The Volvo XC60 compact crossover is one of the brand’s best sellers, trailing only the larger XC90. For the 2017 model year, Volvo dropped a pair from its quartet of XC60 powertrains. The 2017 Volvo XC60 lineup offers just two engines: both four-cylinder.
A close relative of the S60 sedan, the Volvo XC60 scores most impressively on safety, carrying on Volvo’s long-standing reputation for safe vehicles. In addition, the driver and front passenger enjoy some of the best seats to be found in today’s automobiles. Fitted with a hefty load of standard equipment, the premium-level XC60 is still a strong contender in the near-luxury field.
Volvo XC60 T5 models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower, while yielding up to 30 mpg in highway driving, a satisfactory estimate for this class, though not the thriftiest.
Volvo XC60 T6 models come with a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine that develops 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
Both engines mate with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The T5 offers a choice of front-drive or all-wheel drive; the T6 comes only with AWD.
Dynamic and Inscription trim levels are priced identically, but the former leans in the direction of sportiness, while Inscription versions emphasize comfort.
Launched as a 2009 model, the Volvo XC60 is an old design, but Volvo has remained well ahead of other manufacturers in providing safety features as standard equipment. The standard City Safety system includes low-speed crash mitigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a rearview camera, along with parking sensors.
Also on the safety front, visibility is excellent in the XC60.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the XC60 an overall crash-test rating of five stars. (Its four-star rollover score is typical for SUVs.) The XC60 also earned maximum (Good) scores in each test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A Superior score in that organization’s rollover test helped give the XC60 a Top Safety Pick+ award.
The 2017 Volvo XC60 T5 Dynamic ($40,950) and T5 Inscription ($40,950) get the base engine with front-wheel drive. Standard features include leather seats, power front seats, Bluetooth, a panoramic sunroof, 7-inch display with navigation, 18-inch wheels, and rear parking sensors. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the price. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)
XC60 T6 Dynamic ($46,350) and T6 Inscription ($46,350) come with the stronger turbo/supercharged engine, all-wheel drive, and 19-inch wheels.
T6 R-Design ($51,000) contains the turbo/supercharged engine with all-wheel drive. Modifications that promise a more sporty appearance have been made to the grille, mirrors, front spoiler, instrument panel, gearshift knob, tailpipes.
A $2,500 safety group adds adaptive cruise control with queue assist, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning (with automatic emergency braking), Distance Alert, road sign recognition, and automatic high beams, plus a premium stereo system. The $1,550 cold-weather group includes heating for the steering wheel, front and rear seats, and headlight washers.
Despite a design that shows it age, both externally and internally, the XC60’s wedge-like profile remains attractive and distinctive. Visually, there’s no doubt that it’s still a Volvo.
In today’s competitive crossover SUV world, the XC60 scores around average in styling. Smooth body contours blend with several rather rakish angular elements, complemented by an upswept beltline. Overall, the XC60 exhibits a high level of fit-and-finish.
Like competitive crossovers, the XC60 has seating for five, though four adults will be more comfortable. For family travel and daily life, it’s a useful, roomy crossover, with sufficient cargo space for everyone’s luggage.
Both the driver and front passenger could hardly ask for more in seat comfort, since those in the XC60 are among the best to be found. Side bolsters for both the seatback and cushion help keep occupants firmly positioned.
Front and rear riders can expect bountiful headroom, but back-seat legroom is a bit tight, especially for passengers with longer legs. Three youngsters fit nicely in the back seat, but that number of grown-ups won’t be so pleased.
Cargo volume is surprisingly abundant: more than 30 cubic feet with rear seatbacks raised. Folding the seats down expands the space to 67 cubic feet. The only demerit is a load floor that isn’t fully flat.
Apart from the XC60’s impressive digital gauge clusters, the interior shows it age and comes across as somewhat boring. The black dashboard is on the plain side, with a layout that falls behind some modern rivals.
Still, the all-digital dashboard angles appropriately toward the driver, displaying its cluster of high-resolution virtual instruments, each one clear and bright. Optional two-tone leather upholstery helps boost the XC60’s premium appearance. The center console retains Volvo’s familiar floating stack, containing audio and climate controls.
On the whole, the XC60 doesn’t feel on par with class-competitive crossovers. Despite its tall profile, however, this Volvo handles quite well, sticking to the pavement even through tight curves and corners.
Few would call the XC60 sporty in nature, but it’s definitely stable. Steering is nicely-weighted, compared to prior Volvo models, yielding a helpful amount of road feel. Ground clearance of 9.1 inches, combined with Haldex all-wheel drive, should let the XC60 ease through deep snow, muddy paths, or rocky trails.
Ride quality is European-firm, thus less smooth than in many crossovers. That’s especially true with 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires, which can yield some jarring. On the other hand, an XC60 is quite forgiving when faced with rough surfaces. Overall, with smaller tires, the ride is reasonably comfortable. Noise suppression is on par with other members of the near-luxury crossover category.
At low speeds, the base engine sounds somewhat coarse, emitting a thrumming sound when stop/start operation is active. The 8-speed transmission lacks refinement and tends to feel disconnected, striving too hard to keep engine speed down in the interest of fuel economy. Some shuddering occurs during low-speed maneuvers.
Even the stronger turbo/supercharged engine feels constrained by the transmission, which does a lot of gear-searching. The T6 also has a heavy feel, though actual weight isn’t excessive. Front-drive models feel lighter and better balanced, particularly in Sport mode.
The base engine is EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. Estimated mileage in an all-wheel-drive T6 dips to 20/27 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined.
Impressively equipped, the Volvo XC60 promises good value compared to German rivals, delivering the traditional virtues for which Volvos have long been known. Despite its age, this crossover manages to match or edge past a number of rivals. Options come in costly packages.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.