamp washers instead of wipers, new clear taillights, larger skid plates, brushed aluminum roof rails, new “egg crate” grille, new body and bumper colours, XC90-style exterior mirrors with water-repellent coating and optional side-window coating, a new wheel style, two new colours, and new flat-blade wipers. Inside, there’s a new centre stack and tunnel console, multifunction armrest, available Dolby Pro-Logic II Surround Sound system, new-generation Volvo seats, new front door grab handles and cloth-covered A-pillars and sun visors. Volvo’s second-generation Four-C automatically-adjustable shock absorber damping system also becomes available.

More off-road capable than a car, but not really an SUV, the XC70 occupies a niche Volvo simply calls a “utility vehicle”. It uses a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine with a five-speed automatic Geartronic transmission. Power hits the pavement – or the trail – through an electronically-controlled Haldex all-wheel-drive system.

Available in a single trim line, the XC70 includes four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels with Pirelli Scorpion tires, skid plates, heated mirrors with puddle lights, halogen headlights, front and rear fog lights, headlight washers, brushed aluminum roof rails, cloth and “leatherette” upholstery, heated front seats, power driver’s seat with memory, fold-flat passenger seat, 60/40 split rear seat, leather-wrapped shifter knob and steering wheel with audio controls, electronic dual-zone climate control, power windows, rear wiper/washer, cruise control, and cargo cover.

Available options include dynamic stability control, speed-sensitive steering, power sunroof, bi-Xenon headlights, leather interior, power passenger seat, 40/20/40 split rear seat, integrated child booster seats, rear-facing auxiliary third seat, navigation system, rain sensor and auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The XC70 is a superb alternative to an SUV, offering plenty of passenger and cargo space without excess bulk. Its options can send it north of fifty grand in a heartbeat, but then, it doesn’t take long to spend that in most SUVs, and many of them make you pay for options you don’t necessarily want and which Volvo prices separately. The XC70 shares its engine with the V70 2.5T and 2.5T AWD, so if you don’t need the taller, more rugged stance and higher ground clearance, you can get into those models for $4,000 and $1,500 less, respectively.

The XC70 is built in Göteborg, Sweden.

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