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2001 Volvo V70 XC

SEE ALSO: Volvo Buyer's Guide

By Larkin Hill
Staff Writer, The Auto Channel

  • Smooth drive with responsive T5 engine and transmission.
  • Driver cup-holder position!
  • Navigation system positioning and controls were easy to work with
  • Understated yet stylish interior of premium quality materials.
  • "One-touch" open and close front windows and sunroof.
  • The radio is difficult to maneuver at first.
  • Without careful adjustments, the thick B-pillar provided a blind spot.
  • Navigation system is not intuitive -- I couldn't get less than a 2-mile view or simple directions.

I liked the Volvo V70 Cross-Country (XC) the first time I saw it. I thought it stood out from everything else on the road -- the black molding encasing the bottom is what really struck me first. Then, I noticed how tall it stood, but at the same time, it maintained a low-ish profile. Kind of like a "pumped-up" version of the V70 wagon.

Months had passed in between the time that I first saw the XC and when I finally drove it. Needless to say, I was eager to give it a good run.

So, I got the V70 XC on a Tuesday -- a dreary day that had been teasing us with rain since dawn. In the mountains where I live, the threats were more along the lines of snow. The Volvo representative that I'd spoken with that day has encouraged me to take it off-road, so I was eager for some powder.

The drive home that evening was mild. The sky barely dripped -- it was more a heavy-fog than rain.

The next day however, was wet. The temperature had dropped and the rain promised to turn into snow by the end of the day. I wasn't worried. After all, at the office there was an invitation to test the same XC in Canada this January, so a few inches of powder would be a nice warm-up.

The day was long and I couldn't wait to go home. The local radio stations classified the weather around my home as "blizzard conditions." I still wasn't worried.

Comfortably nestled in the heated leather seats, I noted how well the windows remained clear. They didn't even threaten to fog -- quite an impressive feat, considering the cabin was about 80-degrees and I was still wet from running to the car at the office.

Chain control was being enforced about five miles before my freeway exit and I just sauntered through. My long driveway had at least a three-inch blanket of wet-ish snow and the Volvo Cross Country firmly climbed right up to the garage. Not once did the tires slip. I turned the car around and went inside.

The next morning, I scrapped off the windows, jumped in and drove off.

In fact, I immediately felt so comfortable with the XC, I ended up taking it to San Francisco for the ultimate city/hill test -- where visibly and maneuverability are key to survival. It passed.

It also passed the endurance test. After taking it on a day-trip with three adult passengers, the Cross Country followed through with its promise of comfort and space.

Perhaps I'm being too nice. However, I'm a non-SUV person, so alternatives are very attractive to me. I think SUV's are fine for other people, but I prefer the responsiveness and control of a car. With the Cross Country, there's the best of both worlds. The ground clearance is there; as is the AWD, but it drives like a luxury car. I felt a bit taller, but cornering wasn't awkward and generous torque pinned me to the seatback. I was smitten.

Overall, it has everything I would ever need in a car. It's not flashy, but it's nice. It's safe, comfortable, powerful, and aesthetically thoughtful inside and out.