Things we like
- Stylish, practical
- Great to drive
Not so much
- Complicated infotainment system, patchy ride on standard suspension
What stands out?
The Volvo XC60 is an exceptionally comfortable luxury medium SUV, featuring a choice of turbocharged petrol and diesel powertrains including a plug-in hybrid. All-wheel drive adds security on slippery surfaces and it is one of the safest cars on sale.
It was named 2018 Wheels Car of the Year – the first premium SUV to win the title.
What might bug me?The time it takes to select some infotainment settings, which often requires having to go negotiate multiple layers and modes of the swipe-and-push touchscreen. This gets particularly complicated while driving.
Feeling like you’re driving a bit too far to the left in any XC60 with a head-up display, which sits toward the centre of the windscreen.
Looking like goose when coming to a very sudden stop because you’re not used to the T8 Hybrid’s regenerative braking system. This system cleverly harnesses the forces when coming to a stop to charge the batteries, but makes the brakes feel over-sensitive.
Wanting to add the superior air-suspension, but finding the only way to get it is in a costly package that includes a $4500 stereo system you may not want.
Driving at 80km/h on the space-saver spare, until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.
What body styles are there?Five-door, five-seat SUV only.
Every XC60 drives all four wheels and is classed as a medium SUV, higher priced.
What features do all XC60 versions have?Automatic emergency braking that works at city speeds, which Volvo calls City Safety.
Cruise control, and lane departure warning, which alerts you if you begin to drift out of your lane (a sign of fatigue or distraction).
A 12.3-inch central infotainment screen with inbuilt satellite navigation with voice control. Entertainment functions include Digital Radio (DAB+), Apple CarPlay/Android smartphone pairing, Aux and USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming.
360-degree surround view parking camera, which provides a simulated bird’s eye view to help you spot hidden obstacles. Front and rear parking sensors provide an audible warning.
Blind spot warning, which senses if a car is coming up your side, and rear cross traffic alert, which senses if a car is coming from either direction when reversing out of the driveway from a parking space.
Leather upholstery and power adjustable front seats, with driver’s seat memory functions and dual zone climate control, which allows the driver and front passenger to set their own temperatures.
Roof rails, which make it easier to fit roof-mounted luggage systems.
Keyless start and entry with hands free tailgate opening and closing
Auto dimming rear-view and exterior mirrors, and windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains.
Aluminium alloy wheels, which are lighter and more stylish than steel wheels (with a space-saver spare wheel).
Long-lasting LED headlamps that shine into corners when you turn the wheel, and dip automatically for oncoming drivers, fog lights and LED daytime running lights, with unique ‘Thor’s Hammer’ signature.
Power steering drive modes,
Hill descent control and hill start assist
Electronic stability control, which is mandatory on new cars and can help you recover from a skid.
Seven airbags. (To find out where they are placed, please open the review section “What about safety?”).
The XC60 is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?The T8 R-Design PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) features a powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine that runs with a battery-powered electric motor.
The batteries are charged by the engine, energy generated by braking, or by plugging the car in to a normal 240-volt electrical socket. When fully charged they can run the XC60 on electric power alone, for around 40kms at speeds up to 80km/h, without producing any emissions.
Its official test cycle rating (city and country combined) is just 2.1 litres/100km, which assumes that much of your driving is on batteries alone. In real world conditions, with the engine engaged more often, we were seeing figures of around 8.0 litres/100km.
One reason you might not choose this engine is that it’s only available in the most expensive XC60, the T8 R-Design PHEV. And if you like driving in a way that makes the most of the T8’s considerable performance, you won’t see the fuel saving benefits.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that powers D4 models is the most fuel efficient of the three conventional powertrains available in an XC60, consuming 5.4 litres/100km on the official test cycle.
If you prefer petrol power, the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the T5 models are still a reasonably efficient with an official test cycle rating of 7.8litres/100km.
Meanwhile the T6, which has the same engine with the addition of a supercharger for more power and torque, drinks 8.0 litres/100km.
All the Volvo petrol and diesel engines are very good, with much more pull than you’d expect from their size. They are smooth and quiet, but come to life when you’re driving them fast.
Expect real-world fuel consumption to be 30-50 percent higher on average, if you use the performance available.
Every XC60 comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
What key features do I get if I spend more?The Volvo XC60 comes with three model specifications, Momentum, Inscription and R-Design, which have varying equipment levels and a choice of engines.
The Momentum is the least costly XC60 and has all the above mentioned standard features plus 19-inch alloy wheels (smaller, 18-inch wheels, on tyres with deeper sidewalls, are a no-cost option: these will ride more comfortably).
Spend more for an XC60 Inscription and you get adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.
You also get a head-up display which shows speed, navigation, and cruise control information on the windscreen, and four zone climate control which allows rear seat passengers to set their own temperatures
The wheel diameter increases to 20 inches, while the tyres get significantly wider and lower in profile – mainly for a sportier look, but also adding grip on dry surfaces.
Pay marginally more again for an XC60 R-Design and you get a package adapted slightly for more spirited driving, including a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters and contoured leather seats, which provide progressively deeper bolsters each side of you, to help hold you in place around corners.
The wheel diameter increases to 21 inches.
The most expensive XC60, the T8 R-Design Hybrid also gets a panoramic sunroof and sound system enhancements including an air-ventilated subwoofer and CD player.
Most XC60 features can be ordered on any version, either at no cost or for an additional sum. For example, the contoured seats in the R-Design models can be included in the Momentum and Inscription models for around $800.
Other extra-cost options include a very expensive but brilliant sound system from Bowers & Wilkins, heated seats and plush Nappa leather upholstery.
A further option on all models is air-suspension, which replaces the standard steel springs with air cushions for a more comfortable ride.
You can choose from several interior colour combinations. There’s also an array of alloy wheel designs, and on R-Design you can order wheels of up to 22-inch diameter.
There are also option packages, which brings a group of extra features, including the Lifestyle Pack for all models but the T8 Hybrid, which adds heated front seats, panoramic sunroof and tinted rear glass for around $2500.
The Sport Pack (around $6500) for the Momentum and Inscription models adds heated front seats, tinted rear windows, sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, the Bowers & Wilkins audio system, 20-inch alloys wheels, contoured leather seats and charcoal interior trim.
Buyers of the Momentum and T6 R-Design models can add the Premium Pack, which costs around $75000) and adds heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, tinted rear glass, power folding headrests, power adjusted second-row seats, the Bowers and Wilkins audio system and air suspension.
The T8 Premium Pack (around $6500) adds the same features as the Premium Pack to the most expensive XC60 except for the panoramic sunroof, which is already included.
Does any upgrade have a down side?The R-Design’s 21-inch wheels use lower-profile tyres that not only will be more expensive to replace than those on the smaller wheels, but are not likely to last as long. As well, they bring a less comfortable ride (because there is less cushioning air between the wheel and the road).
The T8 R-Design Hybrid towing capacity is reduced from 2400kg to 2100kg.
Solid Black and Ice White are the only standard colours on Momentum and Inscription: all others cost extra. The R-Design also offers Passion Red as standard, and a greater number of extra-cost colours.
How comfortable is the XC60?The XC60 is very comfortable, with a quiet, roomy and uncluttered cabin. Front seats provide excellent support on long trips. The driver sits quite high, and controls are easy to reach and use.
Second-row seating is also excellent. The good glasshouse brings everyone a fine view of what’s passing by, leaving little chance you’ll feel hemmed in. The cabin is quiet, isolating you well from unwelcome external noises.
The optional premium audio system costs a lot, but provides a rich, all-encompassing musical experience that is almost unmatched in a car.
What about safety?Volvo’s are renowned for their safety, but the second-generation XC60 took this reputation a step further when the European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP) awarded it the highest crash rating in 2017.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) also gave the Volvo XC60 the maximum possible five-star safety rating in October 2017.
The XC60 has seven airbags: two in front of the driver and front passenger; side airbags to protect front occupants from side impacts; a driver’s knee airbag; and head-protecting curtain airbags down each side that protect even the third-row passengers.
Among the active safety aids on every XC60 are city-speed auto braking, a driver fatigue alert, and an alert that prods you if you are drifting out of your lane.
All XC60s feature Intellisafe Surround:, which brings Blind Spot Information (a light in the side mirrors warns you of vehicles alongside out of view), and Cross Traffic Alert (which alerts you, when reversing, to cars crossing behind).
Intellisafe Surround also gives you Rear Collision Warning when at a standstill. This looks for cars approaching too fast from the rear, and flashes the indicators should it find one. If it thinks you are about to be rear-ended, it tensions your seatbelts and applies the brakes, to reduce your potential for injury.
I like driving - will I enjoy the XC60?You will enjoy driving the XC60, which stands out for driving pleasure among other medium SUVs.
Apart from the raised driving position this doesn’t feel like you’re behind the wheel of an SUV. The steering is direct and the chassis feels well planted around bends, with minimal body roll.
You do feel every pothole with the standard steel suspension, but the ride on the optional adaptive air dampers is far more comfortable and composed. Unfortunately you can’t add the air suspension as an individual option as it only comes as part of the Premium Package.
The T8’s 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol hybrid is the star, with its punchy, responsive character and almost instant acceleration from a standing start.
The standard Turbo-petrol and diesel versions also feel very driveable and strong. The diesel is an excellent engine, but the petrol is more entertaining.
The all-wheel drive system on the XC60 helps it maintain drive on snowy or otherwise slippery sealed roads, on gravel roads and on smooth tracks. The car does not have the ground clearance, underbody protection or low range gearing it would need for rough off-roading. And if you were to get a flat tyre while off the beaten track, you would have to struggle home on the skinny space-saver spare.
How is life in the rear seats?The second row seats are just as good as those at the front, and they too slide and tilt. There is amble room for two adults and a smaller person in the middle.
The sloping roofline, and panoramic sunroof can make headroom a little tight for taller people, but they should have no issues with legroom.
Rear passengers on either side can set different climate control temperatures (an option in the cheapest XC60, the Momentum).
The centre seat backrest converts to a fold down armrest with storage trays and fold out cupholders, and the door bins provide ample space to for storing stuff.
How is it the XC60 for carrying stuff?The XC90 has a practical cargo area. Boot space is 505 litres, which is about average for a medium SUV. The wide and low opening helps with fitting bulky loads.
The 60:40 rear seats easily fold down flat to extend cargo space should you need to fit a bigger load.
A foot-triggered, hands-free opener for the powered tailgate is standard in all versions.
Legal towing capacity is 2400kg for the diesel and petrol models and 2100kg for the T8 Hybrid – which is good for road-oriented medium SUV. The XC60 could easily tow a jet-ski, a single horse float or weekend trailer, for example.
Where is the XC60 made?The Volvo XC60 is made in Sweden.
Are there any rivals I should consider?
The XC60 has a host of luxury rivals including the usual German and British suspects such as the Audi A5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche Macan and Range Rover Velar. This latest model of the XC60 no longer aspires to be like these cars, and actually sets new benchmarks.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?The petrol-fuelled T5 Inscription provides the most compelling mix of driving enjoyment, fuel efficiency and features for the price.
If money isn’t an issue, the T8 Hybrid with air suspension affords a wonderful mix of SUV practicality and sports car thrills. It’s easily one of the best performance orientated luxury SUVs on the market.
Are there plans to update the XC60 soon?The current XC60 was introduced in August 2017 as an all-new model. No updates are expected before 2020.
Things we like
- Stylish, practical
- Great to drive
Not so much
- Complicated infotainment system, patchy ride on standard suspension
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