So I ended up making another upgrade, biting the bullet and diving into a black 2006 V70 2.5T. Volvo’s reliable 5-cylinder whiteblock, but in something a bit more modern. I averaged 32 MPG on the way home from picking it up, and the ride is comfortable, quiet, and surefooted. I shied away from the more powerful V70R model due to the reliability issues that come with that much power. Beautiful wagons, but you have to pay to play, and for me, the value just wasn’t there. A good V70 can sell for about half the cost of a comparable V70R, and that doesn’t count the higher insurance, worse fuel economy, more maintenance and more expensive maintenance.
You do occasionally see manual transmission T5 cars – “T5M” as they are called. But the T5M is very rare, and only available from 2001-04. The T5 and R cars, while more powerful than the 2.5T, also tended to be harder on the automatic transmissions.
The manual transmission 2.4 N/A cars are more common and get very good gas mileage, but the main issue with them is that most were base models with few options. It is rare to find a manual transmission, 2.4 N/A car with leather and heated seats for example.
You can look up the options specific for each year (here
, by changing the link to the appropriate year). The available options, and how they were grouped, changed a lot from year to year.
I bought this particular 2006 V70 2.5T because of these reasons, which may provide some insight:
- later years are better for these cars, especially the 5-speed automatic.
- transmission fluid flushes were on the CarFax report and were done on schedule – extremely important. transmission fluid was not new, but still red. I flushed the fluid shortly after buying it for the 90k service (car has 89k).
- car was from Southern California, rust free with one owner from 10k miles to now. from 0 to 10k was a “corporate fleet” owner, likely a dealership.
- car was black, and most of the colors that V70s came in are not appealing to me. Silver, silver-green, silver-grey, silver-blue, silver-yellow, etc. I was looking for white or black non-metallic ideally, or maybe blue or burgundy metallic. V70R’s came in better colors (Passion Red, Sonic Blue, Magic Blue, and Flash Green for example) but sadly most of the ones for sale are usually black, gray or silver. Boring!
- car had most of the options I wanted (climate package, premium package, 17″ wheels, roof rails and cross bars. missing: Dolby sound) and none that I didn’t want (nav, satellite radio).
So there is the V70 story so far… I had the windows tinted a few weeks ago, put in a bluetooth radio adapter (so I can listen to some music from my phone), and have some maintenance work to catch up on (spark plugs, coil packs, vacuum lines) to sort out a very slightly rough idle.
I spent quite some time researching the P2 V70 cars and talking to mechanics about them. Here are my notes from my search:
- 2.4 non-turbo (N/A) (01-07) (just “V70″ badging)
- 2.4 (01-03) or 2.5 (04-07) low-pressure turbo (“2.4T / 2.5T” badging, and the only option on all XC70s, 01-07). The 2.5T was available in 03, but only on AWD models.
- 2.3 (01-04) or 2.4 (05 only) high pressure turbo (“T5″ badging)
- 2.5 (04-07) even bigger turbo (“R” badging)
Mechanic notes: All engines are solid, N/A easiest to work on and most reliable. R least reliable due to high power and driver abuse.
- five speed manual M56 (01-04 on T5 models, 01-07 on 2.4 N/A models)
- five speed geartronic (01-07, all models except 06-07 R, and only option on all XC70s, 01-07)
- six speed geartronic was only available on the 2006 to 2007 V70R. It never came on a non-R V70 or XC70.
- six speed manual M66 was only available on the R cars. It never came on a non-R V70 or XC70.
Mechanic notes: M56 very reliable. 6 speed GT (06-07 R models) very reliable. M66 prone to hydraulic failures, clutch issues. Look for popping out of gear during test drive – big warning sign. 5 speed GT terrible in early years as Volvo originally spec’d this transmission to never have the fluid changed. Toyota used the same transmission in many of its cars and spec’d it at 30k. Volvo later changed their recommendation to 30k as well, but not after many transmission failures on the early cars. Early cars (01-03, maybe 04) also need transmission software updates from the dealer and “B4 servo cover” fixes that can be had from IPD. Later year is better for this transmission. Pay attention to shifts, especially 2nd to 3rd. Watch out for “flaring” where the car misses the shift and takes 5-10 seconds to go into gear – big warning sign.
- AWD: all XC70s and all R’s
- AWD: optional on 02-04 V70s — 2.4T in 02, 2.5T in 03 and 04 (had AWD badge on back)
- FWD: all other V70 models
Mechanic notes: AWD systems prone to failure in numerous points. Typically front and rear bevel/angle gears and/or sleeves. Watch for any sign of leaks at front/rear diff when buying as evidence of internal failure. Expect $2500 service to fix each end. R cars prone to more failures to to high power/torque including axles and driveshaft issues. “If you can, get a FWD model and snow tires instead”
US Model Year changes:
- 2001: first year, variety of issues, esp. electronic throttle module – avoid.
- 2003: updated AWD system
- 2004: introduction of R model
- 2005: “facelift” with new plastic headlights instead of glass, new bumpers on XC cars, new center console layout, etc.
- 2006: updated AWD system, R cars get 6 speed auto
- 2007: last year, probably best year.
Mechanic notes: never buy an 2001 (heard this from many, although 2001 manual transmission would be “OK” as majority of issues were transmission related), and avoid 2002-03 unless its a manual transmission. 2004-05 are good (but for an auto you want records of transmission service), and 2006-07 are ideal, especially for the XC and R models).
There is some other good information here as well.