"From a historical perspective, Volvo Cars is often linked with the image of spacious sport wagons for families with young children." Taken from the first line in Volvo's latest press kit, this statement at once sums up all that has traditionally defined Volvo--safe and solid, practical as hell, but, well, not necessarily all that exciting.
While the company remains loyal to its core values, especially safety, Volvo's been making a concerted push to break its bland "soccer mom" image, and it's evident in the introduction of three revised and updated 2005 Volvo models: the S60, the V70 and the XC70.
Beginning in 2005, T5-powered versions of both the S60 and V70 will now benefit from a more powerful engine. Displacement on the T5 has been increased from 2.3 to 2.4 liters, and the standard turbocharger is now the same as that found on Volvo's R-powered models. The result of this mild tinkering is an extra ten horsepower and 15 lb-ft of extra torque, as well as improved emissions and fuel economy. Additionally, 2005 models equipped with the T5 engine will be available with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, both of which will impart improved acceleration.
Volvo's FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) system will be available on all three cars beginning in 2005. Now in its second generation, FOUR-C is combined with DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) to allow the vehicle to actively adapt suspension damping to suit varying styles of driving. Additionally, drivers can choose manually between sport or comfort settings, to suit their personal preference.
All three models can now also be equipped with BLIS, Volvo's new Blind Spot Information System. BLIS relies on cameras in the vehicle's side mirrors to monitor the areas along the car's sides and rear flanks--the traditional "blind spots"--to assist drivers in making safe lane changes. When an obstacle is detected, the driver is informed by an unobtrusive warning light within the cabin. When turned on, BLIS is active at all speeds above 6.2 mph and reacts to vehicles traveling up to 12 mph slower and a maximum of 43.5 mph faster than the BLIS-equipped vehicle itself. Additionally, the system is engineered to ignore immobile objects like parked cars, road barriers or light posts.
In addition to the new technical advances, each car has individually undergone distinct styling changes. The V70, the flagship family hauler, has received a full frontal facelift, with a chrome-ribbed grille and distinct headlamp and fog lamp profiles. The headlamps themselves are completely new, with clear plastic lenses and high-performance reflector designs for both the halogen and optional Bi-Xenon versions. Color-matched side trim moldings and lower body valances are now standard on the V70, and the bumper corners feature color-matched moldings that can be removed and replaced with chromed versions should the customer desire. The rear features a redesigned taillight pattern and a capping strip at the cargo area's threshold to protect the bumper's finish while loading and unloading.
The spirited S60 also benefits from a redrawn front end, with softer contours and a black-accented grille and lower intake. Like the V70, the S60 now comes with new headlamps, as well as standard color-matched lower bodyline and moldings, and it also offers consumers the option of replacing the corner bumper moldings with chrome-plated versions. The rear end has been altered, with a new taillight pattern and modified exhaust outlet. For customers interested in customization, a comprehensive accessory kit is available for this model, labeled the Accessory Sports Concept, which includes a body kit, rear wing, sport steering wheel, floor mats and shifter, and 8x18-inch aluminum wheels.
The best-selling North American vehicle of the three, the all-terrain XC70 has been aesthetically upgraded in a number of areas, each intended to "beef up" the car's rugged character. The grille incorporates a more aggressive "egg crate" mesh, and conspicuously larger skid plates are now standard in both the front and rear. The roof rails feature a brushed aluminum finish, and the car's special attributes--its robust bumpers, wheel housing extensions and lower side trim--are now produced in Stone Gray replacing the previous blue-gray. Alternatively, umber colored bumpers and moldings are still available. Like the V70 and S60, the XC70 incorporates updated head- and taillights. Additionally, the XC70 has been imbued with a new standard 16-inch wheel, called Erinus.
All models have benefited from extensive interior redesigns as well. Genuine wood or aluminum trim is available on all models, and all audio systems have been upgraded to Dolby Pro Logic II. Each model features a redesigned center console, and while specific console design varies among the three, each is engineered to offer a number of practical features--storage compartments, trays, cup holders and armrests. All three models also incorporate a new generation of Volvo seats, featuring improved lumbar support, added vertical adjustment, and slimmer head restraints to provide improved visibility from the rear seat.
The new V70, S60 and XC70 are scheduled to arrive in Volvo dealerships across North America by September 2004.