The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2011 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design My World Road Test and Review - VIDEO ENHANCED

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design AWD

Is The Volvo XC60 Your Perfect New Car?
2011 Volvo XC60 Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Volvo Buyers Guide


2011 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design

I've spent plenty of time in Volvo XC60s, but before last week that time was never at and around home. At introduction was a lovely drive up California's scenic Highway One north from San Francisco, and more recently a thousand-mile trek on Interstate and secondary roads from Los Angeles to western Colorado. So I know that the XC60 is a fine highway -- and byway -- cruiser, with excellent turbocharged power that ignores elevation and returns unexpectedly good fuel economy -- 24mpg for that Colorado trip.

But how does it work in the day-to-day world?

Just as well as it does on the open road.

Which should come as no surprise. Its high crossover shape means good passenger and cargo space and parking-lot maneuverability, as it's over six inches shorter than the more traditional wagon-like XC70. The high-eyepoint seating position means good visibility as well as comfort, although shorter people (such as myself) should move their heads a bit to peer around the large side mirrors -- but, unlike with some cars, those side mirrors give an excellent view to the rear quarters. The torquey 300-horsepower turbo engine of the T6 AWD R-Design version works as well in the cut and thrust of city and highway traffic as it does on the open road, with instant response. No turbo lag here, and fuel economy was still a reasonable 21 mpg for my week, which was a mix of short shopping trips and medium-length backroad and highway excursions.

T6 AWD R-Design means turbocharged six-cylinder, all-wheel drive, premium trim. It's the top model in the 2011 XC60 line, which includes the regular T6 AWD and standard and R-Design variations of the front-wheel drive, naturally-aspirated, 240-hp 3.2. All give Volvo a serious presence in the popular mid-size European crossover class, and Volvo crossover popularity can be seen by its impact on the company's wagon sales. Not long ago, Volvo owned the import luxury wagon class. Now, the XC crossovers have replaced the wagons in the Volvo lineup, at least in the North American market.

The example of XC60 T6 AWD R-Design that was my test car was outfitted in a manner similar to the ones I drove to and in Colorado, with only minor option package differences. You don't have to drive partway across the country to enjoy the XC60, but doing so won't hurt a bit. Around town or on the open road, its convenient but not to big size, good power, handling, and ride quality, and great comfort make it a winner.

APPEARANCE: As the second application of Volvo's design language to the tall crossover shape, the XC60 is a development of the larger XC90. It's smaller and a bit less boxy, with strong, smooth lines in the manner of the furniture and audio systems that made Scandinavian design famous. Brushed aluminum is used for trim instead of chrome, for a more understated look. Volvo's trademark full-height wagon/crossover taillights highlight the rear. Lower "aero kit" front and rear trim and sill extensions are part of the R-Design package, as are 20-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tires.

COMFORT: Inside, there's good space and space utilization, elegant Swedish Modern design, and wonderful Volvo seats, fronts power-adjustable and, in the R-Design, leather. Both front and outboard rear seats are heated with the Climate Package. Volvo's first panoramic sunroof is standard in the R-Design models. It tilts and slides and, open or closed with the shade retracted, it gives passengers, especially in the rear seat, a fine view of scenery and sky above. Instrumentation is complete and easily visible day or night, in all lighting conditions. The flying buttress center stack has navigation (if fitted), audio, and phone system information displayed on a screen angled toward the driver, with control via buttons on the stack and steering wheel. Cruise control is also on the steering wheel. Climate control is on the stack by means of the Volvo iconic button interface. Simple, self-explanatory, no need to consult the manual for the even the most trivial function.

Rear passengers have excellent head and good leg room (depending on front passenger size) and comfort equal to the front. The rear seatback is split 40/20/40 for maximum versatility, and the front passenger seat can be folded flat for long items. A space-saver spare is found under the rear load floor, and cargo access is helped by the Convenience Package's power liftgate.

SAFETY: No, "Volvo" is not an official synonym for "safety". But it's close enough. The XC60 T6 AWD R-Design protects passengers with a unibody structure that includes a safety cage around the passenger compartment, and front and rear crumple zones. There is a full complement of airbags. Brakes are four-wheel antilock discs, with support systems including brake assist, Optimized Hydraulic Brakes (OHB), Ready Alert Brakes (RAB), and Fading Brake Support (FSB), plus the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system. Also standard is front and rear ultrasonic Park assist and the City Safety system. The optional Technology Package adds Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert (DA), Driver Alert Control (DAC), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). The XC60's nose and hood are designed to minimize injury to a pedestrian in an impact.

Watch the Volvo XC60 safety video

RIDE AND HANDLING: With the R-Design package comes firmer shock damping and quicker steering. It's close to the European-spec calibration used on the examples at the original press introduction, and provides very good response to driver inputs, with minimal body roll when cornering. Anti-dive geometry in the front MacPherson strut suspension helps control when braking hard. It's compliant enough for all-day comfort on the highway -- two back-to-back 500-mile days showed that earlier -- and composed on the poorly-maintained roads where I live. 9.1 inches of clearance means less worry about road debris, potholes, and curbs, and the ability to travel on forest trails and fire roads when necessary.

PERFORMANCE: At an official curb weight of 4264 pounds, the XC60 T6 is no lightweight. But with 300 horsepower (at 5600 rpm) and 325 lb-ft of torque (from 2100 through 4200 rpm), that weight is not noticeable. The transversely-mounted turbocharged and intercooled inline six-cylinder engine is built to be as short as possible, allowing it to be mounted transversely for maximum front crush space. As is the nature of an inline six, it's very smooth. Here, turbocharging is more to boost midrange torque than ultimate high-speed horsepower, as a look at the torque spec shows -- it's flat from 2100 to 4200 rpm, for instant acceleration when needed pretty much at any time, in any gear. Yes the six-speed automatic has "Geartronic" manual mode, but there is little reason to use that given the engine's torque characteristics and the transmission's quick shifting and good shift logic. In many cars, EPA mileage ratings are optimistic; not here. EPA says 17mpg city, 22 highway. My week at home saw a 21 mpg average, with mostly city and backroad driving.

CONCLUSIONS: The Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design combines good looks, good manners, space, versatility, and power with surprisingly good fuel economy.

2011 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-design

Base Price			$ 41,550
Price As Tested			$ 50,100
Engine Type			DOHC turbocharged and intercooled
				 24-valve inline 6-cylinder
Engine Size			3.0 liters / 180 cu. in.
Horsepower			300 @ 5600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			325 @ 2100-4200 rpm
Transmission			6-speed automatic with
				 "Geartronic" manual mode
Wheelbase / Length		109.2 in. / 182.2 in.
Curb Weight			4264 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		14.2
Fuel Capacity			18.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				255/45 R20 105V Pirelli Scorpion
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc, ABS
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multilink
Ground clearance		9.1 inches
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 automatic all-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		17 / 22 / 21
0 to 60 mph				6.9  sec
Towing Capacity			

Multimedia Package - includes:
  Volvo premium 650 watt, 12-speaker sound system with
  Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound, rear park assist camera,
  navigation system with real-time traffic		$ 2,700
Climate and Technology Package - includes:
  Climate Package - includes:
    heated front and outboard rear seats, heated windshield
    washer nozzles, heated washers, Rain Sensor, Interior
    Air Quality System
  Technology Package - includes:
    adaptive cruise control, Lane Departure Warning,
    Collision Warning With Auto Brake			$ 3,100
Convenience Package - includes:
  cargo area 12V outlet and grocery holder, HomeLink
  integrated garage door opener, front and rear Park Assist,
  power-operated tailgate, cargo cover, compass in rearview
  mirror, electric folding rear headrests		$ 1,200
Premium Electric Silver Paint				$   675
Destination charge					$   875

Volvo XC60 A Really Smart Car - Video

More Volvo XC60 Videos - TACH-TV