The XC60 mid-sized range of two and four wheel drive SUVs is Volvo’s second best selling model range in the UK but globally it is the brand’s best seller.
In the UK around 10,000 XC60s will be sold this year which equates to 25% of all new Volvo car sales with the new V40 C-segment Hatchback range being the most popular models. Volvo’s UK new car sales for the 11 months of this year show a healthy 27% increase over last year with 38,343 registrations.
The XC60 five door five seater SUVs have prices starting from £31,260 for two wheel drive versions with AWD model priced from £32,790. With the introduction of Volvo’s latest generation of lower emission Drive-E engines around 30% of UK XC60 buyers will opt for front wheel drive models but the mainstay buyers remain loyal to the AWD versions with virtually all of these powered by 2.4-litre, five cylinder engines of either D4 181hp or D5 215hp. For the petrol AWD enthusiast there is also the 3.0-litre T6 304hp turbocharged unit.
Specification choices, depending on the engine chosen, are the mainstream SE, SE-Nav, SE- Lux, SE Lux-Nav levels and the sportier looking R-Design versions with similar sub specification options. Of course there are the usual added cost options and options packs. The pack options include the £2,500 Inscription Pack, effectively upgraded equipment including leather upholstery, the Driver Sport Pack at £1,900 which are all safety related items, the self explanatory £700 Security Pack and the £675 Winter Illumination Pack which includes heated front seats, heated front windscreen, cornering Xenon headlights, headlight cleaning system, heated windscreen washer nozzles and interior theatre lighting.
My recent test drive version was the popular XC60 D5 Geartronic (automatic) SE Lux-Nav priced at £38,590 but with all the options to showcase what is on offer this version weighed in at a very hefty price of £52,920.
Despite its price I see no shortage of Volvo XC60s and the even larger XC90 SUVs on my local roads in and around The Cotswolds. They seem to have become the SUV of choice for mum’s school run and dad’s use at weekends either with the family on-board or as suitable transport for sporting events such as attending ‘shoots’, going to golf or towing horse trailers or caravans. There certainly seems to be more of them now than the comparable Audi Q3/Q5 or BMW X3/X5 competitors but both these brand’s are also experiencing more UK sales in keeping with the overall growth of SUV and Crossovers continues as the new car market drives away from the financial recession. It is also noticeable just how many more ‘used’ SUVs are now on our roads as customers opt out of hatchbacks and into Crossovers and 4x4s to combat our deteriorating roads and worsening Winter weather conditions.
In short as an early sum-up of the Volvo XC60 it is a roomy and comfortable family/business high quality vehicle with a classy interior, it is easy to drive with elevated seating positions giving good visibility and there appear to be reasonable discounts on offer. Despite these offers residual values are strong retaining anywhere between 44 and 51% over the usual three years/36,000-miles period.
But to enlarge a little more. The XC60 offers comfortable and spacious seating for five with lots of load space to match, 391-litres with the three split rear seats in place and up to 1,455-litres with them folded. In the front there is more than ample width for two large comfortable seats, both electrically adjustable on my test model. There is a quality ambience to the high density, soft-feel vinyl trim and my test model also had leather upholstery with the heated front seat option. The controls and instrument layout is common most Volvos and this includes the confusing lower centre console which has a multitude of buttons and controls and takes some time to initially negotiate around until they become familiar. The steering wheel with more control buttons is a chunky affair with a thick rim. There is the usual comprehensive array of specification from air con to electrically operated windows and door mirrors, on board computer, rear view camera and a reasonable sound system. As ‘safety’ has always been a Volvo selling feature it is just a shame that so many of the high-tech safety driving aids are included in the Driver Support Pack as a £1,900 option.
The ride comfort is generally first class but being a tall vehicle there is body roll during cornering and the optional larger 20-inch alloy wheels look good but are prone to incur shake/wobble from pothole impacts so I would prefer the standard, depending on the spec level, 17 or 18-inch ones. The road holding and handling is not as sharp or as agile as the latest Audi and BMW 4x4s which are tuned more for high speed road work. The XC60 is set up for on and off road use so the steering is a little slower to respond and the cornering response has more ‘float’ than nailed-down grip. The drivetrain with its all wheel drive traction includes Corner Traction Control as standard. This torque vectoring system helps the driver avoid understeer by applying just the right amount of brake force to the inner wheels while powering the outer wheels when accelerating out of a corner. My test vehicle had the optional Hill Descent Control for off road use which controls the car’s speed when driving down steep slopes. There is no low range transfer box or differential locks for heavy duty off-roading.
With my D5 test drive XC60 model power comes from a 2.4-litre, five-cylinder turbodiesel unit which produces 215hp but more importantly 440Nm of Torque with the 6-speed automatic transmission as tested or 420Nm with the manual 6-speed unit. Importantly this high amount of ‘grunt’ is delivered from just 1,500rpm so the unit is never stressed to supply power when accelerating from low speeds. The gearbox offers smooth changes but they are not quite as rapid as more modern twin-clutch units even in the Geartronic Sport mode. The XC60 D5 AWD offers a relaxed drive especially in its Comfort setting. With a top speed of 127mph for the auto model legal maximum cruising speed is quiet and relaxed. It will accelerate from zero to 62mph in 8.3 seconds which is commendable for a vehicle of this size and weighty quality.
The official fuel economy is 44.1mpg in the Combined Cycle and on my week long test drive covering town and country driving plus some motorway cruising the real-life figure was 38.2mpg. The CO2 emissions for the automatic model are 169g/km, more than turbodiesel 3.0-litre BMW X3/X5s but about the same as Audi 3.0-litre Q5 models. This means that VED road tax is £290 for the First Year rate and then £205 for each year after that. For company car drivers the Benefit-in-Kind tax is 29%. Choosing the same engine with the 6-speed manual gearbox significantly reduces the omissions to 139g/km although the Combined Cycle fuel economy figure is the same as the auto. This means VED road tax is £130 every year and BIK tax is rated at 23%.
Mechanically I felt the XC60 was a little ‘old-school’, a powerful but gruff sounding engine, slow-ish gearchanges and a little less agile in the steering and handling departments than other newer premium brand SUVs. The XC60 will be due for replacement in a couple of years time with the all new seven seat larger XC90 due out next year and there is talk of a compact XC40 range based on the new V40 Hatchback models.
The XC60 might be becoming the ‘old stager’ in the overall Volvo model line-up but there is still much to like about it. With new Drive-E technology engines being added to the range it is not yet past its sell-by date but the clock is ticking!
MILESTONES: Volvo XC60 D5 Geartronic SE Lux-Nav AWD 5-Door. Price: £38,590 + £1,485 for the automatic gearbox option and a total of £52,920 as tested with all the options. Engine/transmission: 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder, common rail turbodiesel, 215hp, 440Nm of torque from 1,500rpm, 6-speed automatic with AWD. Performance: 127mph, 0-62mph 8.3-seconds, CO2 169g/km, VED road tax £90 First Year rate then £205 annually after that, BIK company car tax 29%. Insurance group: 31. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,644mm, W 1,891, 1,713mm, boot/load space 391 to 1,455-litres, braked towing weight 2,000kg. For: Comfortable, roomy, classy interior, responsive high torque engine, remains popular with customers. Against: Technically starting to show its age, not as agile for on-road use as more modern premium brand SUVs, very expensive to buy if options are added to the specification, at this price some safety options should be standard-fit, high CO2 emissions and taxes for this automatic transmission model. Miles Better News agency