2010 Volvo XC60 Review


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2010 Volvo XC60

MORE: 2010 Volvo XC60 Unveiling at 2008 Geneva Auto Show - Video Enhanced
MORE: Volvo Announces 2010 Volvo XC60 Pricing
MORE: Additional Volvo XC60 Articles and Video

2010 Volvo XC60 Review

By Carey Russ
Senior Editor
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Besides "safety", "Volvo" is nearly synonymous with "wagon". Alas, wagons are but a minor blip in American car sales statistics. Here, the wagon niche goes to crossovers. So, in order to increase its market share, Volvo has announced its newest crossover, the 2010 XC60.

Joining the existing XC90 and XC70, the 2010 Volvo XC60 introduces the newest styling trends and safety features from Volvo. The broad shoulders and dynamic shapes that have been the Swedish automaker's hallmark for the past decade are further developed, and a re-proportioned grille, new headlights, and slick LED taillights with integrated brake lights point to the future. Interior design is right out of high-end Scandinavian furniture or audio components, and its airy, open look enhances the 2010 Volvo XC60's healthy amount of interior space. Standard cabin amenities include HD radio, Sirius satellite radio, and connectivity for audio players via a mini-jack or USB port.

City Safety makes its debut as standard equipment in all 2010 Volvo XC60s. It's a laser-based driver support system that incorporates the Collision Warning with Auto Brake system to reduce or even prevent low-speed accidents, such as hitting the car in front in slow traffic. It works at speeds under 19 mph (30 kph), and can stop the car if the speed differential between the City Safe-equipped Volvo and the vehicle in front is less than 9 mph (15 kph).

The chassis layout is standard for current Volvo crossovers, with the engine placed transversely in front for optimal crush zone size and placement, and Haldex Instant Traction(tm) all-wheel drive. The standard DSTC stability and traction control system has been enhanced by monitoring roll rate to detect incipient problems earlier. Engine and transmission choice is simple, a 3.0-liter inline turbocharged 6-cylinder with 281 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque -- on regular unleaded. Peak torque is available from 1500 rpm onwards, making the 6-speed automatic transmission's job easier. Geartronic manual shifting allows the driver more control when desired.

Built in Ghent, Belgium, the 2010 Volvo XC60 has been on sale in Europe since Fall, 2008. It will be available here in March, 2009, and is aimed at young singles and families with an active urban lifestyle. Volvo recently brought a fleet of European-spec prototypes to Sausalito, California, just north of San Francisco, for the press to examine and drive. All were in close-to-US-spec trim, with a minor difference in suspension tuning. More on that...


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My first impression upon getting into the 2010 Volvo XC60 was that Volvo had out-Audied Audi. Nice trick, especially considering that Audi is a direct competitor. How? The detached center stack, a Volvo interior specialty since the S40 and V50 a few years back, has been taken to the next level with a light-colored wood inlay. Scandinavian design at its finest, it looks as though it should be part of an expensive audio component system. Function is not sacrificed, as controls, including the wonderful Volvo iconic HVAC control, are simple and self-explanatory. None of those inscrutable German knobs anywhere.

The 2010 Volvo XC60 seats are fully up to Volvo's high standards, as a long drive up the coast proved. The morning was spent on Highway One, not normally thought of as an SUV road, except maybe by motorcyclists seeing SUVs as (barely) moving chicanes... not this one. Yes, it's large, albeit considerably smaller than the XC90, but the Euro-spec suspension, fully-independent with MacPherson struts in front and a multilink system in the rear, was stiff enough to keep the 4200-pound vehicle from exhibiting much body roll and supple enough for a comfortable ride. Word has it that the final American version will be a little softer, the better to deal with our indifferently-paved roads. One hopes the European tuning will be offered as an option.

The afternoon's festivities included a drive through the Coast Mountain Ranges to Highway 101 freeway, at that point, and back south. From the tight twisties of One and the Coast Ranges to the superslab of 101, the 2010 Volvo XC60 handled with aplomb. And smooth power, with no turbo lag and no real reason to engage manual-shift mode except out of curiosity.

Before the morning drive, we went through a quick demonstration of the City Safe system. The procedure was to approach a car-shaped airbag at under 9mph and let the system do the braking. Car-shaped airbags were used just in case anyone was a little over that 9 mph speed differential limit for the system to automatically stop the 2010 Volvo XC60. Over that, and under 19 mph, the system will apply the brakes, to lessen impact but not necessarily prevent it.

My co-driver went first. I was watching from the passenger seat, through the LCD screen on the back of a digital camera. Quick, slam-the-brakes stop and I missed that photo... My turn, what can I say, I'm a manual-mode kind of guy and hot the brakes before City Safe did. It does work as advertised, though.

In the 2010 Volvo XC60, Volvo strikes into new territory. It gives existing C30 or S40 or V50, or even S60 owners a larger Volvo to move up to when more car is needed but an XC70 or XC90 might be too big. It could also attract new people to the Volvo fold. It's the most-refined Volvo yet in terms of drivetrain and suspension, and that's good news for all.

MORE: 2010 Volvo XC60 Unveiling at 2008 Geneva Auto Show - Video Enhanced
MORE: Volvo Announces 2010 Volvo XC60 Pricing
MORE: Additional Volvo XC60 Articles and Video

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