Volvo XC60 — Convenience, luxury and safety

By David Finkelstein

With Volvo's award winning product mix, its consumer acceptance has gained traction, and sales in general have been noteworthy. This up-tick should continue with the introduction of such products as the XC60 two-row sport utility vehicle for 2016.

The new XC60 is supported with all new and stylish alloy wheels plus a 20-inch tire/wheel package that's included with the flagship R-Design model.

The vehicle went through major changes about two years ago. At that time the XC60's exterior received new styling from the windshield forward plus new body paint colors. Changes included a new hood, front fenders and fascia assembly giving the vehicle a wider and more confident appearance overall.

Redesigned headlights adjoin a bolder grille sporting a larger Volvo badge. Other enhancements include a lower front spoiler with bright trim, vertically mounted LED daytime running lights, front and rear skid plate decor and integrated exhaust pipe design.

Among the XC60’s roster of cabin appointments is a full suite of “near luxury” and “luxury” features as well as added conveniences with some of the most sought after cutting edge rolling technologies. This is all in addition to Volvo's continued leadership in automotive safety including a 5-star overall safety/crash rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration as well as a Top Safety Pick + r from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The XC60 was the world’s first vehicle with standard City Safety and the first in its segment to offer Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake. With the debut of Drive-E technology last year, Volvo introduced an all-new engine family, a new transmission and ECO+ fuel-saving functionality. Volvo’s Drive-E delivers remarkably efficient operation without compromising the driving experience.

Powering the SUV is Volvo's remarkably efficient T5 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It has direct fuel-injection and front-wheel drive and advanced fuel-saving techniques. This includes friction reduction componentry, advanced and seamless turbo boosting, accomplished combustion applied science and variable valve timing.

These efforts result in 240 horsepower and 258 lbs.-ft. of torque with fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg city/31 highway. Optional is the T6 Drive-E system which delivers even greater performance potential. This version of the 2.0-liter engine is fitted with both a turbocharger and a supercharger. The mechanically linked supercharger starts to function immediately at low revs while the turbo kicks in when airflow builds-up.

The combination provides linear output that offers the sensation of a larger, naturally aspirated engine yet with reduced weight and improved economy. The bottom line is 302 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque plus fuel economy estimates of 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Both engines are then mechanically linked with a highly efficient eight-speed “Geartronic” automatic transmission.

The transmission is designed to deliver smooth shifts for excellent drivability as well as reduced noise. A start/stop feature (which automatically stops the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop to save fuel), restarts when the driver releases the brake pedal. The start/stop feature can be switched off by the driver if so desired.

With the celebrated ECO+ fuel savings system, fuel saving is optimized using transmission shift points, engine control and throttle response. When activated by the driver, ECO+ can improve fuel economy by five percent depending on driving style, outside temperature and climate conditions.  And Volvo's All-Wheel Drive system with Instant Traction is available to help motorists negotiate most driving surfaces.

The ultimate XC60 R-Design version is engineered for drivers seeking performance with a turbo six cylinder engine. It generates 325-horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque as its mated with their AWD system and a six speed automatic.

Among the XC60’s roster of cabin appointments is a standard leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with aluminum inlays, mat black dash top, wood color scheme trim on front door panels, cloth-covered B-pillars, metal trim around air vents, quartz headliner, front door sill plates and a metal threshold for the cargo area.

As expected, the R-Design has a higher degree of exterior design cues as well as a higher level of luxury. Every XC60 receives a high-tech instrument cluster. The base model has an easy to read analog style cluster. An adaptive digital display employing thin film transistor technology is standard on the Premier and Platinum trim levels plus the R-Design models.

A premium 12-speaker, 650 watt Harmon Kardon sound package is optional as well as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

The list of standard safety features is very lengthy. For instance, the City Safety system uses advanced technology aimed at preventing or mitigating collisions occurring at speeds of 31 mph or less. It utilizes a closing velocity sensor to help determine whether a collision is likely. Depending on your speed, City Safety will either pre-charge the brakes or automatically brake the XC60 to help avoid a collision or lessen its impact.

The optional navigation system is updated with the latest roads however the screen is a bit small overall. At road test, the 2016 XC60 I drove had an MSRP after some added options and destination charges of $52,605. It's built and imported from Ghent, Belgium.