Volvo has been a master of wagons for decades, and the sturdy, boxy 240S sets the standard for upscale suburban transport.
So it’s no surprise when its tall wagons, the XC crossover, push that bar higher to give the Lexus RX 350 a run for its money. The XC does so with a good deal of style and luxury.
The tested Volvo XC60′s shoulders are broad and well sculpted with the taillights tall and balanced above curved rear haunches, a welcome styling change.
While always a premium-priced wagon, today’s Volvos push the luxury envelope and driving experience while delivering a bit of punch via the drive train. The 300-horse V6 with twin-scroll turbos ups the torque to 325 lb.-ft. There is a slight turbo lag, but once it kicks in, the 4,200-lb. wagon jumps to life. This is no slouch in the power department, and it will easily pull 3,300 lbs.
The six-speed automatic with manual shifting option is seamless and feels perfectly geared to effectively power the all-wheel-drive wagon to highway speeds. With AWD, the wagon feels as if it’s on rails with maximum traction even on wet roads.
Aiding the car’s luxury feel is a 109.2-inch wheelbase that spreads out road bumps. The test car’s ride was firm and well controlled. Road cracks and bumps are easily dealt with, yet you don’t feel as if you’re being cushioned too much. I liked the feel and credit the touring ride tuned suspension, with MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a multilink rear system with coils and shocks.
Handling is fairly precise. The XC sticks to the pavement well, turns corners flat, and hugs apexes like a sporty sedan. Not sure I’d call this fun, but certainly pleasant and responsive.
Gas mileage with the turbo is mediocre, the wagon rated at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. I got just 18.4 mpg in about an even 50-50 mix of city and highway driving.
The handsome test crossover was listed as being “seashell metallic” in color, a metallic gray.
Volvo’s interior was easily one of the finest I’ve sat in all year.
The test car featured brown-over-tan leather that was soft and stylish with brown inserts in its tan seats and door panels, plus polished chrome surrounding the center stack down onto the console and trimming parts of the doors and on the tan leather steering wheel’s hub. It wasn’t just the materials, which look rich, but the design and overall layout looks great.
Amenities include power mirrors and sun screen over the panoramic sunroof. Volvo puts buttons to open the power rear hatch and fuel filler doors within easy sight on the dash’s left, along with an automatic headlight control.
Gauges are two simple circles in front of the driver for the tachometer and speedometer, with all the trip computer and gas info displayed digitally in the center of each circular gauge. The trip computer is easily operated by a stalk to the wheel’s left, but oddly this is a manual tilt/telescope wheel. That seems peculiar given the car’s price.
The XC60′s seats are power controlled, with three memory buttons for the driver, plus three levels of seat heat for both front and rear seat passengers. That heat is part of a $900 option package.
Head and legroom are generous front and rear, and the soft leather seats are well contoured and extremely comfortable. The rear seats fold down for extra cargo room, although there’s a sizable 34.0 cubic feet, even without the seats down. The well insulated quiet of the XC60′s interior is restful and relaxing.
The radio, although it sounds great, is less relaxing. That’s because you must press the “power” button for five seconds to turn the radio on or off. Not sure what benefit that delivers, as no other automaker does this. Also, there was a glitch in my test car. Twice the radio’s volume did not work when I first started the car in the morning. Yes it was on, but the volume knob only showed it was working on the screen. There was no sound, until I pulled over and restarted the car.
I liked the park assist camera that helps you see out the back, but got tired of the front and rear assist system beeping when you pull between cars in a parking space. I think we generally can see there’s a car next to us when we are parking. That park assist along with navigation, a premium sound system, HomeLink, active xenon headlights that help you see around corners and electric fold-down rear headrests are part of a $4,600 Platinum package.
You can live without much of that, although I’d like to see the rearview camera as a separate option.
Still, at a starting price of $40,450 you expect a fair amount of amenities. This one added in a lot of extras to go beyond $48,000. A base XC60 3.2 begins at $34,200 and gets 2 mpg better gas mileage. Going to the top-level XC60 T6 R-Design Platinum pushes the price to $48,750.