Volvo XC60 — An alluring vehicle

By David Finkelstein

To my amazement, while recently test driving the 2015 Volvo XC60 wagon, a number of motorist and pedestrians alike stopped me, asking about the vehicle. In the 43 years that I've been test driving and writing about new automobiles, no one has ever inquired about a wagon, with a twinkle in their eye and a smile on their face.

The alluring draw that this new automobile had on people was obvious by the high accolades they gave to this vehicle. Volvo has really raised the bar when it comes to styling their product mix. Of course, that's the first thing most people notice when they see any new vehicle on the road.

Additionally, Volvo's reputation in respect to break through automotive safety advances is the clear message being telegraphed with their ads and marketing in general. That level of automotive safety is high on the list of necessities for many new car buyers. As a matter of fact for this year alone, XC60 has earned yet additional safety awards such as a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and as being a Top Safety Pick + honor from IIHS for overall performance. This testing reflects their new small overlap testing procedures.

Reliability and durability are beginning to be more of a hallmark with Volvo automobiles and within their global footprint. And now with notable fuel mileage numbers and a genuine concern for the environment, Volvo Motors is advancing at a fast pace with their popularity.

Last year’s design refresh clearly graced XC60 with completely new styling from the car's windshield forward. Some of the changes included a totally new engine hood cover, redone front fenders and a lower fascia assembly that emphasize a wider and more confident appearance of the vehicle. The redesigned more stylish headlights flank a bolder front grille which of course houses a larger Volvo emblem.

Other enhancements included a lower front spoiler with bright trim, vertically mounted bright LED daytime running lights, front and rear skid plate and integrated exhaust tail pipe design. When it comes to tire and wheel packages, Volvo has you covered. Attractive 18-inch wheels and tires are standard. However, they do offer 20-inch alloy wheel and tires as an option to consider. If we can take a moment to explore the car's interior, every XC60 receives a high-tech electronic instrument cluster. The base model has an easy to read analog style dash while an adaptive digital display employing Thin Film Transistor technology is standard on the Premier and Platinum trim levels as well as being offered with other variances of XC60,  depending on the trim level.

Among the XC60’s roster of interior features is a standard 3-spoke steering wheel, "off black" dash top, wood decor trim on front door panels, cloth covered B-pillars, metal trim around air vents, silver decor frame for the headlight module, Quartz headliner, front door sill plates and a metal threshold for the cargo area. Seating was very comfortable and will accommodate five adults.

The rear hatch gives access to the large cargo compartment which I might add is nicely finished with premium high end materials. Most controls and operation functions are self explanatory but you might want to have the owners manual handy just in case you get somewhat puzzled.

XC60's standard Volvo Sensus system lets drivers manage information from the audio unit, navigation system (if equipped) and other functions, displaying them onto a seven-inch high-definition color monitor in the upper part of the center console. It allows the driver to explore the high-tech features of the vehicle and personalize them to suit his or her needs.

Volvo On Call is a new standard sophisticated telematics system that includes a driver-activated SOS button, automatic collision alert and GPS location tracking by emergency service operators. If an airbag or seatbelt pre-tensioner is deployed, emergency assistance is notified even if the driver is unable to press the button. The driver can also create a Wi-Fi hotspot inside the car allowing passengers to connect their smart phone, laptop or tablet to the Internet. The optional navigation system has improved graphics including 3D imaging, improved voice recognition, new routing options and built-in apps.

The Platinum trim level includes the new Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System, also available on other trims as a stand-alone option. It features innovative Dirac Live sound tuning technology, 12 premium speakers and 650 watts of auto sound. A standard high-performance audio system on base and Premier trims include a CD player, HD Radio, AUX and USB inputs, MP3 capability, 160-watt amplifier and eight speakers. Also included is Bluetooth hands-free phone interface with audio streaming and Sirius Satellite Radio with a complimentary six-month subscription.

The Volvo XC60 offers a full spectrum of performance possibilities for 2015 with the widest array of powertrain choices since its introduction. With the debut of Drive-E technology, Volvo introduces an all-new engine family, a new transmission and ECO+ fuel-saving functionality. Drive-E delivers remarkably efficient operation without compromising the driving experience.

It's the latest evolution of Volvo’s small premium utility following last year’s extensive styling changes. Increased luxury, enhanced convenience and safety innovations all help form this automobile.

The base car has a starting price of $36,200. The high-end XC60 model T6 AWD R-Design Platinum has a pricing structure of $50,750. Destination charges of $925 are additional.

David Finkelstein can be contacted at