Volvo XC70 for round Australia towing

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 14, 2015 at 08:38
ThreadID: 119176 Views:2825 Replies:9 FollowUps:7
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New to this forum. I am thinking of using a Volvo XC70 to tow a Bailey Unicorn caravan (1.9T) around Australia next year in winter - the big lap. The vehicle is relatively new and is my second XC70 of the same body shape. Don't intend any serious offloading but may venture onto reasonable gravel roads.

I would be interested in knowing if anyone else has ever used an XC70 as a tow vehicle for such a major towing mission over the top, or if they know of anyone who has done this.

If so.....
1. How did it go?
2. What do you know about support for Volvo round the top end?
3. What tyres did you use and how did they go?

By the way.... I lived and worked for around 10 years in the north of WA, have been to Darwin several times and driven down the centre when it was all dirt (in a VW Beetle!), and lived worked in Mt Isa in the 70's driving to Brisbane the "back way", so I know what the country and climate are like up there.
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Reply By: Member - There Yet - Sunday, Jun 14, 2015 at 17:38

Sunday, Jun 14, 2015 at 17:38
Hi Amusong,

just looking at the towing specs for the XC70 and the capacity is 2100 kg. If the caravan you are towing is 1900kg this only gives you 300kg to put into your van. By the time you put on gas bottles, water, food etc, I think you may find the volvo will be pulling at full capacity. A three month trip will put a lot of wear and tear on the engine.

Cheers and happy travels

AnswerID: 555951

Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 08:06

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 08:06
Go for it and let me know how the car went when you finish the trip. I'll put money on you finishing the trip with no problems.
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Follow Up By: Member - There Yet - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 08:41

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 08:41
Gday Muzbury,

true the car may finish with no problems, but then we must look at the legal and safety side of loads. Too many times we have seen where the tug is lighter than the overloaded van causing accidents, a danger to themselves and others on the road. If an accident does occur, bet your bottom dollar the insurance company will drop you like a hot rock if your load is over the limit.

Cheers Kerry

FollowupID: 842061

Reply By: Amusong - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:13

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:13
That's 1.9T loaded and ready to go.

I think the XC70 can do it - it is a very good tow vehicle. It has higher torque and horsepower than Defender, Prado, Hilux, D-Max, Amarok etc, and lower fuel consumption than all of them, and is about the same kerb weight as all the dual cab 4x4's. Even with these specs Volvo will only let me tow 2100kg so they are being quite conservative and I don't think I will stress the vehicle.

First trip a couple of weeks ago (first time I had towed a caravan by the way), averaged 11.7 l/100km, including one leg of 290 km at 100 km/hr into a high headwind, climbing from sea level to 600m elevation - got 14.2 l/100km for that one leg.

I guess my main questions were:
1. Has anyone ever done this before with this vehicle
2. What tyres do you use if you go onto gravel.

I have had sidewall damage on a couple of tyres over my two XC70's on gravel roads (not all that many km either) and want to find a better tyre which still preserves the ride and handling as much as possible.
AnswerID: 555984

Follow Up By: Batt's - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:24

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:24
Talk to a couple of different tyre dealers to get their opinion on what they recommend. I would expect a light truck all terrain may be a good option. Have you put the whole rig across a weigh station to see you how much it all weighs loaded and fuelled up water tank full etc especially if the car is loaded it doesn't take much to exceed the maximum GCM.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 15:32

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 15:32
+1. Start out with new tyres. AT tread is good for mixed surfaces. Light Truck means it has heavier sidewalls.

Take a look at your sump guard as well. Many outback dirt roads have gibber or large gravel that can do damage to stock plastic covers. They also have long stretches of corrugations that will test your suspension.
FollowupID: 842075

Reply By: Batt's - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:16

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:16
It may do it without a problem with good tyres and suspension to handle the load so everything is running level but personally I would do it with something that has a bigger towing capacity so your not running on the limit. Also just remember the maximum towing capacity is usually reduced when going off road whether it be a gravel rd or a 4wd track so I would use something that can tow 2.5 ton plus the more the better so you're not stressing everything to the max and risking a breakdown that will disrupt your holiday.
AnswerID: 555985

Reply By: Geepeem - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:39

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:39
It's a personal thing but I choose never to tow anything greater than 80% of my tow vehicle's braked tow capacity. It just gives me a margin of safety I believe if I come across adverse conditions or need to brake strongly from open road speed etc.

AnswerID: 555986

Reply By: Amusong - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:56

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 09:56
Thanks guys. I have already had an earful on towing capacity and how close to go to the limit over on another forum. I asked this question before I bought the van. See:

On that topic, I think the Volvo will do the job. This is my third Volvo and I know they are very conservative in all things. Talking to Volvo, they also say that if the rating is 2100 kg you can tow 2100 kg with safety. Even so, I don't want to take it to the limit. I am pretty comfortable a couple of loading up to a couple of hundred kg's below it. I have taken the van over a weighbridge 3 times since I got it less than a month ago to make sure I understand how it is loaded. The highest weight I have got so far is 1840 kg just as we took off on our first trip. I too am being additionally conservative when I say it is 1.9 T.

Still interested in the tyre question though.
AnswerID: 555987

Follow Up By: gbc - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 16:37

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 16:37
There are a couple of different wheel fitments for the xc70. What tyres do you have currently and what is the minimum rating for them? The rating will be the hard part to match up I'd guess.
FollowupID: 842081

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 17:24

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 17:24
If you can get a size to fit, then BFG AT's would be hard to beat.

Picked up a tyre & new rim for a bloke today. Tyre was a Toyo A-55, in 275.65R17, to suit a Prado. Looked like a good tread, probably an aggressive AT I'd guess.


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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 17:37

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 17:37
The AT tyres that best fit exotic type cars are Pirelli Scorpion ATR and Yokohama Geolander AT-S. Both get good reviews from people who have used them on outback roads and they both come in a very big range of sizes. When I say exotic, I mean it isn't a Toyota or Nissan. :-)
FollowupID: 842087

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 20:15

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 20:15
We've had an 2007 XC70 for 6 years now, a great touring vehicle with an amazing capacity to chew up the miles. I've mainly towed the laden box trailer and once for several 100 k's the old mans 16ft Jayco Poptop (ATM 1460kg) and it barely noticed the load on the back.
We've run the standard Pirelli Scorpion's since new, just fitted the second set at 70,00kms. They've handled lots of rocky firetrails and outback gibber tracks without any problems.
An amazing vehicle in wet slippery conditions and we've towed Landcruisers out and also driven around them stuck in paddocks with the traction control buzzing away!
The standard plastic undertray is sadly lacking and there is an alloy version available or any competent alloy fabricator could make you one up out of a suitable thickness sheet.
There is also a rear diff protector available as well.
Like you I suspect that Volvo's tow rating is a "true" one rather than a "possible" one like a lot of late model vehicles.
Do a search for XC70 around the world as Volvo set one up for a Swedish bloke to travel all the continents taking pics about 5 years ago and it listed a few mods they did to beef it up a bit.
We've seen one at Birdsville with a van on the back and it also ventured out to Big Red without any problems.
The biggest problem is the front and rear approach and departure angles as well as ramp over due to the longish wheelbase but they have good actual ground clearance.
Change the tranny fluid every 50k especially if towing.
AnswerID: 556006

Reply By: Amusong - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 20:29

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 20:29
Ah...that's a bunch of great information on the tyres...just what I was looking for.....I will follow it all up.
AnswerID: 556008

Reply By: Amusong - Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 20:55

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 at 20:55
Hi Peter, did a search on "XC70 around the world" and did not come up with anything much along the lines you were suggesting. Can you give me a bit more info on this one.

I did find this - was this what you were referring to? Does not seem like the same thing.
AnswerID: 556010

Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Tuesday, Jun 16, 2015 at 19:38

Tuesday, Jun 16, 2015 at 19:38
I can't find it either, from memory it was a link on their site but I guess as the years roll on they remove a lot of stuff especially when model change comes around.
It was a silver colour and had slightly raised suspension, underbody skidpan, the interior was set up so the bloke could sleep in it and was around about 2008-9 so a few years ago now. It was featured in the Volvo magazine they used to send out to owners.
FollowupID: 842150

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