Saturday, December 20, 2014


Volvo has given the XC70 some new motivation by fitting a far more fuel-efficient Drive-E four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmissionto the large wagon. Regrettably, though, due to packaging constraints in a vehicle launched almost 10 years ago, you'll only be able to get the higher gas mileage if you forgo all-wheel drive. The new Drive-E powertrain is only offered in the front-wheel-drive XC70 models. If you want all-wheel-drive, you'll have to stick with older and far less efficient running gear.

Smaller than the big XC90--about to be replaced by an all-new 2016 model--the XC70 is larger than the high-volume and considerably more stylish XC60 crossover. Under the skin, the 2015 XC70 uses beefed-up versions of much of the large S80 sedan's architecture. It was launched as the old V70 wagon, acquired a higher ride height and all-wheel drive in its alternative persona as the XC70 crossover--and eventually the XC70 bumped the wagon out of the picture altogether.

With the debuting powertrain, now offered in all 2015 Volvos except the C90, comes a new base trim designation, the T5 Drive-E which, alas, comes only in front-wheel-drive (FWD) configuration. The midlevel 3.2 AWD trim, however, returns with the traditional non-turbocharged I6, while the turbocharged T6 AWD remains the flagship trim. Each of the latter trims, obviously, packs standard full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) for a little added confidence during those snow-shrouded commutes. 

The new-for-2015 turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) Drive-E engine mates with an 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission, allowing the T5 Drive-E to put down 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Gas mileage is improved to a healthy 24 mpg city/31 highway, while Swedish-bred/Chinese-owned Volvo claims this competent wagon will tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. 

The 2015 XC70 has a nice blend of strong and sporty lines from a distance, with prominent body armor and skid plates that make this wagon look like it's ready for dirt roads. The higher ground clearance it gained when it became a crossover will be useful on rutted roads or rocky tracks, but this isn't an off-road car like a Jeep. It's an all-wheel-drive wagon, plain and simple.

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