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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm looking for advice to improve the handling of a stock XC70, that just came off an extended warranty. We've owned the car since new and this vehicle is driven primarily by my wife, who is tired of the "tank". My other ride is an '06 330i with the sport package. She prefers that one, as do I, for it's steering feedback, composure while cornering at speed, etc. Now, I know the XC70 is a different animal and have no expectations that we can match that car. However, I've read a bunch of posts about mods that improve handling and I'm trying to rank them in order of best bang for the buck. It seems like there is support for adding IPD sway bars and end links, as well as swapping out the transmission torque mount (?), and adding a strut tower brace.

I'm just wondering what all of you think of these mods, which delivers the best improvement for steering feel and improved handling, and which ones are the best value. I'll also consider new wheels and lower profile tires for the warmer weather but will go back to the stock wheels with Nokian WRG2's for the winter weather. Do you folks have other mods not listed that will help (engine mounts, etc)?

Thanks for your time.
 

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Tires are a huge one, just switching from 18" all season to 17" snows completely changes the handling feel of my car.
 

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Sway bars is the best handling add on you can do.
Tires are the second
All the others won't do very much
 

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I used to own an '06 325i with the sport package and I agree that the E90 sport package provides an excellent driving experience.

You didn't state the year or mileage of your XC; that may have some bearing on advice. My '02 V70 XC has 118k miles on it and I'm fairly certain the struts/shocks are original. I have found that there is too much float for my taste and will probably look at replacing them with a set of Bilstein HDs (if available). As JRL pointed out, sway bars are universally recommended.

As far as tires, it all depends on what you're willing to trade. The 18" runflats on your 330 contribute to the tighter feel of the suspension and you're not likely to get that contribution from a set of 215/65R 16 tires. Swapping up to 18s will cost additional money for wheels and may reduce some of the utility of the XC. In the end, that's your decision to make.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You didn't state the year or mileage of your XC

Doh! I'm so used to posting in other forums that I forgot I don't have the info in a signature. Sorry. The car is an '05 XC70 with 76K miles. Car is in great shape with no current known issues. Wheels are stock 16 inchers shod with Nokian WRG2's (235/60/16). My 330i no longer has run flats, they've been replaced with Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sports (great summer tire for the money). If I go for mods to the XC70, I'll probably move to 18 inch wheels with something like Kumho ASX's or Bridgestone RE970's in 235/50/18 size.

Thanks for the tips so far. Sway bars seem to be the main game changer along with lower profile performance tires. I have some hesitation to reduce the off-road prowess of the XC70, as it was part of the rationale for buying it. Earlier on, we did more backcountry adventures. These days, the dirt roads we drive are short local roads or entrances to the soccer fields or beaches. I'll still have the Nokians for winter fun in ski country, and we also have an AWD Sienna for moving big groups and gear.

Keep the advice coming, I appreciate it.
 

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You already have a strut tower brace, but not one that is bright metal :), they both do the same thing. There may be a bushing that improves the stock brace, however, as they are pretty rubbery.

With a RWD car I would say the sway bars are a good choice, but with a AWD I am a little less prone to jump. Volvo engineered safety into these cars and about a week after I got mine I was not paying attention and going too fast on a back road and some idiot was parked with his lawn trailer rig right on the highway in a blind curve. I nailed the brakes hard in an almost panic situation, and the car held its compusure and pulled me through and I literally "steered" under full braking right between him and an oncoming car.

My question is "do you really want to upset the safety Volvo has engineered into the car"? I do not know one way or another whether the car would have behaved any better or worse with polyurethane bushing and thicker sway bars, but I think you got my point. As for the off road prowess, my off roading is pretty much limited to my driveway (quite a challenge during parts of the year) and an occasional drive into a pasture for camping, dove hunt, whatever.

I am suprised your wife referrs to the XC70 as the tank. Your comment about not being able to match the 330i in handling may be true, but the reverse is true too, as that 330i would be next to useless in snow or even trying to drive up my steep concrete driveway with wet poplar and oak leaves on it. The RWD 330i does not have a front drive axle, and when you add front drive and rear drive axles to the XC70 then you are pulling in the opposite direction of a 330i. Not impossible to improve the handling, but just saying a RWD car performs in a much more different manner (on dry roads) than something with front and rear drive. Personally, I would take the XC70. I drive mine plenty fast, and quite honestly if I drove it any faster in traffic people would be blowing the horn at me, no need to have any more speed on the highways. For fun, however, the XC70 is NOT a sports car, but I still love mine for what it is. It is one of the coolest cars I've ever had, and go figure.........its a fri99ing "station wagon", sheech. What is this world coming to?

I added a Eurosport Touring stainless steel twin tube single outlet exhaust system, and I recommend that. It won't make the car handle any better but it sure adds a lot of character and a little less back pressure.

best,

P
 

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I haven't ever gone under to check - are the sway bar mounting holes pre-drilled?
 

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With a RWD car I would say the sway bars are a good choice, but with a AWD I am a little less prone to jump. Volvo engineered safety into these cars....
Are you serious?
Sway bars are THE biggest improvement you can do with these cars.... ALL Volvos
Will handle better, is SAFER, is better all around
I added just a single rear S60R rear bar on my XC and the difference is amazing
nice and neutral instead of a plow!

I haven't ever gone under to check - are the sway bar mounting holes pre-drilled?
Huh????????:facepalm: :rolleyes:
 

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I don't know of any "kit" for any car that they're not bolt in
As far as I know ALL bar kits for ALL cars go where the OEM bars go, why would you think you would have to drill new holes?
I don't know if anyone would want to change the position where the factory brackets go on a street car!

The answer is yes... no holes to be drilled (and that would be the least of the install problem), the front subframe has to be dropped and in certain Volvos sometimes you need to remove a rear shock or at least the exhaust has to be dropped
 

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I'm just wondering what all of you think of these mods, which delivers the best improvement for steering feel and improved handling, and which ones are the best value. I'll also consider new wheels and lower profile tires for the warmer weather but will go back to the stock wheels with Nokian WRG2's for the winter weather. Do you folks have other mods not listed that will help (engine mounts, etc)?
been there, with an 04 e46 touring and a 04 S60 (same chassis as your XC, aside from ride height). Fortunately the E46 is my wife's, so that 1/2 of the issue was already solved. But I wanted my car to handle and steer better too after driving that other lovely balanced vehicle.

my experience from actually having the parts in the S60:
-real strut brace; more nimble and accurate steering feel, people who can't feel a difference must have sensory input issues IMO
-bigger sway bars; tightens up the rear end a lot, reduces body roll a fair amount too, reduces overall under steer (this effect can be exaggerated further by keeping the rear tires at least 2 psi higher than the fronts).
-Bilstein HD dampers; stiffens everything up, much heavier steering feel (but NOT more nimble)

I'd go with 1 and 2, both are pretty inexpensive and give you 85% of the steering handling results without resorting to big money and harsher ride quality (i.e. due to sport srtuts and springs).

As far as the stiff trans mount, it does help the feel of on/off pedal driving. Basically gets rid of the jerkiness and hesitation. This does nothing for steering feel or handling of course, but it is a nice improvement to the character of the car.
 

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I don't know of any "kit" for any car that they're not bolt in
As far as I know ALL bar kits for ALL cars go where the OEM bars go, why would you think you would have to drill new holes?
I don't know if anyone would want to change the position where the factory brackets go on a street car!

The answer is yes... no holes to be drilled (and that would be the least of the install problem), the front subframe has to be dropped and in certain Volvos sometimes you need to remove a rear shock or at least the exhaust has to be dropped
Thanks. And some cars do not come with anti sway bars, including some Volvo cars. Some Fords, in particular, come with no holes for a rear sway. Not sure about other brands.
 

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Hey guys, I understand the sway bar issue, but the "plow" is a safety issue believe it or not. Surely you don't think Volvo would intentionally put a sway bar on the car that intentionally hindered the handling, after it is such a low cost no brainer to change the diameter and bolt something else on? The cars are engineered for maximum safety on the roads in the hands of the general public, they are not marketed as sports cars and if you want to make one a sports car that is fine (and totally acceptable) but the point is Volvo put the stock sway bar on the vehicle for a known and conscious purpose, they did not put it on in a coma :)

best,

P
 

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Volvo also didn't put that EST sport exhaust on there on purpose. I guess maybe you should take yours off the XC and give it to me.
 

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Surely you don't think Volvo would intentionally put a sway bar on the car that intentionally hindered the handling...
Which handles better, a stock V70R or a stock XC70?

They absolutely do hinder the handling as a marketing trade off for something else. An XC70 doesn't handle as well because it's designed to go very lightly off road or in deep snow. It has higher profile tires and mushier sway bars and a higher center of gravity, better for its market but worse for handling. Unsafe? no. Decent handling? Sure. But lower lane change speeds and lower skidpad numbers? Definitely.

I don't know why some people think engineers are god and every decision they make is exactly correct, and there is only one perfect solution to a given scenario. They're slaves to marketing and the customer, and each market has entirely different needs than every other market. All they really try to do is give the customer what they want without accidentally killing them. This thread is about taking what they did and modifying it to be like something else they also did.
 

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Nearly every vehicle offered for sale is a compromise intended to appeal to the maximum number of people and generate the maximum amount of profit possible while exposing the company to the least possible amount of liability. They are all built to some price point as well.

Making changes to a vehicle may make it better or worse, depending on one's point of view. What you think is better, may in fact be worse for me. It has taken me over 30 years of driving to tailor the look and feel that I want from an automobile and it is doubtful that what works for me will be the hot setup for someone else.
 

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bbbuzzy, in determining whether your wife will appreciate new sways/endlinks, have her answer the following:

Skip Barber or barbershop quartet?
Carroll Shelby or Carol Burnett?
Burning rubber or burning incense?
Twisty roads or twist-ties?

I think you get the idea.
 

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So, I have the reverse problem: wife complains about impact harshness and turning circle of our V70R vs. S60AWD.

For the record, the best improvements per $ on my VR have been (in order): IPD poly subframe inserts ($80 - amazing change because, I believe, it settles the engine down so it doesn't act as an unwanted 'counterweigh' when turning brusquely), heavy duty front spring seats, IPD poly strut bar inserts ($30), IPD poly lower transmission mount. Talk to IPD or someone: you might get better handling with some high quality struts/shocks and maybe different springs/sway bars but, as other posts suggest, you will change the basic character of your XC suspension (long travel and good compliance) and end up with a compromise nobody will like. Also check out the 'Unicorn' thread about a heavily modified XC.
 
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