The Adventure Wagon: A 2004 Volvo XC70 Overland Build | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

The Adventure Wagon: A 2004 Volvo XC70 Overland Build

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Young Satchel

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So this is a total derail, but I figured since no-less than 4 posters have brought up Volvo's 2017 V90 Cross Country in this thread, I would x-post my first impressions of said wagon from Swedespeed here in this thread.

NON-OVERLAND CONTENT AHEAD [emoji16]



---------------------------------------

PART I

As an enthusiast and consumer I get extraordinarily tired of reading the standard editorial journo and blog reviews of the latest crop of automobiles. With a few exceptions, they all blend together to become a "sea of sameness". I love a good consumer review though, so In the spirit of Matt's excellent offering, I figured I'd jot down my own take on the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country which I had a chance to drive earlier today. I've also include tons of snaps for those who are curious to have a less manicured and more subjective look at Volvo's latest offering.

As I pulled up to the lot in my V60 RD (due for its 40k service) the V90XC was waiting for me out front. As others have pointed out, it's a truly stunning car in person and my first impression did not disappoint. The demo model I drove was Osmium Grey with the traditional Cross Country black cladding, and the combination felt absolutely perfect for the vehicle. I know grey is "boring", but I have to say, as far as greys go, this one is great.



I don't love everything about the new Volvo design language, but one of the things that I DO love is the way it strikes a nice balance between elegance and aggression. There is a sleek, meanness to the exterior of the V90XC that gives it an assured and capable personality. The front end isn't for everybody, but I find it a nice departure from the standard V90 with its chin accents and 3D grill.





The demo model I drove was equipped as pictured on the window sticker below with 19" wheels, B&W sound, rear air suspension/4C, Heads-up display, and the full convenience package. I have no interest in most of the luxury package personally, and this is almost exactly how I'd option this car were I to buy it.



Before hitting the road I climbed into the driver's seat to adjust things, and get familiar. This was my firs time in an SPA Volvo, and my unfamiliarity wasn't helped by the fact that my saleswoman barely knew the vehicle and had never actually been inside it herself! [emoji85] in spite of this, I immediately felt at Home thanks to the latest iteration of Volvo's comfortable seats. They feel firm-but-supple with modest bolsters, and the leather grain is nice and robust.



The adjustments have changed slightly--but only slightly--which was confusing and for a moment I thought Volvo had screwed up by not letting the seat drop enough for my lanky 6'3" frame. Thankfully after some tinkering around I was able to drop it practically to the floor and had tons of head and leg room which was excellent. I want to say it drops lower than my P2 XC70 and affords a bit more of a roomy feel for me because of that.

After dialing seats and mirrors in, We ran through the sound system briefly and there were a ton of options to play with. I did NOT fully investigate the system's potential because though I love music and listen to it constantly, I'm not actually much of an audiophile. On stock settings it proved more-than-adequate for everything from Alice in Chains, to Mozart, to some garbage Top40 radio pop. No complaints on that front. We hit the road and headed for some twisty suburban backroads to get a feel for the V90's on-road performance.

I am one of the bunch here who could give a **** about whether Volvo is "luxury" or not, and have concerns about the brand alienating guys like me who want a safe, reliable and adventurous vehicle with little pretense. However with that aside, the interior is a huge step up from the P3 cars, and it's immediately evident as you cruise along. You are sort of wrapped in a cocoon of clean, restrained, Scandinavian sensibility. It feels neither cool nor warm, but rather pleasingly neutral.



The dark wood and leather accents on the center console and elsewhere are also really handsome. The wood in particular makes things feel a bit more grounded and peaceful than the '15 V60 RD





The vents and speaker grills are quite elegant and lend to the cars more "upmarket" appeal.





While the UI/UX of the touchscreen interface seems decent (pending further future investigation) the first annoying design detail became apparent as I went to select a "mode" for our drive. as you can see above, the mode wheel sits a bit further back on the center console than is ideal. If you're at rest on the leather armrest , your fingers end up well-ahead of said wheel, making turning it to select your preferred mode while driving a bit awkward and annoying. This is a small concern, but worth mentioning nonetheless. I believe I saw another poster mention it too fwiw. The heads up display is super cool. But maybe that's because I've never driven a car with one before.

When in motion the car manages to feel extremely solid but also quite a bit more nimble than its predecessors, even in the "every-day driving" Comfort Mode. Switch it to dynamic mode and it hugs the curves pretty well, exhibiting surprisingly minimal body roll for a lifted wagon. It also turns way quicker; and U-ies are a snap in close quarters which is sooooo refreshing compared to the XC70s and even the V60. I'm guessing engine layout is somewhat to do with this? Either way it's more than welcome. The steering feedback is pretty bleh, But honestly I wasn't expecting much. It does the job ok, and as this isn't really designed as a "driver's car" I guess it's forgivable.

The suspension on the V90XC is fantastic, at least as far as the pavement goes. With the 19s on, It soaks up bumps beautifully, and does really well on the mottled, pock-marked roads that are so familiar to those of us who make the Northeast our home.



It feels firm-but-compliant and the boat-like bobbing and rocking of the older P2 and P3 XCs is nearly gone. I found that in any mode I tried, it felt pretty damn good and was certainly superior to either of my current volvos . It made the stock RD suspension feel pretty crashy and unrefined TBH.





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Young Satchel

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PART II

So what about Volvo's new power plant???? Well.............


There seem to be two camps on this. And after driving it for 30 minutes I think I land firmly in the camp that wishes Volvo had not gone all in on the 4s so soon. Now before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm not calling it a lawnmower, a buzz saw, or even unrefined. But what I AM saying is that in its stock form with no P* tune, the new T6 pales in comparison to the genuine article that inspired its moniker. To be clear, it is completely adequate. But for some of us "adequate" may not be enough in a sixty-five thousand dollar vehicle. Sure, it's got pep; the casual motorist will probably never miss merges, or want for passing power. But what it doesn't have is PERSONALITY. When you get on the pedal, it goes, but it does so with a feeling I can only describe as "light in the loafers". It doesn't strain or groan or anything, but compared to the symphony of a properly exhausted 3.0 T6, an S80 V8, or even a growling 5-cyl, it's pretty ****ing anemic. How much of a problem this turns out to be (for me) remains to be seen, but as I said, I think the average consumer will not be bothered in the least. How would they be? You can barely tell it's there! [emoji24]

The new 8-speed tranny is fantastic and does its job seamlessly. I have 0 complaints about that. In fact, it was so unobtrusive I have next to nothing to say about it; and unlike in the case of the engine, id consider this an asset.



There is no question in my mind that if I were to own this car, it would get P*ed before leaving the lot. Throttle response, tip-in, shift speed, and torque delivery are all pretty dull if I'm being honest. There was not a moment of my test drive that got the blood-pumping even a little bit in stock form.

But heres the thing. Most of us don't buy Volvo's XC-series wagons because we want to tear through the twisties at pulse-quickening speeds. We buy them for their adventure capabilities, their family hauling capacity, and their general utility. Perhaps The most frustrating part of this test drive was that I couldn't really test the wagon out for the stuff that ACTUALLY matters to me about it! I offroad a P2 XC70 pretty seriously



I understand it's capabilities are limited, but that being said, it's pulled its weight impressively in snow, mud, steep offroad mountain climbs, etc. is the V90 version up to the task? Or is it more of an aspirational luxury softroader suited for occasional "off-piste" use driving up the groomed dirt road to your second home [emoji16]. I feel like the latter is more likely. It's approach Angle looks worse than the P2 version, and one would certainly have to downsize from the 19s on it currently and throw new tires on it, but that's a given. All of the complicated but cool features and the reliance on touch screen interface make it a potential liability on longer overland trips.

Cargo hauling capacity is decent but it does really feel smaller back there over all. Because it is. I'd have to throw a box or basket on it for some trips for sure.



Passenger space for kids is not an issue thankfully. It was plenty roomy back there. I was able to put the driver's seat back all the way and still fit in the rear seat behind it which is great.





In conclusion, I think the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a pretty great car that ticks most of the boxes. In fact, if my initial test drive and thorough walk-around are any indication, it's probably the best in this (admittedly small) market segment. There is a TON about it that I really liked and their is no question it is a super sharp looking ride that is mostly really well-designed. That's worth a lot to me. But questions linger about the appeal of the 4-cyl power plant in a nearly 70k car, the smaller cargo area, and the overall stoutness of the newer Volvos. I will sound like a broken record, but goddamn if they plunked a T6 3.0 in this....holy ****, game changer.

Ultimately it will be up to the individual consumer to determine how these factors stack up in favor of the Wagon or not. But if you've got deep pockets and don't care about the somewhat lackluster 4-cylinder engine I think the V90 Cross Country would be a fantastic choice.










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Steve

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Very thorough and informative review! Lack of power in this price range seems like a big miss to me, but only time will tell. The only real competition in the large wagon category is the Mercedes E-Class wagon, which sports a bi-turbo V6 9-speed putting out 329 HP. At $62k it is in the same ballpark price wise.

We will be at the Cleveland auto show next week. Hopefully they'll have one there to drool over.

Thanks for giving it a try for us!
 

Young Satchel

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Very thorough and informative review! Lack of power in this price range seems like a big miss to me, but only time will tell. The only real competition in the large wagon category is the Mercedes E-Class wagon, which sports a bi-turbo V6 9-speed putting out 329 HP. At $62k it is in the same ballpark price wise.

We will be at the Cleveland auto show next week. Hopefully they'll have one there to drool over.

Thanks for giving it a try for us!
Thanks Steve! Glad you enjoyed it. I'm not yet sure how Volvo's decision to embrace an all-Drive-e power plant lineup will play out either. I do suspect though, that there are a lot of folks who simply won't notice or care! My mother is actually a perfect example. She currently drives a '12 XC70 with the NA 6-cylinder 3.2. Her only compliant about the car versus her older 2.5T (which I bought from my stepdad for a song and made The Adventure Wagon[emoji769]) is that it doesn't have enough "pick-up". If you put her in the car I test drove today which has higher torque and HP numbers than her 3.2 with 2 less cylinders, she would be thrilled. It would give her the pep she wants, and you certainly wouldn't gear her complaining about "lack of character" or its "anemic" sound like her son does [emoji41]

In short, I think this car could do very well with the northeastern XC70 establishment set. Enthusiasts and offroad wagoneers? Perhaps no so much.

Either way it's aesthetics inside and out are stunning enough that I continue to think about it, and look forward to driving it again soon. I hope they have one for you at the auto show!


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FuriousJoe

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Dude!
This is a pretty rad Volvo.

I just picked up an '06 XC last Thanksgiving, and been looking for some ways to upgrade it, and that's how I found your thread. I'll def be checking back
 

Young Satchel

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Dude!
This is a pretty rad Volvo.

I just picked up an '06 XC last Thanksgiving, and been looking for some ways to upgrade it, and that's how I found your thread. I'll def be checking back
Thanks man!

Ask away, I'm happy to share anything I've learned. Also check out the 2001-2007 XC70 subforum over on Swedespeed. I post under the same name there, and there's tons of helpful folks way more knowledgable than I.


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FuriousJoe

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Thanks man!

Ask away, I'm happy to share anything I've learned. Also check out the 2001-2007 XC70 subforum over on Swedespeed. I post under the same name there, and there's tons of helpful folks way more knowledgable than I.


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Awesome

I copied your list of upgrades; all except the lights. I'm going to keep the wagon's "town and country" look. I did get myself a yakima rack that I put my rocket box on. Eventually, I'll mount the bike rack when the weather gets nicer.

Let me know if you ever want to offload some parts (like those cooper tires!) I'm right over the border in Western MA
 

Young Satchel

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Awesome

I copied your list of upgrades; all except the lights. I'm going to keep the wagon's "town and country" look. I did get myself a yakima rack that I put my rocket box on. Eventually, I'll mount the bike rack when the weather gets nicer.

Let me know if you ever want to offload some parts (like those cooper tires!) I'm right over the border in Western MA
Rad.

Will do. Im over that way often enough. Used to live in Copake, NY on the western edge of the Berkshires

I don't have my lights anymore either. Broke them in a crash. [emoji85][emoji16]

Enjoy building the wagon! These things are surprisingly capable...


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Young Satchel

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Today's adventure update is a rare one in that it comes with NO PHOTOS! [emoji33][emoji33][emoji33] I know. Bear with me...

The Adventure Wagon[emoji769] has been sidelined for a bit by its need for axles. It isn't undrivable per se, but it's really unpleasant to drive for very long, so it's been parked up while awaiting its transplant. Nonetheless, I like to get out with it to keep it limber + I miss the woods bad. There was still 12-18" of snow in the mountains where I was and I was having trouble finding trails that were passable. The snow was super heavy and composed of icy granules and traction on the climbs was a bitch. But I wouldn't quit. To
My detriment apparently.

Long story-short I got high centered on a giant mound of compacted snow, ice, and dirt in The Adventure Wagon. I've never got stuck in it ever. So I suppose I was due. Right after I texted a buddy: "**** I just high-centered the wagon!", my phone fell out of my vest pocket at some point; somewhere. I looked for it for 15 minutes and couldnt find it. I decided to deal with it after and get to work freeing the car. I had no shovel to dig out with. So with great difficulty, I used the mother****ing Sven Saw (!!!) in its folded position as a shovel. I spent an hour laying in the snow and mud in a sweatshirt digging and scraping with the saw to clear the underside of the car from the mound. I looked down about 30 minutes in and my hand was bleeding like crazy. WTF? At first I thought I had somehow cut myself with the blade, but nah it was totally protected inside the handle. I had simply cheesegrated the hand against the snow and ice in my Sven saw digging frenzy. It was ****ing buried pretty deep. I was concerned I had damaged it somehow but I just kept digging until the underside was free. Took about an hour give-or-take.

After that I used my awesome folding Traction jacks Pads under the front wheels and was able to back out. Thank GOD I had them and the sven saw under the rear cargo floor. Those two things ****ing saved my ass today. I'll be buying a shovel for the rig ASAP as this was a retarded way to dig out.

So also. Did I mention I was super low on gas and the fuel light was on while all this was happening ? Yeah. Haaaaaaaaaaaa :-)))) I was about 30 miles from the nearest gas station. I'd freed the car but I was afraid to turn it off because sometimes if you are low on fuel, it might run for a while longer, but if you turn it off and let it sit, then try to restart it, the fuel pump cant reach the remaining little bit of gas and the thing won't start. Ask me how I know [emoji16]

With no phone in middle of nowhere I woulda been ****ed. So I kept it running and looked for the phone for another 25 or 30 minutes. Looked ****ing everywhere digging with the sven saw and sifting through with my freezing, bleeding hands. I couldn't find it. I still don't understand why [emoji24]. Then it started pouring rain. I was soaked, getting really cold, and covered in mud. After searching and searching I finally gave up. I drove to get gas and just made it! car seems ok. handles ok, drives straight, no fluids leaking, exhaust and cat dont seem too crushed or anything. Maybe some damage will become apparent later. Also while i was high-centered I was able to confirm my AWD works as I was able to watch the rear wheels spin [emoji23] yay!

I'll take this first time getting mildly stuck as a lesson in preparedness or lack thereof. While I wasn't totally buried in the woods, I was on a rural seasonal access road at a trailhead where not a soul passed the entire 1.5 hrs I was at it. It could have been much worse. Kids could have been there, vehicle could have been disabled, I could have been injured. Thankfully it worked out, but I need to be a bit more prepared moving forward

Looking forward to getting these axles on in the next month or so and getting back out there soon!


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Joey D

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I can't believe I just saw this, I love Volvo's and this is one of the more interesting builds I've seen. I considered one of these for a long time, but when I went to the Volvo dealer I ended up buying a totally impractical C30 R Design that after driving I fell in love with. Once I put the Polestar tune on it, it really became something I loved.

As much as I like my Tacoma, I think when it comes time for a new vehicle I need to get back into a Volvo, I miss the quirkiness and ergonomic Swedish design.
 

Young Satchel

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I can't believe I just saw this, I love Volvo's and this is one of the more interesting builds I've seen. I considered one of these for a long time, but when I went to the Volvo dealer I ended up buying a totally impractical C30 R Design that after driving I fell in love with. Once I put the Polestar tune on it, it really became something I loved.

As much as I like my Tacoma, I think when it comes time for a new vehicle I need to get back into a Volvo, I miss the quirkiness and ergonomic Swedish design.
Glad to hear it man; thanks!

I also own a Polestared V60 R-Design so I hear ya on the C30! They are too small for me since I have two toddlers, but they are a great, quirky hot hatch.

To be honest, your Tacoma is infinitely more capable than my XC any day of the week. But part of the fun of this build has been working within the vehicles limitations and pushing its capabilities to the maximum. It's a great wagon for sure!


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Vyscera

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If you didnt, it can help to lift a corner of the vehicle to give more digging room or take pressure off of the obstruction, if terrain allows. Digging is one of those lessons you learn from quickly. Glad you made it out without damage.
 

Young Satchel

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Went On my first spring trail run in The Adventure Wagon[emoji769] yesterday...



And as the snow and ice all begins to melt away....



Look what I found:



[emoji33][emoji33][emoji33] That's right! It's my entombed iPhone!

I didn't have a chance to clean off and try and boot up last night as I'm getting over the flu and passed out with the kids. but I imagine it's bricked from all the water exposure sans case. Either way happy to have it back and perhaps be able to retrieve my data off of it. New phone camera is so amazing I'm alllllllmost not mad anymore. I'm sure Tapatalk will mangle the image quality, but look at this ****:



Some fun things in store for the wagon over the next several weeks, stay tuned!

[emoji342][emoji342][emoji342]




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