The second-generation XC60 has several trim levels to choose from: the entry-level Momentum, Inscription Expression (Recharge plug-in hybrid), R-Design and R-Design Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro and Polestar Engineered. The interior, regardless of trim, is cloaked in some classy materials.
The Inscription Pro we took out this week featured a frameless rearview mirror; heated steering wheel, windscreen and wiper blades; front seat backrest massage function; active bending headlights; keyless entry and start; head-up display; powered boot opening/closing; and puddle lights. It also came with driftwood inlays along the dash and centre console. The latter looks and feels far more expensive than it sounds.
Additional equipment in the Polestar Engineered trim includes a Harman Kardon premium audio system, aluminium front tread plates, Polestar’s ‘signature gold’ seatbelts and a stitched finish for the instrument panel. Volvo points out that Momentum is the most popular trim level, accounting for around 35% of total sales.
Inside the no-nonsense, business-like lounge of the five-seater XC60, the instrument cluster springs to life as you enter, displaying all the usual and critical driver information. Built-in light sensors control the brightness of the display that adjusts to exterior lighting conditions. Positioned on a central satin chrome stack of the uncomplicated dash is a single rotary jewel-like knob beneath a large feature-packed nine-inch portrait-oriented infotainment touchscreen.
Although new cars with minimalist cockpits are becoming increasingly common not just on Volvos but across the board, some of us still prefer to adjust the HVAC using old-fashioned dials while keeping our eyes on the road. The voice-activated control system works in tandem with the touchscreen. We used it to operate functions such as changing the cabin temperature, inputting an address in the sat-nav or changing radio stations. It generally worked fine although a little hit and miss.
The touchscreen is flanked by a pair of vertical chrome air vents. These have a silver central section – for directing the flow of air – that appears to ‘float’ in the middle of the vent. This is adjusted via a diamond-cut rotary control knob, which is also seen in Volvo’s 40 and 90 series cars.
We have often found that the steering wheel controls on Volvo models are particularly intuitive. The XC60 is no exception. The left-hand spoke offers control of driving-function related systems such as speed limiter, adaptive cruise control and so on. The right-hand spoke accesses all the crisp infotainment features, including audio, phone and navigation. The twist-and-go engine start mounted on the tunnel console was a joy to use.
The posh cabin is long and wide with an optional panoramic powered glass tilt roof providing lots of natural light in the back. The light-coloured interior further emphasises the sense of cabin space. Seating-wise, the power front seats allow plenty of headroom for six-footers, although the sunroof leaves a little less headroom in the back. Rear seat occupants also benefit from four-zone climate control which also cools the glovebox.
The boot holds 483 litres with rear seats in the upright position. Boot shape itself is deep and practical with no major wheel arch intrusion. Folding the 60/40 rear seats flat liberates 1,395 litres of space enabling a mountain bike to slip through the large power-operated tailgate which can be activated by pressing a button on the dash or underside of the boot lid.
Forward visibility is good with no major blind spots to get bothered about thanks to some relatively thin A-pillars. Rear visibility is not so great (it rarely is in any SUV), although a rearview monitor, bird’s eye view camera and Pilot Assist (see below) help during parking manoeuvres.
While the heated rear seats (outer edge of seats only) do not slide or recline like some rivals, the outer seats incorporate a neat storage idea in the shape of a compartment incorporated into the seat base that can store an iPad, book or magazine.
Storage-wise, the XC60 has plenty of sizeable rubber-lined cubbies with two cup holders in the front and rear. The rubber prevents objects from sliding around. We also like the attention to detail. For example, the storage bins are fitted with soft-close lids and the sides of the centre console are lined with carpet so you won’t graze your knuckles as you buckle up your seat belt.
Other comfort and convenience features fitted to the press tester included an interior air cleaner, wireless/inductive mobile phone charger pad located on the centre console, and power-folding second-row headrests.
Suppliers to the XC60 include Autoliv, Faurecia and Tenneco. Autoliv supplies the airbags; Faurecia the door panels and exhaust manifold for the gasoline-powered versions of the XC60. The car seemingly flies over bumpy country roads thanks to its controlled electronic suspension system, supplied by Tenneco. The XC60 uses the same suspension as the flagship XC90.
Connectivity and infotainment
Incorporated across the Volvo range is its so-called Sensus Connect. This cloud-based service allows the driver to find and pay for parking from the car, find a restaurant, stream favourite music and do a few more things besides. The driver can also have text messages read out loud without removing their hands from the wheel. Also falling under the auspices of Sensus Connect is Volvo On Call that allows drivers to communicate directly with their car via a smartphone application to lock, unlock, check fuel levels, locate the car and check mileage. The Sensus Connect infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G standards.
The sat-nav is also worthy of note. While all the usual apps are provided on Volvo’s Sensus Navigation, they include useful things like Glympse (send your location to friends and family); Send to Car (send a destination to the car from a phone using Volvo On Call); and Weather. Volvo On Call was initially developed as a telematics safety system that alerts the emergency services if you are involved in an accident, or if you need roadside assistance due to a flat tyre. It now also acts as a security system allowing stolen vehicles to be tracked. Other neat tricks include notification if your car alarm is triggered, remote car lock/unlock, flash headlight for location in a crowded car park and remote operation of the HVAC system.
The DAB sound system is engineered by Harman Kardon with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound. The set-up involves 10 speakers, surround sound digital processing and a total system output of 1,100 watts. More specifically, it includes an air-ventilated subwoofer integrated into the car’s body (as opposed to a freestanding unit) to provide low bass tunes, and a speaker on top of the dash. More specifically, the ‘Tweeter-on-Top’ technology minimises acoustic reflection from the windscreen while also reducing colouration, resulting in a sound that’s a more detailed, purer and truthful account of the information on a track.
Advanced driver assistance systems
As expected from Volvo, the XC60 comes wrapped in a safety blanket of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): Steer Assist (automatically provides steering input in an emergency to help avoid potential collisions), Oncoming Lane Mitigation (designed to prevent head-on collisions at certain speeds if you unwittingly drift out of lane, guiding you into your lane and out of the path of any oncoming cars) and Blind Spot Information Systems with Steer Assist (automatically applies the steering to bring the car back into its lane, again at certain speeds). The Run-off Road Protection is another useful ADAS feature that automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car inadvertently leave the road, while front seat frames with a collapsible section reduce vertical forces to help prevent spinal injuries.
It also features the carmaker’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology. Available across the XC60 range, Pilot Assist helps the driver to drive the car between the lane’s side markings using steering assistance as well as to maintain an even speed, combined with a preselected time interval to the vehicle ahead. It assists with the steering (up to 80mph) to keep the car within its lane and works with the adaptive cruise control to maintain the desired cruising speed or a safe distance from any vehicle in front. Pilot Assist can automatically accelerate and brake with the flow of traffic, right down to a standstill. The system is optimised for motorway driving and requires you to have your hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Other ADAS technologies include adaptive cruise control, rear parking and 360-degree surround-view cameras, cross-traffic alert and pedestrian detection. The spec list goes on.
On the road
The powertrain choices are three Recharge plug-in hybrids and four mild-hybrids (two B5 and one B6 petrol, and a B4 diesel), with power outputs from 197hp to 405hp. All versions are all-wheel drive except for the B5, which is available in front- or all-wheel-drive form. On-the-road prices start at £41,745 for the 250hp B5 Momentum front-wheel-drive version.
Our press review was powered by a T8 AWD plug-in hybrid unit with an automatic transmission. Customer research shows that Volvo Cars’ plug-in hybrids are now driven around half of the time in pure electric mode. This powertrain upgrade will increase that percentage, further cementing their position as ‘part-time electric cars’.
Seated for long-ish and winding journeys felt comfortable surrounded by a commanding and understated cockpit. Its minimalist yet elegant cabin swathed with soft-touch trim and supportive cream ventilated Nappa soft leather seats make this an undeniably snug place to sit for a few hours. On balance, the latest generation XC60 remains a solid, safe and sensible family choice, bristling with appealing spec. It’s easy to live with day-to-day. Although it doesn’t yet drive itself, the Pilot Assist goes some way to support this aim.
The XC60 is built alongside the V90 and XC90 at the carmaker’s Torslanda plant in Gothenburg, Sweden (Recharge plug-in hybrid versions are built in Chengdu, China.) Its rivals include the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Geely’s Volvo Cars sold 530,649 cars in the first nine months of 2021, up 17.6% compared with the same period last year. More specifically, the XC60 remained the best-selling model in the January-to-September period, at 162,596 cars (2020: 131,091), followed by the XC40 at 156,920 (2020: 121,905) and the XC90 with 80,402 (2020: 61,327).
For the first nine months of 2021, the number of cars sold online increased by more than 360% compared with the same period in 2020. This growth was driven by increasing customer demand in combination with a broadened offer in more markets. The Recharge line-up of chargeable models, with a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain, continued to be popular. Their share globally reached 24.9% for the first nine months of the year, and 26.9% in September.