2023 Volvo XC60 Recharge AWD Ultimate – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Wow, was this Volvo ever quick! As the former owner of an underpowered 1959 Volvo 544, I long ago disabused myself of the notion that any Volvo could be really quick in a straight line. Up until now, that observation has remained largely true. But the 2023 hybrid ("Recharge") version of the XC60 proves conclusively that Volvo can build an SUV with the guts to dust off just about anything else on the road.
The first time I nailed the throttle for an unimpeded 0-80mph run, the front end of this all wheel drive express lifted like the prow of a Chris Craft as the sudden launch transferred 4,378 pounds of curb weight to the beefy rear tires (Pirelli P Zero PZ4 255/40R21). It was an impressive demonstration of what 523lb.-ft. of torque (and 455hp) will do to transform an innocuous looking Volvo into a guided missile. Like Clark Kent, the mild-mannered XC60 Recharge emerged from its phone booth to become Supercar.
Of course, all the other sacrosanct virtues you've come to expect from this Swedish meatball are still baked into the mix: Safety above all, followed by Scandinavian simplicity of design, bolstered by lavish creature comforts. Let's start with Volvo's patented portfolio of safety gambits. Low and high speed collision mitigation leads the list of preventative measures, followed by run-off road protection/ mitigation, and oncoming mitigation by braking. Although the '23 XC60 has yet to be safety rated by the government, rest assured this Volvo will uphold the company's long-standing commitment to the highest echelon of occupant crash protection.
Volvo's laser focused dedication to safety, however, brings with it a plethora of considerations that may make you think twice about selecting the XC60. With all safety systems (called "Pilot Assist") enabled, this Volvo exhibits an annoying propensity to boss its driver into submission, especially on the freeway. Every time you elect to make a lane change without first turn-signaling your intention, the XC's steering wheel vibrates annoyingly in your hands and resists the change in direction. This intervention only dissipates when you physically muscle the wheel in the intended direction. But by then, the Volvo's deterrent force has caused you to overshoot your intended lane shift.
In light traffic, where a mandatory turn signal is completely unnecessary, the XC's protocol demands are completely unwarranted. We tried to deactivate the system but were unable to do so, thanks to Volvo's failure to supply an owner's manual in the glovebox. Digital availability of this information via the center screen is no substitute for a printed booklet.
Other than this hitch, life with the XC60 was rather sublime. The aforementioned Swedish design motif made driving long distances pleasurable. The seats are brilliantly appointed with multiple adjustments that appear pictorially on the 9" tall center touchscreen. We also appreciated the system's ability to project extra large images of original record album covers when listening to oldies music on SiriusXM satellite radio. A Harman Kardon premium sound system transformed the Volvo's interior into a concert hall. It's part of a long list of disparate upgrades that comprise the "Ultimate Features" assemblage that spikes the XC's base price to $66,950.
Unlike Volvo's EVs, which are constructed with remanufactured seat cover material (to assuage environmental guilt), our XC60's seating surfaces were covered with swaths of glove-soft Nappa leather. The full leather ambiance was augmented by the beauty of the striated wood which adorns the center console's sliding cover. The interior of the Ultimate XC60 proved to be a very special place, earmarked by a sense of good taste and understatement that is sorely lacking in much of this Volvo's competition.
The XC60 Recharge came to us with a 60-mile electric-only range showing on the monitor. After 28 miles of easy back road driving (in Hybrid, not full EV mode), the 60-mile range estimate had fallen to zero. Be that as it may, we were much more impressed with the Recharge's ability to leap from 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds, and reach a terminal velocity of 111mph in a quarter mile blast that took just 12.6 seconds. My old 544 Volvo wouldn't have moved that fast if you'd dropped it off the Golden Gate Bridge.
2023 VOLVO XC60 RECHARGE AWD ULTIMATE
ENGINE: 2.0 Liter inline 4, DOHC 16-valve, supercharged, turbocharged intercooled + 2AC motors
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 63MPGe/28MPG Gas Only
PRICE AS TESTED: $74,690
HYPES: Mega Torque, Sweet Swedish Architecture
GRIPES: Bossy Pants Pilot Assist
STAR RATING: 9.5 Stars out of 10