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2012 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD first drive - now with Polestar performance

By KBB.com Editors on March 9, 2012 11:56 AM
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A wonder wagon with mini dash of crossover charm, the 2012 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD gets a welcome dose of overdrive for the new year. Revised standard features including new safety and convenience touches are common across the entire XC70 lineup, but it's the availability of a factory-warranted software-based power boost from Volvo's official racing partner, Polestar, that adds the most new appeal to the turbocharged T6 models. We recently traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, to check out one of these more potent variants, a 2012 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD decked out in the new top-line Platinum trim grade.

Beyond the availability of Polestar-supplied extra muscle on T6 models, the 2012 Volvo XC70 contingent gains a restyled upper dash -- the better to house a 7.0-inch color display for the new Sensus integrated infotainment system that offers streaming audio functionality to complement the Bluetooth connectivity and Sirius Satellite Radio/HD radio. Further amping up the XC70's general cabin ambiance are new Cross Avenue aluminum trim inlays on the dash and console. Also new on all XC70s is the automaker's City Safety system that uses an infrared laser sensor to scan ahead and can automatically apply the brakes to avoid a front-to-rear crash when the vehicle is traveling between 2 and 19 mph.

Volvo changed the XC70's option package mix and trim designation nomenclature for 2012, with the latter now including "Premier," "Premier Plus" and "Platinum." The first -- only offered on XC70 3.2 models fitted with a 240-horsepower/3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline six -- nets things like Classic Walnut accents, leather upholstery, a power moonroof and several other items that are standard on the T6s. Premier Plus builds on that by adding the former Convenience Package goods (notably a power tailgate, front/rear park assist, Personal Car Communicator with Keyless Drive and Homelink) while Platinum spec goes one step beyond, bringing an enhanced voice-controlled navigation system, 650-watt/12-speaker Volvo Premium sound System and rear park-assist camera, a collection formerly known as the Multimedia Package.

Key option groups for the 2012 Volvo XC70 line include a Climate Package (heated front/rear seats, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers with heated washer nozzles and an interior air quality system) that was part of our tester's kit and a Technology Package (Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning) that was not. Our vehicle, which bottom-lined at just over $49,000, also was equipped with two stand-alone extras, corner-following active dual xenon headlamps and the Blind Spot Information System as well as the $1,495 Polestar upgrade.

Introduced late last year, the Polestar tweak for the XC70 T6 AWD's 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six consists of custom control tuning that increases maximum boost, recalibrates throttle mapping and tweaks several engine parameters, including spark timing and fuel mixture. Available from the factory or your local dealer, this Volvo-blessed enhancement delivers 25 more horsepower and 29 more lb-ft of twist pumping those numbers to 325 and 354 respectively. That extra grunt is sufficient to trim the XC70 T6 AWD's 0-60 mph time from 6.9 to 6.6 seconds without impacting its EPA ratings, which remain at 17 city/23 highway mpg. Although the serious fun doesn't kick in until after the tach needle swings past the 3,000 rpm mark, the Polestar setup has no downside impact on the engine's low-speed responsiveness. 

Behind the wheel, our Polestar-enhanced XC70 T6 AWD displayed the same basic personality traits as its standard T6 kin. The XC70 T6 AWD's spacious, well-isolated passenger compartment with room for five and plenty of cargo plus a properly-sorted suspension are designed to make any trip a pleasant one, regardless of distance traveled. And Volvo's All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction adds even more four-season confidence despite road or weather conditions. Those who do opt for the extra measure of motive force will find that Polestar has done an equally impressive job, with the engine's newfound thrust rolling on smoothly and transparently. We just wish that the upgrade also would have included steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles for the six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission -- a feature likely to find favor with a goodly number of potential Polestar prospects.

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