Volvo XC60 review
The Volvo XC60 is an upmarket family SUV with a lot of safety kit and understated styling. It’s not the most comfortable SUV, though, and alternatives have bigger boots
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Modern SUVs such as the Volvo XC60 are a bit like an automotive Leatherman; they need to adapt to everything. Business trip, a school run, a shopping jaunt to the centre of town. Tick. Want to feel relaxed and just a little bit cool? Tick. Taking stuff to the tip? Tick. Probably best to head for your nearest Volvo showroom then, especially since the XC60 also comes with safety tech that’s a step ahead of most alternatives.
Unlike the predictable-looking Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC, the XC60 cuts a real dash with its Thor’s hammer-style headlights (yes, that’s really what Volvo calls them), a swept-back windscreen and distinctive hook-shaped rear lights.
Inside, you’ll find a comfortable, stylish and understated interior. It’s all very minimalist – a bit like Swedish furniture – so there aren’t any unsightly buttons cluttering up the place. Instead, you control most of the XC60’s features through its central touchscreen.
Unfortunately, while this display might look like something you’d use to order a G&T in a swanky cocktail bar, it isn’t quite as easy to use as the BMW X3’s more intuitive system with its old-fashioned rotary dial.
Getting comfortable in the driving seat, meanwhile, is a simple affair. More expensive versions of the XC60 get exceedingly comfortable memory electric seats, so you only have to set it up once. Things are very comfy in the back seats as well – there’s enough space for three adults to sit side-by-side with a decent amount of shoulder room to go round.
An interior that looks and feels great plus a range of efficient engines make the XC60 a tempting package.
The boot’s pretty roomy, too, with enough space for a family’s luggage or a large bike if you flip the back seats down. However, if you’re after outright capacity, the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC can both hold more than the XC60.
Picking an engine for your XC60 is fairly simple because most of them are powerful enough and pretty economical. Your best bet is either the B4 diesel or the T5 petrol. Go for the petrol if you spend most of your time driving around town or the diesel if you do lots of long journeys where you’ll benefit from its improved fuel economy. There’s also a Volvo XC60 Plug-in hybrid, which could be a good company car. We’ve reviewed the PHEV version separately,
No matter the engine, driving the XC60 is relaxing above all else. Sure, it isn’t as entertaining down a twisty road as some sportier alternatives and it’s a little bumpy in town (especially with larger alloy wheels fitted) but, at motorway speed, the XC60’s is simply so cosseting that you tend to feel less tired at the end of your journey. It’s even better with optional air suspension fitted.
It’s good news when it comes to equipment, too – all XC60s get an automatic gearbox as standard and there’s a choice of two or four-wheel depending on the model. You also get a plethora of safety systems and while some, such as the emergency auto braking, are pretty common these days, others (such as seat bases specifically designed to take a vertical impact should you veer off the road) show how much Volvo thinks about safety.
The Volvo XC60’s superbly comfy seats help make light work of long journeys but with the back seats folded its boot is smaller than in most similar-size German SUVs.
The Volvo XC60’s seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive in the business. Those in the front come with heating and four-way lumbar support as standard – to help prevent backache on long journeys – and there’s more than enough adjustment to get comfortable if you’re over six-foot tall.
Regularly lend your car to someone else? You might want to consider the optional memory function for the driver’s seat (standard on all Pro models). It’ll automatically return the seat and door mirrors to your preferred positions at the press of a button.
The back seats are nearly as comfortable as those in the front and there’s loads of headroom to go round – even with the optional panoramic glass sunroof fitted. Rear knee room is just as generous and the XC60’s light-coloured interior and large side windows make it feel impressively airy in the back.
The wide cabin means there’s slightly more shoulder room than you’ll find in an Audi Q5 or Mercedes GLC but the rather tall lump in the rear floor limits foot space if you carry three abreast. The central rear perch is harder and higher than the outer two seats, too, but has enough cushioning to make it fairly comfortable – even on long journeys.
The Volvo XC60 isn’t offered with sliding and reclining rear seats or a third row in the boot like a Land Rover Discovery Sport, but its rear door openings and clearly marked Isofix mounts make it easy to slide in a child seat. That said, there aren’t any anchor points on the central rear seat or the front passenger seat.
Volvo has managed to sneak in a few handy cubby holes in places you might not expect. There’s a small pigeonhole under the rear seats that’s big enough for a large purse or a small bag, and the central storage bin under the front armrest is large enough to store numerous valuables safely out of sight.
The front door bins in the Volvo XC60 are large enough to hold two one-litre bottles each and there’s a handy tray beside the gear lever with a pair of concealed cupholders. The rather shallow slot ahead of the gear lever is big enough to hold a large smartphone but not deep enough to stop it sliding out if you take a roundabout a little too quickly.
Flip down the rear armrest and there’s a handy storage tray and two fold-out cupholders. The rear door bins are pretty spacious, too – if not quite as roomy as those in the front.
The Volvo XC60 has 483 litres of boot space – that’s a fair bit less than the 550-litre boots in the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC.
If you need more space, the XC60’s rear seats fold in a 60:40 split as standard but there’s no option to upgrade to a three-way 40:20:40 split. All models do come with a handy ski hatch behind the rear armrest that’ll let you carry long items and two rear passengers at the same time, however.
Volvo offers a Convenience pack that comes with a set of buttons in the boot that’ll automatically fold down the rear seats for you. This package also adds a handy 12V socket in the boot, a cargo net to stop things rolling around in the back and a 230V three-pin socket in the centre console.
The Volvo XC60’s boot grows to 1,432 litres with the rear seats folded flat – again that’s less than the Q5 and GLC. The Volvo’s boot floor is, however, completely flat and there’s no annoying boot lip to lift heavy luggage over – as a result, sliding bulky items on board is a breeze.
There’s even a handy plastic sheet that folds out from under the boot carpet to help protect the rear bumper from scratches and scrapes as you lug stuff into the boot. A powered bootlid is standard on all models, and if you go for the optional adaptive air suspension you’ll get a button in the boot that’ll lower the rear suspension by 20mm to help you load heavy boxes.
The Volvo XC60’s a relaxing cruiser on the motorway and a generally cushy companion; it runs the Audi Q5 close. Larger alloy wheels don’t help comfort, however
You can get the Volvo XC60 with a range of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines – two diesels, three petrols and a petrol-electric hybrid. Every version gets an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while two and four-wheel-drive are available depending on which model you buy.
The B4 diesel hybrid with 197hp is a good all-rounder. It’s powerful enough to cruise happily at motorway speeds but it does grumble slightly if you accelerate hard. Volvo claims it’ll return 46.2mpg, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting close to this figure in normal driving conditions thanks to its fuel-saving 48v mild-hybrid system. This stores energy when braking or decelerating in a second battery that it uses to assist the engine when you accelerate hard.
The more powerful 235hp B5 model is worth considering if you plan to tow a trailer. It costs more than the B4 but it’ll make light work of pulling a caravan and will return near-identical fuel economy. It’s not quite as quiet as the Audi Q5’s hushed 2.0-litre diesel engine, however.
The 250hp petrol is smoother around town than the diesel model and feels faster if you accelerate hard, but it’s noticeably thirstier at motorway speeds. Volvo claims it’ll return 38mpg in two-wheel-drive form, but you’ll need to drive it like a saint to match that figure. There’s also a 340hp T6 Plug-in hybrid, which does a claimed 113mpg, but you’ll need to make sure you charge it at every opportunity to get remotely close to that.
The sportier end of the Volvo XC60 range is covered by the plug-in hybrid T8. It’ll set you back quite a bit of cash, but the 390hp produced by its 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor means it can rocket from 0-62mph in just 5.2 seconds. That’s serious sports car territory in a comfortable and stylish SUV.
For even more go (and more cash) there’s a Polestar Engineered version of the XC60. This uses the same engine configuration as the T8 plug-in hybrid but gets beefier looks and tweaks to make it feel more agile on twisty roads.
Matching the T8’s claimed 85.6mpg economy figure will be nearly impossible, even with a light right foot. What’s more achievable, however, is its 33-mile electric range – if you live just a short distance from work you can commute using electric power alone, that is. This model is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, too, making it an attractive proposition if you regularly commute into the capital.
The Volvo XC60 doesn’t have quite the same raised driving position as the larger XC90 but it’s 30cm shorter and slightly easier to drive around town. The fairly slim door pillars don’t produce large blind spots at junctions and the large side windows make it easy to glance over your shoulder to check for overtaking traffic on the motorway.
A 360-degree camera is available as an option that’ll help make navigating through tight city streets a little less stressful while the park assist feature – which can steer you into parallel and bay parking spaces – is worth having if you do lots of city driving.
Speaking of which, the Volvo XC60 isn’t quite as comfortable as the Audi Q5 or Mercedes GLC over potholed roads – especially with the larger 21-inch wheels fitted – but you can pay extra to get adaptive air suspension to help smooth out bigger bumps. This feature will set you back quite a bit on all but R Design Pro and Inscription Pro models (where it’s fitted as standard) but it makes the XC60 very nearly as relaxing to drive as the silky smooth Q5.
The upgraded suspension comes with the option to raise the XC60’s ride height by 40mm if you decide to head off the beaten track. Every engine can be specified with four-wheel drive – so the XC60 won’t be flummoxed by slippy roads. A Land Rover Discovery Sport will leave the stylish Volvo for dead on any particularly challenging terrain, however.
Keep your activities on the road, however, and the XC60’s nicer to drive than the softly sprung Discovery Sport. It doesn’t lean excessively in tight corners and has plenty of grip. Top-spec T8 models are even fast enough to put a wholly un-Swedish smile on your face. Even so, and Audi Q5 ultimately feels more agile again.
The Volvo XC60 can even drive itself on motorways for brief periods when fitted with the optional Pilot Assist – providing you keep your hands resting on the wheel – and can automatically adjust its speed to match other vehicles. It also comes with a vast array of advanced active safety features that’ll guide you around obstacles and brake for you to help avoid a collision.
The Volvo XC60’s interior looks far more stylish than anything you’ll find in a BMW or Mercedes and feels almost as well-built as the Audi Q5. It’s just a shame that its infotainment system isn’t particularly easy to use.
Volvo XC60 colours
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