VOLVO XC60 REVIEW
What’s Hot: Good value, solid engineering, T5's six-speed twin-clutch trans.
What’s Not: Auto 'slushbox' is antiquated, firm ride on R-Design.
X-FACTOR: It's a Volvo so it's safe, but it's also an appealing, neat handling family wagon.
Vehicle Style: Medium luxury SUV
Engine/trans: 177kW/320Nm 2.0 turbo petrol (T5), 120kW/400Nm 2.0 turbo diesel (D4), 158kW/440Nm 2.4 litre (D5), 224kW/440Nm 3.0 litre (T6)
Price: $56,990 (plus on-roads) to $78,990
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.7 l/100km (T5), 6.9 l/100km (D4), 10.5 l/100km (T6), 6.9 l/100km (D5)
And it’s not hard to understand why. Revealed in production form in 2008, the XC60 is by now fairly old.
But 'old' doesn’t necessarily equate to 'bad', and sales of the XC60 reflect this: both here and abroad, the XC60 remains Volvo’s most popular model line.
And there’s life in it even yet.
We've just returned from driving the new model, freshened up with new styling and features.
Though powertrains remain unchanged and the price of entry has risen by $1500, we think the XC60 still retains significant appeal as a family wagon.
If you’ve ever spent time in the pre-update XC60, you’ll find more than a few changes have been made.
The most noticeable is the instrument panel, which has ditched the previous analogue dials in favour of the large reconfigurable LCD display first seen in the V40 hatch.
It’s a bright, clean display with clear, easily-read graphics. There are three display modes: 'normal' puts the emphasis on the speedometer, 'eco' mode introduces an efficiency guage, while 'sport' swaps the speedo for a tacho and adds a digital readout for speed.
The other big hardware change for the 2014 XC60’s interior is the gear shifter, which is reshaped and illuminated. D5 Luxury and R-Design grades also gain wheel-mounted paddle-shifters as standard.
Other interior updates are limited to upholstery and trim-panel materials, as well as the option of more heavily-bolstered sports seats. Everything else carries over.
But while it’s a familiar interior, that’s not a bad thing at all. The quality of materials is top-notch, and everything fits together with a rock-solid feel.
There’s also integrated child booster seats in the outboard positions of the second row, and all models now score a powered tailgate.
Being a Volvo, there’s a real focus on safety. While the choicest of Volvo’s driver aids remain optional (things like active cruise control and blind-spot monitoring), this equipment is now bundled into a $5000 option-pack rather than being offered individually.
The 'city safety' anti-collision system can now work at speeds of up to 50km/h, and is capable of autonomously avoiding rear-enders at speeds below 15km/h.
ON THE ROAD
We won’t dwell too much on how the XC60 drives given the lack of changes to engines, transmissions and suspension. (You can find more in-depth reviews here.)
However we will say this: the XC60 is a fine handling car.
Rolling on 'twenties' imparts a harder edge to the suspension, but it’s easily lived with.
Body control is also good; the T6 R-Design can be tipped-in to corners at unseemly speeds and remain surprisingly well-balanced (with just a little understeer if too enthusiastic).
The D5 model however continues to be the best all-round pick as far as the driving experience goes. With ample torque (440Nm) from its 2.4 litre turbo diesel, it makes light work of motivating the XC60’s mass.
The FWD-only T5 and D4 models also drive well, though predictably they need a heavier throttle to keep up in the hills or in faster-moving traffic.
The suspension of the T5 is the best of the XC60 line-up. With the least weight up front and without the added heft of an all-wheel drive system, it feels lighter on its feet and more compliant over lumpy roads.
Granted it’s not as nimble as the T6 R-Design, but it’s good deal more comfortable.
The T5’s twin-clutch six-speed gearbox also feels like a more well-sorted gearbox than the ageing six-speed hydraulic auto fitted to other models.
Okay, so as far as facelifts go, the updated XC60’s late-life revamp isn’t the most extensive. But to be honest, it didn’t really need much changing.
Is it still a competitive package? Absolutely, and well worth consideration.
The medium luxury SUV landscape is a lot more heavily populated than it was back in 2008, but the XC60 deserves to sell well.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- XC60 T5 Kinetic - $56,990 (up $1500)
- XC60 T5 Luxury - $61,990 (up $1800)
- XC60 D4 Kinetic - $58,990 (up $500)
- XC60 D4 Luxury - $63,990 (up $500)
- XC60 D5 Luxury - $69,990 (up $1500)
- XC60 D5 R-Design - $73,990 (up $1500)
- XC60 T6 Luxury - $74,990 (up $1850)
- XC60 T6 R-Design - $78,990 (up $850)