In 2004, the Volvo V70 came in a dizzying variety of models. Mainly what separated them were engineering differences within the drivetrain.

For example, some had a turbocharger, some didn't. To further confuse things, some also had a low-compression turbocharger, while others featured a high-compression turbocharger. Some had a manual transmission, others did not. Some had all-wheel-drive, but most didn't. No wonder the company was in trouble.

All models of this vintage, however, did have a five-cylinder engine, and the V70 XC - or Cross Country - version had a low-compression turbocharger with a five-speed Geartronic automatic only, plus an all-wheel-drive system. Incidentally, the "V" stood for versatile, and the XC 70 was apparently a different animal from the V70 AWD.

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The base 2004 XC 70 developed 197 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 210 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. This last number was kind of significant. In a nutshell, it meant that the drivetrain came with lots of bottom-end pulling power and was able to dig itself out of most situations.

For an all-wheel-drive station wagon, it was also quite lively. If you really wanted to make tracks, you could also get a T5 version of the V70, which had a five-speed manual and a lively 247 horsepower.

Regardless of the drivetrain, the XC 70 was built on the same platform as Volvo's upscale S80 sedan, which meant it had a comparatively refined ride and was quite nimble. Suspension was MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear setup, with stabilizer bars on both ends. Not many off-road rigs could boast the same sense of balance as the XC 70.

Nor could they claim the same user-friendly interior layout. With map pockets, cup holders and storage pouches all over the place, not to mention the most comfortable front seats in the business, the XC 70 pampered its occupants. It even had little cargo envelopes mounted on the front of the front seat cushions - very thoughtful.

With the back seat folded down, there was a total of almost 2,025 litres of rear storage space. As well, the back seat had a 40/20/40-split fold-down feature, which meant it offered several different configurations for carrying stuff.

Heated front seats, a power sunroof, dual zone heat and ventilation controls, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch wheels and tires and power windows and outside mirrors were just a few of the standard features.

Unsurprisingly, it also had numerous safety items: dual-stage front airbags, side airbags, an inflatable side-curtain airbag and Volvo's patented whiplash protection system, which protected occupants in a rear-end collision. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS rounded out the safety features. Then, as now, few cars were safer than this one.

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Fuel consumption was acceptable, but not outstanding, at 13.5 litres/100 km in the city and 9.7 on the highway. Again, for an all-wheel drive wagon, not half-bad. By way of comparison, a BMW 325Xi wagon of the same vintage delivered 12.1 city/8.4 highway.

With 200 millimetres of ground clearance, and 16-inch wheels and tires, the XC 70 couldn't really be classed as a down-and-dirty bush beast, but when it came to getting through deep snow, hostile weather, the odd back roads foray and smoggy city traffic, it was more than enough.

Transport Canada has a couple of safety recalls to report. One concerns incorrectly labelled child booster seat cushions, the other is a minor typo in the owner's manual. Both are easily dealt with by dealers.

Curiously, the U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't have these two in its database. However, it does have a warning about an aftermarket master brake cylinder replacement manufactured by Cardone Corp. This could potentially leak fluid and result in a loss of brake pressure.

NHTSA also has some 19 technical service bulletins for this year of the XC 70, most of which are potential mechanical issues, such as a leaky rack and pinion steering assembly, engine cooling glitches, finicky transmissions, rough idle problems and a possibly leaky fuel tank.

Consumer Reports has a neutral used-car prediction rating for the 2004 Volvo XC 70, with the suspension being singled out as the only real sore point in their ratings. While they liked the front seats, they describe the ride as "stiff and unsettled," with "disappointing" handling. For some reason, the XC 70 fares better than its stablemate, the V70 AWD, which gets an emphatic thumbs-down from CR.

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On the other hand, market research company J.D. Power seems to like five-year-old XC 70 wagons, giving this model "better than most" or "among the best" ratings in virtually every category.

These days, a five-year-old XC 70 sells for less than half of what it went for new. Prices seem to range from about $15,000 to $20,000, depending, of course, on what options the car has.

2004 VOLVO XC 70

Type: Five passenger, four-door wagon

Original Base Price: $49,495; Black Book Value: $19,700; Red Book Value: $14,675

Engine: Turbocharged, 2.4-litre, five-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 197 hp/210 lb-ft

Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 13.5 city/9.7 highway; premium gas

Alternatives: BMW 325Xi, VW Passat Wagon AWD, Subaru Legacy Wagon, Mercedes C320 Wagon, Jaguar X-Type Wagon, Audi A4 Wagon

globeauto@globeandmail.com