There’s no denying the love I have for my 2004 Volvo XC90 2.5T. The very fact that you’re reading this page on a website dedicated to my car is pretty much proof of that. But without getting into all the Volvo For Life “stuff” there’s also the fact that I owned a 2001 Volvo V70XC – herein referred to as the XC70. The circumstances surrounding the purchase of our XC70 were very similar to those surrounding the purchase of the SUV: We had one car. We needed two. And it had to have some room to it. Also, it had to not be a minivan or anything similar. Long story short, we settled on an 01 XC70 with about 120,000 miles.
Comparing the two cars is a bit subjective as I didn’t own them both at the same time and three years of tech advancement is between them, but there are some comparisons I’ll make. Some are probably unfair as the two are vastly different cars, but as the title of this piece states, I’m talking about what I PREFER. So here goes nothing. Or something.
On the road, I actually prefer the driveability of the XC70. It’s shorter and seemed to have far less body roll. Granted it weighs less than it’s larger cousin (or is it a brother? Nephew?), however there’s no denying that, when it comes cornering, the XC70 has a bit more drive (and a lot less roll) through a turn.
For the interior, which are both very similar in many aspects, again I give props to the XC70. Mostly it’s for the grab bar on the center console, but also for that kick ass cup holder near the driver’s right hand. Oh and I can’t forget the cup-holder-trash-bag-holder that really didn’t work well as either. Unfortunately, that’s about where it ends.
My XC70 had 3rd row seating, but let’s be honest here, it was nothing more than a rear-facing bench. On the few occasions where I allowed our son to sit back there it became apparent that the space is practically uninhabitable by humans or animals for any length of time.
No rear AC means a trip from south Florida to North Carolina is a virtual sauna. Fun to wave at those driving behind us, yes…but not worth the heat exhaustion that ensues.From there, the XC90 takes over. Proper 3rd row seating with rear AC makes it a no-brained. On long trips with additional people the XC90 takes the cake and serves it up in decadence. I’ll admit that one of the headrests on my 3rd row isn’t working, but let’s be honest, I don’t’ sit back there. The 3rd row seats are leather in the XC90. The bench in the XC70 was cloth. And again – it was a bench.
DIY repairs were a bit of a mixed bag, The two vehicles had similar engines and similar transmissions. And of course, brakes and struts are similar. I’ve outlined some of what I’ve done to the XC90 over quite a few posts, but as far as the XC70, my DIY involved:
Replacing angle gear oil
Replacing front struts
Oil + filter changes
Spark plug change
A crapton of bulb replacements
Oh and I replaced the F***ING HEATER CORE.
Of course, the XC70 gave me problems that were beyond my capabilities, too. I had the cam seals replaced along with the timing belt and water pump. There was an incessant DTC that turned out to be a loose axle bolt. And eventually my CV boot started leaking.
I also had the car go into limp mode on I-40 in the North Carolina mountains. It took a long time for it to “undo” itself from that and I never actually figured out the cause of the issue, but a failure like that is grounds for dismissal in my book. It was hard to trust the car after that. So the XC70 was sold. Any regrets I have about selling the car involve my stupidity in not hanging onto the roof box that came with the car, but that’s only because I had no idea I’d ever own another Volvo again.
If you sat the XC90 I own and the XC70 I sold side-by-side and asked me to choose one, I’d pick the XC90 again in a heartbeat. No grab bar and cup holder can outweigh the comfort and relative power that my 2004 XC90 holds. Also I’m not a petite person. Yes the XC70 had enough room for me, but the XC90 has plenty of room for all 6’ and 210lbs of me. It’s also got a bit more room for my family’s stuff, too.
So, in the end, I have to say the 2004 XC90 meets my needs better than the 2001 XC70 did. I know I’m comparing two somewhat different cars from two very different periods in their production life, but it’s not like Volvo is offering me two new cars to compare. And I don’t typically buy two new cars at a time (or one for that matter) so this is the comparison that you get. Besides, I suspect most people who want to enter the world of XC90 ownership are more likely to do so with an older model – like a 2004 2.5T as opposed to a way more expensive 2016 or 2017 XC90.
On a related note, I was having a conversation with someone about my XC90 this week and I mentioned that one of the things I love about the car is that there are no touch screens. I love technology, but there’s something to be said for having a button to turn off DTSC and my rear AC as opposed to wading through menu options to find the right screen to tap the right icon.
Aside from navigation and sound systems, I think touch screens are out of place in a car – especially in the XC90. I figure I’ll just keep buying a new-er XC90 every few years – it’s the car I know the most about and trust to be reliable. And at this point, i know enough about it to maintain it very well.