For 2006, the Volvo XC70 has been upgraded with Volvo’s next-generation all-wheel-drive with Instant Traction, which uses a one-way valve to prevent fluid draining, and a torque “pre-charge” upon acceleration from standstill to provide faster engagement of the system to the rear wheels when necessary. The optional Convenience Package now includes a 12-volt outlet in the luggage compartment, and on the Sport Package with Four-C active chassis, the suspension settings will appear in the driver’s information monitor in the dashboard.

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 with manual shift mode. 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, 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 is basically a taller version of the V70 with a more robust stance and higher ground clearance, but it’s priced the same as the V70 2.5T with all-wheel-drive, and it’ll come down to which look you prefer: rugged bad-boy or refined country cruiser.

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