The New Car
New to me – a 1998 Volvo Cross Country station wagon with viscous-coupling all-wheel-drive with, sadly, an automatic transmission. The car is a fine example of that year, make, and model with one dim exception, the headlights. Here is an excerpt from a forum post I made requesting advice as to the best replacement headlamps –
The headlamps, however, and the left in particular, produce light for driving that is about as effective and safe as having two small elves sitting, one on the left side of the front bumper and the other on the right side, throwing fairy-dust or glitter in front of the car as it moves forward through the inky darkness of suburban Stepford (where I live) or, really, any other place without streetlights. Therefore, since the holiday season has ended and the elves must return to Sweden for the coming year, I need to purchase replacements.
Greatly appreciated will be your advice about the best replacement headlamps for this vehicle.
The other thing the car is lacking is the factory cargo cover – here’s how we covered our luggage and during our recent trip – our pre-market cargo cover – a blanket we got in Europe when I was a child. I remember we had it in Spain, but may have got it somewhere else.
I do plan to find an OEM cargo cover for the luggage area as I have no desire to obtain tinting for the car’s windows. To the good, the plaid, wool blanket folds up and is easily stowed under the floor panels back there.
By far, my 1997 Volvo 850 5-speed is the superior car in terms of handling, smooth-running, fit and finish, durability, and so forth. If it had about another inch of clearance and all-wheel-drive, I would never have purchased the Cross Country; but I think those two features will be of real use in my current employment.
The Cross Country is my first daily driver since 1997 that has not had a salvage title. Bodywise, the car is pretty straight, although it was rear-ended in 2010, according to Carfax, and has a slight indentation on the hatch and a rough spot near the brake-light above the bumper. Nevertheless, the wagon is water tight at the hatch and the hatch unlocks, opens, and closes fast without problem. Since 2005, I’ve been driving a manual transmission 5-speed, so changing over to an automatic transmission car feels like I’m driving a large go-kart and also feels like I have much less control of the car when cornering or coming to a stop. I’ll probably get used to this, but I don’t want to.
Comparing the ‘98 to my wife’s ‘04 Cross Country, the ‘98 feels less top-heavy and corners flatter, that is to say, with very little body roll. Certainly, the 2004 Cross Country is a taller car with greater ground clearance than the ‘98. I think fuel economy is better with the ‘04, which seems odd considering it ‘feels’ like a heavier car. On the other hand, it may have a more sophisticated engine management system. The ‘98 seems to struggle during acceleration and I think that may be rectifiable with an aftermarket downpipe. That may also improve fuel efficiency and slightly increase horsepower, but I’m not sure. I plan to upgrade the new car’s chip to increase horsepower, to install a trailer hitch for the bicycle rack, and obtain a stock cargo area cover, all in addition to replacing those useless headlights.