Quick Drive: 2012 Volvo XC70 T6 AWD Polestar

By Winding Road Staff

May 29, 2012

There’s a clip from Top Gear from a few years ago, where Jeremy Clarkson talks about a hot hatch being able to haul a chest of drawers while still being an absolute hoot to drive. By that definition, the Volvo XC70 Polestar is a hot hatch.
During my all-too-short time with it, I moved house. I should correct that. My original intention was to move a few of the bigger things in it, before returning it and switching to another car for the assorted boxes and other items you rediscover when moving. After a trip to my old house, where the Volvo gulped down a dresser, a desk frame, several boxes of clothing, and a mattress (on the roof, of course), I took off and was still treated to a seriously fun-to-drive experience. I’ll let the other guys elaborate on that part, but to give an idea, I’d say the Volvo’s cargo load sapped maybe ten percent of the driving fun.
Traveling with everything in the back was downright easy. Loading it up was even easier. The Volvo’s boxy shape, roof rack, and tall, wide rear hatch mean that its cavernous interior can easily take items normally reserved for pickup trucks. Rather than just take the bigger stuff, I completed almost my entire move with the Volvo. In one trip. It was truly one of the most remarkable combinations of utility and performance that I’ve tested.
—Brandon Turkus, Online Editor
I’m a big fan of the XC70, particularly with the added boost of the Polestar tuning. Passengers say things like, “Oh, we’re going family style today,” until you get into the right pedal and shove them back in their seats. People also seem confused when you are able to pass them so quickly and easily. This wagon is fast, and the power is spread throughout the rev range. Combined with all-wheel grip, this XC70 can jump from the line like an Olympic sprinter.
One thing I noticed about the XC70 this time around that I don’t remember experiencing before was that it feels pretty bouncy when going over bumps at highway speed. When traveling fast, there’s a lot of rebound in the suspension, and it can be a bit of a nuisance. That’s why we like to get cars scheduled at our Michigan office—we can really see how they behave on less-than-perfect roads.
Other than the occasional bounciness, I don’t have many complaints about the XC70. It feels very comfortable on the road, and it has the spacious interior to complement its civilized behavior. It’s a great vehicle to have when you’re running errands around town, or when you need to travel a long way in comfort. It’s a really solid offering, and capable of so much.
—John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor
First off, I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here, but who doesn’t love a Volvo station wagon? You all are driving enthusiasts, so you, like me, probably have an almost irrational fondness for the boxy shape and big hauling capacity that Volvo has been offering up for decades now.
That said, and contrary to my co-workers commentary, I don’t really understand the draw of the Polestar tuning for this car. For the premium of about $1500, I could buy a whole lot of IKEA furniture, and I wouldn’t have significantly less fun driving it all home in my big Swedish wagon.
Considering that Polestar only ups the output ratings, and does nothing interesting to the sort of soft, boundy handling of the XC70, I find it thrilling to drive but not ultimately compelling for purchase consideration.
That said, the XC70’s combination of tractable size, huge capacity, generally nice interior accommodations, and perfectly acceptable “base” power output puts it high on my list of preferred station wagons.
—Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
Military cargo planes can’t haul this much stuff
Lots of usable power throughout the rev range
Interior styling is classic Swedish, with comfortable, supportive seats
With this level of performance, a set of paddle shifters would be nice
Somewhat bouncy suspension at higher speeds
Polestar tuning is a bit pricey for what it is