Model year 1998 (in North America), saw the V70 appear as a mid-size, five-door wagon/estate. The Volvo 70 series — both S70 sedan and V70 wagon — descended from the very popular Volvo 850. They were both simply reworked, slightly modernized versions of the successful 850. They both continued to use Volvo’s bulletproof inline-5 cylinder aluminum engine.
[I'm no automotive historian, but I firmly believe this engine will be listed in the future as one of the most durable powerplants ever to grace the automotive world. Anyway, on to specifics. -- Matt]
First Generation V70
The 1998 V70 replaced the boxy, square corners of the 850 with rounded edges and a more “family friendly” appearance package and design, an example being the window controls moving from the spill-prone center console to both front doors.
In 1999 Volvo offered the V70 in base, GLT, and T5 versions, all with front-drive. V70 R and XC (Cross Country) wagon featured all-wheel drive. Output of the R wagon engine rose from 236 to 247 horsepower.
The introduction of the 2001 redesign saw the V70 lineup include the entry level 2.4T, all wheel drive XC, and the higher performance T5. A rear-facing seat is available for all V70s, and boosts the passenger capacity to 7.
Second Generation V70
The second generation of V70 wagons was introduced in 2001 model year (North America) and continued through MY 2007. Built using the P2 platform, the V70 mimicked the curved edges of the Volvo S60 and S80 Volvos, making it more sporty in appearance. In 2004, a facelift slightly changed the tail lights, grille, bumpers, and offered more comfortable seating.
This V70′s wheelbase is 3.6 inches longer than the first-generation V70, and it’s 2.4 inches taller and 1.7 inches wider. Those extra inches provided a pleasant increase in interior space over the older model.
In 2002, the Volvo V70/XC lineup got a new “regular” all-wheel-drive model named 2.4T AWD which featured a standard suspension and trim. Also in 2002, Volvo’s stability system — DTSC — was available for all models except the base 2.4 wagon, while being standard on the T5. Traction control was standard on all front-drive models.
The Volvo V70 2.5T AWD and XC70 got a power boost to 208 hp in model year 2003 wagons, up from 197. The fast T5′s power was up as well, to 247 horsepower. This lofty horsepower rating was once the sole property of the very fast and rare 850 R, but in 2003 it became standard on the T5. After a 5-year hiatus, the Volvo R wagon was available once again, this time with a 300-hp engine. See my (Matthew’s) 2004 V70 R‘s page.
This second-generation V70 is still being produced in Europe as the V70 Classic.
Third Generation V70
The third generation model was hailed as a more up-market car than the previous generation models. The newest model offers a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, with front or all-wheel drive options. The third generation moved to a Ford EUCD platform, although it shares many of the interior features with the second generation V70.
Considered one of the most luxurious interiors in its class, the newest V70 wagon boasts comfort and safety features such as self-opening tailgate, an automatic parking brake, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic windshield wipers, and heated seats.
I haven’t given it its own forum yet (use the 2001+ V70 and XC70 forum for now) because there are simply not enough questions and home repairs necessary on them. They’re still under warranty. These third-gen V70/XC70s will get their own forum in about a year (Spring 2012).