2018 Volvo XC60 Review
Stuart Martin’s 2018 Volvo XC60 Review with prices, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: There’s a lot riding on the new Volvo XC60… it’s the brand’s best-selling model around the world, luckily the new one is comfortable, practical, safe and capable.
2018 Volvo XC60 T6 and D5
PRICE Momentum – D4 $59,990, T5 $62,990; Inscription – D4 $66,990, T5 $69,990; R-Design – D5 $73,990, T6 $76,990, T8 Twin Engine Plug-in Hybrid $92,990 WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km ENGINE turbocharged 2.0l petrol or diesel POWER petrol – 187kW (T5), 235kW (T6), 300kW (T8); diesel 140kW (D4), 173kW (D5) TORQUE petrol – 350Nm (T5), 400Nm (T6) 640Nm (T8); diesel – 400Nm (D4), 480Nm (D5) TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto DRIVE all-wheel drive DIMENSIONS 4688mm (L), 1999mm (W EXC MIRRORS), 2117mm (W INC MIRRORS), 1658mm (H) 2865mm (Wb) GROUND CLEARANCE 216mm TURNING CIRCLE 11.4m TOWING WEIGHT 2400kg KERB WEIGHT from 1926-2174kg SEATS 5 SPARE Optional THIRST 7.3 (T5), 7.7 (T6), 2.1 (T8), 5.2 (D4), 5.5 (D5) L/100km combined cycle FUEL PULP (T), diesel (D), tank 60-71 litres (depending on model)
WHEN YOU’RE UPDATING the biggest seller in your range, getting it right is anything but optional. The new Volvo XC60 now shares much with its larger XC90 sibling – drivetrain key among the similarities – but has retained the styling edge over the larger wagon.
It’s a look that clearly appeals – they’ve sold over a million of them since 2008 and it’s the top-seller of the Swedish brand’s line-up, accounting for almost a third of sales.
What is the Volvo XC60?
The new moniker for the entry-level model is Momentum, which starts in D4 guise from $59,990 – up from the old Kinetic model’s $56,990; the base model is also on offer in T5 form for $62,990.
Among the standard fare on the base model are LED active head and tail lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, the 12.3-inch “driver display” adjustable instrument panel and the 9-inch centre stack satnav-equipped touchscreen, a ten-speaker digital-radio equipped Harman Kardon sound system, dual zone climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The standard features list also includes power-adjustable front seats. power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, parking assistance and a powered tailgate with hands-free operation.
The new mid-spec model of the XC60 range wears the Inscription badge and starts from $66,990 for the D4 while the T5 is priced from $69,990 – it can be distinguished by its chrome grille and lower-door trim additions, as well as sitting on 20-inch alloy wheels, wood-trim inlays in the dash and quad-zone climate control among the extra equipment on the mid-spec model.
The sports-oriented flagship of the XC60 range is the R-Design, which remains a three-engine line-up, starting with the D5 from $73,990 (up from the outgoing car’s $67,990).
The T5 has been dropped from the sports range, with the T6 asking $76,990 (up from $74,702 for the superseded model) leaving the new T8 plug-in petrol-electric hybrid top the list with a starting price of $92,990.
The R-Design (pictured below) gets a model-specific sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles, a Sport chassis set-up with four modes (Comfort, Dynamic, Eco, Off-road and Individual), a gloss-black grille, lower front spoiler, more prominent dual exhaust pipes and matt-black R-Design 21-inch alloy wheels.
The cabin has a more brooding colour scheme, dominated by a charcoal roof liner, with R-Design Contour power-adjustable seats trimmed in Nappa leather.
The entry-level D4 is powered by an aluminium turbodiesel four-cylinder engine produces 140kW at 4250rpm and 400Nm of torque between 1750 and 2500rpm.
The D5 model uses the same power plant but endowed with two turbos and what Volvo calls PowerPulse technology – to combat turbo lag a jet of compressed air is substituted for exhaust gases when none are being produced to improve the turbo’s response to driver demands at take-off and low speeds. The resulting outputs are 173kW at 4000rpm and 480Nm between 1750 and 2250rpm.
The entry-level petrol-powered T5 model is powered by an aluminium two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, the foundation of the forced-induction petrol range – in this guise it produces 187kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm of torque between 1500 and 4800rpm.
Stepping up to the T6 brings with it a supercharger to team with the turbo, upping the power output to 235kW and elevating torque to 400Nm between 2200 and 5400rpm.
The T8 twin-engine plug-in petrol-electric hybrid uses the same petrol engine, with assistance provided from an 65kW/240Nm electric motor and battery system providing drive to the rear axle. Volvo claims it’s a combined output of 300kW and 640Nm, enough to reach 100km/h in 5.3 seconds.
What’s the interior like?
The change to the modular platform for the popular XC60 has liberated more space for the designer-look cabin, which is full of soft-touch leather, metallic finishes and soft-touch plastics all combining to deliver an elegantly-simple interior.
Clean horizontal lines across the dashboard deliver a simple fascia that feels a little less over-done than that of the XC90 – the seven-seater’s dash and centre stack is not as easy to use quickly at first glance.
Entering the cabin is an easier effort and one less likely to result in clothing getting a road grime speed stripe on the back of your leg. The doors have an ‘under-wrap’ curve at the bottom, which keeps the door sills thinner and cleaner – anyone who grew up in old Range Rovers knows how difficult it was to keep clean getting in and out of the back doors.
Once in, the seats are remarkably comfortable, even in the base model, despite not looking broad or cushioned enough at first glance. The overall length has grown by 40mm overall but the wheelbase has increased by 91mm and much of that benefits the rear passengers. While not as cavernous as the XC90, the five-seater delivers more than enough interior space for this 191cm driver to sit behind his own driving position, with knees and head not touching the seat back or the roof lining.
Vents on the B-pillar and within the centre console keep the rear passengers temperature controlled, with an optional four-zone system – but standard fare includes the clever filtered set-up that even exchanges the air in the cabin for fresh air when you unlock the car, another Volvo special.
Absent for now is another staple of Volvo’s rear seat set-up – the integrated child booster seat – which according to Volvo staffers will re-appear in the XC60 in future model updates but has fallen victim to a busy development schedule at the Swedish carmaker.
The vertically-positioned centre touchscreen controls the bulk of the car’s systems and once used to the tablet-style operation is easy enough to use. Some of the functions are still buried a little too deep for use when underway – this is still a set and forget system if driving solo until well familiar with the pathways. Full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also offered, within the brand’s Sensus system, but the best part of the large screen is its display of the cameras and sensors.
Cargo space is claimed at 505 litres with some underfloor storage, but that (as well as the floor angle) changes depending on the fitment of a spare tyre and the optional air suspension, which erodes the underfloor space with canisters.
What’s it like to drive?
The new XC60 was sampled in D4 guise first and it immediately impressed with its smooth ride and quiet cabin, so much so that it could easily be mistaken for something other than a diesel. The D4 power plant remained quiet and civilised and delivered useful amounts of force, once the slight delay in turbo response had been overcome. Sadly it was the only diesel we could sample on the launch as there was no D5 available on the launch drive, so gauging the effectiveness of the PowerPulse system in overcoming the turbo response will have to wait for a roadtest – stay tuned.
Given the D4’s outputs of 140kW and 400Nm are being asked to shift around two tonnes, the performance isn’t startling – brisk and easily able to keep pace with the traffic, certainly, but consider a 1708kg Mazda CX-5 (at least 200kg lighter than the Volvo) has 129kW and 420Nm.
The double wishbone coil-sprung front and integral axle transverse composite leaf sprung rear suspension dealt easily with most of the metropolitan work thrown at it, comfortably dismissing the normal ruts and bumps.
Once away from the suburbs and onto the twister roads, the Volvo remained composed and wasn’t prone to excessive roll at brisk speeds, with the lifeless steering the only real drawback. Given its primary role as a family wagon this is no criticism, as there are others in this segment who sacrifice ride and driveability for cornering prowess when it’s not always required.
Push the Volvo hard enough and it will shove its nose wide in a bend, but the road manners at more civilised speeds are composed. Inclement weather with strong cross winds failed to put the XC60 dramatically off-line as it sat solid on the wet rough country roads. Some larger undulations tested its body control as well and while it relayed the sensations it didn’t become too unruly.
Stepping into the petrol-powered T5 ups the peak power but the reduction in torque down low is felt in terms of getting the hefty wagon underway. The turbo four is willing to rev but press-ahead driving of that ilk will push the fuel economy numbers into double digits.
Adding the supercharger to the engine bay for the T6 does wonders for the torque curve and adds a level of flexibility to the drivetrain – 235kW and 400Nm are worthwhile outputs – but as is the case with the other engines could benefit from a reduction in kerb weight.
The eight-speed Aisin automatic transmission is generally well behaved but sometimes feels a little mismatched to the power delivery characteristics of both engines.
What safety features does it get?
Synonymous with safety, Volvo has given the XC60 a host of cutting-edge active safety features commensurate with the brand’s long-held reputation as an innovator in this area.
Standard fare includes front, front-side and full length curtain airbags, seatbelt use warnings for all seats, rain sensing wipers, child lock system for doors and windows, hill start and descent control, auto-locking doors,
The automatic emergency City Safety braking systems already part of the brand’s safety arsenal have been augmented with the addition of steering support (between 50 and 100km/h), which is used by the car’s active safety systems to detect potential head-on collisions and help the driver quickly return the car to the correct side of the road, even braking the inside wheels to increase the effectiveness of the turn.
The lane departure and blind spot warning systems are also now active in using the same functionality to prevent lane-change crashes by steering the vehicle gently back into its lane as well as vibrating to alert the driver. It’s relatively subtle in its application and less aggressive than some of the other systems on the market, not waiting until it needs to be sharp in its interference; these systems can all be turned off within the centre display but most won’t bother given the relatively subtle nature of the intrusion.
The standard safety fare also includes active LED headlights, as well as active cruise control and rear cross traffic alert also among the features on offer in the XC60.
The world of autonomous cars gets ever closer with the inclusion of what Volvo calls Pilot Assist – the semi-autonomous driver assistance system that works with the adaptive cruise control to help the driver stay in the lane on well-marked roads (up to 130 km/h, according Volvo) – it’s on the new XC60 range Inscription and R-Design models.
So, what do we think?
Pricing for the entry-level model puts it in the ballpark against the likes of Audi’s Q5, and BMW’s X3 and X4. No doubt Jaguar’s F-Pace, the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the new Range Rover Velar are also in Volvo’s sphere of opposition within a crowded market place. This is a family SUV that feels comfortable and capable and doesn’t try to be a corner-carving super-wagon.