One of the noteworthy developments of the pandemic era is the growing popularity of Volvo, which has seen sales spike over the past several months. Part of the reason for the growth is the expansion of the company’s model line-up. Additionally, it could be a growing number of motorists looking for an alternative to the luxury cars from Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
But the reputation of Volvo’s vehicles such as the XC60 also continues to grow because of the strong performance, thoughtful use of new technology and overall versatility.
After a week behind the wheel of the XC60, it’s easy to understand the vehicle’s basic appeal. It is roomy and well-equipped while also delivering a comfortable, confident ride. It seems to slip easily into the suburban landscape at the same time it offers protection from the vagaries that seem to come with driving in the U.S.
Volvo has a long used the headlamps and daytime running lights to give its exterior designs a flavor all their own. That design philosophy has been carried over to the exterior of the XC60 with its bold grille, easy-to-see bade and the Thor’s Hammer design of the DLRs and headlights. The careful blend of the different elements gives the XC60 character and the silhouette while not exactly sleek, has a style of its own that culminates in the beefy haunches.
The lighting-scheme at the rear helps set off the liftgate, which is easy to raise and lower even without the key fob. The exterior design of the XC60 also is enhanced by the panoramic moonroof — it helps with the interior design as well — and by the retractable mirrors, which make it easier to squeeze the vehicle’s bulk into tight spaces. Volvo’s also given the wheels a unique design to complement the XC60’s overall appearance.
Volvo, the company’s designers will tell you, pays special attention to its interiors and in the XC60 it shows. Equipped with Nappa leather seats common in luxury vehicles, the XC60’s version is the unique “City Weave.” It changed the appearance of seats and the interior, giving it a fresh and light aspect that is one of the signatures Scandinavian design tradition.
While designers gave the interior a Scandinavian touch, they also laid out the controls so that they are within easy reach of the driver. The controls in the easy-to-reach center stack are augmented by controls for the entertainment system and cruise control on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The ambient lighting scheme throughout the cabin is laid out nicely and the controls and the lighting scheme used for nighttime driving also is quite nice. The visibility from the driver’s seat also is excellent.
Volvo made a commitment to go to smaller, lighter powertrains a while back. It has not deviated and the overall performance of vehicles such the XC60, which is basically a midsized SUV, has not suffered in any noticeable way.
The XC60, I drove, was equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-4, with direct injection and turbocharging. It was matched to an 8-speed transmission with a stop-start system and all-wheel drive with what Volvo engineers describe as instant traction.
Driver’s also can adjust the drive mode to their preference in the XC60. The fuel-economy rating from the Environmental Protection Agency is solid for a mid-sized SUV, if not spectacular. The combined EPA rating is 24 miles per gallon, including 21 mpg in the city and a quite respectable 28 mpg in highway driving.
Safety and Technology
With its well-established and well-founded reputation for making safety a top priority in all its vehicles and the XC60 is certainly no exception. The XC60 comes dual-stage airbags to protect occupants in a front- or side-impact collision as well as curtain airbag for protection in a rollover accident. It is also equipped with collision avoidance, blind-spot detection, run-off mitigation, lane-departure alerts, and a driver-alert system to prod drowsy driver.
The vehicle I drove also had a 360-degree surround-view camera and front and rear parking sensors. It is also equipped with Volvo’s striking 12.3-inch center stack display screen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as well as Volvo’s Sensus navigation system and entertainment apps such as Spotify, Pandora and Tune In. The other tech features include USB ports and wireless charging for smart phones.
The 2.0-liter engine is small, but it delivers 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque when the driver pulls out to pass or pulling away from a standing stop. The shifts by the 8-speed transmission come in smooth sequence and the electric power steering plus the vehicle’s nicely tuned suspension combine for impressive driving dynamics on a variety of road surfaces.
The overall ride characteristic of the XC60 is one of comfort and reliability. The brakes on the XC60 provide plenty of stopping power and the all-wheel-drive system, which comes on instantly, only serves to reinforce the aura of safety and stability that is characteristic of the XC60’s performance on the street and made it popular with suburban families.
I cannot say for a fact that the Volvo XC60 T5 AWD Momentum is literally bullet proof. But it is a well built, well thought out vehicle that is very comfortable to drive and to ride in even on a long trip. At $52,240, including the destination charge, it fits into the range that is becoming standard for a utility vehicle from a luxury nameplate. Even though it is not considered a full-size sport-utility vehicle, it’s still a big vehicle and while it is relatively nimble, it will still take up a lot of space in your garage. But if have the room and can use the space it certainly is a nice choice.