For a very traditional manufacturer, Volvo has changed its image and model nomenclature a sufficient amount of times in recent years to confuse even an acolyte of Confucius. Trying to stray away from "just another family friendly company" to more premium plains a la Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or even Jaguar, Volvo has tried and tried to invigorate its product line on numerous occasions. First, they got rid of their beige boxes on wheels - which were also called Volvo Station Wagons - by injecting a few design curves here and there. Second, they started changing the way they name their models (for example, the first V70 was actually an 850 wagon in disguise). Then, they started adding more fun to drive (and fun to look at) niche models in the line-up.
The current Volvo XC70 is not Volvo's first attempt at eating a few extra slices of the crossover/CUV/station-wagon-on-stilts market. The first generation appeared by the name of V70 Cross Country (XC) in 1999 and it was just a more rugged all-wheel-drive version of the V70, which itself was actually a renamed 850 Wagon. After the Peter Horbury-designed second generation of the V70 appeared in 2000, the V70 XC followed with a new iteration of the same idea two years later. The year 2007 came and so did a totally new generation of the V70 XC. If this isn't confusing enough by now, the newest generation of this car is named differently than the others. Trying to rid of as much family resemblance as possible with the V70, the new model is called XC70.
Just like its non-cross-country-like little brother, the new XC is based on the same technical platform as the S80 sedan, which is itself based on Ford's EUCD platform. The funny thing about this platform is that it can be found both in family carriers like the Ford Galaxy or S-Max and small crossover SUVs like the Land Rover Freelander/LR2 or the Volvo XC60. The even funnier thing is that the car we tested accomplishes pretty much the best from both worlds.
It's about as spacious and ergonomic as a small minivan and it can go on just about the same terrain as a compact SUV/crossover. That, and it has the interior of a premium car. Of course, the price tag is also as premium as it can be. We tested the D5 oil burner from the two-engine line-up. The car was equipped with a Summum trim level and a few extra features ticked on the options list. Can the legacy of two mildly successful past generations be a ticket to a much better third one?