The six trim levels were: Base, SE, GL, GLT, T5 and R (exclusive to Europe). The exterior has new headlamps and a reshaped hood as well as a rounder front end. The new interior included dual front and side airbags.
New electronic brake modulation helped optimize performance in normal stops. Volvo's traction-control system now included throttle as well as brake intervention. A starter interlock was added to models with a manual gearbox, while automatic transmissions gained "adaptive" shift logic. Immobiliser became standard. Dashboard airbags received new two-stage sensors that matched deployment force to road speed and belt use; they also automatically unlocked doors after the bags triggered.
In the 1999 model year, the Volvo badge was changed. For the 2000 model year (2001 in the U.S.), the S70 model was discontinued and V70 was replaced by a completely new car with same model designation. The newcomer was built on Volvo's new large car platform that is shared by Volvo S80 (the first that was to be available of this series) and Volvo S60. Also, seat-mounted side airbags were modified to improve protection to the head and chest in case of impact. Newly standard was Volvo's WHIPS system, designed to move the front seatbacks and headrests rearward in a rear-end collision, to minimize whiplash. The S70 Base models gained an all-new 5 speed automatic transmission using a synthetic based transmission fluid. The potent engine in the V70 R AWD now was rated 261hp (195kW).
The base engine was a 2.4-liter dual overhead cam straight-5 gasoline engine that produced a maximum output of 168hp (125kW). The GLT had a turbocharged version of that engine that increased the power to 190hp (141kW). The T5 had a more highly tuned 2.3-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with an output of 236hp (175kW). The Base and T5 models had an optional five-speed manual transmission, the GL and GLT were available with only an automatic transmission. An option on the S70 was the TRACS traction control system that would apply the front brakes to limit wheel slippage. All models had disc brakes and anti-lock braking system. These were also among the first cars in the United States to offer side airbags, an option that has extended to nearly all models today. Drive-by-wire was added starting with the 1999 model year, replacing the traditional throttle cable arrangement with an Electronic Throttle System (ETS); also added was coil-on-plug ignition, first featured on the Volvo 960, replacing the distributor and spark plug wires. Such cars can easily be distinguished from the 1998 model year versions by the presence of an ETS light on the instrument cluster. All-wheel drive was also offered with the GLT model in 1999 and 2000 years.