Volvo XC60 SUV review
"The Volvo XC60 has the technology and beautiful interior of the XC90, but in a smaller, more stylish body"
- Comfortable and stylish interior
- Lots of equipment as standard
- Impressive safety technology
- Smallish boot
- More expensive than before
- Not as much fun as an F-Pace
Few brands have enjoyed such a renaissance as Volvo. Its cars retain an enviable reputation for safety, but have adopted an upmarket edge that puts the company alongside the likes of Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover. Transformations like that don’t come easily, but Volvo has managed it through stunning design, market-leading technology and some of the best interiors in the business.
Nowhere is this truer than with the Volvo XC60, its mid-size SUV rival to the likes of the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Volvo has managed to distil the best of the larger XC90 into a smaller and (slightly) more affordable package.
Both models have plenty in common, from the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlight strip to those huge rear lights. A very light refresh for 2021 tweaked the design of the XC60's nose, but the main change was the introduction of Android Automotive software for the infotainment system, ushering in features powered by Google apps.
Volvo’s strategy of using the same engines across all its models means the XC60 shares more than just its big brother’s good looks. It boasts a range of petrol, diesel and electrified engines, all 2.0-litres in size, powering all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The entry-level diesel is now the B4 (D), featuring mild-hybrid assistance, giving it a great blend of performance and economy. Thanks to its 194bhp, it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds, but it also manages fuel economy of up to 44.8mpg when equipped with four-wheel drive. After this comes the B5 (D) diesel, which uses the same engine and mild-hybrid tech but gets an increased power output of 232bhp. It manages up to 44.1mpg and manages 0-62mph in only 7.1 seconds.
If you don't drive as many miles, the mild-hybrid petrol range could appeal but only if you can stomach fuel economy of around 30 to 37mpg from the B5 and B6 when equipped with four-wheel drive. There is a front-wheel drive version of the B5 petrol engine, which offers slightly improved fuel economy of up to 38mpg.
If low running costs are a high priority, Volvo offers two ‘Recharge’ plug-in hybrid models in the XC60 line-up. The entry-level T6 model produces 335bhp with CO2 emissions of up to 55-64g/km. The more powerful flagship T8 Twin Engine hybrid, which we’ve reviewed separately, produces 401bhp, with CO2 emissions of 56-64g/km. There's also a T8 Polestar Engineered model that brings extra performance.
On the road, the Volvo XC60 is comfortable, smooth and quiet. We’d pass on the R-Design trim, though. It looks great, but its big wheels spoil the ride unless you choose the optional adaptive suspension, too. Even then, it’s not quite as comfortable as the Mercedes GLC or as sporty as the Jaguar F-Pace, but it occupies a desirable middle ground.
Inside, despite the XC60’s sleek outline, Volvo hasn’t sacrificed practicality and there’s enough room for five people. Knee, shoulder and headroom are all plentiful in the front and back, but as in most rivals, the middle rear seat is too firm for long trips, so is best used only in a pinch. The boot will take 505 litres of luggage – more than the Lexus NX and Porsche Macan, but 145 litres fewer than the F-Pace.
Trim levels are Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription, but there’s also a Pro version of the R-Design trim, which adds its own suite of convenience and technology upgrades. Even from the off, the XC60 is a very well equipped SUV, with highlights including the nine-inch portrait infotainment screen from the XC90, DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav, 18-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate and keyless entry.
R-Design trim adds a sporty accent, with exterior and interior styling upgrades such as larger wheels, dual exhaust pipes, sports seats and a black interior headlining, while firmer suspension lessens the extent that the XC60 leans in corners. However, it makes for a less comfortable ride without adding greatly to driver enjoyment.
Inscription is the most luxurious offering: its Nappa leather seats and ambient lighting provide a far more upmarket atmosphere inside than its predecessor could offer, while its Orrefors crystal gear lever helps set it apart from rivals.
As has come to be expected of a Volvo, a long list of safety equipment is fitted as standard and a convincing five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score is the result. In fact, the car’s 98% score for adult occupant protection is class-leading.
All in all, the XC60 stacks up very well as a capable and safe family SUV of the highest quality. It’s not a ‘driver’s car’, but it’s very comfortable to travel in and surprisingly economical.