September 22, 2008
There’s a unique, classic quality about the Volvo V70, even though it has an abundance of cutting-edge technologies. The Volvo car company has been around since 1927 and its engineering philosophy centered on occupant protection and vehicle safety has taken it down a slightly different path from the rest of the auto-manufacturing community. Volvo released a corporate vision statement recently that said it will ultimately build vehicles that do not crash. In the shorter term, an internal goal of this company is that no one will be killed or injured in a Volvo vehicle after the year 2020.
“We don’t accept that people lose their lives in airplane accidents, so why should we regard traffic collisions as inevitable?” asked Jan Ivarsson, head of Safety Strategy at the Volvo Cars.
One obvious reply to Jan’s question: You don’t need a pilot’s licence in order to get behind the wheel of a car. Then again, a Volvo probably wouldn’t appeal to those “accident-waiting-to-happen” lunatics who do have driver’s licences.
Changes for 2009
The 2009 Volvo V70 has only a few minor changes from the completely redesigned 2008 model that was released just a few months ago. In fact, it’s a little surprising that Volvo didn’t release the ’08 car as an early ’09, like any other auto maker.
Those few ’09 changes include the addition of Bluetooth cellphone connectivity, which allows hands-free operation through a series of vocal commands. In addition, fog lights are now standard equipment and the suggested retail price starts at $42,495.
The Volvo V70 is powered by a 3.2-litre, inline six-cylinder engine, which replaces a smaller five-cylinder engine used in the last generation V70. It can deliver up to 235 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels, and it’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Geartronic (manual shift mode).
The V70 is all about family-oriented transportation. It offers Scandinavian style and comfort in a safe and practical wagon with a lot of utility. It’s also a pleasure to drive as the new-generation V70 is smoother, quieter and more powerful.
Another version of the V70, called the XC70 adds off-road capability. It comes with a full time all-wheel drive system, increased ground clearance and protective lower body side cladding plus under-body skid plates.
Changes to the V70’s ’09 option list include the addition of Real Time Traffic updates to the Navigation System ($2,500) package. A dual Screen Rear Entertainment System ($2,250) has a new screen that’s 43 per cent bigger and offers better visibility during daylight. In addition, its wireless headphones can now be folded for easier storage.
Visually the new V70 does not look like a radical design departure from its predecessor but, in fact, nearly everything has changed. It’s now built on what Volvo calls its large-car platform, which it shares with the top-line S80 sedan.
Besides some dimensional changes, you’ll notice a larger grille and headlights, and the rear window slopes forward a little more. Even those signature giant taillight assemblies are shaped a little differently and are attached to the rear liftgate, allowing a larger opening for cargo.
Getting back to those dimensions, it’s not as long but a little wider and taller than the last generation and the wheelbase has been stretched by 52 millimetres. All of this allows more leg and hip room inside the cabin.
It’s also worth pointing out that Volvo’s body-corrosion warranty now lasts for 12 years, regardless of the distance driven.
There’s seating for five and with the rear seats folded flat there’s a vast 2040-litre (72.1 cu ft) of cargo space available. This well-finished cargo area has an under-floor storage section, fully-lined and has aluminum floor rails with movable cargo anchorage points.
The driver’s seat is generous and it provided excellent support. It also incorporates the latest WHIPS system that reduces acceleration forces on both an occupant’s back as well as the neck, in a rear-end collision.
A slim-line centre console has become a Volvo feature and is a neat one with a concealed storage pocket in back.
The fat leather-wrapped steering wheel, the simple, easy-to-read instrument panel gauges and the flip-down rear head restraints that improve the driver’s rear vision are all nice added features.
My test V70 also came with a low- sheen finish real-walnut trim that was particularly attractive and added another level of sophistication.
In addition to the whiplash-reducing seats, the V70 also has advanced-technology airbags and a new-generation electronic stability-control system. Its body structure is also composed of four kinds of steel that distribute collision energy away from the passenger compartment.
There’s also a lengthy list of new safety options, including a blind-spot warning system (BLIS), a collision-warning system with auto braking, lane-departure and distance-alert systems. A unique-to- Volvo option is its two-stage integrated child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts. A new driver-alert system option evaluates the driver’s control of the vehicle and gives a “take a break” warning if it suspects that the driver is falling asleep.
Then there’s the optional personal car communicator. From a hundred metres (a football field) away, the driver can check whether it’s locked or the alarm has been triggered, and can detect a human heartbeat inside the vehicle.
If you enjoy driving, but need a wagon-type vehicle, the V70 offers a more agile and entertaining drive than an SUV or even a crossover vehicle. On the other hand, it’s no match for a high-powered sports sedan.
Its 3.2-litre engine is mounted transversely (sideways) in the engine bay. This not only allows a shorter front nose, it also acts as an additional safety barrier in a frontal collision.
The 235-hp 3.2-litre six is certainly not a high-revving screamer of an engine, but delivers decent acceleration and its torque is smooth and linear. It does move the V70 rapidly when pushed, and it sounds good, too.
Energuide fuel consumption ratings are 12.7/7.8 L/100 km (city/highway).
The six-speed automatic transmission has one extra gear over the previous-generation V70 and has a gated shift lever that also allows manual shifting. There’s none of that fancy paddle shifting by the steering wheel stuff in this car.
Although a handsome looking wagon, the Volvo V70 appeals to a buyer who really looks beyond aesthetics. It’s a delightful vehicle to spend time in and drive long distances, plus it offers the most comprehensive safety package available for your family.
Pricing: 2009 Volvo V70
Manufacturer’s web site