Bill, the Volvo XC70 and Team Gunnar
??????????? Of the hundreds of cars I get to drive, I probably have more personal attachment to the Volvo XC70 than any other car.? A big part of this is because the XC70 and I have had some great adventures together, for example driving from Anchorage, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay in the middle of the winter and bouncing up the Mexican Baja peninsula on the trails and sections of the Baja 500 race course in the middle of the summer.? Ahhh, those were incredible trips, especially for a car that is more associated with soccer moms than challenging cross country drives.
When the email invitation to the Volvo XC Adventure, came, I was packing my bag and loading my radar detector even before I pushed ?send? on the email reply accepting the invitation.
My fondness for this original Volvo Cross Country (the XC70) started with generation one in 1997 and has continued into this third generation version, which arrived in 2007.? Having never been a big SUV fan, I?ve always felt that the XC70 has provided most of the same utility as an SUV in terms of the ability to carry things and drive through snow, mud and other slippery stuff.? All it lacked was the ability to pull a big boat or camp trailer and that was nothing I ever planned to do.
The Cross Country has a nice functional ride height, too, just a bit higher than a station wagon but not tall like a typical SUV. ?That makes it easy to get into, and more than eight inches of ground clearance, which is plenty for most conditions.
The lower stance produces better handling characteristics, too, and that makes it safer to drive as if all the Volvo safety features weren?t enough.? Here?s where I would normally try to sift through the long list of safety features and tell why I think they are important, but I?m not going to because the XC70 is a Volvo, what else needs to be said?
?? With fuel economy as one of our challenges in the initial phase of the Volvo Challenge, we worked hard to be economical drivers in our first leg from LA to Las Vegas, and our work paid off with us hitting 27.9 mpg driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.? That was especially impressive because we were driving a notch over the posted speed limits.? Even at the end of the 900 miles, the trip computer showed 25.4 mpg, which is a number few SUVs can touch.? Those numbers also happen to be significantly better than the EPA estimates of 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
The fuel economy number is impressive because our car was the T6 model with the 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission and the all-wheel with Instant Traction?.? It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a quick 6.9 seconds. ?This was not the type of car I?d normally expect to get better numbers than the EPA estimates.
??????????? Although we pushed the speed limits through Nevada and Utah a bit, we were carefully paying attention to the radar detector.? However, when my driving partner, Arv, did not slowed down fast enough as we entered a small Utah town and the ?instant-on? radar got him in a classic speed trap.? It was so obviously a revenue-builder, because we went through two other ?traps? with the next few miles.
Volvo has changed the XC70 drivetrain configuration for 2011.? The AWD system is now optional, so it?s now possible to buy a front-wheel drive version of this car.? They did that as a replacement for the V70 wagon that was discontinued at the end of the 2010 model year.
I?d never driven in this part of Nevada, Utah and Colorado previously and I was in awe over the colorful rock formations especially in Zion National Park and along Interstate 70.? I?ve seen all the photos and I took dozens myself on this trip, but they never do justice to the real thing.
??????????? Our drive to Gateway, Colo., took two days, and because we spent the first night in Las Vegas, we had to drive about 600 miles on day two.? That meant about 12 hours of drive time, including several stops along the way.? As we pulled into Gateway just after dark on day two, I was grateful we were in the Cross Country, because I didn?t feel beat up.? The quiet interior, extremely comfortable seats and smooth ride made a tough drive manageable and even enjoyable.
The XC70 T6 AWD is priced at $38,875 including the destination charge.? Our car had two option packages and metallic paint, which brought the final price to $45,675.? The Climate, Dual Xenon and Technology Package, ($3,550)? added features like heated seats, rain sensor wipers, an interior air quality system, along with active dual Xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, Distance Alert? and a Collision Warning system with auto braking.? These are some great safety devices that were a nice aid for the long drive. The $2,700 Multimedia Package added a audiophile style sound system with Sirius Satellite Radio, rear camera and navigation with real time traffic.? The navigation system is the weak link for the XC70.? The system is controlled by a television-style remote control or an awkward joystick mounted behind the steering wheel.? The system was confusing and slow to respond.? I am told there is a much needed new navigation system on the way.
??????????? Our first day in Gateway, we went for shorter drives in both the XC60 and XC90 models and even had a chance to experience some especially slippery conditions when it rained, then snowed, making the clay roads turn to a grease-like muck.? The AWD system in these cars did an excellent job of pulling through the slippery conditions, however.
A 900 mile road trip, through some of the west?s most scenic country in a Volvo Cross Country is a great way to spend a few days, and the Gateway Canyon?s Resort is a magnificent reward at the end.? We highly recommend both.
Auto Museum – http://www.gatewayautomuseum.com/
Resort — http://www.gatewaycanyons.com/