Volvo XC60 Review
The Volvo XC60 is an upmarket family SUV with a lot of safety kit and coolly understated styling. It’s comfortable to drive, but alternatives have bigger boots.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Tastefully cool interior
- Comfortable to drive
- Packed with safety tech
What's not so good
- Manual gearbox
- Slightly dull to drive
- Boot could be bigger
Volvo XC60: what would you like to read next?
Family SUVs have to fulfil a lot of roles; you’ll probably want to use them on the school run, on long-distance trips with the family and maybe the daily commute. And if you want to do this while relaxing in style, the Volvo XC60 should be high on your shopping list. Especially since it also comes with safety tech that’s a step ahead of most alternatives.
Unlike the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC – other models that might well be on your shopping list if you’re after a posh family SUV – and their fairly predictable design, the XC60 cuts a real dash, with Thor’s hammer-style headlights, swept-back windshield and distinctive rear lights.
Inside, you’ll find a comfortable, stylish and understated interior. There aren’t a lot of buttons to get used to – the ones there are you’ll find grouped around a central touchscreen, which controls most of the car’s systems.
Unlike the Mercedes GLC’s often tricky-to-understand infotainment menus, it’s pretty simple to use the Volvo XC60 infotainment system. However, it is a touchscreen, so using it on the move is more difficult than in a BMW X3, for example, which has a physical rotary dial.
Getting comfortable in the driving seat, meanwhile, is a simple affair. More expensive versions get exceedingly comfortable memory electric seats, so you only have to set it up once. It’s good in the back seats as well – there’s enough space for three adults with decent amounts of shoulder room.
An interior that looks and feels great plus a range of efficient engines make the XC60 a tempting package.
The boot will take enough luggage for the whole family, or swallow a bike with the seats down no problem. 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 all engines are powerful enough and pretty economical. Your best bet is either the D4 diesel or the T3 petrol – go for the petrol if you spend most of your time driving around town. The diesel is better suited for longer journeys and can reward you with some impressive fuel economy considering the size of the car.
No matter the engine, driving the XC60 is relaxing above all else, so it won’t be as entertaining down a twisty road as some sportier alternatives. However, the XC60’s is simply so cosseting that you tend to feel less tired at the end of your journey. Wind noise is also very low at motorway speeds and the XC60 glides over most bumps on the road.
It’s good news when it comes to equipment, too – all XC60 models get an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard. You also get a plethora of safety systems and while some, such as the emergency auto braking, are pretty well known, 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.
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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 quite as intuitive to use as in these cars.
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
Your back will thank you for the four-way adjustable lumbar support – especially on long journeys
The Volvo XC60’s seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive in the business. The ones 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 bundles of headroom – 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 a distinct 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 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 gearlever with a pair of concealed cupholders. A rather shallow slot ahead of the gearlever 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. Ther rear door bins are pretty spacious, too – if not quite as roomy as those in the front.
The Volvo XC60 can carry 505 litres of luggage with the rear seats and parcel shelf in place – that’s a fair bit less than the 550-litre boots in the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC.
The XC60’s rear seats fold in a 60:40 split as standard if you need more space. There’s no option to upgrade to a 40:20:40 split but 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.
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 comfortable companion; it runs the Audi Q5 close in terms of outright comfort. Larger alloy wheels don’t help its ride, however
Pick the optional £2,000 air suspension and the XC60 drives as smoothly as its slick looks would suggest
You can get the Volvo XC60 with a range of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines – two diesel, one petrol and a petrol-electric hybrid.
The best all-rounder is the entry-level D4 diesel with 190hp. It’s powerful enough to cruise happily at motorway speeds but it does grumble slightly if you accelerate hard. Volvo claims it’ll return 54.3mpg but, in the real world, you’ll probably achieve a figure in the low forties.
Pick a more powerful 235hp D5 model if you plan to tow a trailer. It costs around £5,000 more than a D4 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 254hp T5 petrol is smoother around town than both diesels and feels faster if you accelerate hard but it’s noticeably thirstier at motorway speeds. Volvo claims it’ll return 38.7mpg but you’ll be lucky to see a figure in the low thirties.
The sportier end of the Volvo XC60 range is covered by the hybrid T8. It’ll set you back around £20,000 more than an entry-level D4 but the 407hp produced by its 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor means it can rocket from 0-62mph in just 4.9 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 134.5mpg economy figure will be nearly impossible, even with a light right foot. What’s more achievable, however, is its 28-mile electric range – if you live just a short distance from work you can commute using electric power alone. 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’s standard-fit automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly and takes a bit of stress out of town driving, too, but is sluggish when you want to accelerate suddenly. There’s also the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, but it’s only available in the entry-level diesel and it isn’t the nicest to use – the automatic gearbox better suits the XC60’s relaxed manner.
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 a 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 fit it with adaptive air suspension to help smooth out bigger bumps and potholes. 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 – making it an essential option if you want maximum comfort.
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. All models come with four-wheel drive as standard – so they 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 airbags as standard and features a number of advanced active safety features that’ll guide you around obstacles and brake for you to help avoid a collision.
All that helped the Volvo XC60 achieve a full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. In fact, it’s one of the safest cars Euro NCAP has ever tested.