What is it?
A hoicked-up, poshed-up family car loaded with safety kit to protect you and the little ’uns. Volvo has always done the family thing well but takes those qualities into the compact SUV sector with the XC60. And it’s a good one, with classy styling inside and out, and refined road manners. It’s easily a rival for the Land Rover Freelander… until things turn boggy, when the LR kicks its butt. To counter this, Volvo has facelifted it, bringing in neater looks and better engines.
The emphasis is on smoothness not speed from the XC60 engine range. Diesel D4 and D5 engines are where it’s at, with the five-cylinder D5 215 AWD engine our preferred choice. The smaller D4 four-cylinder is not as powerful, although still fair game. But this is where it gets muddled. Volvo has decided its future will be in fourcylinder motors, not five... right now, though, there are two D4 engines, both producing 181bhp: the FWD is the new four-cylinder, while the AWD sticks with the old five-cylinder. Yes, we’re baffled, too. Just buy D5 and be done with it. There is also a marginal-interest 3.0 T6 petrol with 281bhp. Swift, but at odds with the car’s relaxed nature.
The auto suits the XC60 well, so upgrade to that if you can. The fourwheel- drive system adds expense, so think hard about whether you really need it. It’s good in snowstorms, but doesn’t make it any more fun to drive. Vast amounts of safety kit might be great for piece of mind, but the warning bongs can be intrusive: anti-collision warning lights, blind spot monitors, lane departure buzzer, pedestrian detection. It’s all there. Shouting at you. Loudly
On the inside
What a lovely place to sit for a long journey. The dash is minimal but cool, and Volvo’s floating centre stack houses most of the controls while leaving space to store bits and pieces behind it. That intelligent use of space continues as you move through the car, with an elevated rear bench to give a better view of the road. It also has built in kiddie’s booster seats and a pop-out picnic table. The seats fold flat to open up a huge loadspace of 1,455 litres. This was clearly designed by someone who knows how to move a family down a road in style and comfort.
The engine and spec range is rather vast and unfathomable, but essentially there’s a choice to be had between a great engine with higher running costs, or a slightly underwhelming one that’s cheaper to run. The D5 is the nicest engine and delivers the same economy as the older D4 engine – the new D4 is impressive though, averaging a superb 64.2mpg. The six-cylinder petrol is only for people who don’t pay for their own fuel, with fuel economy of just 26.4mpg (and breathless CO2 to match).