Back in the early days of the crossover megatrend, many weren’t much more than regular sedans or station wagons with higher ground clearance. Thus, the Volvo V70, a face-lifted 850 wagon, became the XC Cross Country. Unpainted body cladding, a jacked-up suspension, and earthy color schemes set it apart from the more streamlined base model. The crossover market has since moved ahead, and many carmakers now create unique bodies for their pseudo off-roaders. A prime example of the new type of crossover is Volvo’s own XC60. But the company has also kept the XC70 in the lineup. Today, it is well into its third generation, and it’s getting significant upgrades for the 2014 model year.
The new instrumentation adopts a "tubular" appearance and makes use of TFT technology. It is possible to switch between a standard appearance called "Elegance," a "Performance" look, which places the tachometer in the center and adds a Rolls-Royce-like "power meter," and the inevitable "Eco" mode, which is illuminated in green and rewards your efficient driving with a special indicator. The interior’s ambient lighting has been upgraded, and new options include a heated windshield and a heated steering wheel.
Also included is a Volvo-exclusive interface named "Sensus Connected Touch," which makes use of a seven-inch, centrally mounted touch-screen system monitored by infrared beams. This means that the driver does not need to take off any gloves to operate it. Online functionalities are established through a built-in 3G/4G device, or any occupant’s smartphone in the car. Thus connected to the internet, it’s possible to stream music and listen to internet radio, make use of Google maps and search, find free parking, receive traffic and weather info, and turn the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Browsing the web is disabled while driving.
Volvo also has enhanced the XC70’s assistance systems for 2014. Under the "IntelliSafe" moniker, the crossover wagon now packs a standard city-safety system, which brakes the car automatically at speeds up to 31 mph, in congested traffic. A pedestrian-detection system is available, as is a system that monitors the dense forest of road signs and displays the posted speed limit in the instrument cluster.
The exterior changes are minor. The grille has been restyled and now features a honeycomb insert, the Volvo badge has grown larger, and there is a swoopy silver strip around the foglights. The skid plates have been restyled, too. In the rear, the taillights now feature a horizontal silver strip, with another horizontal strip on the liftgate connecting them.
We suspect that Volvo will keep the naturally aspirated 3.2-liter straight-six and the turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six in the lineup; other markets get the additional choice of two five-cylinder diesel engines. The XC70’s modest but significant changes for 2014 reflect the fact that there wasn’t much wrong with the vehicle in the first place. We predict that the studied scruffiness of this wagon will continue to appeal to a sizable group of buyers—and among the latest SUV-like crossovers, vehicles such as the XC70 now seem almost retro.