2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge
Competitors
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Audi A6 Avant
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 BMW 535xi Touring
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Mercedes-Benz E350 Wagon
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Saab 9-5 SportCombi

Manufacturer’s web site
Volvo Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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20080 Volvo V70

Ottawa, Ontario – Driving to New York City from Ottawa recently, in a 2008 Volvo V70 station wagon, I got to thinking, “Where does the term “Station Wagon” come from, anyway?” (Okay, it was a dull drive, on Interstate 90).

The answer is, “from early train stations,” of course. Wagons took arriving passengers and their luggage from the station to their hotel. After a while, car companies started making such vehicles: tall, ungainly metal and wood contraptions; motorized, with two or three rows of seats. You threw your luggage in the back.

According to Wikipedia, they were also called “hacks.” A “station hack,” wasn’t the kind of conveyance that people aspired to own, and that observation has resonated though the decades.

But it doesn’t apply to the V70. Maybe it evolved from a station hack, but this Volvo is quite the modern, luxurious and eye-catching piece. You’d want to get picked up at the station in one of these!

2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge

For $41,995, the front-wheel drive V70 comes standard with the 3.2-litre, inline-six cylinder engine making 235 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque (at 3,200 rpm). The engine is matched to a smooth, six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode (Geartronic). Wheels are 16-inch alloy (17-inch available), and a host of safety systems protect occupants, including Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DSTC), whiplash protection system, emergency brake assist, multiple airbags, side curtains, anti-lock brakes, and side impact protection system.(SIPS).

Heated fabric front seats (driver’s seat is power) are also standard, as are the useful aluminum cargo rails in the cargo area, with sliding/folding load hooks.

My $52,895 (plus $1,615 freight) test car included a $3,400 Premium Package that added retractable side-view mirrors, power child locks on the rear doors, front fog lights, leather seating surfaces and a power passenger seat.

Also included was a $3,750 Luxury Package II, that features Volvo’s Four-C Active Chassis (you can select Comfort, Sport or Advanced, and the suspension and handling is altered accordingly), active bi-xenon headlights, parking assistance, rain sensing windshield wipers and two-stage integrated child booster cushions.

And there was more: the $2,575 Convenience Package added Homelink garage door opener, compass, speed sensitive steering, grocery bag holder (now, shouldn’t that come with the cargo rails?), power liftgate, mass movement sensor, and level sensor.

Completing my test car option list was the $1,500 sunroof, $750 Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Modern wood inlays for $600.

Add this all up and it doesn’t come to the quoted $52,895, because Volvo kindly gives you a package discount. Suffice it to say, this was a very classy and well-equipped car indeed.

First impressions are that the exterior design, especially with the extra cost Titanium Grey paint (sorry, forgot to mention that…$650) is sleek and appealing. But the V70 also communicates solidity and substance, befitting the Volvo brand.

2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge

The interior doesn’t let you down. Superb fit and finish; excellent materials, pleasing design. The wood inlays have a Swedish Modern colour and finish that you’d find on mid-twentieth century, high-design furniture: again, very appealing.

The seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, and after 10 hours on the road, both driver and passenger emerged without feeling tired or stiff. My driving companion, Autos’s Grant Yoxon, suggested that Volvo makes the best seats available, and I wouldn’t disagree.

However, the distinctive centre stack, now found on all Volvos except for the S60, looks great but contains numerous fussy buttons that are inconveniently crowded together. At night, they all glow attractively, but it’s difficult to quickly identify one from the other. The designer of this panel told me that it was modeled after a TV remote, and judging by my own overly complex TV remote, that may not have been such a good idea.

Fortunately, heating and cooling is easily set, and the audio controls can be accessed on the steering wheel. The lights are automatic.

Speaking of the lights, the high beams in this car are astonishing. Fantastic night visibility is achieved with these adaptive bi-xenon lights that move laterally as you round corners. I’d highly recommend them.

The proximity sensor system is another thing. I found it too sensitive, too noisy; most of the time I had no clue what it was beeping for. Typically, I turned the beeping thing off after starting the car.

The Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is something else. This is actually pretty good, working as it does from small cameras situated at the front and rear of each side of the car. When another vehicle approaches you, or “hides” slightly behind and beside you, a light activates at the base of the corresponding A-pillar. This is not annoying, and proved to be very effective. At $750, it’s worth having.

At 235-horsepower, the Volvo inline-six is powerful enough for most, but it’s not notably smooth. It’s hard to grumble here, but the bar has been raised very high for six-cylinder engines over the past few years. Sound from the Volvo engine is quite evident under acceleration and is audible even when cruising at 115 km/h. It’s not rough, but a V6 engine from some of Volvo’s Asian competitors would be silent.

Similarly, fuel economy is good, but not great. I averaged 10.1 litres/100 km, from highway driving at moderate speeds. Not bad; not exceptional.

2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70
2008 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge

Cargo space, as you would expect in a midsize wagon, is very good. The space behind the rear seat easily accommodated two large suitcases, multiple smaller bags, boxes and sundry items. The split-folding rear seats fold flat at the pull of a lever, and in that position open up a very large cargo area that would accept large articles like flat-screen TVs, chairs, or a complete dining room set from your favourite Swedish furniture store.

A small thing, but very handy, is the range of the keyless remote. If you forget to lock your Volvo you can do so from between 60-100 metres away. At extra cost, you can order a Personal Car Communicator that obviates the need for a key altogether, and alerts you if someone has broken into your car. But the remote’s range alone is appreciated.

Returning to Ottawa at night through the mountainous Lake Placid region, we encountered heavy snow and unploughed, unsalted roads. The V70 was utterly stable. We were riding on Michelin X-Ice winter tires, which certainly helped, but you can sense a well-balanced, stable car, and this was one.

Our only concern was the performance of the passenger-side windshield wiper. For some reason, it wouldn’t effectively clear the windshield, even with repeated use of the windshield washer. This is something I’ve noticed on several cars lately.

All in all, good value here from a company that puts a lot of thought into its vehicles. Station hacks have sure come a long way.

Pricing: 2008 Volvo V70

Base price: $41,995

Options: $12,575 (Premium Package, $3,400 (retractable side-view mirrors, power child locks on the rear doors, front fog lights, leather seating surfaces and a power passenger seat); Luxury Package II, $3,750 (Four-C Active Chassis, active bi-xenon headlights, parking assistance, rain sensing windshield wipers and two-stage integrated child booster cushions); Convenience Package, $2,575 (Homelink garage door opener, compass, speed sensitive steering, grocery bag holder, power liftgate, mass movement sensor, and level sensor); Sunroof, $1,500; Blind Spot Information System, (BLIS) $750; and Modern wood inlays, $600.)
Volvo discount: $1,675
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,615
Price as tested: $54,610
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications
  • Specifications: 2008 Volvo V70

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    Competitors
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    Manufacturer’s web site
  • Volvo Canada

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
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