2002 Volvo V70
2002 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase

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Volvo V70/XC70, 2001-2007

The 2001 Volvo S60, V70 and XC70 were the second-generation of this Swedish company’s front-drive, mid-size platform. That year’s redesign saw the cars adopt a look reminiscent of the venerable and tank-like 240 series, which had been replaced in the early 1990s by the 850.

For the record, while the V70 is classified as a wagon and the XC70 as a crossover, both – as well as the S60 sedan – shared the same underpinnings. This week’s review, however, will concentrate on the station wagon-based models, the V70 and XC70.

Engines were largely carried over into 2001 from the previous generation cars, those being all five-cylinder engines, with and without turbocharging. In the V70, the base engine was a 2.4-litre fiver (168 hp in the V70 2.4); a light-pressure turbo version of this motor made 197 hp in the 2.4T model; and the V70 T5 got a 2.3-litre turbo motor good for 247 horsepower.


Highs: Smooth drive, good used prices
Lows: Reliability questions, thirsty engines

Base and T5 versions got a five-speed manual as the base transmission, while the 2.4T came exclusively with a five-speed automatic; the auto was available in the other two models as well.

The V70 XC AWD got just one powertrain option, that being the turbocharged 2.4-litre engine and a five-speed automatic.

2002 Volvo V70
2006 Volvo XC70 Ocean Race; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

In 2001, the V70 got an all-wheel drive option that further blurred the lines between it and the XC70. In 2003, these models got a new 208-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-litre engine not shared by any other.

In 2003, a 208-hp, 2.5-litre, turbocharged engine arrived, but it was used exclusively in all-wheel drive versions of the V70 and in what was now known as the XC70 Cross Country.

2002 Volvo V70
2004 Volvo V70 R; photo by Russell Purcell. Click image to enlarge

With such a wide variety of motors, drivetrains and body styles, fuel consumption figures were all over the place. Here’s an overview: city consumption ranges from 11 L/100 km to 13.5 L/100 km, while highway consumption starts as low as 7.5 L/100 km and stretches up to almost 9 L/100 km. Like most cars however, you’d be dreaming if you think you could match these figures in real-world driving, particularly in all-wheel drive versions. Don’t expect to do much better than 14 L/100 km in the city and 10 or 11 L/100 km on the highway, unless you’re really good about watching your speed.

While Volvo’s older models helped establish a good reputation for reliable cars, the brand’s reputation has suffered somewhat since the mid-1990s. Much of that can be linked to the complicated electronic components used in Volvo’s newer models, and the second-generation V70 and XC70 aren’t immune to this.

2002 Volvo V70
2002 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge

One common fault is with the electronic throttle module (ETM). While this problem gets a fair bit of attention in Volvo forums, these web sites might prove more interesting reading: VexedVolvo.org details the problem and tracks the history of one owner’s efforts to get Volvo to own up to the problem, and this California law firm launched a class-action lawsuit (http://www.fazmiclaw.com/Volvo.html) against Volvo because of the ETM issue.

There are also many complaints of transmission issues. One owner posting in the forums at Edmunds.com noted that her V70 2.4T began having transmission trouble at 90,000 miles (about 150,000 km). Apparently, her mechanic told her that transmission trouble is “common and expected” in these cars.

2002 Volvo V70
2002 Volvo V70. Click image to enlarge

But while tales of poor reliability are rampant among car nuts, I was surprised by the picture painted by Consumer Reports red and black dots, which was better than I’d expected. While older models (pre-2002) get below average and poor used vehicle ratings, newer versions seem to hold up pretty well for the first few years. It’s when the cars reach their fifth and sixth birthdays that CR warns against purchasing one used.

Members posting at VolvoXC.com accuse Volvo of using undersized suspension struts, brakes and tie rods, all of which wear out earlier than they should. Electrical system and motor mount problems are apparently common, too.

While Volvo’s are renowned for occupant safety, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has tested the V70 or XC70. The IIHS does have test data for the similar S60, however, which scored a “good” rating in frontal offset crash tests, but managed just “acceptable” in side impact tests. From the NHTSA, the same S60 earned four stars for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impacts and five stars for front and rear seat occupant protection in side impacts.

2002 Volvo V70
2002 Volvo V70
2006 Volvo XC70 Ocean Race; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

Volvo’s European heritage means that resale values are strong. Prices, according to Canadian Red Book, range from $11,750 for a 2001 base V70, to $53,825 for a 2007 V70 R AWD. My advice would be to stick to a 2004 or newer model, simply because you might benefit from any leftovers from the original four year, 80,000-km warranty. Try for a 2005 model; you should be able to find a lower-end version for less than $30,000.

I can recommend these cars based on their subjective merits: they’re comfortable and wonderful to drive, even if not particularly sporty, and many owners (as happens with other European brands) love the cars despite their reliability flaws. If you like these wagons, I’d advise looking for one that has had some of the common faults dealt with already. And, above all, be well aware of what you’re getting into.

Online resources

BrickBoard.com covers just about every Volvo ever sold, but the sections for newer models like the V70 and XC70 are comprehensive. The forum layout is old-school, but this is a great resource nonetheless. SwedeSpeed.com is a good spot, too, being a part of the super-busy CarLounge.net web-glomerate; it too offers a section for the 2001-2007 V70 and XC70. V70XC.com is dedicated to these Volvo wagons, and it’s a good site to check out too, given its model-specific focus. Like Brickboard and Swedespeed, Volvo-Forums.com covers the brand’s full lineup, but has a V70/XC70 section. It’s not quite as busy as the others listed here, but is definitely worth a look.

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Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006311; Units affected: 23,792 (other models affected)

1999-2002: On certain vehicles, a combination of throttle position sensor (TPS) irregularities, a dirty throttle housing, and/or inefficient software calibration, may cause a warning lamp to illuminate and the subsequent onset of “limp home” mode. Correction: Dealers will install an electronic throttle system software upgrade in both the electronic throttle module (ETM) and the engine control module (ECM).

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004334; Units affected: 9,238 (other models affected)

2000-2001: On certain vehicles, the electric cooling fan may overheat, potentially causing heat damage and, in rare instances, a fire in the engine compartment. Correction: Dealers will replace the cooling fan with an improved version.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006066; Units affected: 14,000 (other models affected)

2000-2006: Certain vehicles equipped with integrated child booster cushions were incorrectly labelled during vehicle assembly. The label indicates that the booster cushion can be used for children weighing between 15 and 36 kg (33 and 80 lb). CMVSS 213 states that the minimum weight for use must be 18 kg (40 lb). Should an underweight child be placed in the booster cushion and the vehicle is involved in a crash, the child may have a greater risk of injury. Correction: Volvo Canada will send a letter to owners explaining this problem and will supply updated weight limit decal to be applied to each side window.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001090; Units affected: 17 (other models affected)

2001: On certain vehicles, the rear outboard seat belt anchorage bolts may have been incorrectly tightened. Correction: Vehicles will be inspected and, if necessary, anchorage bolts will be tightened to the specified torque.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004027; Units affected: 618

2002: On certain vehicles, the relay controlling the left and right brake lights may fail. If this happens, the brake lights may be on constantly, even when the vehicle is parked; or may not light up at all when the brake pedal is depressed. In both cases, the high mount brake light and all other tail lights will work as intended. Correction: Dealer will replace the defective relay.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007167; Units affected: 4,098 (other models affected)

2003-2004: On certain vehicles, the fuel pressure sensor may at times transmit an incorrect signal to the Engine Control Module (ECM). If the signal is outside of the pre-programmed allowable limits, a diagnostic trouble code may be set and the check engine light will come on. An engine misfire may occur, reducing available engine torque and possibly causing the engine to stall. In certain traffic situations this could cause an unsafe situation and possibly a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the fuel pressure sensor.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003226; Units affected: 10,712 (other models affected)

2003-2004: Certain vehicles do not comply with CMVSS 210.2. The symbol indicating the presence of a lower universal anchorage system, and a reproduction of this symbol were omitted from the owner’s manual. Correction: The corrected owner’s manual page will be mailed to owners.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004017; Units affected: 2,396 (other models affected)

2004: On certain vehicles, the front lower control arms may not have been manufactured within the agreed specifications and as a result the stud and nut that secure the control arm to the spindle may lose its initial axial tension. In the worst case, this condition could eventually lead to separation between the front control arm and the spindle possibly causing a loss of control and a crash. Correction: Dealer will install a new type of nut with increased assembly torque.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006237; Units affected: 1,871 (other models affected)

2006: Certain vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of CMVSS 110. The Tire and Loading Information Label contains incorrect tire inflation pressure value. If the vehicle is equipped with SST tires and the inflation pressure is set to 35 PSI (incorrect pressure listed on the label), the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) may set a warning message “Low Tire Press. Check Tires”. Correction: Owners will be provided with labels and installation instructions.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006325; Units affected: 596 (other models affected)

2007: Certain vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of CMVSS 120. The certification label information was not printed in the prescribed manner or order. Correction: Updated labels and installation instructions will be mailed to owners.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007098; Units affected: 22 (other models affected)

2007: On certain vehicles, the electric cooling fan control unit’s metal cover may not have received the specified corrosion protection during manufacturing process. Moisture ingress as a result of cover corrosion could lead to an electrical short that may initiate an engine compartment fire. Correction: Dealers will replace the cooling fan.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001089; Units affected: 903 (other models affected)

2001: On certain vehicles, the bolted joint that is used for attaching the bracket that is part of the installation hardware for the ISOFIX-type child restraint, may have been incorrectly tightened. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, tighten the bolts to the specified torque.

Manufacturer’s Website

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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