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2010 Volvo XC60 Review and Specs

2010 Volvo XC60PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Volvo XC60

MORE: 2010 Volvo XC60 Unveiling at 2008 Geneva Auto Show - Video Enhanced
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A San Francisco Intro
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

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The dead of winter here in Michigan (temps in single digits for weeks at a time) is a great time to migrate, if only for a few days, to the west coast where we basked in the 55-degree light rain of San Francisco and spent a day driving about 120 miles up the coast to experience Volvo’s new XC60, a compact, premium CUV you’ll be seeing at your Volvo dealer’s showroom in mid March.

Meant to compete with the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes’ new GLK and Acura RDX this stylish 5-passenger people hauler measures up well in this fast-growing and intensely competitive market segment. The XC60 comes only in all-wheel drive configuration and includes more standard technology than most of the competition.

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But first, let’s talk about the visuals. The XC60 exemplifies the evolutionary next step in Volvo’s dramatic styling language. Beginning in the front, a new trapezoidal grille is punctuated with an oversized “iron mark” (the famous Volvo symbol). A low, broad, muscular stance underpins the broad-shouldered mid body that has distinguished at least the last two generations of Volvos, but this one is even more exaggerated. The rear is distinguished by curvaceous, high-mounted taillights sculpted into the D-pillars. In my purely subjective view, this design is mighty sexy for a CUV.

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Power comes from a new, downsized version of the trusty, 3.2-liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve inline 6. This one displaces just 3.0 liters and features a turbocharger and intercooler, as well as all the modern engine technology you’d expect. I detected no turbo lag at all. With this system the turbo is fed from two runners, each collecting exhaust pressure from 3 cylinders. Red line is around 6,500 rpm and it makes a sturdy 281 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60mph time is listed at 7.1 seconds, which would be admirable even for a sports car. This 4,100-pound car is rated at 16mpg/city and 22/highway and requires regular fuel.

The only transmission available is the Geartronic 6-speed automatic with manual mode. Slide the shift lever to the right into the manual gate and it will automatically switch to a sport shift mode allowing higher rpm between shifts. Then push it forward or pull it back and you’re in manual mode and can determine the shifts yourself. The tough Generation 4 Haldex all-wheel drive system is a unit shared with Land Rover LR2, and Saab CUV. It has no off-road pretentions, though, in spite of over 9-inches of ground clearance and optional hill descent control.

Suspension and steering are of conventional design - fully independent, of course. The suspension tuning finds a good balance between firmness for control and gentility for the luxury feel. It may be a tad too firm for those who prefer the old-fashioned definition of a luxury ride, or prefer the feel of a minivan over the European (which has become the standard) feel. Steering is precise and predictable, if not particularly tactile. We spent many of our California test miles on tight and twisty roads which became a bit tedious after a while. After all, this is not a sports car. But the XC60 never caused concern even under enthusiastic motoring. We could drive it like a sports car if we wanted.

Volvo’s traditional claim to fame, of course, is safety. They invented and promoted three-point seat belts and many other safety innovations over the years. This new XC60 is the first car to include as standard equipment a feature they call City Safety. A set of laser beams scan the area just ahead of the car and with the application of sophisticated algorithms can determine closing speed with objects in its view. Brakes are precharged (pads brought right up to imminent contact with the rotors), or actually applied, to help prevent or mitigate crashes. The system works between 2 and 19mph since the majority of rear end accidents happen in that speed range.

A full compliment of other safety stuff is standard or available as well, like air bags at all seating positions, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, drowsy driver warning, Distance Alert, automatic braking on impending collision, whiplash mitigating seats, trailer wag control, and all the stuff the others have. You still can’t beat Volvo for safety innovations.

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The inside environment of the XC60 will hold its own with the competition. Two-tone leather seats on our test vehicles provide a stylish, flashy look. Two color combinations of the two-tone design are available. The floating center stack (thin panel, open in back) is trimmed with a light wood for an elegant Scandinavian ambiance. The navigation screen is integrated into the top of the stack, and above that an information pod projects out of the top of the dash. Most of the controls are intuitive and logical but we had to search for others. Standard inside are: auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass, audio controls in the steering wheel, B-pillar ventilation for second row seat, brushed aluminum trim, dual-zone climate control, five padded headrests, flat-folding 40/20/40 rear seat, leather seating, 8-way power driver and passenger seat and all the popular stuff you find on the others – except a nice analog clock.

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The cargo area boasts a substantial 30.8 cubic-feet of cargo area behind the rear seat and 67.4 cubic-feet with the seat folded.

A high-performance sound system - with CD player, HD radio, AUX and USB inputs, MP3 capability, 160-watt amp and 8 speakers - is standard. Bluetooth phone capability and Sirius Satellite Radio with 6-month subscription is also standard. A premium sound system and navigation system with DVD map data and remote control are available as options.

Also optional are a raft of technological systems called Collision Avoidance Package which includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning with automatic brake activation, distance alert warning, driver alert warning, and lane departure warning.

So, now let’s talk about the overall experience of the XC60. I’ve been a fan of the Volvo styling and design themes since they got away from the sharp-edged box designs in the early 90s. This XC60 follows the new theme beautifully. It appears and feels larger than its market segment would imply, but it does feel as premium as that implies. Sliding into the shapely leather seats is a pleasure. They are generous and stylish, 8-way power adjustable, with a two-tone ‘X’ design reflecting the XC “Cross Country” moniker. We don’t find anything particularly notable about the dynamic feel of the vehicle, though it is certainly pleasant, capable and quick.

Pricing has just been announced. MSRP is $37,200 inclusive of the City Safety system, leather seating, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth and panoramic sunroof.

I find it especially nice to look at. Its dimensions, stance and quality make it stand out. The 18-inch standard tires on “Mantus” alloy wheels are striking and compliment the whole car.

Were I in the market for a premium, small CUV this one would certainly be high on my list.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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