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Volvo V70 Wagon Experience



  • Hi,
    I posted this on Edmunds a week ago and got no responses. I know the discussion here is about new (2001) Volvos, but I've browsed this site a lot, and hope that you can give me the benefit of your experiences with both cars...

    We own a 1988 740 GLE wagon that has close to 175000 miles on it. It's running fine, but we're looking to get a used (probably off-lease) wagon with more power (and an automatic transmission, as it's for my wife and she has an hour-long commute in traffic). I've test-driven the 1996-98 960/V90, the 1994-1998 850/V70 (light and heavy pressure turbos), the V70 AWD, the XC, the '97 Audi A6 Quattro and the '98 Subaru Outback Wagon.
    The Subaru's noisy, doesn't seem to have many amenities, and the steering wheel's difficult to turn.
    The 850/v70 non-turbos are nice cars, but difficult to get going. I've driven both the stick and auto versions, and while the stick is okay -though still slow -the automatic is a snail. My worry with the turbocharged 850/V70s is... the turbo. These cost a lot of $$ to repair, and I've heard scattered reports of turbo casing leaks and suchlike on these high-pressure turbos, so that purchase might lead to a slightly scary situation.
    The Audi's way too much money for the engine and size (it actually looks like it has less room in the back than the Subie). Plus, for less dough, the Volvo has the same front-to-back and side-to-side AWD system.

    This brings me to the V90 vs the XC/V70 AWD.
    The light-pressure turbo in the XC/V70 AWD seems to carry less of a load (boosts the hp by 22 from 168 to 190), and the added security of Traction Control and AWD seems great, but the horror stories on various websites about the problems with these cars have intensified - if anything - for the 1998 and newer models.
    The post 1996 960/V90 (which carries side airbags, like the 850/V70s, from that model year on) looks like a hassle-free car so far - dated looks, true, but not too many recorded problems - and has a lot of standard goodies, like the XC. The handling is great, turning radius is awesome, and the engine's smooth as silk - one can hardly hear it.
    The problem here is RWD. We've managed so far for 3 years (stuck in snowbanks twice, always carry a shovel, used to the smell of burning rubber, very frustrating but no calls to triple-A for a snow-tow yet), and I don't know how useful the V90's rear limited-slip differential is going to be in slippery weather (we live in CT).

    I've heard conflicting reports so far - one side is of the opinion that 4 snow tires and 200 pounds of kitty litter and salt in the back should help you go anywhere, and the other scoffs at RWD and propounds AWD as the only way to get anywhere safely in winter.
    The weight and power of both wagons are very close. Power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios are almost identical. The V90 gets the edge in ride quality, the XC in highway merges.
    So now it's down to (a) higher repair costs and more problems, but newer technology with the safety of AWD or (b) smoother, more comfy ride, older but tried-and-true innards, and debatable safety in bad weather. Kids in the (not very) near future also in the equation.
    It'd be lovely to get both :), they're great cars, but reality intrudes.
    I'd welcome your suggestions on some of the issues I've raised.
  • Hi,

    Live in CT too. Have a 1991 740 w/125K - a solid car that I pan to keep for a few more years.

    I too was looking at a car for my wife, looked at the new V70's - (older ones seem to have problems and they seemed smaller than my 740.) I ended up buying a Saab 9-5 wagon - slightly bigger, faster, better driver ergonomics, and more fun to drive.

    Re RWD v. FWD v. AWD. I was born/raised in Buffalo, NY - snow around here is nothing compared to Buffalo. However, 4 snows with sand in back doesn't buy much - I had 300 pounds of sand in back this winter w/ 4 snows and driving it was a joke. Fortunately I can work from home so it wasn't an issue.

    Your issue comes down to how often car is going to be used and when. My other car is a 4WD Ford Expedition so when weather was bad, I just drove the SUV. If your other car is FWD than I would get the RWD Volvo. You may also want to look at the Saab - price was very competitive at Saab of Westport.

    Good luck.
  • alwaysedalwaysed Posts: 55
    I recently turned in a '98 V70 AWD R (at 43000 miles) for a 2001 V70 T5. The car performed very well and there were certain attributes that were superior to the 2001. Also, I had a '96 850 with the big turbo--also very reliable.

    I used snow tires (Blizzaks)on the '98 in the Chicago area and they worked quite well.

    Several of my friends have had '96-'01 Volvos and have not mentioned any problems mentioned in your post.
  • Thanks - our other car is a '97 Passat GLX with FWD, doesn't handle great in the snow, but it's much better than the 740. Does your '91 740 have the rear limited-slip differential? If so, does that help at all?
    I might just buy the V90 (go with tried-and-true) and use the Passat in bad weather - of which we got a lot more this winter than I expected! For now, it's wait-and-see.
  • My 740 doesn't have the limited slip - in my opinion RWD is RWD - FWD is better in snow.. Does your passat have 4 snows? If not, it may handle better as someone else mentioned in the thread.

    Good luck.
  • dmyk1dmyk1 Posts: 1
    Just curious to know what kind of deal Red Bank Volvo offered you and who the salesperson was that you dealt with? I'm interested in the XC model -- is this what you dealt on? Also, if you already made the trip there, did you find what they told you over the phone to be different once you got there (how much hassle)? Thanks for your help.
  • garyctgaryct Posts: 12
    I just orderd a 01 V70T5 (manual,nautic blue/sand due in June) without roof rails and would like to able to put up to three bikes on the back of the car somehow. I would prefer to not put our bikes on top of the car if possible (via roof rack).

    I'm not to sure about a hitch-type option and not sure if this would take away from the look of the car (not to mention the potential clearence issues with an already lower riding 17" wheel).

    Has anybody ordered one of the strap on types bike racks that keeps the bikes far enough way from the back hatch that it will not bang into it? I would most likely put a heavy blanket to over the back hatch area regardless, just to protect my baby.

    Any recommendations out there?

    all the best,

  • dunkadunka Posts: 17
    After 7 months and 8,000 miles we can say we would by this car all over again. It has not been perfect but nothing is. Observations to date after mixed driving in mixed conditions.

    The Good Side - Car is a rocket, either I have gotten use to the turbot lag or it has lessened. The dangerous thing about merging onto a crowded highway is running up on the car that just flew by you afew seconds earlier when you were at crawl. Brakes take getting use to but they bring the vehicle to smooth and quick stops. Vehicle is still one of the best looking on the road. Extremely comfortable, just came in off 4+ hours on the road and still have the energy to post this message, at 6' 7" being comfortable in anything but an SUV is amazing. Car handles well enough - remember its a wagon. Handles the winter slop we have had in Boston over the past 5 weeks wonderfully, note that I took the 17" Pirelli's off for the winter and put on 16" Michelin Pilot Alpin, those combined with the traction control and we had no problems in all types of conditions. Cargo space is good with the rear seats up, put the seats down and all I can think of is my college buddy's El Camino (that's a compliment). Very functional interior, except the radio controls, they finally figured out cup holders! 22 miles per gallon and it looks like the prices will be rising for the summer driving season - glad I did not go the big SUV route.

    The Not so Good Side (have a tough time calling these issues bad...yet) - See the above comment on radio controls, not sure what they were thinking but I don't think I've turned a radio dial since 1975 - also am getting questionable radio reception but that could be the area I travel. The simulated wood door inserts on both front doors has chipped where the handle hits, annoying, but is being taken care of, Volvo has redesigned door inserts. When vehilce is at dealer for door insert work I am going to have them check the steering column, I get a feel of a thump when turning from a stop - sorry for the vague description but it is something you feel rather than hear. Believe it has been mentioned on these boards before, I am confident my dealer will take care of it - Stutz in Salem is great. Watch out for the blind spots, A pilars are too thick and B pilars make some merging situations an adventure.

    Bottomline I would buy this vehicle again and am recommending it to friends. I'll let you know what the verdict is on the steering column. And will post an occasional update.
  • acasuacasu Posts: 3
    I dealt with Jane Malone. She was great. We arrived at the dealership at 4:30 pm (it closed at 5:00 pm). She had all of the paper work ready, all of the numbers were the same and the car had everything we wanted (we half expected to get there and have different numbers, etc.). We signed the necessary papers and she delivered the car and we were on our way. It was the easiest car buying experience I've had EVER and I was very happy with the price. Again, she reinforced the fact that we got such a good deal because they are a high volume dealer. Sticker price on the car was 37,025 and we paid 33,352. We bought the V70 with VP w/3rd seat pkg, CWP w/STC, Sunroof, Auto trans, touring package and metallic paint. I don't know what her price on the XC would be, but the lease prices were significantly less that I saw in CT. I would call her. My husband wants to get a Volvo S80 now. Good luck.
  • alwaysedalwaysed Posts: 55
    I have had my T5 for 3 months and 4m miles, and agree with everything Dunka mentioned in his post-especially the radio controls and the rear visability. But, I would add one additional negative, that of how the rear hatch and window collect the road grime in the wet weather. However, that is the result of airflow over a very appealing design-a design that could be compromised with a spoiler.

    I should mention that I haven't felt any bump problem in the steering (yet).
  • Well, I posted (on another thread) this question and got almost no response from the heavy XC-lover ladden board. What I'm wondering is: Is the engine really sufficient enough to get the XC moving? 197hp is not much, and on my test drive I felt that I had to apply too much pressure to the gas pedal to get up to speed. Anyone else feel this way? I'm not a speed demon (too much), but I don't want to regret my purchase if I end up feeling like I'm forcing a heavy truck to get going.

    In spite of the above concern over the hp and the dissappointingly useless third row, I'm actually still contemplating buying this car (like the looks, safety, comfort). Then I get the April 9 issue of AutoWeek. It slams the XC. Identified my issue with power ("you have to keep your foot down"), says it's noisy, has tipsy handling, vague steering and modest brakes, and calls it SUV-ish. I actually thought the breaks on the XC were sweet. Now I'm confused and concerned. What's your opinion out there?
  • Is there some way to have the (of some) subwoofer and the third row seat (though almost useless)? Any third-party installations of a subwoofer with an XC w/third row?
  • alwaysedalwaysed Posts: 55
    I, also, read that brief update review in Autoweek. I would disregard it completely. Although I have a 2001 V70 T5, I did drive an XC for several days while my car was being prepped; I experienced none of the conditions mentioned. In fact, the brakes were almost too good. I was concerned that following cars could not stop near as fast as I could. Their review was, by far, the exception, not the rule, for the car mag reviews
  • Thanks so much for your response. It's comforting. Most people do seem quite happy with the 2001 year AC, and I haven't read another really awful review like that one. I do feel it's slightly under powered at lower speeds, but it's an OK trade-off to me. Not being able to get the sub-woofer with the third-row is really annoying, though. Maybe some out here has a work-around.

    Thanks, again.
  • sbussellsbussell Posts: 1
    Hi, My wife and I are starting to shop for a V70 2.4T. We are in So. NH. Any dealers we should stay away from? Thanks.
  • ryskitryskit Posts: 2
    My wife and I purchased a Volvo S70 last year. Although we like the car, it has a funny exhaust type smell in the interior, which ends up seeping into our clothes. We have taken it to the Volvo dealership more than once and they have run in-depth diagnostics to verify that exhaust fumes are NOT leaking into the cabin. Could it be the leather or the plastic materials used ? Any of you out there experienced the same problem ? Is there another site that you can direct me to for
    more detailed answers ? Thanks for your help
  • pocahontaspocahontas Posts: 802
    You may want to check with the nhtsa or alldata websites to see if there are any similar (fuel emissions/exhaust) technical service bulletins or complaints listed on your Volvo S70. For future reference, you'll find links to the nhtsa via's safety information in their Ownership area.

    Also, more information about technical service bulletins, here's an interesting article from's Ownership area: You, Your Vehicle and the Technical Service Bulletin (TSB). Good luck, and please keep us posted.

    Hatchbacks/Message Boards

  • rollierollie Posts: 337
    Regarding post #217:

    ryskit, I had a similar problem once a few years back (I don't remember if it was with my old 850 turbo or S70 T5). Oddly, it turned out that it was in part due to a leather / vinyl treatment I was using (I'm pretty sure it was Armor All). For some reason under humid conditions if I had this stuff applied in the car it made a petrol-like smell. It also leaves a film on your windows (most noticeable at night or when your windows get foggy). Once I moved to Lexol I never had the problem again. I don't know if this might be your cause but I do recall having a similar problem and finding it was essentially a chemical reaction between the car and the protectants (I use the term loosely because I'm not a fan of Armor All) I was using.

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck.

  • susan59susan59 Posts: 1
    I have a 98 XC wagon with 33,000 miles. Recently, I noticed the steering wheel shaking at lower speeds, so I brought it to the dealer. On the phone (before looking at it) they suggested that the tires might need to be replaced. This mileage seems low, and the treads look fine...I was also told by a tire dealer that 33,000 miles is pretty good for an AWD car. The dealership rotated and balanced the tires...they thought the problem was solved, but it's not. Ater talking to the dealer again, they are pretty certain the tires need to be replaced. Has anyone had a similar experience? The dealer has yet to explain what's wrong with tires. Thanks.
  • alwaysedalwaysed Posts: 55
    Susan59: See my Post162;
    It may apply to the XC, push the issue with the parts dept. and service.
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