DENVER, COLORADO – The midsized XC60 crossover is just about the oldest thing currently in Volvo Canada’s lineup. It has been around for the better part of a decade, and surprisingly, it’s still quite good and relevant. This fall, joining the excellent 90-cluster of products is the 2018 Volvo XC60, which has fierce competition to go up against. Using the latest in technology, safety, and of course, Scandinavian design, the new crossover should have no problems quickly climbing to the top of the favourites list in its segment. We jetted over to Denver, CO for a first drive of this vehicle in the stunning mountains.
The 2018 model marks the debut of the second generation for the XC60, and while it maintains a familiar overall profile, it’s a steady evolution over its predecessor. The fascia is immediately reminiscent of the larger XC90 (reviewed here), complete with the new signature Thor’s Hammer LED headlights, sharp daytime running lights and elegant grille. The profile is conservative, with a handsome overall look and the standard large Volvo taillamps that run down both sides of the rear end. Higher trim models get a decklid-mounted spoiler, up-sized wheels and ground effects on the R-Design.
Anybody who has spent any time inside the S90 (reviewed here), V90 or XC90 will instantly familiarize with the cockpit of the new XC60. It’s simply a marvelous cabin design, with excellent ergonomics and the Volvo Sensus display (with Apple CarPlay connectivity). Vehicles with lighter shades of leather look more aesthetically pleasing and make the interior appear deceptively large, but this is at the expense of becoming dirty very quickly – a matter to be taken seriously for any buyers with small children or pets that will be spending time in the car. Regardless, tied closely with the Mercedes-Benz GLC (reviewed here), the XC60 has a near-perfect interior and in this regard, is already a class leader.
The new XC60 has a 112.8” wheelbase, which, though 3.6” more than its predecessor, comes in at nearly five inches shorter than the larger XC90. One large complaint we had with the outgoing model was a lack of rear passenger space. This has been rectified along with more space for the driver and front passenger. Yours truly, at 6’1 was able to comfortably sit behind myself with no issues. Overall visibility from the driver’s seat is also excellent, trumping the current Lexus NX (reviewed here) and remaining quite close with the Audi Q5. The blind spot monitoring will come in handy though, because the one challenge with sightlines is a small rear quarter window.
As wholly expected from Volvo, there is no shortage of safety and technology within the XC60, if the V90 Cross Country (reviewed here) wasn’t already a good preview. This crossover packs the latest version of Volvo’s Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous driver assistance system which seamlessly takes over steering, acceleration, and braking at speeds up to 130 km/h. Available as an option on most trims, this is one of the most seamless driver assist systems currently available on the market, and from our brief testing here, operates very cleanly and is easy to set up. The City Safety technology now has Steer Assist, and can join forces with the blind spot monitoring system (BLIS), minimizing the chance of collisions during lane changes.
At the time of launch, the XC60 will be available to Canadians with a choice of three distinct powertrains, though all three are essentially based on a 2.0L inline four-cylinder. The entry level T5 is good for 250 horsepower from its turbocharged 2.0L four, while the one most will opt for is the T6. This one is twin-charged (which, in Volvo speak, is both super and turbocharged) and pushes 316 horsepower at 5,700RPM and 295 lb-ft. of torque at 2,200RPM. The big kahuna, however, is the XC60 T8. Still a 2.0L inline-four, this one a plug-in hybrid and hooks up the gas engine to an electric motor. Combined output for this model is 400 horsepower, which currently puts it ahead of every single competitor.
Under the stately, elegant skin of the XC60 lies Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, the same underpinnings we’ve seen on the 90-cluster of vehicles. It’s a delightful chassis that has tons of capability, and ride quality is very good as well. Models optioned with larger wheels and lower-profile tires will suffer from firmness to a point of harsh, but aside from that, the XC60 rides confidently and doesn’t have the jarring ride of the lower-trim XC90s. Air suspension is optional, and makes for an even cushier ride – this setup also raises itself up to 1.5” in Off-Road mode.
The XC60 does ride well but isn’t the quietest in its segment. The T6 models we sampled did exhibit a slightly noticeable grumble from the Drive-E engine. The Lexus and Audi are quieter at highway speeds, though the Lexus NX cannot be equipped with an adjustable air suspension and is definitely more dated than the Volvo. Plus, rivals may be a bit quieter but are nowhere close to the Volvo in seat comfort or long-distance serenity. Steering is electrically assisted but as with other Volvos, the turning radius is tight and makes parking or navigating the cottage trails a breeze.
Volvo Canada prices the XC60 from $45,900 for the T5 model, only available in Momentum trim. Stepping up to the T6 will set buyers back $52,200, and will be offered in Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription trim levels. The top dog T8 eAWD model is stickered at $69,550, and can be had in R-Design and Inscription. All Canadian models are equipped with all-wheel-drive as standard equipment. It’s worth noting that the T8, being a plug-in hybrid, will qualify for significant rebates from the government as a green vehicle.
All-new for this year, the 2018 Volvo XC60 has been redesigned from the ground up, and doesn’t share a single body panel with the model it replaces. It offers the latest in Volvo’s legendary safety suite and technology to the midsize crossover market, and is the only vehicle in its class to currently offer a plug-in hybrid variant, which is available right at launch. More than just a competent ute, the new XC60 has quickly become one of our favourites in the midsize luxury segment, and we will be spending more time with it very soon, as it is already arriving in Canadian dealerships at the time of this writing.
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