Aside from buxom blonde movie and television actresses, one of the better known imports from Sweden is the Volvo line of automobiles.The cornerstone of the 1998 Volvo models is the S70 and V70 series that replaces the Volvo 850 sedan and wagonThe two 70 series vehicles have model designations that read somewhat like alphabet soup. There are 18 of them in all, seven in the S sedan class and 11 in the V wagon category.It all starts out with an S70 M and ends with an S70 T5A for the sedans. Wagons begin with a V70 M and end with a V70 RAWD. While the S designation is rather self explanatory as standing for sedan, the V can be somewhat of a misnomer.It stands for versatility, as Volvo launches an assault on the sports utility market with its all-wheel drive wagon.The S and V versions of the '98 Volvos all share essentially the same suspension, basic drivetrain and basic dimensions. But they do differ in their levels of performance and luxury.As with most European automobile manufacturers, versus American makers, the Swedes don't see too much wrong with doing your own shifting. As a consequence, five-speed manual transmissions are offer for models with normally aspirated (non-turbocharged) engines. There is, of course, an automatic available.When you go to four-wheel drive in the AWD sportswagen models, only a four-speed automatic is offered, with Economy, Sport, and Winter/wet modes.The '98s are sort of a build-your-own type of motor vehicle. Depending on your needs, you can get three different horsepower ratings. There are two levels of turbocharging, and various combinations of comfort and convenience accessories.One thing that is constant and not all that common is the engine. It has dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, not too much revolutionary here. But when you get to counting the number of cylinders it becomes a different story.There are five of them, all in a line, and they come in two sizes, 2.3-liters (141.4 cubic inches/2,319 cc.) and 2.4-liters (148.5-cubic inches/2,435 cc.)There obviously isn't a great difference in engine size (displacement), but when you start running a turbo the picture certainly changes. Volvo has a system of turbo light pressure for its 2.4 motor. That lifts the power from a 168-horsepower normally aspirated mode to 190 in turbo form.For reasons known maybe only to Volvo's engineers, the most powerful engine is the smaller 2.3-liter 5. By running a high turbo boost, the 2.3 puts out 236-horsepower.With 236 horses in hand and 3,300 pounds of weight, one thing is certain. If you drive this vehicle with the hammer down, be sure it's pointed in the right direction.The S70 and V70 sedans and wagons are midsized vehicles as dictated by their common dimensions. The wheelbases are 104.9 inches, the overall lengths 185.9. Into that package has been placed advanced suspension componentry, and accessories that insure the pleasure of driving whether on the road with the fro nt-wheel drive Volvos or off-road with the AWD versions.In addition to the front drive's front independent MacPherson strut suspension, the S70 and V70 models utilize Volvo's patented Delta-link rear suspension for sure-footed control and ease of ride.The system features separate coil springs and shock absorbers that are mounted on lower aluminum alloy control arms.These control arms are attached to the underbody via short links called "Delta" links, with the assembly controlling body roll but still offering compliant wheel travel.The V70 AWD series uses a rear drive suspension unit that features a mono-leaf (single leaf) spring rather than coil springs.The '98 Volvos are upscale vehicles, so most everything in the way of air, stereo, power, cruise and the like is standard.Leather is an option, as are items like a cold weather package, automatic load leveling for the wagons, sports and touring packages, and all-season Michelin tires.They have moved the mas ter powe r controls around a bit. They now are located in a panel on the driver's door. But on balance, Volvo drivers or first timers can get in and feel right at home.There is a broad spread of pricing offered by local dealer Tom Wood Volvo, ranging from $26,985 for the manual shift S70 sedan to $40,995 for the R series AWD wagon.
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