NEW YORK, NEW YORK – People know Volvo to produce premium luxury cars that put safety at the top of the priority list. From the boxy and nearly sterile bricks of the 80’s and 90’s, to the new Chinese ownership today, the brand has really gone through a lot. The new second-generation XC90 (reviewed here) was released to critical acclaim (including being one of the front-runners for our very own DoubleClutch cars of the year), but it is the smaller XC60 mid-size crossover that has been the hero that Volvo needed. It sold in great numbers (compared to the rest of the Volvo lineup), and was good enough to allow Volvo to stretch out the product lifecycle. The XC90 brought the house down with its flagship design, and gave us all a glimpse of what Volvo’s new design and engineering philosophies would look like in the future.
The S90 luxury sedan distilled the XC90’s overall goodness into a more conventional four-door body. The payoff was delicious: improved driving dynamics from a lower centre of gravity and lower weight, and a gorgeous aesthetic all its own. The S90 itself went onto become our Car of the Year, and it is a car we’d all love to welcome into our own driveways. With Volvo on a roll, they’ve flown us to the New York International Auto Show to see the North American unveil of the all-new XC60 crossover utility vehicle.
If you’re thinking the XC60 is essentially an XC90 at about 66% scale, you’d be more or less right. What’s important is that it is built on the excellent Volvo “SPA” modular product platform. This means that it shares a good deal of engineering with its bigger brother, but in a smaller, two-row, five-passenger body. Hot styling cues such as the Thor’s Hammer LED daytime running lights make another appearance, though the side profile doesn’t stray far from the usual two-box layout common to essentially all crossovers. Out back, the taillight design borrows from the V60 (reviewed here) and V60 Cross Country, rather than the XC90. Bottom line, the new XC60 is a sharp-looking CUV that fits right in with the rest of today’s Volvo family.
Inside, the XC60 retains a lot of the XC90’s premium feel, with the large vertical capacitive touchscreen that dominates the centre stack – new XC90 owners should feel right at home. The gorgeous open-pore wood and “blond” leather make for a bright and airy feel, and the available Bowers & Wilkins entertainment system is sure to impress – it’s one of our favourites these days. Second row room is somewhat tighter than the XC90, but the cargo area is generously proportioned, even on the T8 plug-in hybrid. In short, the XC60 is a fantastic place to spend time.
Another perk of being on Volvo’s SPA platform is the ability to easily accept common powertrains. Right out of the gate, the new XC60 will be available with three different engine options. The base XC60 T5 features a turbocharged gasoline “Drive-E” in-line four, good for 250hp and 258lb-ft of torque. The XC60 T6 adds on a supercharger onto the intake, boosting output to 316hp and 295lb-ft. The big news is the availability of the XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid. Adding electrification to the T6 sees power jump to 400hp, with the flexibility we’ve come to love from the XC90 T8. Its centrally-mounted battery allows for a large capacity with little to no interior space compromise. It is a unique bargaining chip – many of its German competitors don’t offer this much choice when it comes to powertrains. Based on our own experiences with the XC90 T8, the XC60 T8 should prove to be a fantastic all-around product, with huge power reserves and genuinely impressive real-world efficiency results.
As we’ve come to know and expect, the new XC60 comes with the usual Volvo alphabet soup of safety suite acronyms. This includes items such as adaptive radar cruise control, forward collision warning with braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot information, lane keeping assist, and the list goes on. The XC90 brings to the table two additional new technologies: Steer Assist tries to mitigate head-on collisions, and Oncoming Lane Mitigation utilizes Steer Assist as well as the blind spot information systems to reduce the likelihood of lane change collisions.
What’s interesting is that only Volvo Canada will be announcing pricing at the New York International Auto Show – Volvo Cars US are keeping their lips sealed at the moment. Here’s what we know so far: in Canada, the XC60 will be sold in AWD formats only (the USA gets front-wheel drive on base models), and the base T5 AWD will start at $45,900 Canadian. This puts it smack dab in the middle of the heavyweights: Audi’s new Q5 starts at $44,950, and BMW’s X3 (in dire need of replacement) starts at $46,050. Cadillac’s new XT5 starts at $52,320 if you want all-wheel drive, but it does bring a standard V6 engine to the gunfight.
The new Volvo XC60 offers the buyer an alternative for those who aren’t really interested in another luxury crossover from Germany. When you can count a half dozen Q5s, X3s, and GLKs on your typical bedroom community suburb, it sometimes pays to be a little different. Volvo is still red hot with their new products, and the XC60 should prove to continue to be a hot seller. Expect a full week-long review here at DoubleClutch.ca once we get our hands on one for our usual week-long evaluation.