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Volvo XC60 excels as turbo, supercharged plug-in electric crossover

Awards season is mostly over, but that doesn’t lessen the accolades for my tester this week, which has garnered a shelf full of awards. The 2018 Volvo XC60 won a large amount of … “of the year” awards, none more prestigious than the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. It was a justified and worthy recipient, in a generic and very crowded field.

It’s easy to mention how good this Swedish-built SUV is. And for once, when reviewing a Volvo, I won’t take a jab at the worst thing to come out of Sweden (which of course is ABBA).

Rather, the XC60 is not just the best Volvo on the road, it’s one of the best, most complete SUVs on the road today. If they had combined all of the awards for 2018 and chosen one, and only one, vehicle to win all around best of the year, it very likely could be the XC60. It’s that good, folks.

For 2018, this crossover is completely redesigned. The handsome exterior offers a thoroughly modern look. The XC60 is one of those rare vehicles that looks good from the front, side and back. There isn’t a bad side. From the just-right-sized grille to the flashy rear spoiler and the chiseled side profile, the XC60 is good looking. If you’re wanting a more-aggressive looking crossover, you’ll want to look elsewhere, as the XC60 has more mass appeal that will certainly resonate with families and executives.

There are three engine options for the XC60, starting with a tame and underwhelming T5 engine which is a turbocharged four-cylinder. Then the T6 engine gets both a turbo and a supercharged engine, taking the horsepower to a respectable level. But my tester was the fast, powerful and all-around-fun T8 powerplant which is a plug-in hybrid combined with a supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

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The T8 has a combined 400 horsepower and 472 lbs.-ft. of torque. There’s an 8-speed automatic transmission that does a great job handling the turbo and supercharger. There’s little to no lag and smooth shifting. Off the line, the torque is noticeable. In fact, in all gears and speeds, the XC60’s performance is outstanding. The handling is amazing, too. With all-wheel drive, this SUV cuts turns and smooths out the open road in such a fun way, it will resonate with European vehicle enthusiasts.

The semi-autonomous driving features included on the XC60 make it even cooler. This isn’t ready for full autonomy yet, but it’s one of the more technology-advanced vehicles on the road right now.

Inside, there’s ample luxury. When compared to other European luxury brands, it may seem more simplistic, but with fine touches like a tailored dashboard and wood inlay décor, the XC60 feels special. Plus, the leather-clad seats are comfortable for all five passengers. The front seats ramp up the outstanding features with thigh extending cushions and massaging seats as well as heated and cooled front seats.

There is 22.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the second-row seats, which is above average for the segment. Fold the second row flat and the cargo area extends to 63.3 cubic feet. A hands-free liftgate makes accessing the back easy. A gigantic moonroof adds elegance to the interior and was one of the first things all my passengers noted.

A nine-inch touchscreen dominates the center stack and dashboard. It almost detracts from the beautiful design of the interior. But, overall, the XC60 is chock full of advanced infotainment technology and has smart phone adaptation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is reasonably easy to use, but has a few quirks, as all the European models seem to have.

There is no EPA rating for this vehicle at this time, but fueleconomy.gov has the XC60 with the hybrid technology rated over 50 mpg. On standard gasoline it averages around 25 mpg. So, adding the PHEV technology to the SUV really makes it a fuel-efficient wonder.

The XC60 T8 comes in three trims. My tester was the top-of-the-line Inscription trim (what a cool-sounding trim name). Starting price for this trim is $52,900, which is very competitive. But, as is the case with many European models, many of the options and features you want to come with an added price. As such, my tester with the semi-autonomous features, the upgraded leather and massaging seats and advanced technology took the final MSRP to $71,590. That’s a pretty penny, even for an award-winner.

It’s hard to find too many faults with the Volvo XC60 and it’s easy to see why it’s won so many accolades. This SUV has everything you could want from a vehicle.

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