2008 Volvo V70 Review

By Brendan Moore

08.30.2008

In the interest of disclosure, its only right that I tell you I’m a fan of wagons. The concept of a car that drives as well as its sedan brother but will haul a lot more stuff has always seemed nothing short of brilliant to me.

I know that goes against the grain of popular preference in the U.S. The station wagon is seen by many here here as the equivalent of wearing baggy sweatpants all day; that is, you’ve basically just stopped caring what you look like anymore and you’ve pretty much given up.

Of course, it is different in Europe, as a lot of things are. Combis, or estates, or touring models, or sport wagons, or, if you will, the somewhat-quaint name of shooting brakes are all held in good esteem. They’re actually seen as an indicator of an active, vital lifestyle. Sedans are for older people.

But, not here. Wagons are not even close to hip. They used to be sort of acceptable to most people; now they’re sort of acceptable to a minority of the car-owning public. First, the minivan displaced wagons in driveways across America, then, when the minivan became identified as a housewife’s vehicle, it was replaced by the SUV. And now we have the crossover. Each one of those station wagon replacements took away some percentage of the station wagon’s former constituency, and now, there just aren’t a lot of station wagon fans left.

Volvo sent over a 2008 V70 Wagon for a week a little while ago, and I was happy to see it. Volvo has always done a good job with their wagon models – I speak from experience in this regard as my current household has owned two of them previously.

The V70 is redesigned for 2008, but you certainly won’t have any trouble recognizing it as a Volvo as it retains all the typical Volvo styling cues. It is definitely a bit sleeker and better-looking than the previous iteration. The old joke about Volvo used to be that the designers had kept the box and thrown away the gift, but its been a long time since Volvos looked like two square boxes stacked on top of one another.

The V70 only comes one way now, in the 3.2 trim. That gets you a full load of standard luxury equipment, and, a 3.2 liter straight six that puts out 235 hp driven through a six-speed automatic transmission. The V70 achieves 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg out on the highway.

The chances of the factory sending a car over to a journalist that is not loaded to the gills with optional equipment is small; but that’s just what I got in this instance. Some of the things that weren’t on the car were a navigation system, satellite radio, rear set entertainment system, bi-xenon headlamps, collision avoidance system, premium package, convenience system, climate package, etc. This kept the price of the tester car close to the base MSRP of $32,465 USD. In fact, the V70 as tested was right under $35,000. Just as a point of reference, a completely loaded V70 touches $50,000. As you can see, I got a “stripper” luxury car. Frankly, it was still a very well-equipped car.

In the week I had the V70, I used it as a commuter car, an errand car, a long-distance tourer and a mule that carried a lot of gear. It did all of these things well, returned fairly good fuel economy while working hard at all of these tasks, and, not least, kept myself and my passengers in comfort and luxury at the same time.

It handled and braked like a car, not an SUV or a crossover. The cargo capacity is cavernous with the rear seats folded down, and its easy to load because its much lower than those types of utility vehicles. And of course, it gets better gas mileage for the most part. Some crossovers can equal the V70 in fuel economy, but not many of them.

The interior is done in typical clean Scandinavian style, with great seats, wonderful instrumentation, good ergonomics all around. Volvos are great cars for eating up vast distances on the highway in comfort and this new V70 was no different.

This wagon is not a car that any enthusiast magazine would rave about; it’s not remarkably fast, it’s not ultra-luxurious, it’s not anything that special, but it is a very useful sort of car that doesn’t cost a ton of money if you’re judicious when checking off options at your local Volvo dealer. Its an honest car that doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t.

It might be the sort of car that suits your needs. Of course, you will have to be seen driving a station wagon.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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6 Comments

  1. Wow, a shooting brake? You must hanging around people that are either rich or old, or both. I haven’t heard that term for a station wagon for years. Does anyone still call a wagon a shooting brake?

  2. People still call wagons shooting brakes in England. Regular people, not rich people.

  3. And the term in French is ‘break’ which may have the same origin.

  4. Give me a Flex instead please. At least it has style.

  5. Make it rear wheel drive with a manual and I might be interested. Oh wait, volvo does not make RWD cars.

  6. Smotri, in Quebec, Canada, we use a different term for wagon instead of “break” like France, we just call them “familiales” (maybe it’s due for people with a big family)

    I agree with Mark in AZ, if Volvo had still a RWD platform on their portefolio….

    Meanwhile Down Under in Australia, HSV released a “muscle-wagon” of the Holden Commodore wagon http://www.autoblog.com/2008/09/02/baby-got-back-hsv-launches-clubsport-r8-tourer/ titled ClubSport R8 tourer

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