In my experience, there's a certain kind of woman who drives a Volvo XC70. (Yes, woman because I can't think of one man who drives an XC70; if you're a man who drives this wagon, I'd love to hear about it!). She's a well-educated, well-exercised, cable-knit-sweater-wearing mom with one or two children and a big, lovable dog. These women are particular in their tastes and the XC70 is one of them. I happen to have an aversion to cable-knit sweaters, but nonetheless, am in perfect agreement with these women when it comes to this wagon.
The 2012 Volvo XC70 has a beautifully appointed interior with plenty of cargo room, is fun to drive and can easily conquer muddy trails in the mountains, should one choose to head West after brunch at the club.
If you have one or two children and like a bit of luxury, practicality and versatility, the XC70 is worth a look. It lacks great fuel economy and enough cupholders (there are only four … gasp!), but I suppose even the cable-knit-sweater crowd can't have perfection all the time.
The XC70 I tested was the upper-level T6 trim that comes with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine. The 2012 XC70 is sturdy, accelerates smoothly, has plenty of power and handles curves and corners well. I did not have occasion to take it off-road, but by all accounts, it can handle some tougher terrain.
The starting MSRP for the 2012 Volvo XC70 base model is $33,825, including an $875 destination charge. My test car was the highest Platinum trim and included extras like a Climate Package and a blind spot warning system. With those extras, the car's as-tested price was $49,070.
Muscular and powerful with strong lines is how Volvo describes the XC70's new exterior. While that sounds enticing, it makes the car sound more macho than it looks. The 2012 XC70 looks like a petite XC90. Its boxiness is gone in favor of more curves.
My test car came with 18-inch alloy wheels, though the 16-inchers are standard and 17-inch wheels are also available. Standard features include heated power side mirrors, a power moonroof and aluminum roof rails, which create an athletic look. As a part of the Platinum trim, my test car featured a power liftgate, and with the optional Climate Package, it also had rain-sensing heated wipers, headlight washers and active bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
Since this is a station wagon, step-in height was doable, even for my 2-year old. The doors were too heavy for all but my 5-year-old who had to give it his all, but I never find too-sturdy doors to be a nuisance.
I was able to fit two armchairs in the XC70's 33.3-cubic-foot cargo area. I probably could have fit four armchairs in the whopping 72.1 cubic feet that appears when the rear seats are folded. The front passenger seat also folds flat.
The all-wheel-drive car has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that delivers 300 horsepower. The transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual mode. Of course, power and fun-to-drive-ness often come at a price; in this case, the price is lackluster fuel economy. It gets an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg city/highway. Regular unleaded fuel is required.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
The XC70's interior is nothing less than gorgeous. The combination of creamy cream-colored (officially called Sandstone) leather seating and the chocolaty-colored (officially called Espresso) dashboard and surrounding surfaces with walnut wood inlays was stunning. Buttery leather and silky metal trim surround the steering wheel and gearshift.
This inner beauty was complemented by some impressive functionality. Illuminated steering-wheel controls, dual-zone automatic climate control and the 7-inch LCD screen are all standard features.
With the Platinum trim, my test car came with features like the voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic information and a backup camera. Grocery-bag holders and a cargo cover in the rear are also part of the Platinum trim. As part of the Climate Package, the XC70 I tested included heated front and rear seats.
The seats were comfortable, though the amount of space — or lack thereof — in the rear really only works for a family of four or smaller. I was unable to fit three child-safety seats across the backseat, a must for my family of five. There are also only four cupholders in this entire car, which was tough for my multibeverage-loving family.
Despite the fact that I couldn't fit my whole family in it and those of us it could fit were thirsty, there is still plenty to admire. The rear center console and armrest is like an in-car bento box. The 40/20/40-split rear seats allow for many different configurations to accommodate whatever or whomever you may be transporting.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Writing about the safety features in a Volvo is always fun. This is an automaker that has been in touch with the market's safety concerns; it doesn't disappoint with the 2012 XC70.
There are the usual standard safety features such as front-wheel drive, antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. Then there are standard features like Volvo's City Safety system, which deploys the car's brakes to avoid collisions at slower speeds, and seat belt monitors for all seating positions. The seat belt monitor sounds an alarm if a child in the backseat unbuckles his seat belt. You'll enjoy the look on your child's face as he realizes he's busted.
Optional safety features are all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, hill descent control, collision warning and blind spot warning systems, and integrated booster seats in the second row. Additionally, an optional pedestrian detection system applies the brakes if a pedestrian steps in front of the car.
The XC70 has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seat. They were easy to access and use and made installing and removing my children's safety seats a relatively benign experience.
The 2012 XC70 hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the federal government.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Volvo XC70 here.