2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Volvo Cars Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD

Aren’t you glad that it lost all that clad? The former king of black plastic body appliqués has gone decidedly uptown for Oh-Eight, which means we shouldn’t see the return of Trans Am-style door stickers announcing the XC70 nameplate. While most manufacturers have tossed the traditional wagon for the ‘ute, Volvo has embraced the concept since the days of the fabled Amazon.

The changes may be subtle as the decades dissolve. What we need here is a large set of Volvo wagon flip cards to get the point across. I’ll let someone else work on those charcoal renderings, and stick to the Carpal Tunnel-bend of my Flying Fickle Finger of Interior Debate. This week’s XC70 tips the scales at an MSRP of $54,445, with the inclusion of the Premium, Convenience, and Luxury II Packages.

Cabin

2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge
Controls

The XC70 is the peach of the in-reach when it comes to instrument clarity and feature access. The remote key can be inserted into the dash-mount dock, or kept on one’s person for engine start/stop. The steering wheel gets a manual lever to effect tilt and telescoping action. Window lifts get auto up/down for all positions, with rear seat lock-out.

The power-folding heated exterior mirrors receive dedicated on/off switches to engage adjustment, which is performed with a proper toggle. Headlamps use an auto position, with fog and rear driving lamps. In the same real estate are the power release keys for the fuel filler door, tailgate, and the electric parking brake.

The cruise control keys are found on the left-hand spoke, with audio controls on the right – they use symbols instead of spelling out their function. As this cruise control system is of the adaptive variety, it can be adjusted for distance sensitivity as you approach other vehicles, slowing the XC down accordingly, while maintaining a proper safety buffer zone.

This is one vehicle that parents will insist that their teenagers borrow, with such innovations as the Blind Spot Information System: using rearward-facing cameras on the exterior mirrors, the system illuminates A-pillar-mounted lighting when a vehicle is approaching on either side.

Parking assist is audible with escalating tones for front and rear. The Collision Warning System senses when your driving inputs are set on ‘McQueen’, and pre-loads the braking system as well as providing an audible and dashboard-mounted visual alarm. It’s a great way to get you off the cell phone, even if the whole display is reminiscent of my Electronic Battleship board game, circa 1980.

There is an abundance of information about how the XC70 is doing, with trip computer functions accessible through the Info keys found on the turn signal stalk. This is also where you’ll find the ability to disengage the traction control. The “Road Less Travelled” in you will appreciate the Hill Descent Control switch, found below the HVAC controls. The HVAC system gets dual zone temperature control, Auto setting, and the ability to simply press the button that corresponds with the part of your body that needs toasting.

2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The audio system can store up to 20 FM presets or the 10 strongest stations with the Autostore feature. Curious to note is the appearance of the steering sensitivity control menus in this real estate. One would think this would make more sense in the trip computer arena.

The Geartronic automatic shift gets a manu-gate for the six forward ranges, for when you’re feeling sporty on the way home from Costco. In front of the shifter are the switches for the Active Chassis damper controls, with Comfort, Sport, and Advanced modes. The wiper stalk gets an Auto setting, with adjustable rain sensitivity, rear wipe/wash functions, and integrated headlamp spritz.

Convenience

2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The secret to offering creature comforts in any vehicle is to provide ease of accessibility, without making the feature a glaring part of the overall design. Take the centre stack: a clever rubber-padded cubby to the rear keeps items hidden, and within easy reach. The door pockets follow the flow; not gargantuan, yet far from unusable. Front seats get storage compartments on the front of the bottom seat cushions, as well as rear seat pockets.

The glovebox is ample, as well as lockable. The centre console gets a flock-lined cavity, with removable rubber tray and auxiliary audio jack. There is a hard drop down tray, more of a work surface or chicken nugget dipping station. A roll top door reveals the dual cupholders, with removable rubber trays for the cup bed and coin pocket. The cups get sloppy cinch, from four rubber tabs for each cup.

There is a 12-volt powerpoint in this quadrant, as well as a rear console mount, with separate audio controls for your children’s zoning-out pleasure. Visors get dual-lamp vanities, with a Homelink system on the driver’s side. The rear seat cupholder suffers the same fate as the front units, with minimal cinch.

Fit and finish

Clean and clear: that may sound like an acne cream, but the words ring true throughout the XC70’s interior execution. Tactile feel is benchmark quality, leathers are like buttah, and panel fitment borders on perfection. Still, a little bit of Swedish weirdness: the stainless trim within has a motif that reminds me of classic Formica. All it needs are the gold flecks and the asbestos.

Safety

2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The new XC70 hasn’t hit the smash and tabulate reports from the major crash test funhouses, though the historical performance of Volvos speaks for itself. Dual frontal bags are joined by front seat side-mounts, with curtain protection for all rows. Add to this feast such innovations as front seat whiplash protection, built-in rear child seat boosters, and, well, you get the idea.

Seats

I believe I already mentioned the buttery leather hides, which also receive three-step heat for the front passengers. (Rear heat is optional.) Kudos to Volvo for understanding that the driver is not the only one in need of lumbar support; both front seats get inboard dial controls, power fore/aft/recline, and three memory settings for the driver’s seat, which also positions the exterior mirrors accordingly. Of particular note is the side bolstering of the front buckets. Now if only I can find a lass who holds me with similar conviction.

Spare/Trunk/Cargo

2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

I know I’ve said, ‘This Is How It’s Done’ before, but this is reeeally how it’s done for wagons. The first treat is the power tailgate, which works on an interior hinge system, as opposed to struts. Simply pull the tailgate lever and stand back, as the gate opens automatically, with no discernible hesitation in minus 40 weather. Press the switch on the gate, and the process repeats itself in reverse.

There is an abundance of cargo tie-down points, such as the removable alloy floor track cleats, and provisions for accessory cargo barriers. Flip up the smaller floor panel, which hangs onto your grocery bags. Slap that down, and lift the entire floor, which is held upright with strut assist. The low depth cargo organizer is held up by a tether, to allow EZ access to the spare tire and tools.

2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD
2008 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

Volvo’s OnCall roadside assistance will change it for you for the first four years of ownership. The best part is that the OnCall service is renewable after the warranty expires. The rear seats fold perfectly flat, with no headrest impedance. The config is 40/20/40, allowing for a centre pass-through when required.

Engine

Just back away slowly: the 235-horsepower 3.2-litre inline six allows for the basics of fluid check and top-up, but that’s all you’ll be doing beneath the bonnet of the XC70. I cringe at the future labour costs. Two words: extended warranty.

Verdict

It’s not that often that I come right out and say this; this is a vehicle that I could honestly see myself enjoying for the long haul. Serviceability aside, the comfort levels and genuine think within this Volvo’s cabin are worth a visit by the entire contingent of manufacturer’s design spies.

Next week: 2008 Volvo XC70

Manufacturer’s web site

Volvo Canada

Connect with Autos.ca