Volvo V70 XC (1998)

Volvo V70 (1998)Remember the 850 wagon? This is basically the 850 with all-wheel drive and a few other mostly cosmetic features.

Overall, we thought this was a very nice car. In fact, on paper, this maybe the world's most perfect vehicle. It's got everything: It's safe, with the standard Volvo crumple zones plus front and side airbags. It gets pretty good gas mileage, yet has plenty of power, with its five-cylinder, low-pressure turbocharged engine. It's durable, as Volvos tend to last as long as you're willing to keep throwing money at them. It's a wagon, so there's plenty of room for your dogs and all your stuff. It drives and handles wonderfully. It's comfortable as all get-out, as long as you don' t mind a stiff, European-style ride. Our test car came with an incredible Dolby Pro Logic stereo system. What else could you possibly want? Something not quite as stodgy-looking as a Volvo? Okay, but you're being picky.

Now, even though it's got all-wheel drive, it's not designed for off-road use. Be serious, will you! What guy who buys a Volvo is looking to do the Rubicon Trail? No, the guy (or woman) who buys an all-wheel-drive Volvo wagon is looking to get to the ski slopes before those other jerks in their BMWs. And, with all-wheel drive, he's probably going to make it. So, the main appeal of this all-wheel-drive system is to provide great traction and safety in the snow. And it should do that.

The only thing that's wrong with the V-70? The price, $35,595 base, which is a lot for most people. So, the Volvo V-70 is the perfect vehicle...for someone who can afford the perfect vehicle.

There's a version without the "Cross Country" package, which is called the V-70 AWD. (The "Cross Country" package adds about an inch of additional ground clearance, a roof rack, stylish seats and some other bells and whistles. More than anything else, it's really an appearance package.) The regular V-70 AWD runs about $1,200 fewer pesos. If you live in an area where all-wheel drive isn't that important, you can also buy the V-70 without the AWD and save some serious money.

One thing that surprised us is that this is not a big car. It's big enough to be comfortable and practical, but it's quite narrow. We actually liked that. But, you should know that this is not a big wagon, if that's what you're looking for.

One concern: This is Volvo's first year with an all-wheel-drive system, so we don't know how well it's going to hold up. If it's anything like the rest of their cars, it should do just fine--but only time will tell for sure. (Note: AWD is not rocket science, so, in our humble opinion, it should be fine.)

And, we have to issue a severe warning for the men out there: The seat heaters in this car have been designed by women with extremely thick skin and cold butts. If you have a chronically frost bitten rear end, you'll love them, as did the women in our group. An informal office poll showed a love/hate line that ran right down the gender fault. Guys couldn't handle them for more than about 15 seconds. After that, we were worried our buns were going to start smoldering. We recommend asbestos pants if you're going to be using the seat heaters.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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