The New Volvo XC60

Over a decade ago, Volvo Corporation gave me legal permission to register my wayward-volvo domain name. In fact, the Swedes that looked it over at the time were so amused by my Volvo adventures they put me on their press list, and I've been there ever since. (We'll see if that changes after someone gets a look at this!)

The main advantage of this is that I get regular updates from Volvo. Given the fact that I still get an instant crush when a well-kept 544 or 144 rolls by, I've always enjoyed learning about what's new over at Volvo. I have to admit that love paled a little when the car division was sold to Ford. Today I learned just how far Volvo car has removed themselves from their Swedish roots.

Today's email brought the following:

Safe, Stunning and Smart - The New Volvo XC60 Redefines The Small Premium Crossover

IRVINE, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2008) -This fall, Volvo will give customers a sneak peek at its safest car ever made - the Volvo XC60 with standard City Safety. Volvo's first vehicle in the Small Premium Utility segment, the new XC60, is a capable and charismatic crossover integrating the unmistakable versatility and safety of the Volvo brand. City Safety, the car's most important new feature, is a unique system designed to help the driver avoid or reduce low-speed impacts that are common in city traffic. If the car is about to strike the vehicle in front and the driver does not react, the car automatically applies the brakes.

According to surveys, more than 75 percent of all accidents occur in speeds below 19 mph. Volvo is involved in a dialogue with the insurance companies regarding lower insurance premiums for cars equipped with City Safety.

Customers in select cities can see the XC60 this fall before it goes on sale during an Experiential Tour where they will have the chance to see the new car and learn about the safety system that includes a feature allowing the car to stop itself if an accident is imminent.

The Experiential Tour events will feature a multimedia tour of Volvo's passion for safety, driving dynamics and design. The three-pronged experience, made up of kiosks, videos and timelines will surround the XC60, illustrating the new design DNA and the safest Volvo in history. Additionally, Volvo team members will demonstrate City Safety features, Volvo's most comprehensive safety package ever. The first 25 families at each tour event will receive a free emergency preparedness kit. During the tour stops, customers can place pre-orders for the XC60, which will be available March 1, 2009. The 2008 tour stops include Boston, Tri-State area, Chicago and Philadelphia. For tour details, including dates and locations, or to register for the tour, please visit http://www.volvocars.us/XC60Tour.

The press release goes on with more of the same, but let's just go take a look at that website instead. Aside from being a poorly designed flash piece that doesn't work in any of my test browsers (really!), there's the tagline. "From Sweden with Löv."

Very cute, right? A nod to the Swedish heritage of the car with something warm and fuzzy. Just one small problem - in real Swedish, "löv" means... leaves. Or leaf. "Lov" means a small vacation, or a break, such as a school break.

OK, OK, I see what they were trying to do. But has Volvo really reached the point where not one single actual Swedish speaking person saw this ad before it went live? Or do they just not care how idiotic it sounds to those who do speak Swedish?

Once we'd stumbled over that, it was impossible not to make fun of the rest of the ad, and the brochure. One of the new interior colours, for example, is "lemon green." The glossy pictures are great for writing your own Volvo advertising - page 12, for example, is clearly about the multiple uses of the adjustable mirrors in spying on coworkers.

The car itself is solid, and what I would expect from Ford as Volvo. The tradition of safety has been kept up... but not necessarily in ways that are good for the average driver. For example, the car is awash with sensors that keep track of where other vehicles are and how fast they're moving... so if someone brakes suddenly in front of you, and you're too busy texting on your cell phone to notice, the car itself will take over and brake for you. Way to encourage lack of attention to other drivers!

Having recently said goodbye to my second 1973 144, Petey, I have to admit I'm just nostalgic for the days of real, solid Volvos. Not to say I wouldn't take a new model if it was handed to me (though, maybe not the XC60!), just that I think learning to drive defensively is a better idea than buying a car that will do it for you. With or without the love.

Drive Safely!