Safe. Relaxing. Good to ride in. Nicely different to the standard choices
Not the most captivating driver's car, but then it is an SUV
What is it?
This is the middle child of the Volvo SUV range – smaller and less fancy than the large XC90, but roomier and more family oriented than the diminutive XC40. In the wider car market it sits smack bang in the middle of the most crowded and competitive segment there is, the mid-size crossover.
Still, whatever the competition, Volvo’s XC60 comes with enough of the Swedish firm’s solid safety, pared back elegant design and the sort of alternative luxury that drew fans to Saab to help it stand out.
Neither is it distracted by any of that nonsense around pretending to be a lifestyle oriented off-roader. Does anyone still want their SUV to pretend it’s a 4x4? Surely we’re long past that. Neither is it wearing the pretence of track-lapping athleticism. So it's not hampered by the heavy and cumbersome hardware of the former, or the harsh inflexibility of the latter.
This middle-of-the-road approach of course lands it some stern rivals. The Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5 and BMW X3 are all right there and implacably competent. But the Volvo feels very different inside – while the Germans go off in one direction, the XC60 has the confidence to follow its own path.
It’s been around a while, hasn’t it?
This is the second-generation version of the XC60 – the first one was launched in 2008 and lasted for a solid nine years on sale. It was Volvo’s bestselling car, so you could understand why they’d be reluctant to take it off sale. This current version has been around since 2017, and while other carmakers would be thinking about winding things up, the XC60 remains timeless and fresh.
With the second version of the XC60, Volvo made efforts to retain what made the car appealing to buyers while improving on some of the weaker areas – so it got better suspension, fancier tech and more of the sorts of safety features that Volvo buyers find so reassuring.
So what engines does it offer?
It’s actually a fairly simple choice – you can opt for 2.0-litre petrol or diesel numbers with 48V mild hybrid tech to try and save a bit of money, or there’s a plug-in hybrid set-up that comes with two levels of power from the petrol engine and a 14.7kWh battery that’s good for an official EV range of 47 miles.
The petrol offers 247bhp and 180g/km CO2, as well as a 0–62mph time of 6.9secs, which means a slightly disappointing official fuel consumption of 31.7mpg, while the diesel and its 194bhp (167g/km) is rather slower to 62mph (8.3secs) but manages 39.2mpg. The T6 PHEV set-up brings 345bhp (5.7secs 0–62mph) and the perkier T8 offers 449bhp for a 4.9secs 0–62mph run. Both PHEVs are rated at 24g/km CO2 and 217mpg (a meaningless figure – keep it juiced up with electricity and you’re laughing, let the battery run out and you’re looking at sub-30mpg).
As ever, all Volvos are limited to 112mph, because who really needs to go any faster than that?
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
We’re big fans of modern Volvos, and the XC60 is no exception. It takes most of the good bits from the bigger 90-series cars and SUVs and distils them into a smaller package.
It’s relaxing to be in thanks to the superb, calming cabin (get it in a bright colour, you won’t regret it… unless you have kids), and mostly relaxing to drive. It does things differently to the equivalent BMW, Mercedes and Audi, and good though those cars are, is all the better for it.
We’d argue it’s a much cooler, less offensively aggressive looking thing to potter about in too. It’s not the sportiest nor the cheapest SUV, but it’s probably the most socially acceptable.