By Jeff Weidel
Taking another step from its uninspired, stodgy past, Volvo decided to pursue the makeover route for the 2008 XC70. Typically, there’s nothing wrong with redesigns, they’re sometimes long overdue. Not that the XC70 falls into that category, but it emergeed in 2008 as a more appealing vehicle.
The remodeled vehicle is four inches longer overall and two longer in the wheelbase. It origin is Volvo’s premium sedan (S80), not the scaled down S60. The XC70 also has revised interior and exterior design.
Although it could be easy to do, don’t confuse the XC70 with the V70 wagon. The XC70 has a raised suspension, now features four-wheel drive and weighs 200 more pounds than the V70, which has front-wheel drive and lacks any off-road capability.
Some may still be wondering just what is the XC70’s true identity? At first glance, the vehicle can be mistaken for a sport utility vehicle. Yet a closer inspection reveals the XC70 is a mid-size station wagon, not a cross-over SUV.
Any Volvo product comes off the assembly line as industry leader, with safety and comfort quality at the forefront. The XC70 is no different, offering a long list of great safety features. Among the standard equipment are hill descent control, stability control, antilock brakes, anti-whiplash front head restraints, built-in child booster seats, and the popular OnCall system.
And there is also a sizable amount of optional state-of-the-art safety features, including a collision warning system, which closely monitors the following distance and quickly alerts the driver while preparing the brakes for stopping if the car gets too close. There’s also a blind spot information system and several other progressive safety accessories.
The exterior changes for the 2008 model include a new grille that resembles the XC90 SUV, while the nose of the wagon has distinctive bright fog lights that are surrounded by a darker bumper covering.
The interior changes aren’t as dramatic, but one nice addition is added leg room for the rear passengers. The XC70 is not a cabin that offers luxury, yet the seats are extremely comfortable and for people who want leather seating, it’s available as an option. Trunk space is ample as well.
Don’t expect overly sharp handling from the XC70, but if does provide a smooth ride on practically all surfaces. The steering is responsive and the wagon is easy to maneuver in good and bad (wet) weather.
What might not be desirable for some car shoppers is the rather hefty sticker price of $36,775 for a wagon that lacks overall performance. Offered in only one trim model, the XC70 has a 3.2-liter, incline-6 with 235 horsepower (27 more than last year’s turbo inline-5). This year’s wagon has a new six-speed automatic transmission and goes from 0-60 mpg in a not-too impressive 8.5 seconds. At 15-22 mpg, the fuel economy is not impressive, either.
Yet this is what many people have come to expect from a Volvo. Although improvements have been made, there is no major excitement driving the XC70, just comfort and a peace of mind that comes with all the safety features. That’s why some car buyers go in another direction, buying more sexy mid-size vehicles like the Lexus ES 350, Cadillac CTS, the Acura TL and the Infiniti G.
FAST FACTS: VOLVO XC70, 2008
Performance — 3.2-liter, inline-6, 235 horsepower; Mileage Estimates — 15 mpg (city), 22 mpg (freeway); Safety Features — Hill descent control, stability control, antilock brakes, anti-whiplash front head restraints, built-in child booster seats, daytime running lights, dual climate control, 8-way power driver seat, center console, keyless entry, rear defogger, CD/MP3 player; Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper 4 years/50,000 mile; Corrosion 12 years/unlimited miles; Free roadside assistance 4 years/unlimited miles; Free scheduled maintenance 7,500 miles; Price As Driven — $36,775.
Article Last Updated: June 14, 2008.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.