When you’re looking to buy a spacious SUV it’s all too easy to imagine yourself flipping the rear seats down and going absolutely nuts in IKEA – after all, you’re paying good money for that luggage space, so it’d be a shame not to use it, right? But some cars make the actual act of using the maximum load capacity easier than others.
Our long-term Volvo XC60 is a bit of a mixed bag in this respect. It’s been used as a real workhorse in our last few weeks with the car, helping managing editor Tim move house, repeatedly trekking between Wimbledon and Dorking packed full of boxes of seriously weighty household tat.
You get loads of space for stuff in with the rear seats down, and they flip down in quite a clever way – there are two buttons next to each of the outer-rear headrests: one button just flips the headrest down for better rearward visibility, the other folds the seatback down. With all the seats folded flat you’re left with a smooth floor free of snagging bumps. There’s not even the usual lip you get where the boot floor meets the opening.
This, coupled with impressively friction-free carpet (we’re sad enough to notice such things), means sliding heavy cardboard boxes right up to the backs of the front seats is really easy. The downside of that smooth carpet is that your stuff does slide about at the merest hint of a corner.
Where the XC60 falls down further is with its keyless boot opening. Unlike the far-cheaper Skoda Karoq’s optional keyless entry system, the XC60 won’t let you just press the button above the rear number plate to open the boot when you have the key in your pocket – you have to fish the leather-clad key out of your pocket and hold the boot-opening button. It’s a small annoyance, but quite a significant one if you’re loading heavy objects single-handed, because you have to put your box down rather than prod the boot release with a spare finger.
The same goes for the doors – you can’t just walk up to the car and nonchalantly grab the door handle to hop in. We get it Volvo, your leather key is very attractive (at least until grubby hand marks turn the white leather a murky shade of dolphin as happened with ours), but we’d rather not use it quite so often. Keyless should mean just that!
Luckily the XC60’s excellent massage seats make for a genuinely pleasant reprieve from the backache that comes with redecorating and a new house. Tim’s other half – who usually couldn’t care less whether she’s in a Ferrari or a Fiat – has pronounced them as the best car seats ever. They’re certainly not short of features – as well as the aforementioned massage with its variable strength and kneading programmes, they’re heated and cooled. The rebels among you can even have them heated and cooled at the same time.
But key niggles aside, the XC60 is a still proving it’s a practical beast as well as a real feel-good car. We’ll be sad when the person from Volvo takes it away in the next few weeks.
Volvo XC60 long term test (updated November 2017)
When you spend more than £55,000 on a new SUV you would expect it to be free of problems however minor, but sadly that hasn’t been the case for our Volvo XC60.
You see, just a few days after we got the car the piece a trim around the back side window started to show minor signs of corrosion. You would have to examine the car closely to spot it, but as we’re massive fans of the XC60’s handsome looks, we tended to stare at it rather a lot.
A visit to the boffins at Volvo was in order then, where a new piece of trim was ready and waiting and – after a bit of footering around – it was fitted, returning our XC60 to its glamorous former self.
Unfortunately, the carwow team had to take a little responsibility for the second issue – we’d managed to drop a SIM card for the car’s connected services between the carpet and the bulkhead at the front of the car.
In our defence, the awkward SIM carrier and the connection’s location in the passenger footwell didn’t make slotting it into place easy. Although news that we were the first people to encounter the problem didn’t exactly save our blushes.
The sim card duly dropped down a black hole behind the car’s carpet and a quick call to Volvo PR confirmed that “getting it back was not going to be easy”. Well, not for us anyway, but it took a Volvo engineer a matter of minutes and, voila, we have in-car internet again.
The third and final issue turned out to be one of those hard to prove faults that can make a visit to the dealer such a joy.
You see, we were sure our top-of-the-range model didn’t have the option to fold its wing mirrors out of harm’s way when we parked the car. Not so, said Volvo, it was something our car should definitely do and a software update saw the miraculous appearance of the option to do just that in the car’s infotainment system.
Had we missed it before or had the software update – computer-game style – unlocked a previously unseen function in the car? Well, we’ll probably never know… What we do know though is that we still love the Volvo’s ability to make every long journey an absolute joy.
But do you need a top-of-the-range model to get the full effect of its powers? We’ll report back soon when we swap our fancy D5 for a more modest (and quite a lot cheaper) D4 version.
Volvo XC60 long term test (updated October 2017)
Another month, another quick opportunity to prise the keys of carwow’s Volvo XC60 from Mat Watson’s grasp for a trip up to Scotland. As in our previous report, Volvo’s Pilot Assist once again proved to be a brilliant piece of kit for long, boring motorway drives. It also helps, though, that the XC60 is supremely comfortable.
Soft suspension and some of the most supportive seats in the business – which in the case of our long-termer, heat, cool and massage the driver – means that your spine feels as fresh after a long session behind the wheel as it would if you’d spent the day in bed instead.
The flip side to this is that most of its rivals are more fun to drive. A quick detour through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park reveals the XC60 feels somewhat boat-like along a twisty road. An Alfa Romeo Stelvio or a Jaguar F-Pace are sportier, but let’s be honest, how much time will actually be spent attacking a B-road at ten-tenths in a big SUV?
What you might miss, however, is the lack of a six-cylinder engine. While the 235hp version of Volvo’s turbo diesel in our car has more than enough power, it just can’t compare to the smoothness of the 3.0-litre V6 diesels available in the Audi Q5 or the Jaguar. A shame, really, because the Volvo’s so refined in every other way.
One or two random faults with the XC60 will likely frustrate owners on a day-to-day basis too. That pretty infotainment system seems determined not to pair with a previously connected Bluetooth device without plenty of faffing. More often than not, you’ll probably just give up trying to listen to your own music and turn on the radio instead.
The portrait layout of the screen has its problems too. The likes of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay run in landscape, so they’re only able to occupy a small area at the bottom of the lovely big screen making it really fiddly to use on the move.
And that’s if it works at all. On a couple of occasions, the screen went blank when Android Auto initialised. Very frustrating, and a fault which only happened occasionally, so it was difficult to diagnose.
Minor issues aside, the XC60 continues to be a popular choice among the carwow staff, and there’s very few cars at the price which feel as relaxing to drive.
Volvo XC60 long term test (updated September 2017)
Since you helped us choose our new Volvo XC60 it has been serving as a rather swish crew car for the carwow video team.
As is the way with these things, you ‘choosing’ the XC60 didn’t quite work out as we planned – you asked for a blue R-Design D5; Volvo offered us an Inscription Pro D5 in Osmium Grey – but hey, as it’s the top-of-the-range model we simply couldn’t say no.
And neither can the video team apparently, because prising the keys from their grasp hasn’t proven easy. But with an 1,000-mile round trip to Scotland ahead of our reviews editor Russell Campbell, he felt duty bound to take a car that was perfect for the job.
Perfect would pretty much sum up the XC60. Being a top-of-the-range model with a few choice extras, our Inscription Pro comes with all the goodies you could ever hope for: there are massaging ventilated seats that can be heated and cooled, adaptive suspension that smooths out rough roads like they’re not there and all-round cameras that provide a bird’s eye view of the car.
The latter were extremely handy as we cut our way through London’s bustling streets en route to the motorway, but it was Volvo’s Pilot Assist autonomous driving technology that we were keenest to try out. It can match the speed of the car in front and accelerate when the way is clear, pretty much like active cruise control then, but with one key difference – it also steers.
It’s a great system that’s at its best on the motorway, although it should work almost anywhere (it’s not keen on tight bends mind you) so long as the road has a centre line. You just keep your hands on the wheel as you feel it gently tugging around corners.
Find yourself behind slower-moving traffic at a cruise and the XC60 drops back, maintaining a safe distance behind you and the car in front. Until you indicate to overtake that is, when it steers you gently out of lane and returns to your preset cruising speed.
It performed brilliantly to Scotland and back, easing the concentration needed on long journeys and helping us feel less fatigued as a result. Tech like this could well spell the end of driving as we know it, but for now it’s just a great way to take the edge of monotonous journeys.
If our first long journey is anything to go by then, the next fews months with the XC60 are going to be very relaxing indeed. We’ll be reporting back soon.
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