Volvo has had an interesting run lately. Just a few years ago sales were good and profits were actually being made. Now sales are nothing to brag about and the revenues, well, what revenues? With the pending sale to Geely, the future is really cloudy but they say that letting Volvo be Volvo will be their plan. That is definitely a plan, but as that may be, every new Volvo launch better go off without a hitch. The XC60 is off to a good start as Volvo’s new entrant to the entry level luxury crossover market. This is a hotly contested arena in which large players are throwing their weight around. The XC60 is a fresh and dare I say, Swedish approach to this category.
The XC60 slots right between the XC70 and the larger XC90. The interior is nearly the size of the segment champion, the Lexus RX. The front is spacious with plenty of head and leg room. The seats were terrific and the tilt and telescoping steering wheel made finding a comfortable driving position a cinch. The interior is filled with soft touch materials and the gauges are easy to read. The button lay out is very similar to other Volvos which is a good thing. Overall, the interior is easily in the top of its class.
The exterior is typical Volvo with styling that stays with the family but pushes the edges a little. With curvy hips in the rear in place, the front is slightly more aggressive than the current line up. This front clip is an evolution of the current styling, and we will be seeing these design cues on the 2011 C70 and 2011 S60. Personally, I am a big fan of the use of light pipes next to the grille. The fog lights actually provide a good amount of light on the ground, making a noticeable difference when driving at night.
Two engines are available. The vehicle I was testing was equipped with the base 3.2 liter inline six cylinder putting out 235 hp and 236 ft-lb through the optional all wheel drive. The optional engine is a 3.0 liter inline six cylinder with a twin-scroll turbo (T6) putting out 281 hp and 295 ft-lb. Both engines feed the power through a six speed Geartronic transmission. Geartronic is Volvo’s speak for automatic with self shifting capabilities. The 3.2 liter is rated at 18/27 mpg while the T6 drops down to a rated 16/22. I observed an average of 18.2 mpg. All wheel drive is optional on the 3.2 liter while standard on the 3.0 liter turbo. The XC60 weighs barely over 4000 lbs which is certainly no light weight. It is still light when compared to its competitors. Getting that large mass moving is no small task and the 3.2 liter inline six I was equipped with did its best. Its best was not good enough to satisfy my urge to get going. Things were better once started, it was the act of getting underway that took a little longer than I would have liked. Slamming the gas incurred the vehicle to say, “Oh you want to go now? Ok we will work on that.” I think the optional T6 engine would be a better choice for me personally.
While the XC60 may not be a canyon carver, it handled itself quite well when it came to quick lane changes. The mass was kept in check and overall handling was good with less body roll then expected. This is probably one of the “sportier” handling vehicles in the class. The steering was not as light as I expected at parking lot speeds but it did feel natural. On center feel was great while on the highway. Volvo says the steering is speed dependent. While I can definitely notice a difference between highway speeds and parking lot speeds, the steering never felt over boosted.
The XC60 comes with some decent technology as standard equipment. Both bluetooth handsfree for calling and HD radio are standard. City Safety is the system that can help lessen or completely avoid an impact below 18 mph is standard. The vehicle I had was by no means loaded but was nicely optioned. Equipped with the premium package, climate package, convenience package, laminated panoramic sunroof, PCC (Personal Car Communicator), and integrated child booster seats. Part of that climate package included both heated front and rear seats along with heated windshield washer nozzles. A rain sensing system is also part of that package. I did not get to test it due to the lack of rain and abundance of snow. The convenience package gave me the power operated tail gate along with other niceties. Oh, and that power tailgate might quite possibly be the loudest power tail gate in the history of power tail gates. The panoramic sunroof is a crowd pleaser, though I could not test it due to frigid temps and the pile of snow sitting on top of the car. PCC is pretty cool as a $550 dollar option. PCC is essentially an advanced keyless remote that has two way communication with your XC60. When you push the information button on the remote when within 200-300 feet of the car, the remote will “check in” with the car and inform you of the status, including whether the car is locked, unlocked, or a heartbeat is detected inside the car. If you press the information button outside of the 200-300 foot range, the remote will report the last known status before you went outside of the range. I have heard strong opinions on the optional navigation unit and will hopefully experience that when I test the T6 model.
Overall, the XC60 is a competent vehicle. I would definitely rate this high in its class right next to the new Audi Q5. Gas milage was acceptable with the 3.2 but from the ratings I know that the T6 is thirsty. Truth be told, I am guessing that is the engine to have in this vehicle since 3.2 is a bit sluggish. Though I am willing to bet that the general public will accept the 3.2 performance just fine. In the end, I personally liked the XC60. It is sportier than the Lexus RX while having almost as much room. With a starting price of $32,995, the vehicle I was in had a sticker price of $40,645, and for that money you were getting a competent vehicle. The XC60 is just a few tweaks away from a class leading vehicle.
Full Disclosure- Vehicle was provided for review by a local Volvo dealership.