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2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO

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Not The Newest Midsize Luxury Crossover, But It’s Still One Of The Best


                  • SEE ALSO: Volvo Research and Buyers Guide

The day I took delivery of this week’s test car, a 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription, was the day Volvo announced its successor, the second-generation 2018 XC60, at the New York Auto Show. Instant lame duck? Not really, as the `18 won’t be on sale for a while. And the original is still doing very well, making up 30 percent of Volvo’s global sales. Over one million have been sold since its European debut in late 2008, and here in early 2009 for model year 2010.

It’s aged well. Volvo got it right the first time. Exterior styling has changed little, with a mild freshening for 2015. The interior has changed even less, as there was no need to mess up something done correctly. The biggest changes have been under the hood, when the original transversely-mounted inline six-cylinder engines, either 3.0 liters turbocharged or 3.2 naturally-aspirated, were replaced by smaller 2.0-liter forced-induction engines for 2015. That was not the step backwards that it might seem, as the fours were (and are) either turbocharged for 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque or both supercharged and turbocharged for 302 hp an 295 lb-ft — comparable to the old turbo six’s 300 hp but with less weight and in a smaller package. At the same time, the transmission was changed from a six-speed automatic to an eight-speed, to further improve performance and fuel economy. The suspension system is unchanged, fully-independent with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link system in the rear, tuned moderately for a good balance between comfort and maneuverability. With just over nine inches of clearance and front or all-wheel drive, the XC60 is as well-suited for debris- and pothole-strewn city streets as it is for highways, scenic backroads, and even forest roads and fire trails. All roads in all weather is the idea here. And Spring weather where I live was good for that, with everything from heavy rain and strong wind to 70-degree sunshine during the week.

Besides the mechanical and stylistic changes mentioned, trim levels and options have changed over the XC60’s run. It currently comes in two basic forms. T5 is front-wheel drive, turbo engine with 240 horsepower, while T6 means both supercharger and turbo for 302 hp and all-wheel drive to get it to the ground with a minimum of fuss. Trim levels are Dynamic and Inscription. Dynamic is more sports-oriented, with front sports seats and sportier exterior styling details. Inscription tends toward luxury, with comfort seats, walnut inlays in the center stack and instrument panel, and accent lighting. All are very well-equipped with standard comfort and luxury features. Any such not standard are optionally available.

My test example was a T6 Inscription. The most apparent difference between it and the 2015 model I drove back then was no torque steer. 300 horsepower and the equivalent torque through the front wheels will make itself noticeable. All-wheel drive will send enough of that to the rear wheels to eliminate torque steer and improve traction and so acceleration, especially if the road surface is less than perfect. The XC60 is small enough outside to be easy to maneuver in traffic and tight parking, aided in the latter by a multi-angle rearview camera. It’s also big enough inside for four adults to be comfortable, even with a reasonable amount of luggage. If you have small children, two-level integrated rear booster seats are available. And, with a 21-mpg average for the week, with more city and backroad driving than highway, fuel economy is reasonable. The 2017 Volvo XC60 may not be the newest midsize crossover, but it’s still one of the best.

APPEARANCE: An XC60 is unmistakably a Volvo, with strong shoulders and a rounded but well-defined two-box shape devoid of boxiness. The grille got a bit more rounded with the `15 freshening, but the tall taillights continue to distinguish it at night. It’s very resistant to negative effects from wind.

COMFORT: As ever, a Volvo interior is a comfortable, quiet, and safe place to spend time. The XC60's upright, high-eyepoint seating position offers very good visibility. Swedish styling is not as austere as German, but still simple. See well-known examples from furniture and high-end audio… It works well here, with pleasant and functional shapes, high-quality materials, and excellent fit and finish. The trim is real aluminum and real walnut. A bright TFT instrument display is easy to read in any light, and it and the Sensus system at the top of the flying-buttress center stack lets the driver or front passenger easily manage information, audio, phone, and navigation systems, with a bit of space behind for small items. The steering wheel adjusts for both tilt and reach, and both front seats are power-adjustable. And wonderfully comfortable no matter how long you might be in them. The twin-pane moonroof lets plenty of light in, or air as the front section is tilt and slide. Rear passengers get the best view through it. They also get plenty of room and comfort. The rear seatback is split 40/20/40 for maximum versatility, here with height-adjustable child seats built into the outboard positions. There is a bit of extra storage under the rear load floor, along with a space-saver spare tire. Ventilation is very good, with HVAC vents in the B-pillars and below the rear quarter windows in addition to the usual dash vents and rear-seat floor vents. It’s rarely cold enough where I live for the optional heated windshield to be a necessity, but if you live where scraping ice is a standard winter duty, this will make life easier.

SAFETY: The XC60 has a five-star overall rating from NHTSA and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick +. The XC60 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 ventilated antilock discs, with support systems including brake assist plus the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system, which now incorporated Corner Traction Control (CTC). Also standard is front and rear ultrasonic Park assist and the City Safety system, plus the Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert. The optional Advance 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.

RIDE AND HANDLING: An XC60 higher and heavier than a wagon like Volvo's own V60 or even V60 Cross Country, so there is some noticeable body roll when playing hard and its reactions to driver inputs aren't quite as quick. It's still near the top of the luxury crossover class for its abilities on the road, though. Suspension is fully-independent, with MacPherson struts in front and a multilink setup at the rear. The standard tuning is moderately firm but supple enough for all-day comfort. Steering effort is moderate, and a bit numb — not necessarily bad with power transmitted to the front wheels.

PERFORMANCE: Compared to an engine with more cylinders, all else being equal a four has fewer moving parts for less weight and less frictional loss. The block and head are aluminum alloy, and both camshafts have continuously-variable phasing. A four-cylinder engine vibrates more than an inline six, but dual balance shafts ensure smooth operation here. Volvo's new engine architecture was designed for use as diesel as well as gasoline power, with thicker iron cylinder liners and a different cylinder head for the diesel, so it should stand up the lesser pressures of gasoline operation just fine, even with two forms of forced induction and over 150 horsepower per liter at maximum output. The mechanically-driven supercharger provides instant boost at low engine speeds. At higher speeds, it’s decoupled and the exhaust-driven turbo kicks in. An eight-speed automatic transmission offers further improvements in efficiency and performance, with low low gears and high high gears for effortless and economical highway cruising. With peak torque of 295 lb-ft available between 2100 and 4500 rpm -- the most commonly-used part of the engine's rev range -- precise shifting is a non-issue. There is a "Geartronic" manual mode, but it's not a necessity -- and I don't mind shifting! If my mileage -- high teens to low twenties around town and mid- to high-twenties on the highway -- didn't exactly match the EPA's, I live in the real world. Level ground is a rarity around here, and highway speeds are well over the EPA simulation except during ever-longer rush "hours". At that time the engine stop feature should help save a bit of premium unleaded. And my 21 mpg was close enough to the official 22.

CONCLUSIONS: The 2017 Volvo XC60 is not the newest midsize luxury crossover, but it’s still one of the best.


2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription

Base Price $ 46,350

Price As Tested $ 53,555

Engine Type DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder, direct fuel injection, supercharged and turbocharged

Engine Size 2.0 liters / 122 cu. in.

Horsepower 302 @ 5700 rpm

Torque (lb-ft) 295 @ 2100-4500 rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic with manual mode

Wheelbase / Length 109.2 in. / 182.8 in.

Curb Weight 4175 lbs.

Pounds Per Horsepower 13.8

Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal.

Fuel Requirement 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline

Tires 255/45R20 105V Pirelli Scorpion Zero Asimetrico

Brakes, front/rear vented disc all around, ABS, HBA, RAB, FBS, EBD standard

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 20 / 27 / 21

0 to 60 mph 6.5 sec

Towing Capacity 4400 lbs.


Preferred Option Package — includes: Active dual xenon headlights with headlight washers, HomeLink® integrated garage door opener, electric folding rear headrests, front park assist, 12VDC power outlet in rear cargo area $ 1,350

Climate Package and Child Booster Seats — includes: Heated front seats, power child locks for rear doors, dual outboard two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seat belts, Interior Air Quality System (IAQS), heated windshield washer nozzles, heated steering wheel, heated windshield $ 1,550

Advanced Package — includes: Adaptive cruise control with queue assist, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning, Active High Beam, Road Sign Information, Harmon Kardon premium audio system $ 2,500

Metallic Paint $ 560

20” Avior wheels $ 250

Destination Charge $ 995