Another step in the company’s plan to electrify their lineup over the next several years.
Now in its second generation, the Volvo XC60 is one of the brand’s top selling vehicles in North America. Volvo has managed to find a happy median of design, technology and safety that has managed to keep loyal customers happy while attracting new blood in a very finicky market. With all of their sport utility vehicles now offering a hybrid option, such as this 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge Expression, it looks like their goal for full electrification by 2030 is well under way.
As one of the best looking luxury compact sport utilities on the market, not much has changed from last year’s model and in truth, that’s not a bad thing. While most competitors are either forgettable or over-styled, the XC60 does not suffer from this problem. It retains its distinctive Volvo design while remaining modern and completely functional. The large grill and Thor’s Hammer headlights provide an imposing front end. The side view is clean and the line going from front to rear arches out. As such, the rear looks wider with the boxy rear hatch and signature vertical taillights.
Our XC60 Recharge Expression model, a mouthful to pronounce, comes standard with 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels that seem rather small in this utility vehicle’s overall design. Upgraded 20-inchers are available for an extra $1,000. Move up to higher trim levels for larger standard wheels.
Jump inside and you find a warm and comforting interior that’s more subtle and elegant than those found in the Acura RDX or BMW X3. Everything is ergonomically well-placed and easily within reach. The design is modern yet doesn’t overwhelm the driver with gimmicks that can distract. Personally, I have never been a fan of portrait infotainment screens and that being present here hasn’t changed my mind. The standard navigation screen is too small and the Sensus system takes too much time to load when starting the vehicle.
Though soft materials are used throughout, there is some hard cheap plastic on the centre console that can be off-putting in this price range. Thankfully, the seats are extremely comfortable and the level of adjustability available will keep passengers extremely comfortable on those long road trips. Unlike its American counterparts, these seats provide a decent of comfort without the oversized padding and bolsters for a more streamlined appearance.
Cargo space comes in at 505-litres behind the second row and is easily accessible. It may not be the largest capacity available compared to other hybrid competitors, but loading stuff into the XC60 Recharge is super easy due to the flat floor.
Power comes from a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine paired to a 11.6-kWh lithium-ion battery and an 87-hp electric motor that manages to deliver a combined 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft. of torque. With this also being a plug in hybrid, it can operate solely on electric power for around 31 kilometers. When driving even slightly spiritedly, getting 20-kilometers of range on pure EV mode was a challenge.
Even with this amount of power going through the standard all-wheel-drive system, the Volvo XC60 Recharge doesn’t provide the thrust expected with these power figures. Expect a 0-100km time of around six seconds. Thankfully, the power comes through smoothly via the eight-speed automatic transmission, which is a nice touch over the CVT configuration that many other hybrid crossovers use.
Overall fuel economy will strongly depend on how the XC60 is used. For those who can plug in at home or work, and have a commute that’s reasonably short, it can theoretically be run solely on electric propulsion. In a combined cycle with no plugging in, we observed about 9.0L/100km functioning as a conventional hybrid.
As a compact luxury crossover, the XC60 Recharge provides a quiet and luxurious ride that is expected in this segment. Wind noise is absent and harsh road imperfections do very little to disrupt those inside, though the complicated four-cylinder engine still feels grumbly. In sport mode, the suspension and steering weight both get more aggressive, meaning the XC60 won’t exactly embarrass itself when taking an on-ramp.
The Volvo XC60 has a starting price of $48,500 with the regular 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and no electrification. Moving up to the Recharge Expression model we have here will set buyers back $66,650 to start. This adds the plug-in hybrid powertrain previously known solely by the “T8” moniker, along with a bunch of other standard features over the base model. Opt for the higher Inscription trim level and the starting price jumps to $75,425 before options.
The 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge Expression marks another step in the company’s plan to electrify their lineup over the next several years. It may lack the EV range that some consumers would like, and fuel economy would be considered average at best, but make no mistake this is not a brand to be taken lightly. The XC60 has the luxury chops to compete with some of the best in the industry and with a loyal base of customers, we should expect great things in the next few years.