KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/20/2012
In these days of big SUVs and crossovers that seem to populate every road and vehicle segment, the 2012 Volvo XC70 is a bit of a rarity: An easy-to-drive station wagon that has seating for five and cargo space galore, along with extra ground clearance and available all-wheel drive (AWD) that enables it to tackle just about any surface almost as well as those more cumbersome utility vehicles. The XC70's main competitors in its niche category are the Subaru Outback and Honda Crosstour, both of which have lower starting prices but lack the premium feel and safety features that are standard on the Volvo.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you desire the cargo space to haul the toys of your active lifestyle and the ability to travel almost any road with them, but don't want a big and bulky SUV, the XC70 is a premium alternative. That it boasts some of the highest-tech safety features available on any car is icing on the cake.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you need to carry more than five passengers or plan to do serious off-roading, a bigger SUV would be a better choice. If the Volvo XC70's mid-$30,000 price tag is too much for you, a Subaru Outback can be had for about $10,000 less in base form.
What's New for 2012
Base versions of the XC70 are front-wheel drive (FWD), which became the standard in 2011. For 2012, trim choices jump from two to seven with the addition of Premier, Premier Plus and Platinum editions in all models. A redesigned instrument panel conveys audio, navigation and other information to the driver via a 7-inch color display, the Bluetooth interface now allows audio streaming and the lower center console has been redesigned with metal framing or wood inlays, depending on trim level. On the safety front, the 2012 XC70 comes standard with City Safety, a system that automatically applies the brakes in lower-speed situations to avoid a collision if the driver is distracted and fails to brake. A higher-power Polestar edition is available on turbo models; a software performance package bumps output from 300 horsepower to 325 and torque from 325 lb-ft to 354, and does not affect the car's warranty.
In standard form with the 3.2-liter base engine, the Volvo XC70 has decent power and acceleration. For a much more invigorating experience, move up to the 300-horsepower turbocharged engine in the T6. The added power comes at a price premium, but it helps make the XC70 a much more enjoyable car for those who like the dynamic aspects of driving. The T6 XC70 blasts from zero to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds, which is fast for a car of this nature. That said, you'll need to dial down the enthusiasm level for turns; with its increased ride height and softer suspension, this car is not made to take curves with great velocity. On the highway, the XC70 is comfortable and quiet. Visibility from the XC70's increased ride height is not as good as a taller SUV, but it is better than most wagons and sedans. We like the easy-to-use, steering wheel-mounted audio controls as well as the climate controls on the dash with the vent-direction buttons depicting a human figure. If you descend steep grades, the Hill Descent Control, standard on all-wheel drive models, will help you down slowly and with confidence.
Here's an option you'll appreciate every time you find yourself with an armful. The touch of a button raises or lowers the tailgate, leaving your hands free for other tasks.
One of the XC70's best attributes is its generous amount of space. With the rear seats folded flat, it boasts a vast 72.1 cubic feet of room for all those IKEA runs, plus hidden storage underneath. There's so much room that, in a pinch, you could even sleep in the thing.
The 2012 Volvo XC70, especially in its higher trim level, can pass as a luxury car with its plush leather and accents made from wood and metal. Buttons and gauges are sleek and mostly easy to identify and use. Seating position is good (a higher armrest would help on longer drives) and visibility is a bright point thanks to all those side windows and a rear window whose glass extends below the sides. A two-tone interior injects some excitement into the Volvo's borderline-bland surfaces. Rear-seat room is accommodating and two-stage child booster seats are available. Cargo space is plentiful, with over 33 cubic feet with the rear seats up; with the seats folded flat that space opens up to create what looks like a bed.
If a station wagon ever had the ability to look rugged, this one accomplishes that feat. With 8.3 inches of ground clearance and a blocky design accentuated by hood bulges, the 2012 XC70 looks like one bulked-up carry-all. That said, it's still a station wagon and won't convince anyone otherwise. With its rectangular shape and three rows of side windows, the XC70 can remind you of Volvos past, as opposed to newer and more rounded models like the chic XC60 SUV.
Notable Standard Equipment
A base 2012 Volvo XC70 3.2 features a 240-horsepower 6-cylinder engine, 6-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, front-wheel drive and the City Safety system. Also standard are dual-zone climate control, front and rear skid plates, 8-way power driver's seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, locking cargo-floor compartment, 160-watt audio system with AM/FM/HD radio, Bluetooth hands-free system and cruise control. The Volvo XC70 T6 adds a turbocharged engine, dual chrome exhaust tips, leather seating, power moonroof and power passenger seat. The XC70 also features Volvo's 5-year/50,000-mile warranty with five years of complimentary scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance.
Notable Optional Equipment
Volvos are known for their safety features, and the XC70 doesn't skimp. Along with the standard City Safety auto-braking system, the wagon can be outfitted with a blind-spot warning system, adaptive cruise control, a pedestrian-detection system with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and collision warning with fully automatic braking. Also available are xenon headlights, dual two-stage child booster seats, heated front and rear seats, interior air quality system, navigation, rear-seat entertainment system with two screens, rear-view park assist camera and a 12-speaker, 650-watt premium sound system with rear headphone jacks and audio controls.
Under the Hood
The standard engine for the 2012 Volvo XC70 is a 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder of 240 horsepower, but it delivers only acceptable performance in this vehicle that weighs over two tons. While off-the-line acceleration is brisk, passing power could be better. For those who want more performance, choose the T6 with its potent turbocharged engine. For even more power, the Polestar Performance package can be had on the turbo engine and does not sacrifice fuel economy. Both engines can run on regular unleaded and are rated to tow up to 3,300 pounds.
240 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 3,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg
The 2012 Volvo XC70's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $34,000 for a front-drive Volvo XC70 3.2. Adding all-wheel-drive costs $2,000. A T6 version with the turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive starts at just under $40,000. Adding the Polestar Performance upgrade for even more power is about $1,500. A top-line XC70 loaded with options can easily surpass $50,000. The less-expensive Subaru Outback is nearly as capable but not as luxurious. Before you set out to purchase your new Volvo XC70, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area paid for the XC70. The XC70 is expected to retain an average resale value over a 5-year period.