Volvo XC70, at home in Montana or Los Angeles
Volvo began its foray into the sport utility/wagon market with the original cross country XC70. I must say the automaker has done a masterful job at giving the redesigned XC70 more capabilities than their buyers ever will use. The XC70 stretches the boundaries between station wagon (don't say that too loudly) and the sport utility vehicle. The redesign gives the body a more aggressive appearance by adding a stronger styling to the front end, particularly in bumper and lower valance. The vehicle has an almost bulldog body structure with broad shoulders that run from the front doors all the way to the lift gate at the rear. Tweaking the suspension system to add more than 8 inches of ground clearance while providing excellent handling on-road and off is another of Sweden's masterful achievements. The vehicle is equally at home on the interstate, running city streets or taking you back to your favorite fishing spot. The interior is all Volvo, yet it is more contemporary in styling. The seats, both front and second row, are comfortable and supportive without feeling constrictive. All the controls and gauges are in the right places.The power and response of the inline six-cylinder engine is more than adequate. The newest generation XC70, based on the same platform as the S80 sedan, shares some of its components. This translates to a well-mannered vehicle that is sporty when needed while offering a subtle ride as the situation warrants. The redesign gives this "wagon" an aggressive look while remaining elegant. The strong front-end design says Volvo loud and clear. Unlike some designs, the shoulder line runs from front doors to rear taillights. The entire package is lengthened by more than 4 inches compared to the previous model. The wheelbase is stretched by 2 inches, adding to the smoothness offered by the suspension system. Of course, Volvo stands for safety systems and the XC70 continues with a cool feature for those who have children. A child booster seat built into the rear seat makes safely transporting kids slick and easy. It is height-adjustable, fitting a wider range of children, and is only one of the countless safety features found in the XC70. The XC70 presents an alternative to the massive sport utility vehicles. This Volvo offers up all the features one could ever want while heading out for fishing with your buddies or camping with the kids.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.