Volvo XC60 T8 — Award-winning SUV

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Volvo has promised to electrify its entire lineup of cars and crossover SUVs by the 2019 model year. This does not mean that Volvo has taken leave of its good sense and will make its entire fleet run on pure electricity. What this does mean is a plug-in hybrid version of every vehicle will be available throughout the lineup.

And this is a win-win for all, giving those of a greener persuasion the opportunity to drive all electric for their daily chores (providing their daily chores don't involve more than about 30 miles), and giving power junkies the extra horsepower to very quickly go fast. The downside — and there is always a downside to the electrifying business — is that the plug-in hybrid will cost considerably more than its all-gas sibling for the savings of only a handful of miles to the gallon.

The award winning XC60 has many excellent traits including horsepower and torque numbers and corresponding EPA ratings. There are three 2.0-liter engines (one combined with electric motors) available — The T5, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque; the T6, a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter making 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque; and the range-topping T8, a plug-in hybrid that combines the T6 engine driving the front wheels and two electric motors creating 400 horsepower.

Despite Volvo's electrification effort, we think the mid-level T6 offers the best balance of price, performance and gas mileage. But after you add the electric motors the T8 is by far the performance champ and is a first-class luxury crossover when optioned out.

The T8 plug-in hybrid — such as out test vehicle — can complete a 0-to-60 run in 4.9 seconds according to Volvo and finish off a quarter mile in 13.7 seconds @ 101 mph. While its base price is $53,900, our test vehicle with options was a staggering $71,590. EPA mileage is 26 city, 28 highway and 26 combined. The T6 starts $8,005 cheaper ($45,895 base), and is fleet of foot for a mid-sized crossover at 6.1 seconds from 0-to-60 with an EPA rating of 21/27/23. The T5 starts at $42,495 with a 0-to-60 time of 6.4 seconds and shows EPA numbers of 22/28/24. The government says the T8 can run on pure electric for 18 miles when fully charged.

While the reduction in gas use is negligible, if you keep the T8 in Power mode you will negate most if not all of the possible gains in mileage. Electrification in this case sounds like the future.

The XC60 comes with three trim packages — Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. Our test vehicle was an Inscription that included several packages and came with such features as 20-inch wheels, four-zone climate control, leather-wrapped dash, ambient interior lighting and a cooled glovebox.

To Volvo's credit, all trim levels get a full range of safety features. These include lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, oncoming collision avoidance/mitigation with bike/pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, road sign recognition and a four year subscription to Volvo OnCall with remote engine start. If you want blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, however, you will need to order the Vision package for $1,100. It also includes parking assist. We think blind spot monitoring should be included on all vehicles regardless of price. And to get adaptive cruise control it will take another $2,000 outlay for the Convenience package.

We spent hundreds of miles behind the wheel and found the T8's acceleration and braking to be as good as it gets in the luxury SUV ranks. Steering was fairly precise at all speeds. Our vehicle had the optional air suspension system, and the XC60 handled well. Ride comfort was good, but some might find it a bit busy on rougher road surfaces.

The seats are rewarding for long-distance travel both front and back and our test vehicle even came with a massage function as well as heating and cooling. To get adjustments just right you will have to delve into the touchscreen menu, which involves some study time to get used to. We couldn’t find an AM band to check local traffic and weather. Otherwise the infotainment unit is intuitive and user-friendly, responding to swipe and pinch gestures like those for a smartphone or iPad, with good response times.

Leg room in back is excellent. The XC60, with 29.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row seats, is a perfect vacation vehicle for four adults. If you are in the market for an upscale crossover, we recommend you put the XC60 on your "must drive" list.

Base price: $42,495; as driven, $71,590
Engine: 2.0-liter supercharged, turbocharged 4-cylinder; 2 electric motors
Horsepower: 400 combined
Torque: 472 pound-feet combined
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 112.8 inches
Length: 184.6 inches
Curb weight: 4,741 pounds
Turning circle: 37.4 feet
Cargo capacity: 63.3 cubic feet
Luggage capacity: 29.7 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 26 city, 28 highway, 26 combined
0-60: 4.9 seconds (Volvo)
Also consider: Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC Class

The Good
• Top-notch crossover performance
• Beautiful interior
• Comfortable seating for four

The Bad
• Blind spot warning is an option

The Ugly
• Big price for small mpg gain