Originally Posted by rostam
I am going to offer a different perspective...
I think your Volvo is an excellent vehicle. Very safe and capable (I am a big time Volvo fan). I will stick with the manufacturer tow ratings though. Why?
I have been frequenting this forum for more than a year or two. Most folks that exceed their vehicle's tow ratings reside in Canada. Whats OK/legal in Canada is not necessarily OK/legal in the US and vice-versa. There are folks south of the border that greatly appreciate the under rated tow vehicles. If you look at their profile, many actually own full size pickups (sometimes, diesel/heavy duty versions of it). Could you tow more than what the manufacturer recommends? probably yes. Should you tow more than what the manufacturer recommends? IMO, probably no. But you need to decide this on your own.
In the past year or two, I have seen many folks that tow with under rated tow vehicles. When you ask them about their set up, everything is fine: pulling/stopping power, handling. There seems to be no ill effect on their tow vehicles towing thousands of pounds more than what they are designed to tow. Then after a while, the same folks, suddenly (and quietly) upgrade to a proper tow vehicle for seemingly un-related reasons. My observation has been that under-rated tow vehicles are not a long term solution (unless maybe you tow a small/vintage trailer).
Just my observations.
And they are interesting observations. We towed with the Volvo S60 for 6 years because it was what we had, and because it did the job well (albeit somewhat slowly into a headwind or on grades above 4 or 5%). The S60 has been a very economical choice, with excellent fuel economy and modest repair costs (I do 90% of my own work).
My approach is to go with the smallest vehicle that meets our needs. Mid-size cars make a lot of sense to me, and I really believe they offer the best combination of economy and utility for most people. We have owned a number of Volvos because I fit (I'm a bit bigger than average), life cycle costs are comparable to most other cars, and they drive well. We now tow with a 2008 V70. In my view, it borders on full-size, and it makes sense for our family.
Would I go bigger? Maybe, if we can afford it and decide to go with a SUV like the new XC90 in the future. However, I expect that we will go back to a sedan once our sons no longer travel with us. There are more and more interesting options, and high-torque turbodiesels are becoming more available.
There are many options for TVs and TTs. We all work out what we can afford or justify at the time.
Regarding legality, I determined a number of years ago that only two jurisdictions in Canada and the US actually regulate trailer weight relative to a tow vehicle. The province of Saskatchewan limits trailer weight to the GVWR of the tow vehicle unless it's a fifth wheel or you use WDH - then the max trailer weight is 2 times the GVWR of the TV. And California requires a TV that weighs more than 4000 lbs if the trailer weighs more than 6000 lbs. However, the law doesn't seem to specify actual weight or GVWR.
Insurance and liability are other matters, but I have never seen or heard of a real world issue actually arising.
Also, for what it's worth, we have towed our Airstream with a car in 21 different states to date. No police officer has questioned what we are doing (unlike the curious folks at almost every gas stop!).