Let's rip off this band-aid!

Discussion in 'Other Manufacturers' started by brick, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Most "I bought a new car!" threads on CleanMPG are a celebration of triumph over OPEC thanks to the most advanced FE technology available. This isn't one of those threads. I finally came to terms with the fact that a pair of 2G Prius don't work for this household no matter how hard I tried. Even on my own, I couldn't take any more of Toyota's dysfunctional interpretation of "ergonomics" as far as my 6'2" frame is concerned.

    On the bright side, every other viable option in my price range was an SUV. Presenting Stridsvagn:



    Given that my wife still does 25k miles per year, we agreed that she still needs (and honestly wants) to drive her Prius. This beast is for my 5k per year commute plus the remaining 5k worth of road tripping that we do. That means it has a fair shot at reaching its true potential.

    The negatives of this car are obvious. It has a 3.2L straight six and it weighs nearly 2 tons. EPA ratings read like the age of the average facebook user. But the positives are surprising. For one, the 6-speed AT is hands-down the best slushbox I have ever driven. The final drive ratio is quite tall (think 2200rpm at 65mph) and it gets there in a hurry if you have a light foot. More importantly, it holds the tallest gear ratios at lower speeds even if you put your foot down a bit once there. I can easily get through a normal commute without breaking 2k RPM. The torque converter seems to lock up at anything above parking lot speeds. There are a couple of quirks, however, such as the fact that it doesn't go for 6th under 48mph. The manual shift gate has an answer for that. All I have to do is slide it over and give it a bump. The computer will let me do whatever I want with the gear selector as long as the ICE winds up somewhere between cold idle and redline. It's far from responsive, but it does work.

    Then there is the relief. I have been having trouble with my knees and shoulders for a while. My assumption was that it was an inevitable problem that was simply exacerbated by an ill-fitting car. I might have been wrong about that. This is the first week I have gone in years without some amount of pain in my right knee. I can actually get far enough away from the pedals not to be cramped, and the steering wheel has enough travel to stay well within reach.

    I don't have ridiculously high hopes for FE. I can easily match EPA highway (25mpg) around town according to the standard aFCD. Highway numbers north of 30mpg at reasonable speeds should be a cake walk despite the poor aero. That should put LMPG in the mid to high 20s. Still, considering my alternatives I could have done a whole lot worse. I also got a hell of a deal on it. Most people in the northeast think they **need** AWD, and this was one of the few FWD wagons available. I ended up with a 3.5 year old car for roughly 1/2 its original MSRP without getting flogged on my trade.

    So I'm pretty psyched. It isn't the car I would have designed from scratch or purchased with cost no object, but it's exactly the right vehicle for the situation given what's available in this price bracket. It is also my 3rd Volvo, so I know what I'm getting into. And the tech is actually pretty neat even if it doesn't fit into the normal realm for this site.
  2. Nice looking car, I like it.

    Sound like most guys with trucks that 'need' 4wd.
  3. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Congratulation on the new car and being pain free.. this is what I call station wagon p0rn :)
  4. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    Nice wagon, I'm partial to wagons myself. I learned to drive on a 1980 Pontiac Bonneville Safari. As far as station wagon p0rn goes, I gotta submit this:

  5. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    look at all that crumple space under the hood!
  6. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Hey-Volvos are actually good looking now!! LOVE the straight 6!!
    They used to be quirky looking not ugly-quirky.
    That is a sleek looking SW!!

    STRAIGHT 6 ?? I love straight 6's-no efficiency wasting balance shafts(that I know of) like all the 4's and V-6's.
    I cheered GM when they came out with their 4 valve straight 6 for the Trailblazer-figured it would migrate into the pickups 1/2 ton SUVs
    - but then they immediately sold upgraded Trailblazers-with the 5.3-instead of a developed 4 valve straight 6
    for SOME reason-certainly the reason is NO MONEY- GM hasn't really made the steps in 1/2 ton efficiency that Ford and even Dodge(that Pentastar 6 Wayne brags on) are making

    Sorry to go sideways-Beautiful looking SW-Can't think of any better looking SWs??
    Yeah I learned on a 1961 Rambler SW and a 1965 Plymouth Fury III SW!!

    Pertty car-good as it gets for your purposes.You went WAAAAAY farther than I would have in trying to make the Prius work as a road trip vehicle-the ill handling hitch carrier-
    and comfort on road trips-meaning LOTTA room in ft seat-really important!!
    Heck our 1st car is a Prius- our second-the road trip car-isn't.

    I can't get over how SLEEK it is!! Hood not overly long either(love that straight 6).
    Yeah Good looking car-not that looks should control buys-

    Nice car
    PS Who owns VOLVO now??? GM FORD ???? Big Rig diesel folks still same Corp??
  7. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    I have always had a spot in my heart for Volvo's. I really liked my 740 Turbo Wagon which wasn't bad fuel mileage wise after I did some mods on it. The five speed manual swap for the old non locking torque converter four speed auto box helped the most. Swapping the rear end out from 3.90 to 3.31's also helped over Volvo's normal 3.54 in the manual models. Highway mileage jumped from 320-340 miles per 15.8 gallon tank to 410 to 425. :D

    Rules to remember on Volvo's and gas mileage, anything over 2500 rpms means going over a glorified cliff on fuel mileage. All other rules apply on the newer Volvo's that best mileage is in the 50 mph range. I would say your new wagon should do slightly better than my 960 just on it's aero advantages and that six speed transmission.

    My 97 960 FSP has the 24 Valve 2.9L straight six rated at 181 hp.

    I did some fuel mileage speed testing with my 1997 Volvo 960 when I was down in Naples in July of 07.

    The test road was Rt 41 between Naples and Miami. I like this road for testing because it is very flat and most of the traffic now takes I-75 across the state. My starting point was the turn off for Everglades City. I ran 10 miles east then turned around and ran west back to my starting point using the cruise control.

    The calibrated Scan Gauge readings were as follows.

    The MPG of each 20 mile run is as follows.

    50 mph 35.4 mpg
    55 mph 33.9 mpg
    60 mph 31.15 mpg
    65 mph 28.5 mpg

    Let me add at 70 mph with the A/C running the car gets 25.5 mpg. :(
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  8. Blackbelt

    Blackbelt Well-Known Member

    NIce looking car! I likee!!
  9. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    Looks like a great car for you Brick, enjoy the ride! H
  10. 2RR2NV

    2RR2NV Ultimate Newbie

    what? ya can't fit into the new Buicks? Shaq can. :D just saying.

    grats on the new ride.
  11. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I snapped a few more pics. Obviously, I have to showcase the cargo area:


    The length of the cargo area is the main reason I went with a true wagon instead of a CUV. That load floor is 43.5" deep (seatback to closed hatch) and 44.5" wide between the wheel arches. Go head, find me a dog that couldn't get comfortable back there. ;)

    I really like the way the driver's area is laid out.


    They did an awesome job with the controls. Everything is completely intuitive, and everything on the floating center stack can be found by touch. It is a nice change from the menu-driven controls of a Prius, which I had to look at to use. Basic radio and bluetooth controls are duplicated on the steering wheel. This car also has a standard a- and i-fcd with DTE and average speed readouts. And yes, that's a push-button start instead of a key. I could take or leave that, but it's fine. I don't have any plans to FAS this thing.

    The devil's work:


    That's a B6324s, producing 235 bhp and 236 lb-ft. Amazingly, some reviewers still whine about this engine and tell you that it "needs" the 300hp turbocharged version. Right. :rolleyes: The previous 2.5L 5-cylinder turbo was a great engine and would have been perfectly adequate. It went away because they moved the V70 from the midsize S60 platform to the larger S80 platform, and it comes with 6 cylinder engines. In any event, Volvo/Ford did some clever arranging to make it fit transversely in the bay. The timing chain and accessory drive are all on the back (driver's side) above the transmission. The alternator is driven by a shaft and tucked under the intake manifold. Boy, can't I just wait for any of those systems to need maintenance. Fortunately this engine has been out since '07 with hardly any known issues (other than the oil seal described in the next paragraph) so my odds should be OK. All this drives the wheels through the 6 speed transmission sourced from Aisin Warner. Oh, and it runs fine on regular gas. Volvo finally realized how much people hate filling with premium (though they say the engine performs better on it).

    Overall I think this car was a good find. It is just about to roll over 75,000mi, which is a lot for a 3.5 y/o car. It has a semi-known history because it was sold new by this same dealer to the sales manager's father, who lives in South Carolina and used it mainly to run up and down the I-95 corridor to visit family and whatnot. (Given the accent on the sales manager, I can't dispute the story.) It does have its fair share of minor scratches and chips, but it is in great overall shape. It even has a service booklet full of dealer stamps. I do need to give it a preemptive transmission fluid change ("lifetime" my eye) and I did have to take it back yesterday for a very minor oil leak. (The vacuum pump is camshaft driven and the O-rings have been failing left and right, resulting in a slow drip. Took 1/2 hour to fix under the compulsory 60 day warranty.) I also think there is some debris stuck in the cabin fan, which buzzes intermittently. Other than that it feels like a really solid machine. Fit & finish are confidence inspiring.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  12. aca2983

    aca2983 Well-Known Member

    Very nice. This what good ergonomics and form-follows-function looks like.
  13. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm glad you're changing the transmission fluid and doing a transmission service. When I did my 960 at 66K it looked like nasty brown chocolate milk draining out and it smelled really bad. Don't forget to do all the fluids including the PS and fuel filter with 75K on the clock. Cheap insurance. My service manual also had all the dealer stamps and we found more than a few things that were suppose to be serviced but weren't.
  14. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I think you just had to get a car to match your screen name again.:D
  15. Blackbelt

    Blackbelt Well-Known Member

    Aisin makes some great automatic transmissions. The famous bulletproof automatic in the 4.0 powered Jeep Cherokees was an Aisin AW-4. :woot:
  16. 50 mpg by 2012

    50 mpg by 2012 Well-Known Member


    Nice looking machine!

  17. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    Nice station wagon.

    I spotted this guy while walking tonight. :D

    1958 Chevy Brookwood 9 passenger.

  18. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    That looks a lot like a hearse..
  19. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I ordered everything I need to do the transmission fluid, which amounts to a case of JWS 3309, a huge torx driver, and a huge hex driver. It would be nice if everything got here in time for the weekend but that might be a little optimistic. I also have to head back to the dealer tomorrow to have that pump replaced rather than just the o-ring. The tech said I should keep an eye on it just in case, and sure enough the leakage is just as bad as it was before. According to the internet Volvo gurus that was a predictable result. I'm just grateful that it's a simple fix. I needed to hit the parts counter for some crush washers, anyway.

    I think it will take me a while to adapt to driving this beast. It is absolutely stunning on the highway. Given that it never wants to downshift I think the best strategy might be to just set the cruise at the PSL and let the miles wash past. That worked great in my Accord as well as the previous generation Volvo XC70 that my wife used to have. I haven't done enough highway driving yet to have any real idea where the ceiling is.

    Driving in the city I have my work cut out for me. DWB...DWB...DWB...DWB. I'm currently holding at about 25mpg in mixed driving with an abnormal amount of light-to-light stop & crawl, but I'm not at the top of my game. The Prius was extremely forgiving of poor city driving habits. This is not! I'll work on it.

    Interesting tidbit. Apparently Volvos from '01 through perhaps early '03 with the 5-speed A/T experienced an unusually high transaxle failure rate. The cause? In an attempt to boost FE, Volvo programmed the gearbox to drop into neutral at every possible opportunity rather than drag the ICE into fuel cut or force the driver to apply throttle. The failures were attributed to all that NICE-on wearing out something inside the box. New programming was introduced which did away with the automatic NICE-on and the problems went away. Hey, at least they tried. Mine definitely does not drop into neutral on its own. I suspect that even DFCO goes away as I drop through 30mph (or whatever RPM that corresponds to), as that seems to be a cutoff where engine braking falls off a cliff.
  20. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    My 98 Suburban has a trans that seems to do something like that-
    lift at 35 mph- and ZERO engine braking until it downshifts(re-engages)about 24 mph.
    Good thing because it needs every advantage in city driving.

    25 mpg in city-sounds pretty decent-EPA city is 15-16 right?
    It is a stout vehicle-maybe 4000lbs?? 25 mpg city pretty decent

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