2008 Volvo XC70 (Cross Country) Review – The stalwart of the family wagon

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By Twain Mein

2008 2008 Volvo XC70

This is a review of the newly designed 2008 Volvo XC70 (Cross Country) 3.2, all-wheel drive wagon.


  • Excellent build quality
  • Volvo safety
  • Reasonable price
  • Increased rear leg room
  • Wagon utility


  • Unnecessary interior gimmicks
  • Terrible GPS integration
  • Controversial styling
  • Wagon utility

2008 Volvo XC70

Driving Impressions
I’ve been a car nut since my early teens, sharing the same interest as my father. And I have done 10 reviews for CarReview.com with models ranging from the Ford Shelby Mustang to the Honda Odyssey. But this is the first vehicle that my Dad really wanted to see and drive. He is a Volvo wagon nut. He started with a 1970 145 and has owned a ’77 245, ’79 245, ’90 940, ’96 960, ’03 V70, and currently drives an ’05 V70. He also had a 244 and V40. Needless to say, Volvo wagons have been a big influence on both of us. The good news is that, with this model, I think Volvo has raised the bar. The fit and finish is superlative and the car feels truly luxurious. And my father seems keen on this being the next Volvo for him.

One fond memory of all of these Volvo wagons for me has been sitting in the roomy rear seats while Dad drove us on countless adventures. Sadly, from 2003-2007, Volvo shrunk the rear seat room substantially, a huge disappointment to me. Thankfully, for 2008, they’ve added 2 inches to the wheelbase and increased rear seat room back to adult-level comfort.

The solid build that Volvo is famous for is ever more present with this newest model. Everything feels substantial. Even the upper door jams feature integrated and reinforced screw holes, presumably for cinching down a roof rack. Doors are heavy and solid though not obnoxiously so.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The interior features extremely comfortable seats, a fantastic smelling and rich leather trim. All windows have one-touch up/down electric operation and the windows close with a reassuring thud. In the rear, the passenger-side seat converts to a child’s booster seat with a simple tug. The center seat can be flipped down to pass-through long objects or folds out for a handy cup holder/meal tray for on-the-go meals and snacks for kids. The HVAC and stereo controls offer a nice blend of manual controls with electronic automation.

2008 Volvo XC70 - front seats 2008 Volvo XC70 - Stereo 2008 Volvo XC70 - integrated booster seat

However, there are some annoyances with the interior:

  • Odd center console. While the console is pleasing to the eye, it covers a gap with a tiny shelf behind it. I’m not sure what the function is of that shelf-except maybe to misplace things.
  • GPS. This car had a “tacked on” Garmin Nuvi GPS. While the Garmin is an excellent unit, it is located in the middle of the dash. I am nearly 6 feet tall and found it hard to reach the controls; my wife is 5’1” and she would likely not use the GPS at all. Entering a destination address would be cumbersome. Worse, the GPS is in line of site and can not be flipped down. It also pivots on a flimsy attachment that seems fragile.
  • Key fob. As with many new cars, the Volvo doesn’t have a “key”. Rather, it’s a fob that you need to insert in the dash. You then have to depress the brake and push the “engine on” button. Worse, when turning off the car, you have to push the button, then the fob, and wait for it to “eject”. In addition to the possible mechanical failures, it is simply not possible to quickly “yank” the key out of the starter.
  • Parking brake. Wow, when I first drove the car, it took me several minutes to figure out where the parking brake was and how to use it. It has a goofy push/pull mechanism with the only feedback being an increase in pressure in the brake pedal. Just plain weird.
  • Lack of Bluetooth®. I didn’t see any Bluetooth® option to integrate hands free integration with cell phones. In light of Volvo’s focus on safety, I find this omission out of character.
  • Lack of tire pressure monitoring. Maybe I didn’t see it, but I couldn’t find tire pressure monitoring; another safety feature that seems in-line with Volvo’s safety track record.

2008 Volvo XC70 - Volvo/Garmin Navigation System 2008 Volvo XC70 - power parking brake 2008 Volvo XC70 - Start/Stop Engine

This model did not feature a backup camera or DVD player/monitors for the rear seats, but they are available as an option.

Volvo claims 0-60 in 8.6 seconds (the same as the Honda Odyssey minivan) but it feels faster. Perhaps this is due to the 6-speed transmission that constantly optimizes torque. The engine is a bit noisy under full acceleration but it accelerates well from 60-80, allowing it to keep up in the fast lane with confidence. I also averaged 21.5 mpg, far higher than the 15mpg city rating. Impressive.

2008 XC70 - 235 hp 3.2L in-line 6

Though wearing mud + snow tires, there was no tire squeal during hard cornering and body roll was limited despite its’ exaggerated ground clearance. There was some noticeable “thunking” going over speed bumps at faster than normal speeds, but overall, this was a good handling vehicle.

Not ugly though not necessarily pretty, either. I did like the pronounced front air dam which lends a bit of aggressiveness while still being high enough to keep it immune from scrapes incurred by bottoming out.

 2008 Volvo XC70 - Energy-absorbing Frontal Structure

At around $38,000 fully loaded, it’s not cheap, though offers a very expensive looking interior, all wheel drive, and Volvo safety. This is a good option compared to a BMW 3-series and VW Passat though more expensive than Subaru alternatives.

2008 2008 Volvo XC70

In the end, I was torn with the functionality of the wagon. It hauls about 35 feet of cargo, similar to a much smaller Subaru Forester, and less than a mid-sized SUV like the Toyota Highlander, though about as much as a Audi Q7 or Porsche Cayenne. But is that enough space to truly be useful? I was left on the fence. On the flip side, it’s quiet and hushed and offers a luxurious driving experience, but it’s not extremely sporty as well. In short, it does a lot of things good but not great.

Who should buy it ?
If you love the safety of the Volvo brand-and have been missing much-needed rear room, this is a nice upgrade. It’s an attractive, functional and reasonably fuel efficient mode of transport. It’s less expensive than a BMW 3-series, though much better appointed than the less expensive Subaru Legacy and Forester.

2008 2008 Volvo XC70

















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>> Official website for Volvo: Volvo Cars USA

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