Test Drive: 2011 Volvo XC70 Wagon

?Volvo XC stands for Adventure?

Journalist Group treks from Los Angeles to Gateway, CO.

Volvo Cars of North America recently put together a challenging XC ?Cross Country? race (really more of a rally of sorts, with the emphasis on fun) that was designed to test the mettle of both man and machine, featuring their XC Series vehicles: the XC60; XC70 and XC90 ? 16 vehicles in all, with journalists from across the country paired up in a lighthearted, yet intense competition. Team members converged on Los Angeles, CA on a Sunday to prepare for the adventurous trek that would begin on Monday to Las Vegas, NV, and on across the state of Utah and into Gateway, CO.

Each team was assigned one of the three XC Series models for their journey, supplied with clues and challenges along the way that enabled them to amass points along the way. Fuel economy and distance covered were important factors in the competition, along with various assigned activities. Clues dealt with ?Destinations?, ?Driver?s Seat Challenges? and ?Turn Signals?.

At the outset, each vehicle was supplied with a first clue directing the team to their first destination. Upon reaching that destination, a Volvo representative handed out the next destination clue, which would lead to a Driver?s Seat Challenge or activity. Participants were encouraged to take photos, documenting events as they progressed, as well as posting running accounts of activities to social media along the way. Activities ranged in adventure/difficulty level from low/low (no adrenaline, little needed strength, modest stamina, no heights involved, etc,) to high/high (not for the faint of heart, not for the weak or squeamish). Low rated activities awarded the lowest number of points, while high rated activities accounted naturally for the highest point awards. Team members could opt for two activities, with only one member participating in each activity, while the other was present. A deadline was imposed for activity completion, at which point, the final ?Turn Signal? clue was handed out, but only available up to a specified time deadline. The Turn Signal consisted of selecting one of two routes for the completion of the journey to Gateway, CO.

Activities were held secret until committing to a difficulty level, which added to the suspense and intensity of the program. Following arrival at the final destination in Colorado, free time activities were available, which included: horseback riding, fly fishing, ATV treks, air tours of the Gateway Canyon area, river rafting, or simply relaxing. Journalists were afforded the opportunity to test and review the remaining XC models not assigned to them for the XC Adventure over both road courses and off-road courses. The program was loaded with surprises, including a final challenge which touted doing something that none of the adventure participants had ever done. What could that possibly be? More on that later.

Each Team member was given a per diem allowance to cover meals, lodging and fuel costs along the way. Maximum points achievable for the XC Adventure Race Across the States were 1,650, with ties being broken by the team?s videos, photos, blogs and other social media posts.

My fellow journalist from the Northwest and I were assigned the team name ?Team Gunnar? and we were given the keys to a 2011 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD ASR wagon for the trip. As it turned out, our trusty Volvo steed did much better on the 900 plus mile trip than we did in terms of amassing points, serving its purpose well.

Our adventuresome ride was powered by a 3.0-liter DOHC, 24-valve turbocharged 300 horsepower 6-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing, Twin-Scroll turbocharger with electronic fuel injection. The transversely mounted front engine was coupled to a six-speed Geartronic automatic with Adaptive Shift Logic that geared power to the All-Wheel Drive system. It was totally comfortable and adequate in all aspects, except for the abysmal Navigation system, which seemed to have a mind of its own the majority of the time. The Volvo team assured us that new software is on the way for future models.

Our ride supplied plenty of power ? enough to garner a prize ticket for me in the little town of Orderville, UT, where if you blink, you actually miss the town. The speed limit drops from 70 mph to 35 mph and then bumps back up to 45 mph on the way out of town. There were three law enforcement vehicles ? Highway Patrol, Sheriff and local Police within a four-block range, waiting to pounce on the unwary. Can you say SPEED TRAP? My offense was doing 44 mph in a 35mph zone. I was slowing, but obviously not rapidly enough for Officer Friendly. If you have occasion to pass through Orderville in the Beehive state ? BEWARE. Maybe they should rename the place ?Law and Orderville? to get one?s full attention or perhaps “Revenue-ville” would be even more appropriate.

The XC70 was the smallest of the three XC models, with the XC60 next in line, followed by the full size XC90. Wagon fans are sure to love the XC70, while the?XC60 seems to be the ideal mid-point vehicle, followed by the larger XC90. We were caught in a snow flurry during an off-road test of the XC90 on sloppy, slippery red clay and prudently turned back rather than really go totally off-road.

 

 

If you?ve never been to Gateway, CO, it is the home of the Gateway Canyons Resort, the dream of builder, John Hendricks, developer of the Discovery television network. The surrounding countryside is spectacular and there is a fabulous American car museum that houses a portion of Hendricks? vehicle collection, all definitely worth a visit.

Back to what none of the attendees had ever done?? The volunteer fire department of Gateway twice annually stages a unique target shoot, wherein participants are afforded the opportunity to fire varied weapons at numbered targets. The target ID signs (miniscule without a scope) are much larger than the actual targets, which were soda cans positioned alongside. Okay, most people have engaged in target shooting at some point in their lives, but not like this. Each can was loaded with a stick of dynamite. There was definitely no problem in determining when one hit their target, as there was a very large, loud and visible explosion, which made for a fun and challenging experience. Each shooter was allowed five shots to hit the target. I managed to hit mine on the first shot ? my best performance of the entire trip.

The purpose of the XC Adventure was to illustrate the prowess and capability of Volvo?s XC Series vehicles not only as pleasurable transportation, but as fun-to-drive , attractive and comfortable vehicles as well. I?m here to say that the five-day excursion was a rip roaring success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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