Men (and Volvos) Are From Mars

Oct. 19, 2005 — -- I've driven plenty of Volvos in the recent past -- sedans, station wagons and SUVs. Why I never noticed this curious fact until now is beyond me: The Volvo logo is the male gender symbol. You know, the circle with the arrow pointing up and to the right. Maybe I'm mistaken. However, a quick Internet search confirms my suspicion.

I dial the number for Volvo's product communications specialist.

"Why on Earth is Volvo's logo the male gender symbol?"

"It's not the symbol for male. It's the symbol for Mars and Iron. It's meant to stand for strength."

Well, Volvo, I've got news for you. It is also the male gender symbol. Mars: as in men are from Mars.

Why not the female gender symbol? Also the symbol for Venus and Copper, the circle with a cross pointing down could be a great new 21st-century image update for Volvo. "Venus is the beauty planet, representing balance, aesthetics and grace. It determines your tastes and attractions, and how you express yourself sensually and romantically," according to "Fearless Ophira's Guide to the Stars."

Okay – maybe that doesn't work as well as Iron for the image of a vehicle brand. This is a really good argument for why I write about cars instead of working in carmakers' branding departments.

We all know that Volvo equals safety, and as moms we know safety is what really matters, so I won't waste any time in this review hammering that into your head. Other than safety, why would someone want to buy the 2006 Volvo V70 R?

This turbocharged Volvo (that's what the R stands for in V70 R) is a total blast to drive. It's not necessary to sacrifice safety for fun, speed and performance. The blue watch dial instrument panel (that so thoughtfully matches the blue male … uh, I mean Volvo logo on the steering wheel) keeps the inside of this vehicle looking sleek and modern.

Another modern addition to my test car is the i-Pod outlet tucked away in the center console. I simply plug in my i-Pod and groove away. I conveniently "forget" to put my CD case in the car that houses the full assortment of obnoxious children's music. So I'm forced to drive the carpool jamming to my new favorite Black Eyed Peas downloads.

Despite its safety, fun, simplicity, modern features and conveniently large cargo capacity with under floor storage, there are a few issues I have with the V70. The latch connectors are a pain to get to when installing my 3-year-old's car seat, and even more temperamental while removing it.

Also, at 39.0 feet, this station wagon's turning radius is nearly as good as an 18-wheeler. To put it in perspective, the V70's turning radius is greater than the Ford Explorer, Hummer H3 and Toyota Sienna minivan. I spent two weeks executing one 3-point turn after another. Initially, it wasn't an issue but by the end of the second week it got pretty old.

Before returning my test car, I spent a few last moments enjoying it. I blasted the car's stereo system loud enough to be heard over the shop vac. I cleaned out all traces of my children's existence from the vehicle. While dancing, singing and vacuuming outside in a snow storm, I notice how eerily similar I am to the characters in "Desperate Housewives." I conclude that if a Volvo station wagon is good enough for Wisteria Lane (desperate housewife Susan drives an XC70), it's probably good enough for me too.

* The full archive of "Car Mom" Kristin Varela's Mother Proof reviews can be found at