The Volvo XC70 is a high-riding, safe, family-oriented wagon that Volvo wants you to think is rugged and definitely not just a minivan with normal doors. What do you need to know before you buy a Volvo XC70? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

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Rugged. Capable. Tough. These are the kinds of words with which many modern press releases are laced. Why? Because this is ‘Merica, the land of Chuck Norris and the double quarter pounder. We like big. And we like tough.

That’s why small cars and wagons aren’t selling, and crossovers are. Ground clearance is king here in the states. Volvo realized this two decades ago, and threw macho bumpers, side cladding, bigger wheels and tires, and taller springs at their V70 wagon. The result: Sales out the wazoo (well, for a Volvo).

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Yes, sometimes we Americans can be rather simple people to figure out.

Still, the XC70 isn’t exactly the Clint Eastwood of automobiles. It’s really just a plush family car that promises to keep your family from dying in most accidents. It’s a car for wealthy east coast hedge fund managers with kids. Matt Hardigree wrote in his review the main reasons why someone would buy an XC70:

Frankly, the world scares you. You’ve got three great kids and you’ll do your best to guarantee that nothing happens to them between your gated community and their Montessori school. Your country club is on the other side of a somewhat bumpy road. You want a Volvo, so why not get a ridiculous one?

So there you go: the XC70 is practical, will fit plenty of lacrosse equipment in the trunk, and with its available all-wheel drive and high ground clearance, Volvo’s tall wagon is meant to get your precious kids to practice at their private school even in treacherous stormy conditions.

What’s New About The 2016 Volvo XC70

The third generation Volvo XC70 launched alongside its lower, front-drive-only V70 stablemate in 2008. With more ground clearance and beefier-looking front and rear fascias, the XC70 was Volvo’s realization that Americans love CUVs, and that wagons are still not cool in the U.S.

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As a 2008 model year, the new XC70 sat on Volvo’s EuCD platform and shared many of its components with the S80, whereas the previous P2 platform-based XC70 was closer in build to the S60. The new third generation brought new styling inside and out, more interior tech, and more safety features to the XC70.

The old 2.5-liter inline-five and five-speed auto were ditched for a 235 hp 3.2-liter mated to a six-speed. Mid year brought Volvo’s bread and butter to the table: Safety systems. The Collision Avoidance Package offered adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Warning with Auto Brake (CWAB), Distance Alert (DA), Driver Alert Control (DAC) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).

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The second model year introduced a new XC70 T6 AWD model, with a 281 hp 3.0-liter turbo I6 and unique interior and exterior looks. In 2010, Volvo launched a slightly less powerful PZEV 3.2-liter model, as well as a new grille and fresh exterior trim on all XC70s. The T6 made leather, interior wood inlays, unique wheels and a power passenger seat standard for ‘10.

The following year, Volvo ditched the XC70's brother, the front-wheel drive V70 wagon, and instead offered a new base front-drive trim to the XC70. In addition, the 3.2-liter and 3.0-liter received more horsepower, up to 240 and 300, respectively.

In 2012, Volvo redesigned the instrument panel for their new standard Sensus infotainment. The big news for ‘12, though, was the addition of more trim levels. Instead of just an XC70 3.2 FWD and XC70 T60 AWD, Volvo gave the 3.2 Base, Premier, Premier plus and Platinum trims. The XC70 T6 AWD model also received those same trims sans the premier trim.

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In 2013, the XC70 received updates to its infotainment system, rain sensing wipers and a new tunnel detection system for headlights. In ‘14, Volvo’s tall wagon got a new front fascia, instrument cluster and rear taillights.

Last year’s 2015 XC70 saw the introduction of the new Drive-E models, which got a 240 hp 2.0-liter I4 with Start/Stop mated to an eight-speed. And finally, this year’s 2016 XC70 ditches the 3.2-liter and T6 3.0-liter models, and adds a new XC70 T5 AWD with a 250 hp 2.5-liter five banger mated to a six-speed auto. This leaves only two main trims: T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD, along with three sub-trims.

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Which One We’d Buy

The Volvo XC70 comes in two main trims: T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD, both of which come in base, Premier or Platinum guise.

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The Drive-E trims get a 240-horsepower turbo inline-four mated to an eight-speed automatic and sending power to the front wheels. The T5 AWD models do with two fewer cogs in the transmission and a 2.5-liter turbo inline-five routing its power to all four wheels.

Naturally, the front-drive car with the smaller motor scores better fuel economy numbers at 23 city, 31 highway and 26 combined. The T5 AWD manages only 19 city, 26 highway and 22 combined.

All XC70s come with hydraulic power steering, a MacPherson Strut front suspension, a multilink rear suspension, 12.4-inch vented discs up front and 11.9-inchers out back. Standard features include: T-Tec leatherette seats, heated power front seats, electronic climate control, dual exhaust, skid plate, HD radio, rain sensing wipers, seven-inch infotainment screen, electric parking brake, memory for driver’s seat and heated mirrors, whiplash protection front seats, rear seat belt detection, 18-inch alloy wheels and plenty of airbags.

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If we were looking for a wagon with a little extra ground clearance, we’d have to go with the T5 Drive-E Premier. Yes, ideally we’d prefer all-wheel drive for handling and winter hooning — and if we lived in a snowy climate, we’d grab the T5 AWD Premier — but the fuel economy of the Drive-E makes a lot of sense to us for a car like this.

If we’re spending 40 grand on an only moderately powerful, automatic, tall wagon, we’re probably looking for cabin comfort and practicality above all. And on that front, the Premier adds leather seats, a power moonroof, walnut interior trim, Navigation, auto dimming interior mirror and adaptive TFT display to the XC70's standard equipment list. All in, we’d be dropping $41,490 with destination fee.

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[Build Your Own Volvo XC70]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $37,100-$47,175 Top Speed: 130 MPH (estimated)

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Acceleration: ~6.5 to 60 (estimated)

MPG: 19-23 city / 26-31 hwy / 22-26 combined [T5 AWD-T5 Drive-E]

Engines: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 2.5-liter turbo I5

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Max Horsepower: 240-250 hp [2.0L-2.5L]

Torque: 258-266 lb-ft [2.0L-2.5L]

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Curb Weight: 3,792-3,931 [T5 Drive E-T5 AWD] IIHS Safety Rating: NA

Transmissions: 8-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic

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Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, FWD/AWD

Photo credit: Volvo