Joyride: 2015 Volvo XC60

The Volvo XC60 is an easy car to fall in love with, its stylish, safe, practical and thanks to its brand new turbo-supercharged engine a lot of fun.

The Volvo XC60 has been out for a while now – nearly six years, in fact. But far from seeming old, this stylish crossover still looks and feels cutting edge. It’s a very smart combination of Scandinavian modernism with all of the practical accoutrements and packaging a buyer could want in a family runabout.

The only features letting down the XC60’s well-rounded runabout status have been average engine offerings. But that has changed with the arrival of the all-new Drive-E powertrains. Finally, the XC60 has the engines it deserves.

Drive-(wh)Eeeee!

Digital Trends has already spent a fair amount of time with Volvo’s new Drive-E engines. For our money, they are some of the best small gas engines on the market. Delightfully, the XC60 offers two Drive-Es: the T5 and the T6.

My test model featured the top-of-the-range 2.0-liter four-cylinder T6. Despite its small displacement, the T6 delivers the feel of a much larger engine, producing 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of a turbocharger and a supercharger.

Despite being tall and crossover-y, the XC60 easily flattens out sweeping curves and hangs on in tight corners.

With the excellent eight-speed automatic in sport mode, drivers can truly haul ass in this apparently sensible Swede. In fact, I may have knocked over my dog with the g-forces … sorry, Winston.

Dynamically, the car is also good fun. Despite being tall and crossover-y, the XC60 easily flattens out sweeping curves and hangs on in tight corners. I especially like the steering; it’s heavier than that of its S60 sedan cousin but communicative and gratifyingly precise.

Drive hard, though, and the 302 screaming horses tend to overwhelm the front wheels and make the car a bit balky and understeer-y – and, yes, that is totally a word. If the car had all-wheel drive, this wouldn’t be a problem. Sadly, though, Volvo doesn’t offer its new Drive-E engines with AWD.

Despite the surprising power, the T6 doesn’t skimp on fuel economy. In fact, it delivers 22 mpg city and 30 highway – good for a car of its heft. However, this economy comes at a premium. My fully loaded press demonstrator ran to nearly $50,000.

Style for any season

The 2015 XC60 never lacks in style or class. And I dare say it is one of the best expressions of Volvo’s current design language. With the looming arrival of the new XC90 and its successors, the XC60 may be one of the last chances to get on board with the current looks.

The car’s design balances its size well, with the total effect being substantial but not monstrous or especially truck like. I particularly like the rear LED lights that run up the side of the hatch, and the massive 20-inch rims.

Normally 20s are reserved for vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade, but they don’t look out of place on the XC60. In fact, they give it just the right aggressive touch to set it apart from the more conservatively styled Audi Q5 and BMW X3. After all, car design is serious business for Germans.

A car to live with

Thanks to two long road trips, I spent far more time in the XC60 than I normally would in a press demonstrator, and it truly lived up to the challenge. It was comfortable and easy to use. And I always felt a little extra skip in my step when I’d walk out and see it waiting for me each morning.

The seats aren’t quite as sublime as those in the S60, but they are still miles ahead of just about everything else.

The seats aren’t quite as sublime as those in the S60, but they are still miles ahead of just about everything else. Besides, the tall driving position and the handsome dash, which appears to be made out of a dragon’s hide, help make up for this deficiency.

In terms of tech, Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system is not quite as advanced as some, but it is easy to use and attractive to look at.

The interior isn’t just a nice place to look at either. There is ample space in both the front and back seat, and a surprising amount of cargo space. This would be an excellent car for families, especially given Volvo’s built in two stage child booster seat, and exquisite safety record. The XC60 received a Top Safety Pick Plus from the IIHS and a five star rating from the NHTSA.

Conclusion

I wasn’t expecting to like the XC60 as much as I did. I don’t normally love crossovers, in part because I just don’t need one. But the XC60 is a very easy car to fall in love with. It’s stylish, and, so long as you don’t need AWD, a surprisingly fun car to drive.

Like all Volvos these days, the XC60 is also a tour de force in both utility and safety. Both factors, I should mention, count for a lot in a modern family car. Also like other Volvos, its real problems stem from the fact that it is expensive. For the same price, more established luxury crossovers are available – again, think Audi Q5.

That being said, I think the XC60 might be my first stop if I was expecting a kid or just needed a extra cargo space. It’s just the right mix of fun, style, safety, and practicality to make the ideal family car. Heck, I could probably even talk my wife into it.

Highs

  • 302 horsepower and 31 highway mpg Drive-E T6 engine
  • Stylish and spacious interior
  • Very good safety rating
  • Loaded down with tech features

Lows

  • Lack of all-wheel drive on Drive-E powertrains
  • Understeer under hard cornering
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