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New Car Review

1998 VOLVO V70 AWD

by Matt/Bob Hagin


SEE ALSO: Volvo Buyer's Guide


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 35,595
Price As Tested                                    $ 36,170
Engine Type         Turbo/DOHC 4-valve 2.4 Liter I5 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 149 cid/2473 cc
Horsepower                                   190 @ 5200 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               199 @ 1800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  104.8"/69.3"/185.9"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3792 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  18.3 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                      205/65R15
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            18/24/20
0-60 MPH                                        8.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       17 seconds @ 86.5 mph
Top speed                                           125 mph
     * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Volvo goes back a long way with the Hagin family: Bob Hagin owned a 1959 version. Matt Hagin likes the new Volvo Cross Country because it can do almost everything an SUV can do but without the size or bulk.)

BOB - When Volvo officially came to America in 1956, it was like an old friend coming home. The little PV444 sedan looked so much like a pre-World War II Ford two-door sedan that I'm sure lots of them were sold here on looks alone. The fact that they were built to survive the inclement Scandinavian weather helped to make them popular in the U.S. They also had the added attributes of handling good and being really fast.

MATT - My next door neighbor has one of them, Dad, and he's currently doing a restoration on it. Volvos built over the succeeding 40 years have carried on that tradition of being reliable and comfortable in bad weather with heated seats and other cold weather comforts as standard equipment. This new V70 AWD Cross Country wagon kind of combines the old and the new: it's a station wagon in the old tradition with a swing-up rear door, but it also carries all-wheel-drive, a first for the marque. Its primary drive system comes from the front-drive 850 model of last year, while the rear drive portion is an adaptation from the larger rear-drive S90. The front mechanicals are part of the primary system and under normal conditions, 95 percent of the available engine power goes to the front wheels. But when the front tires begin to lose their grip, the viscous coupler can reverse this and put as much as 95 percent of the power to the rear wheels if necessary. It also utilized a traction control feature that uses the anti-skid brake system to apply the front brakes a bit to limit wheel spin at speeds under 25 MPH.

BOB - Volvo is one of the last European companies to stick with the transverse five-cylinder engine design and has developed it over the years to produce high horsepower and relatively good fuel economy and still be ecologically "green." Our "light turbo" version of the engine uses four valves per cylinder and a turbocharger to get 190 horses out of 2.4 liters, though there's a hot-rod T5 "high turbo" version that's good for 236 horses. The automatic transmission has settings that give the driver three driving options. The Winter setting forces the car to start in a higher gear to reduce wheel spin, Sport delays the shift points so the engine can stay on the cam at high revs, and Economy upshifts early for the best use of fuel. This Cross Country version of the Volvo wagon has an extra inch of ground clearance which isn't enough for boulder- crawling, but it's a help where the paved road ends and where the dirt and gravel roads start. The rear differential has a automatic self-locker that reduces wheel spin, too.

MATT - There's a lot of creature-comforts and other amenities in this Volvo too, Dad. The front seats are heated, and so are the outside mirrors. The driver's seat is adjustable eight ways and it has three memory positions so that the drivers in an average family don't have to re-adjust everything when they slip behind the wheel. There's a power system available as an option for the passenger's seat, too. The headlights have washers and wipers to keep them free from ice and road sludge and the headlights are daytime runners. The remote door lock opens just the driver's door with one click and the other doors are unlocked with a second click. The roof rack side rails are permanent, but the cross rails are removable. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is standard equipment and so are the 15-inch alloy wheels and all- weather tires. There's even a fog light in the rear which would help other cars see you from a distance in the fog. At 3700 pounds, the V70 Cross-Country is no lightweight, but it has a Volvo-approved towing capacity of 3300 pounds, so I guess that it's up to the job.

BOB - This wagon is really a solid car, Matt, and I like the idea of a traditional family wagon that can do almost everything that a sport/ utility vehicle can do. And it has one added advantage over an SUV that appeals to an old guy like me. I don't have to use a stepladder to get up to the driver's seat.