When we first saw the changes to the 2005 XC70, I was quite surprised to say the least. The initial reports sounded like this was going to be a straightforward model year changeover with maybe a couple new colors and a short list of enhancements. Well, for most people this would be a correct assessment, but for someone who’s passionately followed the development of the V70XC/XC70 since it’s introduction in 2001, these latest enhancements represent a big change.
This news seem to bode well for XC70 enthusiasts as it appears that Volvo Cars has a renewed dedication to keeping the XC70 at the top of their sales charts as opposed to letting the XC90 take over, which is what many expected!
With these changes I get the impression Volvo is trying to move slightly upscale, perhaps to compete more directly with what many consider to be its closest rival, the Audi allroad. I’m sure many cross shopping these two vehicles will find the XC to be much more comparable in the interior appointments department now and when it comes to performance… Though Volvo still needs to make up a few more ponies to match the power of the allroad, handling with the optional FOUR C suspension package will surely meet and perhaps even exceed the allroad.
Here’s a quick checklist of the different areas I’ve covered in this article:
Please keep in mind that this article is based on information and photos provided by Volvo Cars North America and some of the information some of our “well connected” members have posted in the forums. To add, this is in no means an exhaustive list of all the MY05 changes… As more information comes together we’ll be able to investigate further and provide even more detailed information.
The XC70 has never been the purebred racer in Volvo’s stable by any means, that role has typically been left to their R and T5 models. We’re not expecting for this to change any time soon, but with the new model comes an option native to their R models, the FOUR C active chassis. This suspension system has been very well received in the press, and I expect for the accolades to continue when it’s released in the XC.
in my opinion the XC has always been a bit of a weeble wobble when it comes to the turns. It’s nowhere near what I’d consider to be a serious problem, just something you start to notice when comparing to say a normal V70 or S60. Considering the fact that we have greater ground clearance than most SUV’s on the market, perhaps body roll should be expected. But all that said, I think Volvo’s engineers were out to fix this issue for those potential buyers looking for handling more similar to their sedan or sports car than their SUV.
Changes to the Exterior
Aside from rebadging the car as an XC70 from the original V70XC nameplate and the introduction of some new colors over the years, this is the first time Volvo has made noticeable changes to the exterior appearance of the vehicle. These include:
- More powerful grille and larger skid plates
- Roof rails in brushed aluminum
- Headlamps with clear lenses
- New body and bumper colors
A number of you reading this may be partial to the existing XC70 looks and I don’t blame you as the existing car’s design and personality is what drew many of us here in the first place, but personally I think the new cosmetic adjustments are a great evolutionary step for the vehicle.
The new skid plates are most definitely derived from Volvo’s 2002 concept vehicle, the ACC2. Aside from the orange color shown on the concept example, the shape and proportions are almost identical. Nice to see Volvo employing some of their concepts into real world products,even if it’s something as simple as a skid plate! Be sure to click for the detailed photo to see how truly similar the two shapes are!
The body cladding has also seen a slight change, primarily in an effort to accommodate the newly shaped skid plates. In addition to this, reports tell us that the blue colored cladding has been replaced with “stone gray”. I’m a bit disappointed as I had always felt the blue helped to give the car more personality but not to worry, the new color seems to match well and still manages to give the car most of it’s original personality.
The grille is also reported to be slightly bolder, said to be more in line with the XC90’s looks. The XC has also inherited the XC90’s side view mirrors.
They’ve also adjusted the headlights’ appearance with more of a clear look to them. Though the stock lights are not HID, they have a similar look to them. HID remain an option.
Wheels are the other big change this year. Though we got a new style last year in the Xenia, I’m a very big fan of this latest style. My favorite OEM Volvo rim on the XC has always been the Volvo Thor 17″, and this model is very, very similar.
Changes to the Interior
While the exterior changes reflect a subtle, evolutionary theme, I think the interior changes almost give the impression you’re sitting in a completely different vehicle.
Now I’ve always personally enjoyed the interior of the V70XC for it’s clean esthetic, practicality and ease of use. But that said, over the years I’ve heard quite a few comments from other owners and prospective owners who felt the interior was uninspiring, almost to the point of feeling cheap.
It’s my opinion this new interior has been designed specifically to address these complaints. Instead of the monochromatic gray throughout, they’ve livened up a number of the key interior items with more (simulated) wood grain and aluminum trimmed items.
Thus far, Volvo has shown two versions of the interior. In their press images, they display an interior that makes almost exclusive use of aluminum finished pieces. For the car’s public debut at the Birmingham Auto Show, Volvo instead showed an interior that uses simuated wood extensively… I personally much prefer the aluminum but each to his or her own.
Upon close inspection of the images, it looks like this aluminum finish will be the same “mesh” style texture we’ve seen on the door trim set available on the Ocean Race Edition and stock on the S60.
And BIG NEWS… They’ve finally addressed the center console grab handle issue! Until now, this part has been made of plastic, then coated with a simulated aluminum finish. This has long been a complaint of existing XC owners as the handle was continually prone to scratches and chipping. Unfortunately, it does not look like it will be possible to retrofit these parts to existing XC’s, or if it is possible the costs would be tremendous due to all the other redesigned parts on the new model… Oh well.
And as seen in the photos on this page, they’ve also upgraded theemergency brake handle with a leather cover, something I think they should have done a long time ago. Of note, if you’re an existing V70XC/XC70 owner, do a search in the forums to find out how you can purchase a leather covered emergency brake handle for your XC… It’s very reasonably priced (around $20.00) and should be available directly from your local Volvo dealer as an OEM part!
The arm rest has been changed again. This time it has a button on the passenger side and looks to be smaller in overall dimensions. The space underneath the arm rest has also been re-dimensioned to fit larger items. The current area as the current storage space is just big enough to hold about 15 CD cases and that’s about all so this added space will be a welcome improvement.
Changes to Safety Features
Over the past few years, Volvo’s reputation as a safety leader has somewhat diminished, but not because of poor products or failures, but because a number of the other manufacturers have finally caught up with them.
Volvo seems to be determined to re-establish this role by introducing a number of unique and innovative safety features on their 2005 line up, including XC70 of course. In summary, these features include:
- BLIS: Blind Spot Information System which is essentially an early warning sign for the driver’s blind spots.
- WRG: Water Repellent Glass to be applied to front side windows and exterior mirrors, which should improve the driver’s lateral visibility in poor conditions, something of particular note for XC70 drivers considering the inclement weather this car seems to excel in.
- PACOS: Passenger Airbag Cut-Off Switch, a self explanatory feature I would think!
For more information on the details of these safety features, read Volvo’s press releases titled New Safety Features on Volvo Cars.
So do I think Volvo has improved the XC70? Well, I haven’t had any hands on experience with the car just yet but if everything here is as good as it looks on paper and in photos, I’d say yes.
Does that mean I’m ready to trade in my 2001 for a fresh 2005? Absolutely…. NOT. Though there are certainly some attractive enhancements on the upcoming model, the core of these cars remains the same and we’re still completely ecstatic with our “old” V70XC. Ask me again in 3-4 years when Volvo introduces their next generation XC70!