Volvo XC60 Review
In a car park full of conservative German SUVs, the Swedish Volvo XC60 does things a little differently.
This is a first-class family car. It isn't pretending to be a sports car in an SUV's disguise, nor is it some barely civilised mud-bashing off roader. So, if you just need to get from A to B without fuss, the XC60 might be the perfect choice.
- Excellent passenger space
- Generous equipment list
- Comfortable ride quality
- Not especially fun to drive
- Dated interior design
- Some cheaper cabin materials
Should I buy a Volvo XC60?
If you're after a large, premium family SUV, you actually have quite a few choices. That means the Volvo XC60 needs to work especially hard to stand out from the crowd that includes the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC.
The good news is that Volvo's entrant makes a very strong showing for itself. Inside, the XC60 is spacious and luxurious, with enough tech to keep you busy but not so much that it's distracting.
And, on the road, the XC60 is easy and fuss-free to drive, with decent performance and a well-judged ride. That said, it doesn't work as hard as the BMW X3 to put the 'sport' in sport utility vehicle.
Interior and technology
The XC60's cabin is simple and understated, but with plenty of premium touches to remind you that it's competing directly with the traditional German brands. There are loads of soft-touch materials and leather upholstery across the entire range. However, hunt around and you'll find a handful of harder plastics, such as those lining the centre console.
There's a portrait-style touchscreen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard. The system works reasonably smoothly and Volvo has done well to avoid the superfluous graphics that some rivals insist on featuring. That said, compared with its latest rivals and their dash-top dual-screen setups, the XC60's screen now looks a little small.
We like that some physical controls remain. In particular, the big, obvious volume knob for the stereo flanked by buttons for the windscreen defoggers. However, the climate control is exclusively adjusted through the touchscreen, which can be fiddly to accomplish on the move.
Just like the boxy estates that Volvo made its name with, the XC60 is one of the most practical cars in its class. It's not an especially small SUV at around 4.7 metres long but, even compared to direct rivals, the Volvo makes the most of its footprint.
Front room is excellent as you'd expect but it's the rear row that truly impresses. One tall adult can sit behind another without their knees brushing the seat back or their head grazing the headliner. None of the main German rivals can match the XC60 for passenger space.
Where the Volvo's passenger space is great, its boot space is merely good. There's a wide, long load area and a useful, square opening but it's a little shallower than rivals with more space under the boot given over to the car's hybrid battery pack.
Engines and performance
Apart from early examples, all XC60 engines have some degree of hybridisation. Most are equipped with a mild-hybrid setup to cut fuel consumption, but there are also T6 and T8 plug-in hybrids with substantially better economy figures and performance. Petrol is the most common choice in the range, but you'll also find diesel engine options for higher mileage drivers.
Performance is reasonably good whatever engine you go for, with even the entry-level versions having enough power to feel relaxed at speed. Of course, the higher up the range you go, the more power you'll get under the bonnet, which makes acceleration even more insistent – especially on the rapid plug-in-hybrid models. Our only real complaints, in fact, is that the engines can sound a little thrashy when you ask for full acceleration, and that the petrol engines can be a little thirsty.
Driving and comfort
There are no driving modes, suspension modes or gearbox modes to choose from in the Volvo, unlike nearly all its rivals. You just start it up, put it in 'D' and let the car take care of the rest. Compared with its option-laden German rivals, there's a refreshing simplicity to the Volvo's one-size-fits-all approach.
Of course, that does mean you can't seriously alter the XC60's fundamental driving experience – although, after spending a few miles with it, we don't think you'd want to. The overall setup is grippy and stable but with more of a focus on comfort than aggressive handling. There's not much feedback through the steering wheel and the resistance that builds up as you turn feels a little rubbery, but it's still accurate enough that only the keenest drivers will complain.