What does a once down, but fast recovering, global automaker do to replace its top-selling vehicle when its size-larger, three-row luxury CUV has scored multiple awards and strong sales since its 2016 debut? Especially when that vehicle is a segment leader in Europe, but still a fairly minor player in burgeoning North American premium midsize crossover sales?
We would say, “Make it pretty much like that respected big brother—but smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient, and of course, cooler looking.” Which is exactly what Volvo has done.
Built on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) as the XC90, it also shares its trio of Volvo Drive-E 2.0L direct-injected, turbocharged, four-cylinder engines. The base T5 engine (so called because they offer similar performance to Volvo’s old, now-discontinued, five-cylinder engines) is good for 250 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque. Next up and likely to be most popular is the 316hp, 295–lb-ft turbocharged and supercharged T6 version. Top choice is the T8 (for V-8-like performance) plug-in hybrid than spins out 400 total ponies and 295 lb-ft of twist.
The XC60’s iPad-like 9.3-inch touch/pinch/sweep Sensus Connect Touchscreen’s infrared technology works even when wearing gloves. And it does many wondrous things, including providing 4G LTE connectivity with Wi-Fi, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, and voice control. Better than the XC90’s Gen I system, its homepage has been revised and color-coded with stacked tiles that keep navigation, phone, media, and applications easily accessible, and the driver can execute many functions from the steering wheel’s redundant controls. Furthermore, the system features a physical volume knob.
Driving a top-trim XC60 T6 in and around Barcelona, Spain, we had little opportunity to stretch its twin-charged Drive-E legs or its twisty road dynamics, but we came away with very positive feelings on both, based on brief bursts where traffic permitted. The SPA’s double-wishbone front and integral-link (with Corvette-like composite transverse leaf spring) rear suspensions keep its wheels planted, its steering is crisp, its brakes strong and sure, and it feels (as expected) smaller, lighter, and more nimble than the XC90—because it is.
The ’18 XC60 T5 starts at $41,500, the T6 at $44,900, and the T8 at $52,900 (plus $995 destination), with each engine available in base Momentum, sporty R-Design, and top-level Inscription trim levels.