By Paula MacPherson
At first glance, the 2012 Volvo XC60 might seem like the perfect vehicle for a new driver. The lane departure and distance warning systems worked perfectly.
The active cruise control was particularly good at maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead while the City and Pedestrian Safety features strike me as being exceptionally valuable. These apply full braking power at speeds up to 20 miles per hour when traffic ahead stops or a pedestrian is detected in the vehicle’s path of travel.
Unfortunately, distractions are still present in the Volvo, although this car seems somewhat better than the competition in this regard.
Still, the center console controls make changing the radio station more of a challenge than necessary. Fortunately, climate control was relatively simple and the manual overrides for this automatic system are wonderfully intuitive.
Our XC60 had deeply tinted windows behind the front doors. This privacy glass masked the presence of other cars that were running without lights at dawn or dusk. The large panoramic sunroof was also heavily tinted, but afforded a great view straight up. I can imagine the fun of being a passenger while riding through midtown Manhattan.
Driving the XC60 proved to be an easy task. The steering takes a firmer touch than some other vehicles, but it’s responsive. Road and wind noise at highway speeds are kept nicely in check and the ride is comfortable.
The power tailgate, another option on our review car, is a nice touch that makes it easy to load groceries. As for this vehicle’s capacity, I’m guessing it could easily swallow enough provisions to keep a typical family fed for a month.
Performance and safety suggest this Volvo should be a top pick within this field. Unfortunately, the high cost with all the performance and safety gear – the XC60 starts around $30,000 but ours listed for $52,000 – and only so-so fuel economy dampened my enthusiasm.