Volvo C30

The Volvo C30 may seem like a drastic departure for the Swedish automaker famous for sedans and wagons shaped like big blocks of cheddar, but in reality, it's not without significant family ties. Two-door hatchbacks are certainly not what people think of when Volvo enters a conversation, and true enough, the company hasn't sold one in North America since the 1800ES coupe of the 1970s. But there's a missing link in the C30's design evolution, a car intended for American roads but ultimately never brought over here: the Volvo 480. Sold in Europe from 1986-'95, this hatchback reveals a bit more of the family genes.
Like the 1800ES and 480, the Volvo C30 is a small two-door coupe with a large glass hatchback that provides a very distinctive look and abundant rear visibility. Like the 480, the C30 features four bucket seats, front-wheel drive, a turbocharged engine and handling that's sporty but not quite at hot-hatch standards. While it's unknown how Americans' general distaste for hatchbacks will influence the C30's success, at least we will be given the chance to experience this entry-level Volvo that's actually pretty cool.

Current Volvo C30
The Volvo C30 is a two-door hatchback that seats four people. It is available in two software-inspired trim levels: Version 1.0 and Version 2.0. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, a 50/50-split rear seat, full power accessories, a tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a CD audio system and the full docket of Volvo's safety systems. The 2.0 adds 18-inch wheels, a sport body kit, a Dynaudio 10-speaker surround sound system and aluminum dash inlays.
The options list is incredibly long, with tons of à la carte choices, no doubt catering to younger buyers. Options of note include cruise control, xenon headlights, a blind spot warning system, power retractable side mirrors, a sunroof, park distance control, headlight washers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power front seats, heated seats and keyless ignition. Unlike other Volvos, there is a large selection of "custom" exterior colors and interior color, upholstery and trim choices.

Mechanically, the Volvo C30 bears some relation to the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. Its suspension has been tuned to be firmer, but otherwise this is still a car designed with comfort and everyday drivability in mind. Think of it as a temperate hatch, not a hot one. Nevertheless, the C30's standard turbocharged five-cylinder engine makes a healthy 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph is said to be achieved in just over 7 seconds. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a five-speed automatic optional.
With a low base price and lengthy options list, the Volvo C30 is able to meet the needs of a variety of different buyers. Whether you're looking for Volvo safety at a budget price or a hip hatch with customizable colors and features, the C30 fills the role. However, the numerous luxury options can elevate the C30 above 30-grand territory, and we're not sure it warrants that price.
Past Volvo C30
The Volvo C30 is an all-new model for the 2008 model year.

Volvo C70

In years gone by, Volvos were known as boxy, "square" lumps – reliable and safe, perhaps, but never a styling trendsetter. The Swedes finally joined the styling parade in the late '90s, with the introduction of the slightly more curvaceous Volvo C70. Available as a coupe or convertible, the two-door C70 shared much of its underlying hardware with the S70 sedan.
Detail improvements through the years -- including trim level and color changes, and minor engine upgrades with low- and high-output turbo options -- kept the C70 fresh enough for its relatively low volume of customers. A fully redesigned Volvo C70 debuted last year. It combines the best of both worlds with a handsome new retractable hardtop that opened and closed at the touch of a button.
The new Volvo C70 is slightly shorter and lower than its predecessor. This time, Volvo based the second-generation C70 on the same platform used for its contemporary-styled, midsize S40 sedan and V50 wagon. The key update for the new C70 is that there's only one model -- a convertible with a high-end, power-retractable hardtop. When the C70's steel roof is up, it gives the car cleaner coupe styling, added rigidity and better noise isolation. When the roof-lowering process is started, the C70's dual-hinged trunk lid opens in a reverse motion and the roof pieces arc backward and stack inside the trunk. Overall, the process is seamless and takes about 30 seconds to complete.
The current Volvo C70 debuted in 2006. It seats four and has a retractable hardtop. Available in only one trim level, T5, the C70 comes well-equipped with most modern convenience features. A few option packages allow one to add items such as leather seating, a navigation system and an upgraded audio system.
For power, the C70 relies on a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder engine developing 218 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission, and a five-speed automatic is optional. Though acceleration is certainly not blistering, Edmunds editors have found in reviews that the turbocharged engine provides enough low-end torque to get the C70 moving briskly enough from a stop.
Shoppers interested in a comfortable four-passenger convertible will certainly want to take a close look at the Volvo C70 T5. Pricing might be a concern for some, as the C70 occupies the same price points as more prestigious and rewarding-to-drive European competitors -- and it's also more expensive than similarly equipped Japanese and American competitors. Still, our editors believe a strong case can be made for the C70 given its attractive design, long list of safety equipment and comfortable ergonomics. Because of its well-engineered retractable-hardtop design, the Volvo C70 is one of the top convertibles to consider if you value style and safety more than top-notch performance.
The first C70 appeared in 1998 as part of Volvo's effort to polish its brand image with a bit of style and desirability. Two models, a two-door coupe and a two-door convertible with a traditional soft top, were initially available. This first C70 was comfortable and competent, but we found its aging underpinnings made it a rather bland car to drive, particularly in comparison to hotter European coupes or convertibles. For power, Volvo installed either a 236-hp turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine or a less powerful 190-hp version.
Minor equipment changes carried the Volvo C70 through its first few years. The 190-hp engine was made available on the coupe but then dropped in 2001. The high-output engine wasn't available on the convertible until 2000. In 2003, Volvo discontinued the C70 coupe and stopped importing the vehicle completely in 2005. At the time, we found the C70 to be generally desirable, though its dated underpinnings put it at an increasing disadvantage against fresher competitors as the years went on, especially in terms of handling performance.

Volvo S40
German car companies have long been the dominant players in the entry-level luxury sport sedan market. The Volvo S40, introduced to the North American market in 2000, was the Swedish brand's first stab at stealing some market share. Though it had its shortcomings, the S40 was a decent small sedan that helped redefine Volvo's image. Instead of the standard boxy shape once associated with Volvos, the S40 had a sleeker silhouette and was pretty fun to drive.
Volvo released the improved second-generation S40 midway through 2004. Styling is sportier and more refined, as are the car's ride and handling dynamics. Additionally, there are now two engine choices, including a 218-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder known as the T5. Though it still doesn't have the prestige or athleticism of its German competition, the latest Volvo S40 costs less and still offers plenty of refinement, comfort and style.
The Volvo S40 is available as a compact luxury sport sedan. (A related wagon variant is called the V50.) There are two trim levels for the S40. The front-wheel-drive 2.4i trim comes with a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine that makes 168 hp, and comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional. Those looking for a sportier drive should take a look at the T5 trim, which is powered by a turbocharged 218-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder. The five-speed automatic is standard on the S40 T5. An all-wheel-drive T5 with a standard six-speed manual is also available; it can be equipped with the automatic as an option.
Standard features include an interior air filtration system, a telescoping steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, stability control and a full complement of airbags. Leather seating, premium Dolby ProLogic audio, a navigation system and a sport package are just some of the optional luxury features that Volvo offers. Inside the S40, the seats, dash and panels look upscale and classy, and the ultra-slim center stack design makes a fashion statement while adding to functionality. The driving position is snug and comfortable, but adults seated in the rear might find the legroom tight.
In reviews, our editors have found the Volvo S40 to be an entertaining car to drive. The chassis and suspension give the car sharp handling attributes. The optional sport package comes with a revised suspension and bigger wheels and tires, which improves cornering performance at the expense of comfort. For most buyers, the standard suspension setup will provide plenty of thrills while providing more cushioning over potholes. As the base 2.4-liter engine's output is rather unimpressive, going with the T5 probably isn't a bad idea.
Volvo introduced the compact Volvo S40 sport sedan in 2000. The first-generation car came with a turbocharged 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine that made 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission delivered power to the front wheels, and there was no manual transmission or AWD option. Standard features included ABS, automatic climate control, power windows and locks, and heated mirrors, while features like leather upholstery and a power driver seat were optional.
In 2001, Volvo added safety features to the S40 and made minor styling changes to the headlights and interior. The company also brought out a new five-speed automatic transmission. For 2003, power was increased to 170 hp, and a CD player became standard. In 2004, Volvo added an LSE trim to the lineup to sustain interest in the car until the current generation launched later in the year. Reviews at the time noted that the first-generation S40 was a decent small sedan but a tough sell over the less expensive but equally upscale Volkswagen Jetta. Officially, the completely redesigned Volvo S40 was introduced midyear as a 2004.5 model.

Volvo S60
The Volvo S60 is an established yet unconventional entry in the entry-level luxury sedan market. It competes in a class dominated by cars with normally aspirated V6 engines and bucks the trend by offering a choice of three turbocharged five-cylinder engines instead. Styling is another area in which the Volvo S60 is unique. Even well into its model cycle, this midsize sedan's body lines retain a modern, and pleasing, Scandinavian distinctiveness. Inside, the S60 strikes one as more functional than luxurious in its ambience, but it's hard to find fault with its carefully considered ergonomics and orthopedically designed seats.
Where the S60 does lag behind other entry-luxury sedans is on the performance front. The Swedish sedan's handling dynamics are a bit dull and unpolished compared to newer rivals. Standing starts in the 2.5T and T5 can feel a little sluggish when compared to most competitors featuring larger-displacement six-cylinder engines, and although these Volvos ride smoothly, they're just not as composed over bumps as many of their rivals. It also suffers from a backseat that's lacking in legroom. These issues will likely be resolved only through a redesign. If you're not hung up on such deficiencies, though, this midrange Volvo could be worth a look, particularly if you're searching for an entry-level luxury sedan that doesn't resemble the status quo.
Current Volvo S60
There are three Volvo S60 trim levels -- 2.5T, T5 and R. The base 2.5T is reasonably well-equipped, while the T5 is a bit more athletic, thanks to an extra helping of horsepower, bigger wheels and a sport-tuned suspension. The high-performance R features an even firmer adaptive suspension, 18-inch wheels, performance tires and bi-xenon headlights.
Important options for the S60 include a navigation system and a 13-speaker Dolby sound system. As you might expect, all Volvo S60s are protected by an umbrella full of Volvo safety features -- including stability control, anti-whiplash seats and full-length side curtain airbags -- and have performed extremely well in crash testing.
Each S60 model has its own engine. The S60 2.5T comes with a turbocharged, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder rated for 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission routes power either to the front wheels or all four on all-wheel-drive (AWD) models. Next up is the S60 T5, which features a slightly smaller 2.4-liter inline-5 but uses a higher-boost turbocharger to produce 257 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque -- and a fair amount of turbo lag and torque steer, too. Unfortunately, the T5 is front-wheel-drive only, but buyers have their choice of a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox.
Finally, there's the high-flying S60 R with a 2.5-liter, high-pressure turbocharged five-cylinder that pumps out 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. All S60 Rs are all-wheel drive, and buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Either way, the S60 R is downright quick, and we think it offers an interesting alternative for enthusiasts looking for something different.
The Volvo S60's cabin is functional but doesn't feel upscale unless you order the leather upholstery and premium audio system. The controls are nicely weighted, but the pictograms placed on the various functions can be difficult to understand for the uninitiated. There's generous seating for four -- five in a pinch -- though rear passengers will find the legroom tight. Trunk capacity measures nearly 14 cubic feet, and the 60/40-split rear seat folds to handle extra-long cargo.
All S60s provide a ride that's biased more toward comfort than speed; handling is adequate but the limits are modest on 2.5T and T5 models. The S60 R is more capable on back roads with its multimode adaptive suspension. Judged on their own, any of the Volvo S60s would be satisfying to own as they offer plenty in the way of comfort, safety and personality. However, with so many newer, more refined rivals crowding this segment, it's a good idea to check out some of the S60's competitors before you buy.
Past Volvo S60 models
Volvo introduced its new S60 front-wheel-drive sedan in 2001 as a replacement for the S70, and the debut immediately injected some enthusiasm and style into Volvo's midsize offerings.
At the time, there was the base 2.4, the midlevel 2.4T and the range-topping T5. The three varied in levels of standard equipment and what kind of engine the car had. The S60 2.4 came with a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine that produced 168 hp. The turbo 2.4T had 197 hp. The most powerful engine was the 247-hp 2.3-liter five-cylinder in the T5.
An all-wheel-drive model called the 2.4T AWD joined the family in 2002, and all models received enhancements to traction control and engine management systems, resulting in improved response. In 2003, the AWD sedan switched to the current 208-hp 2.5-liter engine, prompting Volvo to rename it the 2.5T AWD. In 2004, the hot-rod 300-hp R was added to the mix. Also that year, the front-drive S60 2.4T became the 2.5T, as it, too, picked up the 2.5-liter engine.
For 2005 the Volvo S60 received an exterior and interior refreshing. The T5 got a bump in horsepower to 257 and a few other upgrades. In 2006, Volvo dropped the base 2.4 model and upgraded the 2.5T AWD model with a new all-wheel-drive system for enhanced traction.

Volvo S80
Among luxury sedans, the Volvo S80 has always been something of an alternative choice. Through two generations, Volvo's largest sedan has spurned outright luxury and serious performance in favor of cutting-edge safety features and in-cabin technology. And, in a class dominated by rear-drive sedans, Volvo continues to tout the virtues of front-wheel drive, while offering all-wheel drive as an option.
There are plenty of premium-brand sedans that feel more upscale than the S80. There are just as many that surpass its balance and grip on a winding back road. Yet the Volvo S80 is most certainly one of the safest four-door conveyances money can buy. It also boasts some of the industry's most supportive seats and top-rated factory audio systems.
For luxury sedan buyers whose tastes run astray from the mainstream, the Volvo S80 is an interesting car to consider. And with a price tag that undercuts many European and Japanese-brand competitors, it can be a sensible option as well.
Current Volvo S80
The 2007 model year brought a full redesign for the S80. Although it didn't change drastically in size or appearance, it moved to an all-new platform and adopted a new pair of engines, not to mention an impressive array of safety technology. In spite of its position at the top of Volvo's lineup, the S80 is only midsize in dimensions, which means it can seat four adults comfortably but doesn't have yards of legroom to spare. It has about the same footprint as the Acura RL, the competitor it most closely resembles in personality and performance.
Volvo sells three versions of the S80. The entry-level S80 3.2 is front-wheel drive and motivated by a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder rated for 235 horsepower. Drawing upon the services of a six-speed automatic transmission, the 3.2 moves the S80 along adequately in any situation.
However, buyers seeking a more authentic luxury experience will undoubtedly prefer either the midrange S80 T6 or the high-line S80 V8. An addition to the lineup for 2008, the T6 model uses a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-6 good for 281 hp. It uses the same transmission as the base S80, but power goes to all four wheels via a standard all-wheel-drive system. True to its name, the S80 V8 has a 311-hp 4.4-liter V8. As on the T6, the six-speed automatic drives all four wheels. This is a potent combination, even in a car that weighs more than 2 tons; we've timed the S80 V8 at 5.9 seconds for the 0-60-mph run.
All Volvo S80s come standard with the usual luxury amenities, including leather upholstery, wood trim, power-adjustable seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Major options include Volvo's Four-C adaptive suspension (part of the sport package), an excellent 12-speaker Dynaudio sound system, a navigation system and a dual-screen rear entertainment system. Notably, the nav system offers a separate remote control to allow safer operation by the front passenger while the car is in motion.
On the safety front, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Personal Car Communicator (PCC) and collision warning system (bundled with adaptive cruise control) are worthwhile options for long-distance commuters to consider. One of the first systems of its kind, BLIS uses warning lights mounted on the A-pillars to alert the driver when another vehicle pulls up in the S80's blind spot. Although PCC is basically a glorified security system, its transponder has a heartbeat sensor to let you know if someone is still in your Volvo after the alarm has been activated.
Useful features like these are the main reasons someone might want to buy a Volvo S80. The vigor of the V8 model, the utter comfort of the front seats and a reasonable price tag are additional points in the car's favor. In other respects, though, the Volvo S80 comes across as tepid for a luxury sedan in this class. It rides comfortably, handles predictably and stops short, but otherwise does little to engage its driver. And although its cabin has all the expected amenities, it lacks the unrestrained elegance and exacting quality of competitors' interiors.
Past Volvo S80 Models
If you're shopping for a used Volvo S80, you'll come across many examples from the first generation, sold from 1999-2006. This car was similar in dimensions and focus to today's S80. Notably, it heralded a new styling direction for Volvo's sedans, as its curvy body lines were a dramatic break with the company's boxy designs of the '80s and '90s. Even today, the original S80 has a Scandinavian coolness that keeps it from looking dated.
Volvo offered the S80 with three different engines, two of them turbocharged. The most interesting of these was the T6, a twin-turbo inline six-cylinder rated for 268 horsepower. (Initially, the T6 displaced 2.8 liters; in 2002, Volvo enlarged it to 2.9 liters with no change in output.) Volvo claimed a 6.8-second 0-60 time for the S80 T6, but even with a standard four-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, the car felt quicker than that. Serious torque steer was the major knock against the T6 model. Volvo discontinued it after 2005.
From 1999-2004, a naturally aspirated 2.9-liter inline six-cylinder good for 197 hp motivated the base Volvo S80. It, too, was available only with a four-speed automatic and only with front-wheel drive. In 2004, a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder known as the 2.5T joined the lineup. Rated for 208 hp, it offered significantly more torque than the 2.9-liter, while engaging the services of a more sophisticated five-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5T was the only engine that could be had with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. And in '06, it was the only engine you could get on the S80.
Acceleration was modest with either of the lesser engines, but otherwise the driving experience was agreeable in the S80, with a comfortable ride and sure-footed handling. Those seeking added control should look for an S80 with the Four-C adaptive suspension, which was offered as an option on 2004 and later models.
Initially, you had to pay extra to get leather upholstery, but that became standard fare in 2001, while items like dual-zone automatic climate control, a CD audio system and a telescoping steering wheel were standard throughout the run. Options ran the gamut in the first-gen Volvo S80. In addition to expected items like a navigation system (DVD-based from '02 onward), a high-quality Dolby sound system and xenon headlamps ('02 and up), Volvo offered a rear-seat refrigerator, a dual-screen entertainment system and even a fax machine ('01 only) in certain high-line T6 models, which were called Executive, Elite or Premier depending on the model year.
Still, the best reason to consider buying a used Volvo S80 is its high level of safety. It earned five stars in all government-administered front- and side-impact crash tests, as well as a "Good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Additionally, a full menu of side airbags and dynamic front head restraints were standard throughout its eight-year run. The one feature to pay attention to is stability control: It was standard on T6 models but optional on all other S80s.

Volvo V50
In Volvo nomenclature, "V" stands for "versatile." Versatility is great, but as the departed V40 wagon proved, it says nothing about excitement -- not when the other elements in the mix are drab sheet metal and mediocre performance. The Volvo V50 was conceived to replace this less-than-memorable small wagon, and it improves on the formula by offering more style and the opportunity for greater performance.
The compact V50 has been dubbed a "sport wagon" by Volvo. With its bulging fenders and grooved hood, this Volvo looks, dare we say, ripped. And it lives up to the sport part through its sharp handling and sprightly acceleration -- as long as you opt for the turbocharged engine, that is. With that turbo under its hood, the Volvo V50 feels nimble and brisk. Alas, the V50's normally aspirated base engine is far less impressive, responding with uninspiring tepidness.
Still, with either power plant, this upscale small wagon is enjoyable on the inside, offering a design that's as ergonomically correct as it is distinctive. There are also plenty of safety features, with a lineup that includes side-impact and head curtain airbags, active head restraints and optional built-in booster seats for children. Combine all this with the utility offered by the available all-wheel drive, and Volvo's V50 distinguishes itself as providing plenty of "V" without being boring to drive or own.
Current Volvo V50
Compact in dimensions, the Volvo V50 wagon shares a platform with the S40 sedan and C30 hatchback. V50 buyers have their choice of two trim levels. The base 2.4i delivers 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a CD player and full power accessories. The T5's additions include automatic climate control and a power driver seat. Volvo gives buyers lots of ways to make the V50 personalized and more luxurious, with an options list that includes a moonroof, 17-inch wheels, a premium surround-sound audio system, a sport package and a navigation system.
The V50's base inline five-cylinder (the standard engine on the 2.4i trim level) provides 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This engine provides adequate but uninspiring performance. The solution to this problem lies with the turbocharged, 2.5-liter inline-5 that's standard on T5 models. This engine cranks out a healthy 218 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive 2.4i and T5 models are equipped with a standard five-speed automatic transmission, while the all-wheel-drive T5 comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with the automatic being optional.
Volvo's Scandinavian roots are elegantly reflected in the V50's cabin. The feel is open and clean, highlighted by an unusual, thin center stack. In true Scandinavian fashion, function goes hand in hand with form -- for the most part. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat helps the car easily digest oversize items; cargo capacity is competitive with that of others in this class, and controls are easily navigable. Materials quality is also quite good. The one negative here is that the wagon's minimalist aesthetic results in, well, a somewhat minimal number of storage areas within its cabin.
Past Volvo V50s
The Volvo V50 debuted for the 2005 model year. Only a few changes have occurred since. Most significant were the addition of a new air filtration system for 2006 and the addition of stability control to the standard equipment list for 2007. (It was optional in previous years.) Also note that front-drive T5s sold previous to that year were available with the six-speed manual transmission.

Volvo V70

The Volvo V70 is the latest in a long line of safe and practical midsize wagons from the venerable Swedish company. The V70 has become progressively more stylish and luxurious through the years, while maintaining its superior reputation for safety. Featuring the cargo room of an SUV along with the secure handling and (until recently) the fuel economy of a sedan, the Volvo V70 has always had a lot to offer for families who could afford the somewhat steep price of entry.
When it first debuted, the V70 was no more than a refreshed version of the 850 wagon, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. It offered class-leading safety and spaciousness along with sprightly turbocharged engines and enough luxury to keep well-heeled buyers happy. The second-generation V70 brought revolutionary changes -- no longer a breadbox on wheels, this curvaceous model flaunted swept-back, hunkered-down styling that was unprecedented among midsize Volvo wagons. It also offered more powerful engines in addition to the expected array of safety and luxury features.
The current-generation Volvo V70 continues the positive aesthetic trend started by its predecessor, boasting eye-catching style inside and out. With the recent influx of capable midsize wagons and family-oriented crossover SUVs, however, the competition is stiffer than ever. Compared with similarly priced wagons and crossovers from other manufacturers, the current V70's performance is somewhat lacking, and fuel economy is also unimpressive. Families attracted to the V70's safety and utility may also want to consider competing models that provide these traits as well as superior power and/or efficiency.
Current Volvo V70
Introduced for 2008, the current Volvo V70 competes in the midsize wagon segment. Offered in only one trim level, the V70 comes standard with a decent array of premium features, including alloy wheels, automatic climate control and a power driver seat. Optional accoutrements include leather upholstery, a navigation system and upscale safety features like a blind-spot warning system and adaptive cruise control with collision warning. For consumers who want a little luxury in their family wagon, the V70 will not disappoint.
While past V70s were powered by an eccentric array of five-cylinder engines, the current model is motivated by a 3.2-liter inline-6 that delivers 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. The sole available transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. Although the V70 is a generally competitive car in its segment, we have some reservations about this powertrain. For example, acceleration and fuel economy are mediocre. As such, competing wagons and even some crossover SUVs are both quicker and more frugal at the pump.
Such shortcomings would have been more forgivable in the 1990s, when Volvo justly enjoyed a peerless reputation for automotive safety. Other manufacturers have closed the gap in recent years, which has enabled safety-minded consumers to be more discerning about other aspects of the driving experience. Fortunately, the V70 has most of these bases covered with its luxurious and spacious cabin, smooth and supple ride, and secure if uninspiring handling. But its lackluster powertrain won't do it any favors in a segment where top safety scores have become more or less par for the course.
Past Volvo V70 Models
The V70 line traces its roots back to the midsize Volvo 850, which debuted in 1993 as the first front-wheel-drive Volvo to be offered stateside. With its advanced safety features (including side airbags from 1995 onward), capacious interior and distinctive lineup of five-cylinder engines, this endearingly boxy people mover quickly became a strong seller. Base models were powered by a 2.4-liter 168-hp naturally aspirated five-cylinder engine, while the T5 model featured a sprightly 222-hp turbocharged inline-5. The GLT received a 2.4-liter 190-hp turbocharged-5 for 1997. Family-minded enthusiasts and their young ones could enjoy world-class performance courtesy of the even more powerful T5 R (later simply "R"), a 240-hp rocket sled that was one of the world's fastest wagons in its day.
The 850 wagon was revised and renamed "V70" for 1998. Apart from mildly updated front-end styling, a streamlined control layout and slightly softer suspension settings, not much had changed. All-wheel drive became an option on GLT models in 1998, and output in the T5 increased to 236 hp, while the top-performing R model was boosted to 246 hp. The base model and midlevel GLT had the same engines as before. A V70 XC version debuted for '98, sporting the turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, increased ground clearance, skid plates and off-road styling cues.
In 2001, the second-generation Volvo V70 arrived on our shores, boasting a sleeker shape and a new platform shared with the S80 sedan, as well as a striking interior layout largely borrowed from the S60 sedan. Initial trim levels were the base 2.4, 2.4T, T5 and XC. Base models were powered by the venerable naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine, while 2.4T models received a 197-hp turbocharged variant. The T5 was the most powerful version, with 247 hp.
In reviews at the time, we commented favorably about the V70's combination of style, safety and luxury. We also appreciated the available high-powered turbocharged power plants. Our main criticisms were the wagon's tight rear legroom and high price with options, though depreciation has largely mitigated this concern for used Volvo shoppers.
If you're looking for a used Volvo V70 from this generation, there are a few changes to be aware of. In 2004, the 2.4T was replaced by the 2.5T, which offered a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder that pumped out 208 hp. An all-wheel-drive V70 (separate from the SUV-styled XC trim level) was available in 2.4T trim for 2002 and 2.5T trim for 2003-'04. The XC eventually became marketed as a separate model, beginning in 2004. There was also a high-performance V70 R model, which was a 300-hp all-wheel-drive wonder wagon. It was available from 2004-'07. In terms of features, Volvo made minor improvements through the model run, but no particular year is a significant standout.
It may also be worth noting that Volvos lack the rock-solid reliability of brands like Acura and Lexus, plus they can be expensive to repair. Finding a good certified used Volvo or a car that still has the factory warranty might be the best way to go.

Volvo XC70

The Volvo XC70 is an all-weather version of the V70 midsize wagon that boasts all-wheel drive as well as increased ground clearance and SUV-like styling cues. The latter two features are mostly for show, however, as the XC70 has never had much in the way of serious off-road hardware. What the XC70 has consistently offered is the sure-footedness of all-wheel drive, and it has become progressively more stylish and luxurious through the years, while maintaining its SUV-grade cargo space and superior reputation for safety.
The XC70 debuted as the V70 XC, a tough-looking, all-wheel-drive interpretation of the first-generation V70 wagon. It featured segment-leading safety and a cavernous cabin, along with a lively turbocharged five-cylinder engine and an appropriate amount of luxury for its premium price point. The second-generation V70 XC was a revolutionary step forward -- no longer a shoebox on stilts, its swoopy styling outside and in marked a clear departure from the squared-off Volvos of yore. This XC also had the expected array of safety and luxury features, and it received a midcycle engine upgrade that coincided with its rechristening as the separately marketed XC70.
Like its predecessor, the current generation Volvo XC70 is downright stylish all over, and it continues to offer many of the same virtues as previous versions: confidence-inspiring all-wheel drive, top-notch safety, a luxurious cockpit and enough cabin volume to satisfy all but the most haul-happy families. With the new inline six-cylinder engine, however, performance is lackluster -- other midsize wagons and a handful of crossover SUVs are both more satisfying to drive and comparably or more frugal at the pump. The XC70 is a solid family vehicle, especially for those living in colder climates. Still, there are competing models that have similarly appealing traits, as well as superior power and/or efficiency.
Current Volvo XC70
Introduced for 2008, the current Volvo XC70 technically competes in the midsize wagon segment, although its standard all-wheel drive and SUV-like features make it competitive with crossover SUVs as well. Compared to a regular V70 wagon, the XC70 stands out, thanks to increased ground clearance (2.7 inches higher than the V70) and more rugged styling details that include cladding on the lower body sides and different front and rear fascias.
Offered in only one trim level, the XC70 comes standard with plenty of convenience and upscale features. Major options include leather upholstery, keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system. Under the hood is a 3.2-liter inline-6 that sends 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. Those numbers may look good on paper, but the XC70's actual acceleration performance and fuel economy are decidedly unimpressive.
Otherwise, the stylish XC70 should please any family that requires all-weather capability, carlike handling and an upscale cabin with plenty of cargo space. With the proliferation of crossover SUV offerings in recent years, however, there are numerous competing models that boast similar strengths along with better overall powertrains. We'd recommend taking a good look at what the market has to offer before you ante up for the current XC70, though those who ultimately go with the Volvo likely won't be disappointed.
Past Volvo XC70 Models
The XC70 debuted in 1998 as the "V70 Cross Country" (XC for short) an upgraded trim level for the V70 wagon. With its advanced safety features (including side airbags from its inception), capacious interior, all-wheel-drive utility and trendy SUV looks, this endearingly boxy people mover quickly became a strong seller. Powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine, the first-generation V70 XC was rated at 190 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque -- adequate in its day, but not exactly scintillating. Many buyers probably weren't even aware that the V70 XC came standard with skid plates, one of the few examples of genuine off-road equipment on this "SUW."
In 2001, the second-generation V70 XC was introduced. Like its V70 sibling, the new V70 XC sported a sleeker shape and a new platform shared with the first-generation S80 sedan, as well as a striking interior layout largely borrowed from the S60 sedan. In 2002, Volvo changed business tactics, dropping the "V70" from the car's title and marketing it separately from the V70 line as the Volvo XC. In 2003, the "70" designation returned, giving us the first official Volvo XC70.
Second-generation cars could be equipped with a navigation system for the first time. The 2.4-liter engine was tweaked to produce 197 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, yielding satisfactory if not thrilling performance. In 2003, the 2.4-liter mill was replaced by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that pumped out 208 hp and a healthy 236 lb-ft of torque, which made the XC70 feel rather quick. Rear-seat room was improved over the rather cramped first-generation car, though we still weren't overly impressed, and a third-row seat was available in every model year except 2007. Other available features included adjustable rear seats, four-zone climate control and a DVD entertainment system with front headrest-mounted TV screens.
Well-optioned second-generation XC70s were pricey in their day, but depreciation has helped matters somewhat. Still, the European and premium status of Volvos frequently translates to an expensive repair bill, should you run into problems. Those looking for a used Volvo XC70 should consider a certified pre-owned car or one that still has the factory warranty. If you care about performance, 2003 and later XC70s are the logical choice, as they offer a useful 26 extra lb-ft of torque as well as 11 more hp. Otherwise, you won't be missing much if you go with the 2001 or 2002 model.

Volvo XC90

Volvo does things a little differently from other premium brands in the automotive world. For this Swedish manufacturer, safety and kid friendliness are just as important as luxury amenities and driving performance, and in no vehicle is this more apparent than the Volvo XC90, a midsize 7-passenger SUV.
Easily one of the safest SUVs on the market, the Volvo XC90 pioneered Roll Stability Control when it debuted for the 2003 model year. This bit of technology uses a gyro sensor to identify every SUV owner's greatest fear, a potential rollover situation, and activates the stability control system to try to avert it. Another interesting feature that debuted for the 2007 model year is the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which monitors images from a pair of cameras mounted in the side mirrors and warns the driver via an indicator light when another vehicle moves into the XC90's blind spot. Of course, the XC90 also provides staples like side curtain airbag protection for all three rows, anti-whiplash seats and an emergency communications system. Volvo crash safety is legendary, and indeed this midsize SUV has scored well in NHTSA and IIHS testing.
In addition to peace of mind, the Volvo XC90 offers families plenty in the way of practicality. Headroom and legroom are ample for children and teenagers in the second and third rows, and both the 40/20/40-split second-row seat and 50/50-split third row can fold flat into the floor when extra cargo space is needed. There's even an integrated child-booster cushion for the second row that allows the center section to slide forward for easier access to a fussy toddler.
For all these reasons, the 7-passenger Volvo XC90 is one of our top recommendations to families shopping for an SUV. Although its on-road performance is merely average as luxury SUVs go, the addition of a V8 to the lineup for 2005 significantly improved its standing in this crowded segment.
Volvo's XC90 is available in two versions: 3.2 and V8. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the 3.2 is the entry-level model and carries a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated for 235 horsepower. Mileage suffers a bit on the XC90 V8, but the 311-hp 4.4-liter V8 provides strong acceleration, moving this 4600-pound SUV to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. All-wheel drive is standard with the V8.
The 3.2 comes with five-passenger seating (with the third-row seat optional), while the V8 comes with seven-passenger seating. As this is a premium SUV, all major safety and convenience features are included even on the base model, with the exception of rear parking sensors, which are optional. Leather upholstery is also optional on the 3.2, but you get it standard on the V8 model. Major options include a rear entertainment system with dual screens, a DVD-based navigation system, a Dolby Pro Logic II surround-sound audio system and an interior air quality system that monitors incoming air for toxic substances.
The XC90 drives just as you'd expect a safe, heavy Volvo SUV to drive. Ride quality is smooth and the cabin stays quiet, while handling is competent but not the least bit sporty. Equipped with AWD, the XC90 makes an excellent snow vehicle but isn't intended for serious off-road romps.
The Volvo XC90 is still in its first generation, and changes have been minimal over the years. The 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine also debuted in 2007 as a replacement for the 208-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder (known as the 2.5T) offered through 2006. Used-XC90 shoppers will also come across T6 models (sold from 2003-'05), which had a 268-hp, twin-turbocharged, 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder. Although acceleration was adequate with either of these turbo engines, their power bands really weren't well-suited for duty in a heavy SUV. However, if you test-drive a used XC90 T6 or 2.5T and find its performance to your liking, there's no reason not to buy it.

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