The 2018 Volvo XC60 midsize luxury all-wheel-drive SUV is all new. It shows the recently sleek Volvo design language. It says wagon like no other, but does SUV. It plays in the big time, against rivals like Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Audi Q5.
Since the three-row Volvo XC90 has been discontinued by Volvo, the new XC60 appears to inherit that earth. Its wheelbase is 3.6 inches longer than before, while its overall length is just 1.8 inches more, giving it more cabin space. It’s still five inches shorter than the old XC90, and two inches lower.
It comes with three engines: The XC60 T5 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 250 horsepower and earns an EPA-estimated 24 miles per gallon Combined city and highway.
The XC60 T6 2.0-liter turbo and supercharged four-cylinder makes 316 horsepower and earns 23 mpg Combined.
The XC60 T8 Twin Engine Electric Plug-In Hybrid makes 400 horsepower with electric all-wheel drive. It earns 26 mpg Combined or 59 MPGe from the Environmental Protection Agency.
They’re all mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And with an improved body structure and more sound insulation, there is no four-cylinder thrum to any of the powerplants.
The all-wheel-drive system is biased toward the front wheels, with most of the power going there until traction is needed in the rear, which can take 50 percent of the power, so it’s evenly balanced. It’s never biased toward the rear.
Volvo is known for equipment. Even the base model comes standard with leather, panoramic moonroof, LED headlamps, Apple Carplay / Android Auto, nine-inch touchscreen, driving modes, 10-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, 4G LTE, power liftgate, rearview camera and Lane Keeping Aid.
Volvo is known for safety. Standard safety equipment includes the Intellisafe City Safety system, which detects a pedestrian, cyclist, vehicle or large animal, and applies emergency braking.
Making its debut on the 2018 XC60 as an option, comes the next step, Oncoming Lane Mitigation. It provides steering input to mitigate a head-on collision. Also in 2018, Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) adds Steer Assist. If you start to turn toward a car in your blind spot, the steering wheel will resist.
The Volvo XC60 comes in T5 ($41,500), T6 ($44,900), T8 ($52,900) versions. There are three trims: Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription.
The R-Design gets sport seats, black mesh grille, hands-free tailgate, 12.3-inch digital display that replaces the standard gauges, 19-inch wheels, navigation, and paddle shift controls (it’s the only model to get them). A notable option is 21-inch wheels with wide summer tires.
Inscription gets a stitched dash, driftwood trim, navigation, and four-zone climate control.
Optional features include soft Nappa Leather seats with ventilation and massage, Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound, and four-corner air suspension.
The styling is mainstream. It’s not tall and bluff like the XC90, although it tries to look tall with tricks like a high grille, and tall taillamps that reach to the roof. The high shoulder line makes the body look like a rising wedge, like a BMW X3.
The best part are the slim hammer-shaped LEDs used for daytime running lamps called Thor’s Hammer.
The cabin is elegant and serene, while being less minimalist than the Volvo luxury sedans, and cozier than the XC90 SUV. The cabin caters to the senses, it doesn’t assault them. It has a portrait-style touchscreen like few others, McLaren and Tesla to name two. The driftwood-trimmed dashboard soothes the eyes.
Volvo’s colorful Sensus infotainment system is revised with new tiles, and icons moved for better visibility. The 9-inch portrait-style screen makes perfect sense, especially with navigation. It’s the type of screen used in the Tesla Model S and Model X.
The cabin has a cocoon-like quality, with glass that tilts inward and a laid-back center console. The serenity is heightened by the absence of knobs and buttons.
The power front seats are deep, pocketed, and well-padded. Six-footers have room for their knees and heads in the rear, even with the standard panoramic roof. A third adult can briefly fit in the rear, or maybe more comfortably if less likely three car seats.
There’s 29.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, about twice the size of a trunk. That expands to an almost-vast 68.7 cubic feet when you fold down the rear seat.
We drove a T6 Inscription, with the turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder, eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. With peak horsepower of 316, the acceleration comes evenly and without drama over the rev range. Weighing 4,054 pounds, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds, and has a top speed of 140 mph.
In any of the three driving modes, the eight-speed automatic is well matched to the powerband of the T6, which comes on early.
The Economy mode slows the transmission response, along with throttle response. Comfort, the default mode, picks up the pace while remaining true to its word. There’s also a Dynamic mode, an off-road mode that engages hill descent control, increases steering assist, and slows throttle and shift response, and a custom mode.
The driving modes also adjust the suspension response in all models but the Momentum. The suspension is double wishbone front, and transverse leaf spring with links in the rear. Our Inscription had the available adaptive dampers and air suspension. It lowers itself at speed and raises itself when ground clearance is needed.
In the Economy mode, less boost goes to the dampers and steering, so the XC60 feels dull and heavy. The Comfort mode makes it all feel creamy. The Dynamic mode is stimulating (it also cuts out the standard Stop/Start system). Our Inscription had optional 20-inch wheels to go with the all-wheel drive; we found the Dynamic mode helped it track better. With the adaptive dampers, the XC60 doesn’t engage the road, it smothers it.
The T5 gets the 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four engine. Measured with a stopwatch, it’s only a bit slower than the T6, with a zero-to-sixty acceleration time of 6.4 seconds, on its way to the same 140-mph top speed.
The T8 plug-in hybrid connects the turbo engine to an electric motor and a 10.4-kw battery pack, to make 400 horsepower. Despite its weight of 4600 pounds, it will accelerate from zero to sixty in 4.9 seconds, says Volvo. T8 plug-in hybrids get their own modes that conserve battery power or set the engine to charge the battery.
The all-new Volvo XC60 brings more interior room on a longer wheelbase, while minimizing overall length. The styling is smooth. The self-steering steps (in times of emergency) are significant. The T6 powertrain, at least, is impressive, with an engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.