2013 Volvo XC60
MSRP
$34,350 - $48,950
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Expert Review:Autoblog

The following review is for a 2012 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.

Swedish Model Goes To The Polestar Gym, Comes Back Stronger



BMW has its M Division. Mercedes-Benz has AMG and Audi has a range of S- and RS-badged models. Volvo has... well, what does Volvo have, anyway? Yes, we're all familiar with the brand's sterling reputation for safety, and in recent times, for attractive Swedish design. Not long ago, with the introduction of the latest S60 sedan, Volvo even took a stab at injecting some so-called naughtiness into its machinery. And while all those adjectives are welcome, Volvo's reputation in the United States has never really included performance, despite some credible offerings like the 240 Turbo, 850R and S60R.

Interestingly enough, that's not necessarily the case in its home market of Sweden, where Volvo has been racing and winning in competition for years, oftentimes with the assistance of a tuning company known as Polestar. Since 1996, Volvo has been working with Polestar in an official capacity, and for 2012, the automaker is introducing its United States customers to a slew of Polestar-infused models.

Volvo's entire range of five- and six-cylinder models have been bolstered with performance updates from Polestar, and for the purposes of this article, we'll be taking a closer look at the XC60 crossover. As it turns out, this Swedish 'ute offers up plenty of reasons for consideration, even in the face of stiff opposition from Volvo's formidable competition in the entry-level luxury segment.
2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design side view2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design front view2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design rear view

Styling on the XC60 remains typically crisp in the recent Volvo tradition, with just the right amount of edgy character lines to break up the monotonous two-box crossover shape. The R-Design gets a few bodywork updates to spice things up a bit, including a more aggressive front fascia and side sills. You might also notice the silver side mirrors that match the roof rails and faux rear skid plate with cutouts for the sporty-looking dual exhaust tips.

Inside, occupants are greeted with a beautiful cabin appointed in soft two-tone leather, with a simple and well-laid-out dash ahead. Volvo's trademark waterfall-style center console is present and accounted for, as are the watch-like gauges the company uses for its sporty models, each inset with its own LCD information screen.

All the surfaces and textures used in the XC60 R-Design are attractive and impart a high-end Scandinavian feel inside. We've long been fans of Volvo's climate control system, which allows you to quickly direct cool or warm air to whatever part of the body you'd like in a different, intuitive and attractive way. The steering wheel, too, deserves praise for its nice leather wrap with aluminum trim and thick, meaty rim. We do take some issue with all the little plastic buttons in the center of the console, but the four dials that surround them are large, easy to use and house the most important functions.

2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design interior2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design interior2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design rear seats2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design rear cargo area

We're happy to report that you can get around the frustrating in-dash key system used in the Volvo XC60 by opting for either the Premier Plus or Platinum trim levels. We highly recommend ditching the standard key for the Personal Car Communicator system that includes a more traditional proximity key. It's also worth mentioning that the navigation system used in the XC60 isn't a touchscreen, and it requires use of buttons on the steering wheel or the dash, though it can also accept voice commands.

The power-adding Polestar updates to Volvo's six-cylinder models basically add up to a reflash of the engine's electronic brain, and it results in more power without adversely affecting fuel mileage or driveability. In fact, for the first half of the engine's rev range, power remains at factory levels; it's not until the upper reaches of the tach that the driver will notice any significant increase in horsepower or torque.

All told, Volvo's three-liter inline six is bumped up to 325 horsepower with Polestar tuning, a useful gain of 25 horses over standard models. Torque makes a similar jump to 354 pound-feet, an increase of 29. According to Volvo, those figures are good enough for a 6.6-second run to 60 miles per hour – more than acceptable for a vehicle of this ilk, and .3 seconds quicker than non-Polestar models. Better yet, it feels about that quick from behind the wheel, with a surging midrange and a strong pull to redline. Fuel mileage on regular gas comes in at 17 miles per gallon city and 23 highway – right in line with competitors like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design engine

Polestar tuning comes standard on the XC60 R-Design, which resolves one of our complaints about the 2011 model, which saw no boost in power over other XC60 models. In a nod to past buyers of Volvo's turbocharged machine, the Polestar tuning can be added at the dealership to previous-year models that use the T6 engine at a cost of $1,495. While that sounds pretty spendy for a software update, we think most performance-minded enthusiasts would jump at the chance to add such worthwhile gains in horsepower and torque for that sum.

Fully electronic all-wheel drive comes standard on the XC60 T6 R-Design, and it works flawlessly. Power is automatically diverted to the wheel with the most traction, and, while we can't see anybody taking the XC60 R-Design on any hardcore off-road trails, it provides an added dose of confidence when the roads get wet or slick. Brake performance, too, feels solid, safe and secure.

Ride height is unchanged, but the suspension is said to be about 10-percent stiffer, and the steering ratio is cranked up a similar degree. Those efforts pay off when the roads get twisty, keeping the somewhat high-riding crossover's 20-inch 255/45 Pirelli Scorpion tires well planted and secure on the pavement (20s are exclusive to R-Design models). We noted good control of body roll and the steering felt tight and direct – a noteworthy trait in today's age of sometimes off-putting electronic power steering technology.

2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design grille2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design headlight2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design wheel2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design taillight

On the flip side, though, we found the ride on uneven surfaces a bit harsh, and by more than just 10 percent. This makes sense, as the standard XC60 can be a bit stiff on broken pavement. In any case, we'd almost always prefer a ride and handling scale skewed a bit toward the less comfortable range if it means better road feel and grip, and that is indeed the case with the 2012 XC60 R-Design. At highway speeds on smooth asphalt, there's a good bit of wind noise that seeps into the cabin, but nothing we found too objectionable.

Volvo has priced the XC60 R-Design to go up against the mainstream players in the premium crossover segment. That means, in addition to the already mentioned Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz CUVs, it has to do battle with the likes of the segment-leading Lexus RX along with the Acura MDX and Cadillac SRX. That's a lot of competition, but the Volvo manages to stand toe-to-toe with its international foes on just about every level, all while offering a different blend of style and performance than any of those combatants.

Plus, Volvo boasts a well-earned reputation for safety innovations that carry over to the XC60. Indeed, the number of safety acronyms affixed to the window sticker number well into the teens. There are technologies designed to keep occupants safe in a crash, such as an inflatable curtain airbag as well as rollover- and whiplash-protection systems. But there are also innovations designed to keep you from getting into an accident in the first place – notably including Volvo's City Safety system that can detect an obstacle and autonomously stop the vehicle before an impact. It all adds up to the 'ute earning a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Five-Star designation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design rear 3/4 view

Volvo has priced the 2012 XC60 R-Design at $43,700 to start, but a heavy-handed swipe at the options tab will bring that price up quickly. Our test car was nicely equipped with heated seats, in-dash navigation and all the safety tech you can shake a stick at for a sum of about $53,000, but it's possible to push an XC60 R-Design past $55,000 with every single box checked. That's certainly not cheap, but it compares rather favorably with its German counterparts and is about on par with the offerings from Lexus and Cadillac.

That said, we highly suggest you also take a look at the 2012 Volvo XC70 T6, which we drove back-to-back with the XC60. For our money, the XC70 is the best crossover-minded vehicle Volvo makes, and it offers pretty much everything the XC60 does for slightly less money. It's very attractive inside and out, is available with the same Polestar-tuned engine, six-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive, and it features every safety innovation Volvo can cook up. Plus, it is quieter, boasts a better ride, handles at least as well and offers more practical room inside.

Bottom line: If you're in the market for a premium crossover, the 2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design deserves your consideration. No, we're not going to be mentioning Polestar in the same breath as AMG and BMW's M division – at least not yet anyway – but that hardly seems to matter. Those looking for a bit more poke from their stylish Swedish models finally have options from the factory, and for that, we're thankful.

The following review is for a 2012 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.

Safety, utility, comfort.

Introduction

The Volvo XC60 is the smallest of the Volvo crossover family, which includes the XC70 and XC90. A compact SUV about the size of a Honda CR-V, the Volvo XC60 competes favorably with the Acura MDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLK. 

The 2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design gets boosted by Volvo's high-performance partner, Polestar, raising horsepower and torque through software. Otherwise, the XC60 carries over to the 2012 model year unchanged. XC60 was launched as a 2010 model. For 2011, the R-Design model was added. 

The XC60 seats four quite comfortably, five with a bit of coziness, and it offers more cargo space than nearly all its competitors. The XC60 looks like a smaller version of the XC90, and it doesn't shout family-mobile. 

The standard 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine easily meets the demands of daily driving, offering 240 horsepower and an EPA-estimated 19/25 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive. 

For those who value quick acceleration, a 325-horsepower turbocharged engine is available that adds excitement and thrill. For 2012, the new XC60 Polestar offers an increase of 25 horsepower and 29 foot-pounds of torque. We tested the Polestar XC60, and it's hot. It's rated 17/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. 

The XC60 is not the sportiest among the compact SUVs, but we found it handles well on city streets and highways. We ran it hard on curvy remote roads in Arizona, and it responded well. It's easy to park, particularly with the optional rearview camera. The XC60 rides comfortably, its brakes are superb, and its 6-speed automatic transmission is well tuned. 

Volvo's fulltime all-wheel-drive system works smoothly in the daily grind without a huge penalty in fuel economy (18/24 mpg), and it's truly welcome when the weather gets foul or on gravel or even in bumpy corners. Yet buyers who don't really need all-wheel-drive capability can choose an XC60 with front-wheel drive (19/25 mpg). 

With all-wheel drive and 9.1 inches of ground clearance, the Volvo XC60 offers as much off-highway capability as most sport-utility buyers will ever need. It can handle backcountry trails, and the computer-managed Hill Descent Control makes creeping down steep inclines secure. The XC60 can tow 3300 pounds: a trailer full of snowmobiles or a small boat. 

Inside, the Volvo XC60 is attractively finished and pleasingly understated. Its knobs and buttons are easy to use, which you can't say about many of the XC60's competitors. The seating arrangement is flexible, and the cargo compartment has tie-downs and other useful accessories. It offers nearly all the features you'd expect in a luxury vehicle, including heated rear seats, rear-seat video and superb surround audio. 

Volvo devotes significant resources to research aimed at improving occupant protection, and its reputation for safety engineering is deserved. The XC60 offers the full array of active and passive safety features, including standard City Safety. This braking package is programmed to stop the car independent of the driver when it senses an impending encounter with a car in front at speeds up to 18 miles per hour, mitigating crash impact or avoiding a rear-ender altogether. The XC60 is available with a full array of blind-spot, lane-departure and driver alertness warning systems. 

For those who want flexibility in cargo and people hauling without the bulk of a big SUV, the XC60 makes a lot of sense. Plus, the XC60 offers the safety engineering of a Volvo. 

Lineup

The 2012 Volvo XC60 comes in three models: XC60 3.2, XC60 T6, and XC60 T6 R-Design. Four trim levels are available, including Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum. All come with all-wheel drive except the 3.2, which is available with front-wheel drive. 

The Volvo XC60 3.2 is powered by a 3.2-liter inline-6 generating 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, and using a 6-speed automatic transmission. XC60 3.2 comes with front-wheel drive ($33,300) or all-wheel drive ($35,300). 

XC60 3.2 comes standard with cloth upholstery, aluminum interior trim, driver-seat memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, a full complement of power features and 17-inch alloy wheels. The standard stereo delivers 165 watts through eight speakers with single CD/DVD player, HD and Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth connection and USB input. Premier ($2,500) upgrades to leather seating surfaces, panoramic roof, tinted rear windows, silver roofrails, power passenger seat, power sunshade. Premier Plus ($4,250) upgrades further with front and rear park assist, power liftgate, 12-volt power outlet in cargo area, HomeLink, compass, cargo cover, and power rear headrests. Platinum ($6,950) upgrades further with navigation, rearview camera, and a premium sound system. 

XC60 T6 AWD ($39,450) comes with all-wheel drive and is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 making 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The T6 uses a 6-speed automatic. The Dynamic Package ($1,500) includes the 4C chassis with three settings, speed-sensitive steering, and xenon HID headlights. The T6 AWD is equipped like 3.2 Premier, but comes with 18-inch alloy wheels. Premier Plus ($4,250) and Platinum ($4,450) add the same things as with the XC60 3.2. 

Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design ($43,700) increases the horsepower to 325 and torque to 354 pound-feet, also raising the redline to 6500 rpm from 5600 rpm. It uses 20-inch wheels with 255/45R20 tires, and a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer springs and struts, and bigger front and rear anti-roll bars. The R-Design is equipped like Premier, with Premier Plus and Platinum the same as the T6. 

A rear-seat entertainment system ($1,800) is available, port-installed, for all models. 

Safety features standard on all models start with dual-stage front-impact airbags, front passenger side-protection airbags, curtain-type head protection airbags with rollover deployment for outside seats and whiplash-mitigating front headrests. The XC60 gets the highest possible scores in various government and insurance industry (IIHS) crash tests. All XC60s come standard with a collision prevention/mitigation system called City Safety, which can automatically apply the brakes in a pending low-speed collision. Other active safety features include advanced anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control. Safety-related extra-cost options include the park assist and rearview camera, the Blind Spot Information System, and a pair of two-stage child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts for the outboard rear seats. 

Walkaround

The Volvo XC60 is about the same size as compact sport-utilities or crossovers from other European luxury brands, including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLK. Yet the XC60 has at least 17 percent more cargo volume than any of those competitors. 

At an overall length of 182.2 inches, the XC60 is sized comparably to the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, with similar cargo capacity. With 9.1 inches of ground clearance, and skid plates that actually protect some of its underpinnings, all-wheel-drive versions of the XC60 offer a bit more legitimate off-road capability than other vehicles in this class. 

The XC60 has the rugged, adventurous, substantial look buyers might expect in an SUV, but it's also very clearly a Volvo, even without the badges. The XC60 bears a close resemblance to its elder and larger stalemate, the XC90. The XC60 continues the Volvo design trend away from sharp angles and square corners and toward softer and more rounded lines. It's less severe, more relaxed, than the Volvos of yore. (Unless you go even further back to when they were rounded.)

The front end wears a softened version of the trademark trapezoidal grille, with egg crate mesh behind an angular slash emblazoned with the Volvo logo, braced by swoopy headlight housings embedded in swept-back fenders. A secondary air intake fills the lower center portion of the bumper, with fog lights tucked into the corners. The outlines of the openings, all V-like in overall shape, flow into each other, giving the fascia an of-a-piece look. The resulting head-on view is pleasing, while substantial and a little tall. 

Side perspective presents mild confusion between a sportier, almost coupe-like hood slope and roofline and a wedgy beltline that rises in a straight line from the front wheel well to the rear door handle, leaving a bulbous mass of a rear quarter panel. This unbalanced look leaves a relatively hunkered down front end attached to a high, bustle-like rear end. Granted, this allows that class-leading cargo capacity of almost 70 cubic feet, but it leaves the XC60 with a stubby, chopped-off posterior. 

The rear view shows broad shoulders capped by a tapered glasshouse, with LED taillights climbing up the sides of the glass on the one-piece liftgate. The rear bumper cups the bottom edge of the liftgate, with widely spaced exhaust tips peeking out just inboard of each rear tire. The body mass also minimizes the visual effect of the XC60's height, giving the rear perspective a more planted presence than the front. 

The XC60 R-Design treatment has a bolder look. It starts with 20-inch alloy wheels and color-matched lower body moldings. The bright metal mirrors, window trim and tailpipes have a matte, almost silky finish, and the grille is imbedded with a prominent R logo, so everyone knows what the operator is driving. 

Interior

The Volvo XC60 seats five. 

The cabin is Scandinavian in style, and elegantly understated. The interior is as true as the exterior to Volvo's contemporary styling idioms. The materials and finish are very good, and functionality rates almost as high, despite some Volvo-specific quirks. It's easy to master the XC60's multitude of controls, which are simpler and more efficient than those in its luxury brand competitors. The seating arrangement is flexible and the cargo compartment is expansive. 

The cuts and stitching on the XC60's seats and floor mats and the brushed aluminum trim on its door panels and center stack add a smart, cosmopolitan look. The optional Nordic Light Oak veneer on the center stack is real wood, and it emphasizes the Scandinavian-furniture feel. R-Design models are more metal-heavy in their finish, with more aluminum trim and inserts. Volvo steering wheels have some of the chubbiest rims in the business, and they're so thick that drivers with small hands might find them a bit too hefty. 

The front seats offer all the expected comfort for the everyday driver and passengers on the everyday drive, be it around town or between towns. They're modestly bolstered but no less comfortable for being so. Interior dimensions in the XC60 rank in the middle of its competitive set. Nevertheless, in perceived roominess, this Volvo fares well, feeling as or more spacious than most competitors. 

Visibility from the driver's seat is good all around. The rear headrests, large in the Volvo fashion for safety, fill a lot of the space in the rearview mirror, but the power-folding option allows the driver to lower those headrests with the touch of a switch when in the back seat isn't occupied. 

The optional rearview video camera is especially appreciated for its assistance when parking. The video display bends a set of superimposed guidelines to reflect the car's path based on the position of the steering wheel. 

Controls are concentrated in one of two spots: on easy-to-use stalks flanking the steering wheel, or in the flat-panel center stack rising from the console. Here you'll find some of those Volvo traits that are just a bit different than the convention in most cars. 

The climate controls for airflow, for example, are fashioned with a large icon that looks like a seated person. Point to the feet and all air flows through the floor vents; choose the head, and air flows toward the windshield. The audio controls are different, too, with a twisting knob that cycles through menus and a keypad that looks like telephone buttons. They all work quite well, once a user gains some familiarity, and nearly all are large and easy to locate, even at night. 

The premium audio system is superb, with crisp highs and booming lows. Auxiliary jacks and USB ports provide access to personal MP3 players and the like to keep passengers entertained. 

The optional panorama sunroof is essentially the roof, in two pieces of glass, with a front section that retracts up and over the back section. This produces a neat skylight effect, which also benefits rear-seat occupants. The sunroof does, however, exact a cost, chopping a full inch out of front-seat headroom and nigh onto an inch and a half over the rear seat. 

Bins molded into front and rear door panels and pouches sewn into the back sides of the front seat backs provide more than adequate occasional storage. The lighted glove box is deep and tall enough to hold quite a bit more than the leather-bound owner's manual portfolio. 

The rear seat is more bench than bucket, but properly so, as it's intended to accommodate three average adults, which it does, if somewhat snugly. The XC60 makes an excellent vehicle for families with two children growing into their teens. And for families with toddler, there are optional built-in child safety seats with optimized belts. 

The XC60 is a benchmark for cargo volume. There's nearly 31 cubic feet of storage with the rear seat in place, and 67.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. That's seven cubic feet more than the Acura RDX, 10 more than the Audi Q5, 11 more than the BMW X3 and 13 more than the Mercedes GLK. Moreover, the XC60 is configured to maximize flexibility. 

The rear seatbacks fold easily to a truly flat surface. The middle section, representing the 20 in 40/20/40, works like the pass-through in vehicles with a trunk, allowing longer items like fishing poles to be carried inside the XC60 with full space for two rear passengers. The front passenger seatback also folds forward and flat, creating room for much wider and longer items than fit in the typical small SUV/crossover. 

Carpet covers all surfaces in the rear cargo area, and the removable floor panel extends rearward enough to be secured beneath an overlap from the closed liftgate. The cargo cover works great, too, but owners will have to spring for the Convenience Package to get it. The package also adds a power liftgate, grocery bag holder and cargo-area power point, which come standard on some competitors. 

Driving Impression

The Volvo XC60 defines the appeal of the so-called crossover vehicle. It's a fabulous compromise between what people want in a true, truck-based sport-utility and what they need for daily transportation. Beyond its flexible seating/cargo configurations, the XC60 is generally a comfortable, pleasant vehicle to drive. It's compact and easy to park, and it isn't mundane in a people-mover, family wagon fashion. 

The XC60 is tuned more for cruising comfortably on the highway or through town than for flinging around on back roads, or for travel where no graded roads exist. That said, it won't scare its driver, land-barge style, when he or she is trying to keep with the flow on a curving canyon or river road. It provides moderate off-pavement capability, and not just the look that goes with a tall body or ride height raised an inch or two. Its 3300-pound tow rating is substantial in this class, and the standard Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) electronics help maintain stability while pulling a trailer. 

The upgrade turbocharged engine delivers refreshingly linear acceleration, not necessarily what you'd expect with a turbocharged engine. It also adds a bit of verve the base, non-turbo engine lacks. Regardless, the base six-cylinder is torquey enough for everyday use in traffic-heavy cities, and we wouldn't hesitate recommending it. Its slight mileage advantage, though, is more a function of its fitment in front-drive XC60s, rather than inherently better fuel efficiency than the turbo, which is only offered with all-wheel-drive. 

We liked the 6-speed automatic transmission best in Sport mode. Its well-executed sport setting re-assigns shift points to maximize the engine's power curve and extends the transmission's stay in each gear. Sport mode uses more fuel, but it suppresses unwanted hunting among gears when climbing or descending grades. Additionally, it suppresses the engine's tendency to surge unexpectedly as it acclimates to each gear change. The sport setting also allows a driver to choose a specific gear when desired, overriding the electronic brain's preferred selection, although the system will not hold a gear either to redline or to an engine-lugging rpm. The automatic reasserts its own control to shift up or down a gear at pre-determined engine speeds. In full Auto mode, when the XC60 is driven casually, shifts are smooth, if not invisible. 

The all-wheel-drive system operates seamlessly, and the driver will almost never know when it's working. The all-wheel drive works full time; the driver does not need to switch it on. In normal, good-traction conditions, 95 percent of the engine's power goes to the front wheels, just 5 percent to the rear. If the front wheels lose traction, a multi-plate clutch begins routing power to the rear, to a maximum split of 65 percent to the rear wheels. This front-drive bias leaves the XC60 with a default understeer handling characteristic, like most cars. When driven past the grip limit of the tires, this push is much easier to handle than a skittish rear end, because a driver's natural instinct is to slow down, and that basically solves the problem. 

All-wheel drive on the Volvo is more an advantage for safe, secure forward progress in lousy weather than a true off-road tool. Still, with 9.1 inches of ground clearance, this crossover can traverse terrain that would be impossible in a conventional sedan, or in some other crossovers. Hill Descent Control adds some reassuring braking assist when navigating the way back down that dirt track that an hour earlier looked so benign. 

The Volvo XC60 is lighter (and smaller) than the XC70 and XC90 crossover SUVs, but it has relatively high center of gravity combined with minimally bolstered seats and a largish steering wheel, both seemingly designed more for comfort than speed. These traits establish the XC60 more as an all-weather, long-distance cruiser than a canyon carver. 

The suspension does a decent job taming different types and conditions of tarmac. Ride quality is a bit rough at times, more so with the more stiffly suspended R-Design models, but the unsprung weight of the all-wheel drive mechanicals bears more of the responsibility for this than any design or structural deficiency. Travel on rough pavement produces some head toss, which is not uncommon in the class. Nonetheless, the Infiniti EX35 delivers a quieter ride than the XC60, and the BMW X3 and Acura RDX offer better steering feel. 

We got good seat time in an XC60 R-Design, driving hard into the Arizona mountains. Volvo's performance partner, Polestar Motorsport, pumps up the horsepower to 325 hp and torque to 354 pound-feet. The R-Design's stiffer suspension and 20-inch wheels with low-profile tires make the ride considerably rougher. We charged a lot of corners, and the handling was good but it'll never feel like a sports car or be one, so maybe the stiff ride isn't worth it. 

The hotter acceleration, and the wider and bigger torque, is sure worth it, though. The 6-speed automatic transmission doesn't have to do much kicking down, with all the power and torque at hand. The R-Design accelerates from 0 to 60 in 6.6 seconds, which is .3 seconds quicker than the XC60 AWD. 

The brakes on the XC60 work very well, resisting fade, consistently and confidently slowing it from high double-digit speeds for slow corners. Most of its optional lane departure and other proximity warning systems can be suppressed or turned off, squelching the associated irritating and distracting beeps and buzzes when the driver decides they're not needed. 

The standard City Safety feature is intended to help avoid rear-ending the car ahead, or at least to minimize the damage. This system works at speeds 2-18 mph. Up to 9 mph, it can stop the car before it hits a car in front. From that speed up to 18 mph, it can reduce significantly the force of the impact. Tested at just under 9 mph in a parking lot, it worked, surprisingly sharply, jolting driver and front seat passenger smartly into abruptly snugged-up seatbelts. We were glad it worked. 

Summary

The Volvo XC60 packs a lot of space into a stylish, compact SUV that seats five. It's maneuverable and pleasant on freeways and city streets. It offers more cargo capability than its competitors, with great cargo/seating flexibility, and it's loaded with Volvo's trademark safety technology. With good ground clearance and optional all-wheel drive, the XC60 offers light off-pavement capability. The upgrade turbocharged engine is appealing and more invigorating, but the base 3.2-liter six-cylinder is more than adequate for most drivers and it delivers better value. 

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Tom Lankard reported from northern California, with J.P. Vettraino reporting from Detroit, and Sam Moses reporting from Arizona. 

Model Lineup

Volvo XC60 3.2 ($33,300), 3.2 Premier ($35,800), 3.2 Premier Plus ($37,550), 3.2 Platinum ($40,250), T6 AWD ($39,450) T6 AWD Premier Plus ($41,200), T6 AWD Platinum ($ 43,900), T6 AWD R-Design ($43,700) R-Design Premier Plus ($45,550), R-Design Platinum ($48,150). 

Assembled In

Ghent, Belgium. 

Options As Tested

Platinum Package ($4450) includes navigation system voice-activated, rearview camera, front and rear Park Assist, premium sound system, digital compass, electric folding rear headrests, grocery bag holder, 12V power outlet in cargo area, HomeLink integrated garage door opener, map care, power tailgate, cargo cover, personal car communicator with keyless drive; Technology Package ($2100) with Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Full Auto Brake, Lane Departure Warning, Pedestrian Detection Queue Assist; Climate Package ($1000) includes headlamp washers, heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, Interior Air Quality System, rain sensor; metallic paint ($675). 

Model Tested

Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design AWD ($43,700). 

*The data and content on this web site is subject to change without notice. Neither AOL nor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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