U.S.A.:2004 Volvo XC70 AWD wagon
He Drove, She Drove
Volvo wagon wraps occupants in safety
By Paul & Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News
We often talk to consumers like Todd French and his wife, Heidi, of Dana Point, Calif., who swear by station wagons. The Frenches recently bought an Audi A6 Avant wagon because they didn't like the idea of climbing into a taller vehicle like a sport utility vehicle.
If you don't mind losing the command seating position that you get in a sport-ute, a wagon is an excellent choice -- and there are few choices as solid as the Swedish-built 2004 Volvo XC70.
The XC70 used to be called the Volvo Cross Country -- a vehicle the Lienert family owned and enjoyed several years ago. The Cross Country was renamed to make its badging consistent with the new Volvo XC90 SUV -- a good idea, since the Volvo ute is so highly regarded.
We test drove a well-outfitted, all-wheel-drive XC70 priced at $41,380.
Anita's rating:4 out of 5 stars
Likes: Bigger than Audi Allroad, but less expensive. Excellent, practical alternative to an SUV. World-class safety features. Optional interior air-quality system. Built-in "dog barrier." Seats are plush, almost like living-room furniture.
Dislikes: Can't use passenger seat power controls when the ignition is off. Aggressive look is over-the-top. Feels cramped in rear seat. Radio controls are overly complicated. Bigger mirrors would be nice.
Paul's rating:4 out of 5 stars
Likes: Distinctively Volvo styling. Fake redwood trim in cabin looks like a briar pipe. Roomy cargo area. Decent 4-year/50,000-mile warranty. Responsive handling. Good steering feedback. Ride comfort is not bad for all-wheel-drive. Five-cylinder engine is decent, but not overwhelming.
Dislikes: Pricey at $41,000. Mangled rubber seal around driver's window.
SHE: On Sunday morning, I gave our 7-year-old nephew Nick a ride home from Big Boy in the Volvo wagon. He's pretty car-savvy and his comments surprised me. At first glance, he thought I was driving a smaller Hummer -- I guess the Volvo wagon's "shoulder pads" and more aggressive look can fool some consumers. When I buckled him in the back, he glanced over his shoulder at the sturdy cargo protection net -- I call it a "dog barrier" -- that keeps schnauzers and stuff from flying into the passenger area and asked, "Is this a police car?" No, Nick, but it's a very serious car for families who take their job of protecting children and pets very seriously.
HE: You wouldn't buy another Volvo wagon on account of that silly new puppy of yours, would you?
SHE: Do you mean Pinki? Of course, I would. I'm totally impressed by the long list of safety features on the XC70. And I'm betting that's why most Volvo buyers won't think twice about the sticker price. There is air bag protection for all passengers in the form of side air bags and side curtain air bags. Each of the five 3-point seat belts has automatic height adjustment. There are five padded head restraints. There's a whiplash protection system for front-seat passengers, a security system with a back-up battery for the siren, and child safety locks in the rear doors. Of course, standard features include antilock brakes and traction control. Amore sophisticated dynamic stability control system is a $695 option, but well worth the price for peace-of-mind. Whew. If safety is your chief concern, read no further. Just go out and buy the darn thing.
HE: The XC70 is such a Little Miss Perfect vehicle that I'm surprised we came up with a list of flaws on the wagon. I noticed that the rubber seal around the driver's window was mangled -- all crumpled up on a 2004 model with not a lot of miles on it. You were unhappy that you couldn't use the front passenger seat's power controls when the car was turned off and you wanted bigger mirrors. The rear seat felt cramped and the radio controls are a joke. It's hard to find stations and store them. That was a disappointment, considering how all the other controls and displays are intuitive and easy to use.
SHE: Yes, but the XC70's seats are very supportive and comfortable -- almost like living-room furniture. The PremAir-treated radiator converts ground smog into oxygen while you are driving. And the driving experience is excellent. We both gave the Volvo wagon high marks in terms of ride comfort, handling and steering. The smooth 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine had decent, but not overwhelming performance -- 208 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque -- and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Granted, the Audi Allroad beats that significantly, with its 250-horsepower 2.7-liter V-6. I guess hot foots will just get to the grocery store a little bit slower in the Volvo. I was happy that the wagon got much better gas mileage than most SUVs -- 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
HE: My guess is that traditionalists will like the Volvo much better than a competitor like the Chrysler Pacifica, with its unusual 2+2+2 seating. The Volvo is a classic station wagon with contemporary updates. Our test vehicle had such upscale features as $500 bi-xenon headlights, optional leather seats and a moonroof. I really liked the simulated redwood trim, which reminded me of an old briar pipe -- another old-time touch in this 21st century wagon.
SHE: I'm thinking that you'll have to look hard to find another wagon that gives you such a womb-like atmosphere. That's why the Volvo XC70 works for me. And Pinki.
2004 Volvo XC70 AWD
Type: Front-engine, all-wheel drive, five-passenger station wagon
Price¹ : Base, $34,460 ; as tested, $41,380
Engine: 2.5-liter five cylinder; 208-hp; 236 lb-ft torque
EPA fuel economy: 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway
Key competitors: Audi Allroad Quattro, Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5-Series, Chrysler Pacifica, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Saab 9-5, Volkswagen Passat
12-month insurance cost²: $1,550
Where built: Sweden
1 Includes $685 destination charge 2 Estimated by AAA Michigan. Rates may vary depending on coverage and driving record.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....