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2005 Volvo Winter Test Drive: Quebec City, Canada: The 2005 XC70

If you’re going to hold a winter test drive to prove your ice and snow performance abilities, you can’t do much better than Quebec City in February. Snow, ice, bone-chilling temperatures, and some of the most incredible winter scenery anywhere in the World all help in making this place the perfect winter test venue for any vehicle designed to excel in adverse conditions.

And what an event it was… The incredible Auberge Saint Antoine boutique hotel, backroad trekking around picturesque Ile d'Orlean, ice traction testing on a frozen lake, touring the amazing Quebec Ice Hotel, an impressive halfpipe demo at a local ski area, slalom racing on snow… And if you can believe it, we did it all in just one day!

The 2005 Volvo Winter Test Drive event had us testing two Volvo wagons, the brand new 2005 V50 AWD and, the reason I was invited, a close look at their restyled 2005 XC70. Two vehicles with very different appeals and customer demographics, but still very similar in both being Volvo wagons that perform exceptionally well in adverse Winter conditions.

Introduction

Volvo released the Cross Country V70XC to the North American market in the fall of 1997 and its been a runaway success ever since, consistently outselling all other wagon based models in the Volvo lineup.

For the 2001 model year (model year 2000 in some markets), Volvo introduced an entirely version of their Cross Country V70XC, which we here at VolvoXC.com affectionately refer to as the Generation Two model. Where the original V70XC was essentially a cosmetically enhanced model of their standard V70 model, Volvo decided to further differentiate the new model with markedly different interior treatments, higher ground clearance, burley roof rails, distinctive cladding to protect the vehicle’s lower extremities and much, much more.

For the next few years, the Cross Country remained relatively unchanged, save for a power plant upgrade (2.4T to 2.5T) in 2002, an AWD system change from mechanical viscous coupling to Haldex AWD in 2003, which also marked the models name change from V70XC to XC70.

Which brings us to the new model, where Volvo made a number of edits to the XC70, most of which were styling changes aimed at freshening up the car’s appeal.

To introduce this new model to the North American press, Volvo held a Winter Test Drive in and around Quebec City back in January, 2005.

Impressions of the 2005 XC70

At the start of the day, we had the choice of either starting with the V50 or XC70… I chose Old Faithful, the XC70. As you may be aware, my primary ride is a 2001 V70XC, so hopping into the 2005 model had me stepping into somewhat familiar territory. This was in fact one of the nicest surprises in driving the 2005 versus the 2001… The fact that though four model years separate these vehicles, overall the fit, finish and feel are so very close. I think this speaks volumes to the quality in materials Volvo chooses to furnish their vehicles with in their styling neutrality and overall durability.

Overall, the interior feels like a nice update all over… All the touchpoints seem to have been upgraded, from the leather wrap on the wheel with its stronger beading, to the now real metal grab bar, nice touches all over to give you the feeling of this indeed being a new car.

The goal of the day was to recreate the life of a busy Quebec City family, running errands all over the city, all in an effort to get a feel for the vehicles’ versatility.

We started the day off brushing the cars of the snow which fell overnight… The Volvo guys felt that by leaving the cars untouched overnight, we’d have a better understanding of how well the cars warm up after a night of cold snow. This also afforded a great photo opportunity, my submission included here!

Once we had the cars warmed up and brushed of snow, we were handed a guidebook to direct us through the day’s activities.

Lowlights

I’ll start off with my disappointments with the 2005 model, the list is pretty short.

First off, I was really disappointed that the XC70 lost its wiper blades, having been replaced with high pressure washer nozzles. Though it’s a pretty minor point, I think the car has lost just a little bit of its core personality.

I really like the design of the new bumpers, but they made the silver details out of plastic instead of aluminum as they had on the original models. At around three millimeters thick, they weren’t really protecting anything anyways, but just the idea of replacing aluminum parts with plastic is a bit disappointing in itself. Volvo claims this as a sa

I’ve been personally running the Valeo Ultimate Wiper Blades for over a year now here on the West Coast, and the results have been nothing short of outstanding. But that said, my experiences with them in the colder temperatures we experienced in Quebec somewhat jaded my opinion.. I was constantly having to re-spray the windshield because the blades did such a poor job. I have since learned that in some situations, the blades need to be re-calibrated (bent into shape) by the dealership… Perhaps this XC was a candidate for this “repair.”

My final complaint would not have even come up had we not driven the V50.. Within the first few minutes of driving the V50 I went to change lanes, and as I usually do, just tapped the signal stick. To my surprise the signal kept on flashing three more times then went off on its own. I tried again and sure enough, you just need to tap the signal in the direction you’re turning, and the signal will automatically flash three times. Sure, seems like a minor point, but the XC70 didn’t have this feature, though I think it’d be a safe bet in knowing the 2006 model does

Highlights

At the end of the day, the new XC70 is a very smooth, logical progression of our beloved V70XC, taking an already solid vehicle and giving it a nice, primarily cosmetic update.

First and foremost, DSTC (Dynamic Stability Traction Control) is absolutely awesome, a MUST HAVE. Unfortunately most dealers do not order DSTC on their stock orders since it tends to be a tough sell, but that in itself is a real shame. Thing is though, once you experience its true power, you’ll be sold for life! I submit I had been on the fence for quite some time, not all that sold on the idea nor the importance in my

DSTC is a highly advanced safety system that uses an on-board computer and various motion sensors linked to the vehicle’s anti-lock brakes to monitor the vehicle's forward motion. If potentially dangerous over-steer or under-steer skidding is detected while turning, the system reacts automatically to correct the unstable maneuver by braking one or more wheel.

I would also be very interested in driving this car with the FOURC option. The XC70 has always felt a little rolly in the corners, and though this has been improved in the 2005, it’s still a tad mushy for my liking. Though a set of stiffer tires would help solidify the ride through the corners, from everything I’ve read and heard, FOURC will be the true solution to this issue.

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