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March 12, 2012

Volvo Test Drive Goes Off-Road Gratefully Not Off A Cliff

XC60_Volvo_Jody DeVere_Jo Ann Holt_2012Volvo states in a recent press release that, "The 2012 XC70 Cross Country wagon has a zest for life and the great outdoors" and that "the XC70 is a unique crossover that blends the versatility and practicality for safely transporting people and their gear with the rich heritage of Volvo's 50-plus years in the premium wagon sector".

I tested the versatility, zest for the outdoors and safely transporting people in the 2012 XC70 Cross Country wagon during a recent Volvo media event in Scottsdale Arizona with co-driver and auto writer for The Epoch Times based in Dallas, Jo Ann Holt. The course was called the Apache Loop or better known at the Apache Trail Scenic Byway. The map and instructions mentioned a 22 mile stretch of unpaved road we would traverse during the 172 mile loop. I imagined a well groomed unpaved road, well I was not even close. The drive over that 22 mile stretch turned into more of a potholed largely un-groomed shake, rattle and roll nerve racking test of driving skill and even a blood pressure elevating blond moment, (I lost the keys for 20 minutes in an area so isolated there was no cell phone reception and was rescued by some very kind and helpful middle aged tourists). This challenging drive was punctuated with rapturous moments gazing at nature's beauty in fact so magnificent at times I almost wept.

VolvoXC70_Lake_2012The 2012 Volvo XC70 Cross Country is smooth as silk on the highway, handles like dream, love the design look of this wagon and the fit and feel of the premium interior is first class. It has sass, spunk and power however the handling for me off road felt like my back end wanted to come around, the back tires were slipping all over the sandy gravel straight aways when I got up to 30 MPH. Now this is an AWD vehicle set up for this king of driving, they said, so I expected it to stick like glue. I even got out at one point to see if I had a flat tire! Things that make ya go Hmmmmm?

Note: The model we drove came loaded with all the standard and all available extra safety features, (thank God Volvo goes above and beyond on safety features and design as it would help reassure and calm frayed nerves on our drive!).

Volvo_ApacheLoop_CliffsThe road we traveled is now called State Route 88 the Apache Trail Scenic Byway and was originally constructed in the 1930s to support the development of dams along the Salt River. Fish Creek Canyon is perhaps the most awe-inspiring and scary section. The road hangs on the side of this high-walled canyon and winds its way along tremendous precipices that sheers off to hundreds of feet below. The route is a day-trip from Scottsdale and the drive is an experience you will never forget as you drink in all the incredible beauty on display between holding your breath praying you make each turn of the road without going over a cliff.

Breathtaking, exhilarating, REALLY Scary!

It was slow going at 10-15 MPH much of the Fish Creek Canyon section a one lane canyon road with one way bridges and some oncoming traffic to deal with and STEEP cliffs with NO protective fence or railing. Jo Ann was clutching that arm rest for dear life, understandably. So happy I was the one driving that leg of the trip, in those conditions the "give me control freak driver" inside rises up strong to clutch control and shouts to the heavens, LET ME DRIVE!

Along the entire route we stopped often to take photos, walk around, drink in the fresh air and sigh. I could have spent days exploring this area and of course we were the last car back that day. Here are some highlights:

Volvo_Tortilla Flats_Bathroom_2012The Lost Dutchman State Park located at the base of the Superstition Mountains which stand tall and proud and reminds you of the native American folklore. The mountains, also known as "Supes", is where the lost Dutchman is supposed to have discovered the treasure of gold. The Supes are also home to the hole the Apaches believe is the entrance to lower world.  Next up was the Goldfield Mining Town, Canyon Lake with steep canyon walls towering majestically over the clear cool water and much of our scenery was covered with dense forests of saguaro and ferocactus. We stopped at Tortilla Flat an old stage coach stop and found a big sign with more on the story of the Lost Dutchman goldmine and a surprising FUN ladies rest room in the bar,(pictured). On to Apache Lake where you can find snacks and restrooms at the Marina and if you have time check out the Tonto National Monument cliff dwellings. Just after Roosevelt Dam there is a very cool suspension bridge, a great photo opportunity, too. Then it was back to civilization for us two car girls! Jo Ann asking you have the keys? LOL.

XC70_Volvo_nameplate2012 Volvo XC70 Cross Country Model Overview: 
XC70 3.2: $32,950
XC70 3.2 Premier: $35,900
XC70 3.2 Premier Plus: $37,750
XC70 3.2 Platinum: $40,450
XC70 T6 AWD: $39,100
XC70 T6 AWD Premier Plus: $40,950
XC70 T6 AWD Platinum: $43,650

For all 2012 Volvo XC70 Cross Country model technical specs visit Volvo Cars of North America.

A Technology Package and many other upgrades and add on options are available on all XC70s. The Technology Package includes preventative safety technologies focusing on preventing driver distractions that studies show cause up to 90 percent of all traffic accidents. Based on this statistic, Volvo developed efficient features to help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of accidents caused by distraction and driver fatigue.

Volvo C&0_Inscription_2012Footnote: I was not able to test drive the very hot  super FAST Volvo C30 R-Design with Polestar or the C70 Inscription with Polestar (pictured) available after the longer test drives. These vehicles were just so hot they were always either checked out already or a bunch of photographers were literally crawling all over them, especially the C30 R-Design, the Cobalt Blue color was a head turner!

The sexy looking C70 Inscription is a modified version of Volvo's C70 hardtop convertible featuring added horsepower and torque, and unique interior and exterior details. The C70 Inscription package option will retail for $3,900.
Go here to view all the Volvo Fun ...With some Sun media event Photos.

Jody DeVere


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