Brought to the market in 1999 as the Volvo V70 XC, with the name change occurring in 2003, the vehicle now known as the XC70 represented Volvo’s desire to enter the 4x4 market. As its original name suggests, the vehicle is the bigger brother of the V70 station wagon variant, with raised ground clearance and all-wheel drive. The level of ground clearance increased in 2003 to 16.5 centimetres, rising to 20.8 centimetres in 2007.
There have been three generations of the V70 XC/XC70, with the second of these arriving in 2003 and the third in 2007. The name change occurred in 2003, representing the change from the P1 to P2 chassis and marked the model as part of Volvo’s Cross Country range, which now also includes the XC90.
Only one model was originally available, but in 2004, the XC70 LE model was added, which added a range of features. This was followed by the lower grade XC70 SE in 2005, and in 2007 by the diesel variant D5 and D5 LE in 2008.
There can be no doubt that the XC70 is intended to appeal to those with expanding families who want off-road capabilities and a sporty, rugged appearance. The look of the Volvo XC70 is best described as a cross between its V70 brother and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, which is wholly appropriate considering its intended crossover appeal.
The original V70 XC had a 2.5L multi-point fuel injection petrol engine, delivering a power output of 142kW at 5100rpm and a torque of 270Nm at 1600rpm, as well as an acceleration of 0-100km in 8.5 seconds. This first-generation model used 11.5L/100km in an urban environment and 7.4L/100km in an extra urban environment, giving a combined fuel consumption of 8.9L/100km.
The equivalent second-generation model – released in 2003 – uses an updated version of the same 2.5L engine, yet with an increased power output of 154Nm and a torque of 320Nm at 1500rpm. This extra torque added to this turbo engine is very welcome considering the sheer size and weight of the XC70. In terms of fuel consumption, the later model uses more than the 1999 model. Indeed, in an urban environment, this model uses 12.5L/100km and 7.6L/100km in an extra urban environment, with a combined fuel consumption of 11.1L/100km. Nevertheless, this level of fuel economy is respectable for a petrol car of its class.
The first diesel variant, the 2.4L XC70 D5 – released in 2007 – has a lower power output than either of the other previously mentioned examples at 136Nm, but an increased torque of 400Nm at 2000rpm. This example reaches 0-100km in 9.9 seconds and has noticeably less acceleration, yet its increased torque lends it increased pulling power and, in some respects, it feels less sluggish as a result.
In terms of handling, the 5-speed ‘Sports Automatic’ gearbox, included on all models from 2006 onwards, shifts smoothly, and the XC70 is pleasantly quiet. At speed, however, the vehicle tends to choke under the enormous weight behind it and could certainly benefit from the sophisticated air-suspension found on some rival models.
Off road, the third-generation models had break over and departure angles of 16, 18, and 20 degrees that are reasonable enough for a crossover vehicle. Ground clearance on later models also enables the XCX70 to have little trouble over streams and rocks, although earlier models are not known for their prowess in this area.
The standard kit on the Volvo V70 XC/XC70 has always been magnificent. Models from 1999 included air-conditioning and climate control, ABS, cruise control, traction control, engine immobiliser, power steering, power windows, and a trip computer. Options included metallic paint and a sunroof.
Later XC70 SE models added rear park assist, auto-dipping rear-view mirror, 6 airbags, hill descent control, rear parking sensors, and rain sensing wipers. The higher-end LE model adds a sunroof, power tailgate, and electro-chromatic mirror.
Options on later models include the addition of bi-xenon headlights, Bluetooth, and a compass on the centre mirror.
Considering that the XC70 was conceived as an extension of the V70 range, there are some similarities, especially to the AWD version of the latter. Essentially one should choose the XC70 over the V70 if a large family car with a plethora of safety features and a lot of cargo and passenger space is what is required. There also seem to be a lot more attractive deals available from dealers for the XC70 than its smaller brethren.
Other alternatives include the Dubaru Outback and Holden Adventura, yet these models are more expensive than the XC70, and the XC70 arguably fulfils its purposes with equal aplomb.