Volvo XC60 (2013-2017) review
The Volvo XC60 is one of the safest SUVs on sale because all models come with automatic emergency braking. The XC60’s smart Swedish design gives it a premium feel helping it take on models such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
What's not so good
Volvo XC60 (2013-2017): what would you like to read next?
It’s one of the larger midsize SUVs so its capacious boot will easily take a pushchair or several flat-pack boxes. The cabin is sensible with a simply laid-out dashboard and lots of space for passengers, while the seats are some of the most comfortable we have ever experienced.
The XC60 is best paired with diesel engines. These range from the D4 with 190hp to the D5 with 220hp. Less popular is the 2.0-litre petrol that replaces the thirsty old 2.5-litre model. All XC60s are available with four-wheel drive, but unless you need the extra grip we’d suggest opting for a two-wheel-drive model to maximise fuel economy.
As a motorway cruiser, the XC60 is hard to fault – limited cabin noise and excellent ride comfort make it a great companion for long journeys. Things aren’t so good when you’re hurrying down a B-road – the less-than-direct steering makes it difficult to place the SUV confidently on the road, which is why the BMW X3 remains the driver’s choice.
All XC60 models are decently equipped with gadgets such as cruise control, parking sensors, climate control, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity for calls or music streaming and a powered bootlid.
It's not the most interesting thing on four wheels, but the XC60 is still an excellent family car
Overall, the Volvo XC60 is a good family car and well worth a look. It’s well built, usefully practical, and leads the class for safety – no wonder it’s Volvo’s most popular model with 500,000 units sold since the car was launched in 2009. However, some rivals such as the BMW X3 have a better compromise between ride and handling while the Land Rover Discovery Sport makes the Volvo look a little outdated despite its recent facelift.
Despite the raised ride height and optional four-wheel drive, the XC60 isn’t a true off-roader, but should be more than capable of tackling slippery roads. Rivals such as the Discovery Sport have selectable driving modes that make them better suited to challenging off-roading.
The D4 is cheap to run yet also delivers a hefty shove when you need it
The engine lineup was revamped in early 2015 and the new four-cylinder diesel is a vast improvement in terms of refinement and efficiency compared to the outgoing five-cylinder versions.
We tested the D4 AWD model in 2015 and were impressed by the punch from the engine when overtaking and getting up to speed on motorway slip roads – although the eight-speed automatic gearbox can be a bit jerky on upshifts when accelerating hard. We averaged 40mpg on long motorway journeys – not miles off the official figure of 54.1mpg.
Producing 190hp, the D4 matches the old 2.4-litre in power, but has much better running costs – averaging more than 60mpg and costing just £30 per year to tax.
The 220hp five-cylinder D5 has plenty of power, yet performance and combined fuel economy are near identical to the D4’s, so its increased asking price is hard to justify. However, if you plan on towing with your XC60, the D5’s increased pulling power will come in handy. A 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds seems decent, but a BMW X3 20d with just 190hp has the same acceleration time. Specifying four-wheel drive reduces fuel economy by about 10mpg across the range.
With those punchy and frugal diesels there is little sense in getting the petrol-powered XC60 T5. If you despise diesel engines, then it’s a lively unit that provides swift progress and is very similar to the one in the Ford Focus ST hot hatch. The T5 has the quickest 0-62mph time in the range at 7.2 seconds, but also the worst fuel consumption figure at 33mpg and the most expensive annual road tax at £270.
The XC60 is far better suited to life on road – it drives nicely, has a smooth ride and is quiet at high speeds, making it a superb motorway cruiser. The suspension deals with most bumps, but does occasionally thump over expansion joints and potholes on the road.
Visibility is reasonable and the handy £500 blind spot warning system illuminates orange lights next to the door mirrors to warn of approaching vehicles that are hidden from sight.
As an alternative to its German rivals, the XC60 brings a different philosophy to the interior design.