2010 Volvo XC60
Date Posted: February 24, 2010
By Zack Spencer
Volvo joins the premium compact crossover game with the XC60, a surprisingly fun car to drive.
The compact luxury SUV market has certainly grown over the last year with new entries like the Mercedes Benz GLK, Infiniti EX, Audi Q5 and Cadillac SRX. These vehicles join the BMW X3 and Acura RDX as pioneers in this fast growing segment. Volvo, not to be outdone, also has a new premium compact crossover called the XC60. What makes this vehicle unique is the very attractive starting price of $39,995. For buyers who don't want a Volvo wagon or the bigger and more expensive XC90, this makes an excellent alternative and a cheaper one too. Sure, there is a base model offered below $40,000 it is a bit misleading because the trim levels and options can add up quickly The three different trim levels include a 3.2L 6-cylinder FWD, then the 3.2 AWD ($44,495) and the top model is the 3.0L turbo called the T6 ($49,995). The base model gets 17-inch wheels and the other two models get 18-inch wheels.
The XC60 shares the same platform as the XC70 wagon but it looks smaller due to its taller dimensions versus the long a low wagon. The boxy shape of old Volvo's has thankfully faded into the past. Today's Volvo's have sculpted and flowing design that looks modern and refined. There is one area on the XC60 that is retro inspired and that is the back hatch and taillights. The shape is a tip of the hat to one of the most stylish Volvo's ever made, the P1800. This modern twist on a classic design was first re-introduced on the C30 hatchback a couple of years ago. Open the back and inside is a very big cargo area. It is almost deceiving how big it is in relation to the outside, almost an optical illusion. A power lift gate is only offered on the top model and rear-parking sensors are only available on the AWD version. There are a couple of things that need to be pointed out if you're shopping for this car. The back doors are not that big. When you step into the back seat it is no problem, but when trying to get out the passenger has to twist their foot to clear the small space between the door pillar and the seat bottom.
The dash is open and wide making this compact crossover feel substantial. So much is said about Audi and BMW having the best interiors in the business but this XC60 has plenty of soft-touch panels and the finish is very good, I'd be proud to own this based on looks and feel. The attractive base price is achieved by eliminating some features so cloth seats are standard on the base model and leather is on all other models. Bluetooth is not available on the base model and navigation only available on the AWD and top T6. The radio readout is small, listing one station at a time and does not list all the stations on the screen, which requires memorizing the pre-set buttons. The front seats come standard with bum warmers and the back seats can have heat too, if ordered. The back seat does offer a decent level of rear legroom, not huge, but okay. The back seat can also be equipped with integrated child booster seats that pop up from the seat bottom. If you have small children this option removes the need to fumble with awkward booster seats and is well worth the $500.
The XC60 is a compelling package and one standout is the power available. The 3.2L 6-cylinder has 235hp and 236 lb-ft of torque and the more expensive T6 offers 281hp from a turbo 3.0L 6-cylinder. The base 3.2L is a lively engine with more than enough power to get this vehicle off the line and cruise with no effort. The engine note at low speeds tends to drone but at higher RPM this fades away. The base 3.2L is so good that it makes me wonder why anyone would need the T6. The XC60 not only has engine choices but also three settings for the suspension to allow the driver to choose between comfort, sport and dynamic settings. Some adjustable suspensions don't provide much difference between settings but the difference between comfort and sport is rather dramatic, making the XC60 a bit of a chameleon. It is a rewarding vehicle to drive if you like a planted vehicle with lost of road feedback and European handling. The closest vehicle in this class that the XC60 reminds me of is the Acura RDX. The AWD model has an on-demand type system that under normal driving conditions sends 90% of the power to the front wheels, to reduce load on the engine, but can shift the torque to a 50-50 split for more traction.
It's amazing how quickly the auto industry finds a trend and then all the major players jump on that trend. The BMW X3 and Acura RDX established the compact luxury crossover market but now this segment has exploded with a vast array of choices. The XC60 fits nicely between the smooth and soft Mercedes GLK and the most dynamic of the group, the BMW X3. By providing good power, solid handling and a nicely finished interior along with the adjustable suspension, the XC60 appeals to a wide range of buyers. There are a few minor drawbacks, like the small foot opening by the back door, small radio readout and engine tone but on the whole the XC60 surprised me by how much I enjoyed driving it. Every time I was behind the wheel, I tried to think which of the luxury compact crossovers I would buy and the XC60 would certainly be in the running.
The Good, The Bad
Volvo's City Safety Technology can determine whether you are approaching a vehicle from behind too fast. If the driver fails to react in time, the City Safety will automatically apply the brakes in order to slow down the car either to avoid the collision, or reduce the impact.
I found the space between the gas pedal and the brake a bit narrow. If you wear big boots in the winter make sure they will fit.
Power: 3.2 L 6-cylinder with 235hp or turbo 3.0L 281hp
Fill-up: 12.2L/7.6L/100km (city/highway) FWD
Sticker price: $39,995