2001 Volvo V70 2.4T
|Practical and safe, yet fun to drive.|
Jul 7, 2004 20:29:53|
16 ( -2 -12.5% )|
Practical and safe, yet fun to drive. Base Price (MSRP) $32,400
As Tested (MSRP) $38,500
Volvo's all-new V70 mid-size wagon may be practical and safe, but it also has another side that's luxurious, sporty and wild. The practical nature becomes apparent from the adaptable arrangement of seats for as many as seven passengers and an expandable cargo compartment with tie-down hooks and various accessories available to manage on-board freight loads. Its luxurious side comes from posh appointments in an insulated passenger compartment in the mode of elite European touring sedans. Volvo's historical emphasis on safety lives on with innovations to safety cell structures and active seats rigged to thwart whiplash injuries. Occupants are shielded by airbags positioned ahead, beside and above. To avoid crashes in the first place, the driver is armed with active safety tools including responsive steering, anti-lock brakes and traction control to reduce skids. The sports appeal comes from turbocharged power and an adaptable five-speed automatic transmission designed to propel the car quickly up a freeway on-ramp and allow it to keep pace at autobahn speeds when desired. And its wild side comes into play from a rigid chassis with sporty suspension tuning and the choice of a manual five-speed shifter for the high-output turbo T5 edition. Model Lineup The new generation design for Volvo's V70 estate wagon of 2001 splits into two front-wheel-drive models that differ in terms of powertrain and interior equipment. The V70 2.4T draws from a 2.4-liter inline five-cylinder light-pressure turbo engine linked to a five-speed automatic transmission. Pricing for this base model starts at $32,400 with many standard safety features aboard, including anti-lock brakes and traction control. The V70 T5 for $33,400 packs a 2.3-liter inline-5 high-pressure turbo that musters 247 horsepower through a manual five-speed gearbox. The T5 uses firm suspension settings for a sporty flavor. Volvo's computer-linked Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system may be added to either version ($1,250 for the 2.4T, $1,100 for T5), and a navigation system adds $2,500 more to the bottom line. Walkaround Overall shape of the V70 vaguely resembles its predecessor due to a wagon's naturally boxy rear bay. But closer scrutiny reveals fresh styling lines for a larger package that looks aggressive due to a wider track. There's also something here that was missing from the typical tank-like shape of previous Volvo wagons: Shapely curves. The form evolves from a basic wedge-shaped shell with high tail and low prow capped by a rectangular chrome grille that has the signature diagonal slash bar common to all Volvos. Hard creases in the bowed hood taper from canted A-pillars to sides of the grille and thrust it forward as the leading edge of the vehicle. Headlight clusters unified behind curving polycarbon lenses notch in recesses flanking the grille to further accent it, while body-colored bumpers trimmed with black molding wrap around the face to front wheel wells and form a broad ground-level base that extends below sleek flat side panels. Above prominent rolled shoulders, pillars and side glass bend inward to meet the roof panel, softening hard corners and diminishing the visual massiveness of a wagon's rear bay. The rear liftgate also bows slightly in curvy profile but maintains an essentially vertical plane to maximize interior cargo space. Composed of steel-reinforced polyresin fiberglass, the back door tucks between two thin vertical taillights mounted high in a format carried over from the previous wagon. Interior Features A stylish interior environment features rich appointments with an understated air of elegance in muted tone-on-tone colors with sparing touches of ersatz redwood trim on the glovebox and side door panels. It's a clean design with buttons and switches in logical positions and analog gauges housed in an uncluttered instrument panel. A conventional layout sets two bolstered buckets between a multi-purpose console. The rear bench seat features three-point safety belts in all three seating positions, which are anchored in the backrest. Seats are anything but conventional, however -- they're extremely comfortable and also smart, performing tricks when necessary for safety or saving space. Front seatbacks incorporate mechanisms to guard against the whiplash effect from a rear-end impact. During such a crash, the seatback moves rearward to reduce acceleration forces induced on the rider's back and neck, as the headrest pushes forward and upward slightly to meet the neck and head thrust backward. The broad rear bench easily fits three. Seatback sections move to two different positions, one for comfort with a 30-degree tilt and the other more vertical at 25 degrees when a few more inches of space would make room for more gear in the rear. The seatback also folds forward easily to form a flat cargo floor. That back bay can be fitted with convenience items like a container for shopping bags or a table that pops up from beneath the second-row seat for use with an optional third seat sized for children. For infants and toddlers, anchors are in place to secure two new designs for rear-facing child's safety seats that use a base frame to house a cradle-style padded seat with integrated safety straps. One style fits infants weighing up to 20 pounds, and another works for a child to 40 pounds. Luxurious appointments include power controls for virtually all equipment and an automatic climate system, with deluxe audio equipment and an optional Dolby Surround Pro Logic system with nine speakers and in-dash compact disc player for four CDs. Driving Impressions On the road, it's easy to forget that the V70 bears the format of a suburban car-pooler's station wagon fitted with ultimate vehicle safety systems because it possesses the spirit of an elite touring car and moves with downright sporty manners. We steered a T5 prototype edition on an extensive course through the Maritime Alps of France's Provence region to sample the power and measure its poise while traveling on roads that varied from steep alpine grades to quick-paced multi-lane freeways. Sheer driving excitement occurred on the N85, a winding two-lane strip etched into hillsides between Castellane and Grasse, where our wagon handled kinks and curves with precise and controlled movements. Its lively kick and the lithe attitude kindled a soothing sense of confidence. The implication from this spirit is that it's an unpredictable path we travel with pitfalls along the way but the going doesn't have to be dangerous or even uncomfortable when you're steering the Volvo. Regarding power, the V70 for North America offers two five-cylinder engines, with the T5 stocking a high-pressure intercooled turbo that puts 247 horsepower into play across a flat band of torque spread between 1800 and 4800 rpm. With high torque achieved at relatively low engine speed and the typical power lag from a turbo minimized, this engines impresses with its quick surges and quiet demeanor. A five-speed manual gearbox, rarely found in the domain of station wagons, has a sporty short-throw stick and brings crisp control. The optional five-speed electronic automatic gets a Geartronic add-on that allows shift-it-yourself maneuvers by simply throwing the gear selector lever to the left and locking it in the gate. Then push the lever forward to bump up a gear, or tip it rearward to back down. The V70 platform, lifted from Volvo's larger S80 sedan, has a longer wheelbase and broader track than the predecessor V70, which creates a solid foundation to attach suspension elements of front MacPherson struts and a rear multi-link axle. Bonding of body panels in lieu of spot welding during construction contributes to the exceptional torsional stiffness for the structure, which in turn defines the car's predictable linear behavior traits. Push the T5 through downhill curves on the N85 and it remains anchored to the pavement with the body maintaining a level stance. There's little lateral lean noted through the turns and scant dive from the nose when standing on brakes nor a dip from the tail during a sudden acceleration. All adds up to an agile but controllable car capable of sporty moves and high performance, with the long wheelbase and refined suspension generating plush ride sensations in the flavor of a luxury sedan. Active safety equipment extends to anti-lock brakes and a traction control system that transfers engine torque from a slipping wheel to one that maintains a better grip. Our T5 also stocked Volvo's optional Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system that employs an on-board computer and various motion sensors tied to anti-lock brakes. The sophisticated device monitors the vehicle's forward progress and -- if potentially dangerous oversteer or understeer skidding is detected while turning -- acts automatically to correct the unstable pavement maneuver by braking one or more wheel without direct or conscious intervention required from the driver. Final Word Volvo labels the V70 as the safest station wagon in the world, and the V in its nomenclature signifies versatility. At the least, it transcends the traditional image of a station wagon as practical but mundane family transportation to become a luxurious haven that's also fun to drive.
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