Modern-era wagon: Volvo XC60 still a standout in crossover segment

Modern-era wagon: Volvo XC60 still a standout in crossover segment

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The consistently popular XC60 is Volvo s 5-seat, mid-size premium SUV and has been Volvo s best-selling model since 2009. Photo by Metro Creative Graphics

My tester this week put ear worms from ABBA into my head. That’s not a good thing. I don’t like ABBA. But like ABBA, my tester this week has Scandinavian roots. That’s still no excuse for Dancing Queen and Take a Chance on Me to lay roots in my head. Please, make it stop.

The 2017 Volvo XC60 is a midsize crossover. It is a little throwback to the days when Volvo made high-quality, safety-oriented, luxurious station wagons. Unfortunately, that also means it’s a little dated.

Unlike the larger, and award-winning XC90, the five-passenger XC60 needs an update and fresher look. For 2017, little is changed and with that comes a conservative-looking crossover in the truest of definitions.

It looks like a perfect blend of SUV and car. The front end is understated. The grille needs some design to add distinction. Daytime LED running lights add flare. The back end is by far the XC60’s best feature.

The taillights are everything the headlights are not. They’re flashy, modern and distinctive. At night, the XC60 is easy to spot. A rear spoiler flows well with the rest of the sporty-looking rear end.

Volvo vehicles aren’t known for their aggressive driving performance. Rather, they usually play it cool and offer just enough power and plenty of safety features. The base engine for the XC60 certainly follows form. A 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 240 horsepower. That’s adequate, but uninspiring. Thankfully my tester was the T6 version, which along with the R-Design trim, gets a supercharged and turbocharged engine. The addition of the supercharger translates to tremendous power and no lag off the line. This version makes 302 hp and 295 lbs.-ft. of torque.

This XC60, with the 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, is one of the most enjoyable small crossovers to drive. It grips the road, handles corners beautifully and is quick off the line. The transmission is flawless and this crossover is an ideal choice for any road conditions or any type of commute.

Inside, the XC60 doesn’t disappoint, but also doesn’t blow you away. As amazing as the XC90 is inside, and chock full of technology, the XC60 is conservatively designed. Sure, there are soft touchpoints throughout, but the XC60 lacks a wow factor. It’s not any nicer than the equally conservative Japanese luxury rivals. This is another area in which the XC60 needs an update. The plush front seats, with hand stitching, are comfortable.

In the back seat, the angled contour is ideal for adults. Both legroom and head room are maximized due to the angle of the rear seats.

The all-glass roof is really impressive. It permeates the vehicle with natural light, but also has a sun shade to cover up on bright days.

The infotainment system is clunky. There are too many menus to flip through to perform basic tasks. The location of the control knob in the middle of the dashboard is not intuitive either. Navigation is standard for all trims which is a bonus.

Fuel economy is on par for this ultra-competitive segment. It’s aided by an overly aggressive (re: annoying) start-stop technology. This system is quite sensitive and shuts the engine off very quickly. When you need to merge out in traffic from a stop, there’s a noticeable lag until the system re-engages.

The 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 has an EPA rating of 20 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway. The front-wheel drive version without the supercharged engine has a fuel rating of 23/30, so there are more fuel-efficient options. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged 23.2 mpg.

The XC60 is available in three trims: Dynamic, Inscription and R-Design. My tester was the Dynamic trim which came loaded with standard options including LED running lights, panoramic sunroof, roof racks, heated mirrors, collision alert warning, blind spot monitors, leather upholstery and a power rear lift gate. Starting price for the Dynamic trim is $46,350, which is competitive within the segment. My tester came with additional options like heated steering wheel, heated seats and 20-inch alloy wheels. My tester had a final MSRP of $52,495.

Having driven and loved the XC90, there’s room for improvement and upgrades on the XC60. I can’t wait for the next-generation XC60 to take this from a good crossover to something special. I also can’t wait until these ABBA songs get out of my head. “If you change your mind, I’m first in line …” Sigh.

2017 VOLVO XC60 T6 DYNAMIC

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $46,350/$52,455
  • Mileage…………………………………… 20 mpg/city; 27 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 302 hp/295 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Ghent, Belgium

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