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2018 Volvo XC60 Rocky Mountain Review +VIDEO By Dan Poler

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2018 Volvo XC60 Rocky Mountain Review

By Dan Poler
Senior Editor
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

I watched the snow fall peacefully as I sipped my coffee. It was the first real snow of the season. And while it looked pretty, my mind was elsewhere: How to contend with the cabin fever it was sure to bring me. 

Fortunately, not a problem this time around. When you have a 2018 Volvo XC60 parked in the driveway, you don’t stay inside during a snowstorm. You go for a long drive. And so I did. 

Volvo’s XC60 has been completely redesigned for 2018, a much-needed update to the line. And the update has been beautifully executed as with most of Volvo’s recent releases. The exterior of the vehicle looks quintessentially Volvo but feels more designed by artists than by engineers. The review vehicle came to me in a color Volvo calls Pine Grey Metallic; this color is captivating - it looks equal parts grey, green, blue, and brown, changing with the ambient lighting. 

Inside, the cabin exudes Swedish minimalism, but with outstanding attention to detail: The texture of the gray driftwood trim, the tiny Swedish flag emblazoned into the aluminum trim. The minimalism applies to vehicle command and control, too - one of the first things that pops to mind about the cabin is the sheer lack of buttons and gauges. The instrument cluster is entirely a digital display, and most of the vehicle’s setup and functionality is accessed and configured by a touch screen mounted in the center console. The setup is essentially that of a hardmounted tablet - anyone who has used an Apple or Android tablet in the last half decade will pretty quickly feel at home. It takes a little getting used to thinking like an automotive engineer: Why is this setting on this screen, that setting on that screen, and so forth - but it quickly becomes second nature. I did, however, experience a few hiccups with the technology, particularly noting that it’s slow to respond as the vehicle first starts up. The vehicle categorizes all functions like FM radio as applications, again fitting the tablet metaphor. Most functions are fairly easily accessible, however some thought could be given to making things like climate control a bit simpler to use, perhaps through gestures other than simply tapping. 

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This tech-heavy setup includes a unique implementation of Apple’s CarPlay that takes advantage of the large, vertically-oriented screen to enable display of both CarPlay and the vehicle’s native control systems simultaneously, a nice touch enabling ease of use. I did, however, experience significant glitches using CarPlay, necessitating unplugging and replugging phones several times to achieve normal functionality. 

Before the snowstorm, I had plenty of time to put the Volvo through it’s paces on dry tarmac; I found it to be stable, solid, and planted; nothing if not predictable. The XC60 is powered by a 4-cylinder supercharged 2.0L engine; the tiny engine punches way above it’s weight class, delivering 316 horses and 295 ft-lbs of torque. The torque number is particularly impressive, peaking at just 2,200 RPM, and it shows. My only complaint is the engine auto-start/stop, which provides just enough hesitation to make one think twice about a left turn across traffic; I worked around this by setting up an individual drive profile that disabled the auto-start/stop functionality. The peppy little 4 -cylinder averaged 22 mpg over the course of the week.

I spent the better part of the day driving around during the snowstorm, on roads plowed and unplowed, treated and untreated. Again, the XC60 delivered nothing but predictability. The vehicle only slipped once, on a hill in an icy parking lot. An impressive showing, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s all just a little bit too perfect, a little bit too isolating from the road, the environment, the driving experience. The quiet, serene cabin is lovely, but disconnected, with the vehicle exerting control to ensure the driver doesn’t do anything silly. While done in the name of safety, there’s a distinct feeling that the vehicle knows better than you do as the driver and will do what it wants, regardless of what you ask of it. 

Although available starting a shade under $45,000, the price of our tester ballooned to over $63,000 once all of its options were added. While some of these options are outstanding, providing things like adaptive cruise control and a heads-up display, some border on the silly: $3,200 for a Bowers and Wilkins stereo feels more than slightly out of place in this category of vehicle.

Overall, I recommend the XC60. Despite the somewhat disconnected driving experience, the vehicle returned outstanding, comfortable performance in every situation thrown at it, and Volvo’s beautiful redesign is worth consideration if you’re shopping in this market. 

Specifications - 2018 Volvo XC60

Engine: 2.0L Super & Turbo-Charged Direct Injection inline 4
Transmission: 8-Speed Geartronic Shiftable Automatic
Horsepower: 316 @ 5,700 RPM
Torque (ft-lbs): 295 @ 2,200 RPM
Wheelbase / Length (in): 112.8 / 184.6
Fuel Capacity (gal): 18.8
Fuel Requirement: Premium unleaded
Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport; 255/45R20 105H
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
EPA Fuel Economy - city/highway/combined/observed: 21/23/27/22
Base Trim Price: $44,900

Price as Tested: $63,290; includes Inscription Features ($3,800 - Bright chrome bars in front grill, chrome side trim with logotype, integrated tailpipes with body-colored lower insert, 12.3” driver display, Sensus navigation pro, 4-zone climate control, mechanical driver & passenger seat extensions, driftwood decor inlays, tailored dashboard, keyless entry w/ handsfree tailgate opening, interior high level illumination, LED front fog lights w cornering lights, drive mode settings, storage net on center tunnel, cooled glove compartment, illuminated door handles), Convenience Package ($2,000 - Adaptive cruise control w/ pilot assist - semi autonomous drive system, HomeLink, heated wiper blades, power folding second row seat, power child locks for rear doors, electric folding rear headrests, 12V power outlet, compass in rear view mirror), Vision Package ($1,100 - Blind spot information with steer assist, cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist, park assist pilot, automatically dimmed inner and exterior mirrors, retractable rear-view mirrors), Luxury Seat Package ($3,000 - Nappa leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, backrest massage for front seats, power cushion extensions and side support front seats, heated rear seats), Advanced Package ($1,900 - 360-degree camera, graphical head-up display, Full LED headlights w/ active bending lights, headlight high pressure cleaning), Metallic Paint ($595), Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound ($3,200), 4-Corner Air Suspension ($1,800), Destination Charge ($995).

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SEE ALSO: 2018 Volvo XC60 Wins NACOTY Award