Model year '01 promises to be a busy one for Ford's Volvo Car Corp.: three new vehicles and several upgrades hit U.S. dealerships.
One of the most important new models from the Swedish automaker, now owned by Ford Motor Co., is its S70 replacement - the S60.
The sedan is equipped with a 5-cyl. 2.4L engine available in three different flavors, including a 168-hp normally aspirated model, a 197-hp light-pressure turbo and a honking 247-hp high-pressure turbocharged unit. Standard is a 5-speed manual. The 197-hp version has an optional 5-speed shift-if-you-want automatic (Volvo calls it Geartronic), while the 247-hp model gets a 5-speed automatic without Geartronic.
The 4-door, 5-passenger sedan is aimed at younger buyers, especially women. The car is geared toward "people who perhaps couldn't think of buying a Volvo before," says Peter Horbury, Volvo vice president and chief designer.
Volvo expects to sell 35,000 to 40,000 S60's next year in North America.
The car also is the first in the U.S. to feature the Volvo on Call (VOC) telematics system, called Volvo on Call Plus. It is a security system that uses GPS navigation and the included digital phone to provide OnStar-type emergency service.
Also new for '01 is V70 Cross Country. This utility wagon is equipped only with the 2.4L 197-hp engine also making an appearance in the S60.
Volvo says this car is made for the roads, but with 2.9 extra inches (7.4 cm) of ground clearance than its predecessor, the new Cross Country is capable of some off-roading. The automaker also gave the vehicle beefier front fenders and side cladding along with a 2.3-in. (5.8-cm) increase in track.
Only in the U.S. market about a year, the S/V40 receives a minor facelift for '01. The sedan and station wagon also come equipped with a new 5-speed automatic transmission. The C70 gets that same transmission but loses its 190 hp engine.
Really enjoyable new styling should snag first-timers who formerly thought Volvos too stuffy. All the natty new products should produce plenty of traffic, but pricing, particularly for Cross Country, looks a little ambitious. Prepare for customer resisitance.