I’ve grown up in a family where road trips are the norm. Vacationing with either minivans or SUVs has been a family tradition since my childhood. It’s a given that some vehicles are better for such adventures than others. Minivans are great because they can fit a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of stuff with no issues. They’re just awful to look at or be seen in. Sport-utility-vehicles are great because they have the cushy nature of minivans without the stigma.
As a car guy, I’ve long since wondered what the perfect vehicle is for a road trip. Not “great”, not the most efficient. I went out in search of nothing short of perfection. I came home with the 2013 Volvo XC70 T6 Platinum. Complete with the Polestar engine package, the Subaru Outback of Volvos came all dressed up for an overnight voyage to our nation’s capital, Ottawa.
I personally have never liked station wagons. While my car guy comrades have always tried to convince me otherwise, they have yet to sell me on the concept. When I think of a station wagon, I can’t get the image of the Taurus Wagons of the 90s out of my head. This one, on the other hand, isn’t quite a station wagon. The XC70 originated with the now-defunct V70 station wagon. They added some body cladding and jacked it up a few inches to appear “manlier”. Volvo made all-wheel-drive standard and stuck some “Cross Country” decals across the back window.
It’s been well over a decade since the XC70 first premiered, and our T6 Platinum is essentially the top-of-the-line. I’ll even go as far as to say it’s one of the best station wagons money can buy (I’m sure the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate and the BMW M5 Touring would beg to differ). The Platinum comes loaded up with things like a navigation system, a backup camera, and a plethora of Volvo’s safety features. The premium sound system on my tester was top-notch and made our trip extremely pleasant. Plus, the seats on our tester are among the best in the industry.
The powerplant of my XC70 is what ultimately sold me on this wagon. The 3.0L turbocharged and intercooled inline 6-cylinder puts out 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same engine as the S60 R-Design, but feels much more planted and solid in this application. The 2013 Volvo XC70 T6 literally hauls ass. The sound of the blow-off valve becomes addictive and quickly destroys any hint of decent city mileage. I averaged 11.3L/100km in the city. On the highway however, the big wagon cruises effortlessly. Packed with luggage and four people in the car, the XC70 returned an exceptional 9.0L/km on the highway.
Despite being a huge station wagon, the handling of the XC70 wasn’t unimpressive. The steering is delightfully heavy (almost reminiscent of BMW, minus the precision). It gets a bit floppy if you try to make it dance too much, but the car definitely oozes confidence.
The T6 is definitely the motor to opt for over the aging 3.2, as smooth as the latter may be. There’s something about the sound of a turbocharged six that makes you enjoy every moment of driving it. Our 2013 XC70 Platinum with a few option boxes ticked off (it was missing the Technology Package with its Adaptive Cruise Control and few other gizmos) tipped the scales at just under $55,000. That’s definitely a bit steep, but considering a well-equipped T6 can be had at $47,000, there’s excellent value in these wagons. Plus, given that the current-generation is an aging model, Volvo dealers are giving huge rebates on them right now.
If value is what you’re after, the XC70’s only real competitor is the Subaru Outback. It’s one of the only other “true” beefed-up station wagons on the market. The Outback 3.6R Limited can be had for $40,000 flat. In my eyes, the Volvo’s reputation for safety, its upscale feel, and its modest image make it worth every penny. The current Volvo XC70 is definitely the perfect road trip vehicle, and quite possibly the perfect family car as well.
2013 Volvo XC70 T6 Platinum Gallery