Actually, the “open road” isn't quite where an XC70 D5 would feel most at home. For example, in case you're in a hurry on the highway you kind of struggle to pass other cars. The D5 engine is fine and dandy but not when it's put on a car as heavy and non-aerodynamic as this. The almost 11 seconds required from naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) might seem even longer in practice then on paper. I mean, we're talking about a 185 hp car that had to carry almost two tonnes (4000 pounds) that were shaped like a boxy station wagon with a few curves. The soundproofing is more than adequate at casual cruising speeds, although the wind noise becomes a little more evident at higher and mostly illegal speeds. Also, our test car was equipped with winter tires, which didn't actually help the acoustic comfort.
Off the road, on the other hand, is the XC70's playground. Even Volvo people themselves are calling it a “family adventure vehicle”. The continuously controlled Monroe-Ohlins shock absorbers are part of the Four-C system, which is in other words a semi-active suspension. It has three settings (Comfort, Sport and Advanced), ranging their effects from waltzing whale to almost sporty. With the suspension system set on Comfort and some proper tires, the Volvo Xc70 can follow a lot of SUV on an off-road trail, if not even pass them when they get stuck.
Being based on the same platform as the latest Land Rover Freelander means, among others, that it also has a Hill Descent Control system, which works both forward AND in reverse. In case ANYBODY would want to climb down a steep hill in reverse, of course. The traction is maximized in low grip situations by what Volvo calls the “Instant Traction” system. Essentially a front-wheel-drive car like almost any other Swedish wagon, the XC70 can reroute some of the engine power from just driving the front wheels to the rear ones via a Haldex third generation coupling system.
It works by only transmitting power to the rear wheels when needed, which is a pretty good fuel saving idea if you're not a hardcore off-road trail enthusiast, since the system can get you out of a lot of low-grip driving situations. In other words, the Haldex system is a pretty good compromise between a full-time all-wheel-drive system and a “power when needed” one. The high ground clearance (over 8 inches) is proof you can pass over a lot of unpaved roads that lead to your mountain cabin.
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Finally I got my long red nails on a Volvo to see what the baby is capable of! Well, it wasn't red to match with my nails and it wasn't the so-much advertised XC60 with the famous city safety system either to see with my own big beautiful eyes how the car is braking all by itself during city travel when being at a certain distance from the vehicle in the front.
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