Volvo did not join the sport utility vehicle competition until the 2003 model year when it added the new XC90 to its lineup. Ever since 1998, the Swedish automaker has offered the XC Cross Country wagon that gives its buyers a taste of SUV characteristics. Equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) instead of front-wheel drive, the XC70 sits a bit higher than regular V70 wagons and displays a few SUV-like styling cues.
Now called the XC70, the Cross Country has 2 more inches of ground clearance than some wagons, including the companys all-wheel-drive V70 AWD, which debuted for the 2002 model year. Special body trim also gives the XC70 a distinctive, rugged look.
A new 208-horsepower 2.5-liter engine replaces the previous 197-hp, 2.4-liter inline-five-cylinder, and this years AWD system is borrowed from the new XC90. Only minor modifications to the XC70 have taken place for 2003, such as the addition of a standard in-dash CD player, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a wood-trimmed dashboard. The standard Climate Package includes rain-sensing wipers.
Like other midsize Volvo wagons, the XC70 rides a 108.5-inch wheelbase and measures 184.5 inches long overall. Rounded front corners resemble those of the Volvo S80 sedan, but the rear half retains the straight lines and body profile of a traditional wagon. Intended for rough trekking, the XC70 has large bumpers and fog lights that are augmented by moldings around the wheel arches and lower body. The XC70s ground clearance measures 8.2 inches, which also helps give the wagon an appearance similar to that of an authentic SUV. A moonroof is available.
The XC70 seats five occupants on two front buckets and a 40/20/40-split rear seat featuring a removable center section. An optional two-place, rear-facing auxiliary seat is designed to carry children. An optional Premium Package includes leather seating surfaces. Cargo capacity is 71.5 cubic feet when the backseat is folded down and 37.5 cubic feet with all the seats raised.
Under the Hood
The XC70 is equipped with a new 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five-cylinder engine that delivers 208 hp. Volvos standard Geartronic five-speed-automatic transmission permits manually selected gear changes.
The XC70s safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags, inflatable side curtain-type airbags and a Whiplash Protection System that moves the front seats rearward in a collision.
Serving as a thoroughly civilized, tightly constructed machine, the Cross Country wagon cruises with seeming effortlessness, which gives little hint of the abundant power lurking within. A touch on the gas pedal can trigger a leap ahead.
The XC70s steering is on the heavy side, but its not ponderous. Volvos wagons are stable on the highway and corner well enough, but they cant be called snappy in urban driving. The XC70s firm yet almost cushiony suspension copes adeptly with bumps.