By Jim MacPherson
With its abundance of safety features, it can be easy to lose sight of the actual car when evaluating the Volvo XC60.
Among those safety measures available include active cruise control with “Queue Assist,” which stops the car when traffic ahead stops, pedestrian detection with full auto braking, distance alert, drive alert control, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist, and a rear backup camera.
Standard features included City Safety, which automatically applies the brakes when the car ahead stops and the XC60’s driver is not paying attention. If you’re driving under 10 miles an hour, it should completely prevent a collision, while lessening the severity of the impact for anything below 20 miles per hour.
Also standard were all the expected safety items, including six air bags, dynamic stability traction control, roll stability control and side impact and whiplash protection systems. Unexpected were seatbelt reminders for all five seating positions and a security system with a backup battery for the siren. Take that, you clever auto thieves who think you can just slide under the car and cut the battery cable to disable the alarm.
You see the problem. There’s enough on the safety features to fill multiple pages without even mentioning the car itself.
But here are some things you should know about the XC60. It’s a midsize crossover utility vehicle that’s based on the XC70 wagon and seats five. The seats are supportive and the cabin is nicely finished. The rear seat is also quite comfortable, though taller riders will wish for more leg room with the front seats moved back. Cargo room is good, too, and the cargo area is as nicely finished as the passenger cabin.
Three trim levels are offered: the base 3.2, the more powerful T6 and T6 R-Design. R-Design vehicles are sportier, with a more powerful engine, distinctive trim, 20-inch alloy wheels and sport suspension system.
“Prior to 2012, the R-Design was cosmetic,” says Brandon Munson, a sales associate at Mitchell Volvo in Simsbury. “For 2012, [there’s] more power and a lot of changes to the suspension.”
The 3.2 model features a 3.2-liter, 240-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is an option.
The T6 models use a smaller, but much more powerful, 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Its 300 horsepower pushes the XC60 from a stop to 60 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds, thanks in part to the alert shifts delivered by the standard six-speed automatic transmission. Our R-Design made the same run in seven seconds.
While the performance is exemplary, fuel economy is not. We averaged 19.3 miles per gallon in a week that saw more highway miles than usual. Premium fuel is recommended.
The R-Design sport suspension does its job well. Unlike some others, this sport suspension does not deliver a bone-jarring ride. The XC60 rides firmly, with some motions over big bumps, but the ride never turned harsh.
The handling is quite nice. Credit the R-Design suspension upgrade and the 20-inch tires. This tall Volvo tackles quick turns and a slalom course with a sense of confidence and stability that would be surprising in a much lower passenger car. Steering feel is good, too, making this family Volvo a pleasure to drive.
Starts at: $33,300
Engines: 3.2 3.0 Turbo
HP 240 300 (325 R-Design)
Torque 236 325 (354 R-Design)
EPA FWD 19/25 N/A
EPA AWD 18/24 17/23
Next Week: Buick Verano