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The second generation XC60 is an important car for Volvo after the huge success of the first model. Not only was it the company's best-selling car of recent years, but also one of the top-selling mid-sized SUVs.
However, with premium rivals like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace coming to market since the launch of the first XC60, there's now more choice than ever and the second-generation XC60 needs to standout from the crowd.
It's certainly a good looking SUV. Volvo has worked hard to dust off its dull image that it shouldered until it broke away from Ford ownership in 2010. It might not be quite as striking as the newer XC40, with the XC60's designers showing a little more restraint in a nod to the expected slightly older buyer, but it has an understated elegance to its design. The sophisticated lines of the XC60 are complemented by some nice littles touches such as the 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running light arrangement that anchors it to the rest of the latest range of Volvos.
On the road
Volvo XC60 review: On the road
- Petrol and diesel options available
- Hybrid option in the shape of the T8 Twin Engine
- Quiet and comfortable drive
While some rivals offer six-cylinder power units (and if you're prepared to pay for them, eight-cylinders as well), the XC60 is available with a range of four-cylinder, 2.0-liter petrol and diesel engines, as well as a myriad number of hybrid options. Front or all-wheel drive depends on the engine you opt for.
If you're in the US, there's a 250bhp T5 petrol or 310bhp T6 petrol, as well as a plug-in hybrid in the shape of the T8 eAWD. This turbo and supercharged 2.0-liter kicks out just under 320bhp and drives power to the front wheels, which is combined with a 10.4kWh battery that produces 86bhp and delivers power to the rear wheels. With a combined power output of 400bhp, it'll hit 60mph in just under 5.5 seconds.
This hybrid tech means that you don't have to use all this combined power all of the time, with the XC60 offering a 28 mile range using battery power alone. This is perfect if you've got a short commute as you can flick the XC60 into its EV Pure driving mode and waft along in near silence fuel-free, only calling on the petrol engine should you drain the battery. Opt for the XC60's Hybrid driving mode and it will seamlessly swap between the two power sources when the extra grunt of the petrol engine is called for. Charging can take as little as two and a half hours if you hook the XC60 up to a fast charger, but up to six hours when connected to a domestic power supply.
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Select the XC60's Power driving mode and it harnesses the power of both power units. Performance is brisk, with a decent shove in the back as you accelerate, but if you're looking for an engaging driving experience, this isn't quite for you. Don't get us wrong, it's nice and quick in a straight line, but it's not suited to be hustled into bends. It's far happier on highways or for relaxed driving round town.
Right comfort is very good though, with lumps and bumps in the road absorbed nicely, while the XC60 can also be equipped with electronically controlled air suspension. This enables automatic lowering at high speeds to improve aerodynamics, while the ground clearance can be increased by over 40mm when driving off-road.
Interior quality and features
Volvo XC60 review: Interior quality and features
- Quality of finish is superb
- Clean, minimalist
- Large 9-inch touchscreen interface
Volvo XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid: key specs
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol plus 10.4kWh battery
Power output: 400bhp
Max speed: 140 mph
0-62mph: 5.5 seconds
Fuel economy: up to 122.8mpg
The XC60 stands out from its rivals when it comes to the interior, favouring a very pleasing mix of matte woods and light colors. Factor in the excellent driving position that offers a suite of adjustments, as well as the overall quality of finish, and you're left in no doubt about the XC60's premium credentials.
The XC60's sophisticated, minimalist cabin is in part the result of a large, 9-inch touchscreen display that sits in the middle of the dash. Volvo's done things a little differently here compared to rivals and opted for a vertical orientation. This is primarily for navigation as Volvo believes we'd sooner see where we're going, as opposed to a what's either side of us as we travel a long. When you put it like that, it makes a lot of sense.
Volvo calls this infotainment system Senus, and its your window to pretty much every facet of the XC60's entertainment, convenience and safety functions. The display is crisp and sharp, while also responsive to touch gestures. As its touchscreen control, it can force you to take your eye off the road if you're planning to use it on the move, with even the climate control to be adjusted via touch.
To complement the Senus display is a large 8-inch digital instrument display for the driver (our R-Design Pro model featured an even larger 12.3-inch display), which has a number of display options, including route navigation. A option we also really like is the heads-up display, which beams key driving info (including directions) onto the windshield just below your line of sight.
It's a shame Apple CarPlay and Android Auto don't come as standard, but elsewhere there's a decent level of standard kit. The entry-level Momentum model comes complete with climate control, keyless start, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, as well as heated leather seats. That's not forgetting front and rear parking sensors, while we'd recommend opting for the rear view camera from the options list, while the 360-degree bird's-eye-view camera is incredibly useful.
A DAB radio, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker stereo are also included, while those serious audiophiles out there can also opt for a stunning Bowers & Wilkins 15-speaker sound system. This produces a powerful 1,100 watts and while the sound quality is very impressive, it's an expensive option.
Passenger and trunk space
Volvo XC60 review: Passenger and trunk space
- Decent, but not class-leading trunk
- Excellent cabin space
- No option for rear reclining seats
There's no shortage of space inside the XC60. Up front and even the tallest person will be easily accommodated, with plenty of head and legroom. In the back and it's a similar story, with ample head and legroom for large adults either side of the raised central tunnel that runs front to back. It won't feel too much of a squeeze if you want to get a third adult in the back thanks to the broad dimensions of the XC60, though the central passenger will have to straddle that central tunnel. For those looking for a third row of seats will have to look further up the Volvo range at the XC90.
As for trunk space, it just looses out to the Audi Q5 at 17.8 cubic feet compared to 21, but that should be more than enough for most families. As with other hybrids though, if you opt for the T8 variant, expect to relinquish a bit of cargo space for the car's electrical tricks that are linked to the batteries positioned towards the middle of the car.
For those times when you need to move a lot of stuff or something particularly large, the rear seats helpfully fold down to provide a completely flat load area.
It's a shame there's no rear reclining seats - this is a handy option on the Audi Q5 and standard on the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Volvo XC60 review: Safety features
- 5 star Euro NCAP rating
- Blind Spot Information System
- Semi-autonomous Pilot Assist drive technology
Volvo XC60: Pricing
Prices start at $40,150 / £37,785 for the Momentum model, with the T8 eAWD model starting at $62,290 / £55,005.
Volvo has pioneered numerous safety features over the years that have now become standard on most cars, so its no surprize to see the XC60 sporting a wide array of features to keep you safe.
The XC60 hasn't been tested by the US’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but achieves an excellent five star safety rating from the stringent European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP). This sees it get a brilliant 98% adult occupant safety score and 95% for safety assistance.
The XC60 gets automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard on all trim levels, warning you of an obstacle in your path and ultimately braking if you fail to react. It's not limited to just recognising cars, as it will also be able to detect cyclists, pedestrians and large animals, while Steer Assist is clever enough to help you swerve around obstacles and back onto the correct side of the road to avoid a collision.
There's also a couple of neat safety options that you can specify, including Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist. This automatically applies the steering to bring the car back into its own lane and away from any vehicles that might be in your blind spot.
This comes as part a pack that includes adaptive cruise control and Volvo's semi-autonomous Pilot Assist drive technology. This is designed to make long journeys a bit less tiring by using a forward-facing camera and radar to detect your lane and any vehicles in front. Set the desired cruising speed and the system will then assist with the steering (up to 80mph), while taking care of the brakes and accelerator. You can't take your hands off the steering wheel, but the XC60 will automatically input turns while slowing and braking with the flow of traffic, and even coming to a near-complete stop when necessary.
Volvo XC60 review: Verdict
While the Volvo XC60 might not be the most engaging drive in this mid-size SUV sector, it excels in other areas. Not only does the XC60 embody Volvo's core principles of practicality and safety, but builds on this with a sleek design, luxurious interior and plenty of tech. This all makes the XC60 a very impressive SUV that rivals the best German SUVs.
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