Smooth Operation, Comfort in BL70

By Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

Volvo's 14-foot BL70 marks the first model in its new line of 10 backhoe-loaders, ranging from 60 to 100 horsepower. By year-end, six models will be available, including two 15-footers and two with four-wheel steer. Many of these machines will be destined for the rental channel through Volvo Rents franchises.

We visited the Wroclaw, Poland, manufacturing facility late last year to take a first-hand peek at the new BL70.

Built from the ground up, the BL70 is innovation, not evolution, says VP of business development Carl Lockwood. An international team with 175 years of experience, including former JCB, CNH and Caterpillar employees, conducted intensive customer-research sessions to determine what features best met user needs.

Lockwood says Volvo designed the BL70 understanding that specs aren't the end-all with backhoe-loader customers; it's machine feel. As the new backhoe-loaders roll out across North America, Volvo dealers will be pushing hard to bring customers in for demos.

The machine has a smooth, solid feel to its operation. The closed-center, load-sensing hydraulic system handled multifunctioning smoothly and quickly.

We operated a BL70 with a fully enclosed cab, necessary in the 20-degree Wroclaw winter, but an open canopy is also available. The heater works extremely well, and the cab is roomy and comfortable. Three wide steps lead up to the cab, and a wide entry make moving in and out convenient. The cab's wide enough to swivel the seat easily to the backhoe side. Narrow fenders provide additional turnaround space while providing plenty of tire clearance.

Rear visibility is excellent with the BL70's narrow, "S"-shaped boom. The rear window opens extremely easily and conveniently stores above the operator's head. We squeezed the handle releases on each side, lifted, and the two hydraulic cylinders did the rest. To close, bring the window down and it latches.

On the loader side, Volvo brought its experience with wheel loaders to bear, Lockwood says. "We wanted a loader that worked like a wheel loader. It's extremely strong with good tractive effort." The loader has a single bucket cylinder for good visibility, and the state-of-the-art pilot control joystick mimics the company's wheel loader control.

The BL70 design makes for convenient serviceability and maintenance, too. The hood tilts up between the loader arms regardless of loader position, and a safety strut easily locks into place. A tilt-out oil cooler allows users to clean the radiator. All engine filters are on right side of engine; all fills and top-ups on the left. Incorporated into the steps are a slide-out battery and a tool box.

Base retail price is $61,000; fully equipped is $72,000.

Comparative Specifications
(14-foot class)
Company/Model Backhoe Lift Capacity (lb.) Loader Breakout Force (lb.ft.) Loader Lift Capacity (lb.) Weight (lb.)
Case 580 Super M (90 hp) 2,550 9,480 6,182 14,533
Caterpillar 420D (85 hp) 3,333 10,131 6,385 16,006
JCB 214e (72 hp) 2,735 11,730 6,750 13,046
John Deere 310SG (84 hp) 3,130 12,638 9,231 15,439
Komatsu WB140PS-2 (86 hp) 2,559 12,790 8,270 16,600
New Holland LB75.B (85 hp) 3,310 13,942 7,782 14,826
Terex TX860 (90 hp) 2,989 12,291 8,783 15,964
Volvo BL70 (90 hp) 3,395 12,037 7,619 17,800