Review: Five reasons why the 2011 Volvo XC70’s Chi is strong


Volvo has been through many changes, but one thing is a constant: Volvo builds great station wagons. Volvo has a grand past as an automaker and is fond of our memories of past Swede-machines. Hell, Roman Mica (or Chairman Roman) and I have both owned Volvos and we miss them.

Let’s put this to bed for now: China’s Geely automaker acquired Volvo nearly a year ago and all is well. How do I know all is well? Simple, they are still building Volvos, REAL Volvos like the XC70 are being pumped out of Swedish factories improved from last year. So, that’s progress – right?

Well, the only notable changes for the XC70 are a front-wheel drive (FWD) variant and a bump in horsepower – AND the base price is much lower with a base MSRP of $32,150. Options and features have changed a bit, but it’s the FWD and base price that piqued our interest.

There’s more. Geely is letting Volvo be Volvo. Volvo knows that many drivers are loyal to their proper station wagons. That’s one of the things they are best known for. Despite its age, the XC70 still packs a wallop.

Here are five reasons the 2011 Volvo XC70’s Chi is still strong:


1. Power:

The base model XC70 has a 240 horsepower I (inline) 6 that makes 236 lbs-feet of torque. That’s not bad, but that engine bogs down a bit with the weight of the vehicle. The 0 to 60 mph times for the normally aspirated I6 take 8.4 seconds – according to Volvo. The turbocharged, 300 hp, 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces and 325 lb-ft of torque is the one you want. The only problem is mpg.

The weaker 3.2-liter AWD I6 gets 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The FWD is 1 mpg better on the highway. Unfortunately, the turbo AWD (there is no FWD XC70 with a turbo) is rated at 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The XC70 T6 has fantastic acceleration with a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.7 seconds (measured at over 5,200 feet elevation).

2. Ability: is based in the Rocky Mountain region which means we are especially fond of weather conquering AWD and thin-air-fighting boost. So, the 2011 Volvo XC70 T6 is perfectly suited for our neck of the woods – year round. Not content to wait for snow (it is late spring and warm in Denver), I opted to challenge the Volvo XC70 off road.

It’s not an off road vehicle, but it does a HELL of a good job nonetheless. The AWD system is seamless and the electronics figure out traction settings in thick mud/gravel/sand quicker than I can. The added ride height is very useful and the body was solid as a vault.


3. Comfort:

This is the strongest suit for the XC70 – its’ very comfy for all passengers. My kids LOVED the integrated rear booster seats. Simply lift and adjust to make a “big kid” seat in the rear. It was so popular with one of my little ones that a verbose declaration of distain was proposed for any automaker who neglected to install one. I would like more settings on the driver’s seat, but that does not dim my enthusiasm for its overall comfort.

The floating center stack still brushes my right knee in an odd way, but it’s less pronounced than in the Volvo XC60. The ride quality of the XC70 is creamy smooth while offering a stable, quiet highway ride. Legroom is good up front and acceptable in back. If you add a third passenger in the center, he/she should be narrow in hip or face an uncomfortable ride. Seats folded, the 2011 Volvo XC70 has an impressive 72 cubic feet of cargo space.

4. Diving:

Unlike the outstanding Volvo C30 (one of my favorite small cars) the XC70 is not about steering feel – at all. Its steering is weighted nicely and will provide no surprises for casual drivers, but it might disappoint performance seekers. There is no tactile reward echoing through the steering wheel. Cornering is smooth at regular speeds.

Things become saggy and tippy at higher speeds. It’s like the weight of the XC70 and higher ride height rock the boat a tad too much. This is a car that weighs nearly two tons. Fortunately, it more than accounts for itself in daily ride comfort and ease, which is better than Subarus, many crossovers and most SUVs.


5. Safety:

Volvo builds safe cars; we all know that. That’s one of their strong points and a marketing base for all of their vehicles. There are some impressive safety options/packages offered for the XC70 like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and a collision warning system that primes the brake system before a panic stop. There’s a driver fatigue warning system that monitors the driver and warns of drossiness. Good stuff based on a solid platform.

So, do I think the 2011 Volvo XC70 is a good car? I would certainly recommend it, but only for certain types of consumers. The base price FWD is acceptable, but a fully loaded XC70 T6 runs well into the mid $40,000 range. There are much cheaper alternatives that are just as commodious and handle better, like the Subaru Outback.


It is a bit long in tooth to be sure.

Still, as a practical, safe, comfortable, all-weather companion – this is the car I would be more than happy to place my family inside. Besides, “She-who-must-be-obeyed,” my kids and even my dogs seem to like it – a lot. I like the T6’s power and comfort.

I guess it’s a Szechwan -Swede delight and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his page HERE.

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