2016 Volvo XC70 Driving Impressions

The XC70 is smooth, quiet and comfortable on the highway, where it drives like a car, but it’s also superb on gravel roads. On either surface, it’s more maneuverable than an SUV.

We drove the all-wheel-drive XC70 hard over unpaved logging roads presenting mud and snow, and enjoyed the stability, handling and ride. The suspension had just the right amount of compliance, which is to say long travel, and it gave the driver confidence. The 8.3 inches of ground clearance is more than many truck-based SUVs, and the skid plates that come on every XC70 offer even more security against broken limbs or rocks. Unlike the larger XC90 SUV, the XC70 is made for outdoor enthusiasts.

Despite that long suspension travel, the ride isn’t mushy. Nor is it stiff or loud, like in the truck-based SUVs. The XC70 leans in corners that are taken hard, and its nose pitches a bit between hard acceleration and hard braking, but find a crossover that doesn’t. That same lean and compliance provide great grip in corners on gravel.

The excellent brakes stop the XC70 immediately, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution balances things from front to rear.

Hill-Descent Control is very useful on snowy or icy downhill streets, as it manages the throttle and braking to maintain traction; the driver just steers, feet off the pedals, and it’s all taken care of for him or her.

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