Volvo XC60 SUV review
“A stylish SUV with a beautiful interior and impressive onboard tech, the Volvo XC60 has plenty of upmarket appeal”
- 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 more true 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 and it has gone on to become the brand's most popular model.
Both models have plenty in common, from the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlight strip to those huge rear lights. A refresh for 2021 tweaked the design of the XC60's nose, making it slightly sharper and more aggressive but the main change was the introduction of Android Automotive software for the infotainment system, ushering in features powered by Google apps. This makes Volvo's setup one of the best to use.
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 only diesel option remaining is the four-wheel-drive B4, which features mild-hybrid assistance that helps it to return a great blend of performance and economy. Thanks to its 195bhp, it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds but it also manages fuel economy of up to 44.8mpg.
If you want front-wheel drive, you’ll need the B5 petrol mild-hybrid model, which boasts 247bhp and offers 38.1mpg and 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds. You can pick the B5 with all-wheel drive for an extra £1,200 or so. The range-topping petrol option is the 296bhp B6 mild-hybrid, which is all-wheel-drive only and drops the 0-62mph time to 6.2 seconds.
If low running costs are a high priority, Volvo offers two XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid models which we've reviewed separately.
On the road, the Volvo XC60 is comfortable, smooth and quiet. Even in R-Design trim with 19-inch wheels, it still feels softer than German rivals and is even more relaxed with optional adaptive suspension fitted. 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 and Inscription trims, which adds a suite of convenience and technology upgrades. An Inscription Expression trim also adds a black grille and chrome exterior trim and roof rails, along with diamond-cut black alloy wheels for a unique look. Even from the off, the XC60 is a very well equipped SUV, with highlights including the nine-inch portrait infotainment, now running Android-based software, 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.
The Volvo XC60 finished 30th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, ahead of rivals including the Lexus NX and Audi Q5. The model wasn’t ranked in 2021 but the smaller XC40 did even better with an eighth place overall.
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. The facelift ushered in new tech to help prevent collisions while reversing.
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 reasonably affordable to run.