What it is: The XC60 is Volvo's luxury compact SUV that competes directly with cars like the BMW X3, Acura RDX, and Audi Q5. That is a stout competition base, but the XC60 offers plenty of reasons why you should pick it over the competition. The big feature is safety. Crash results are impeccable, and the XC60 features an auto-break system that will prevent you from barreling into a car or pedestrian. Now, it's not impossible to fool the system, but it does everything in its power to brake the car automatically and at least reduce the impact speed. I tested the system in a controlled environment (a dealer parking lot with a few safety barrels) a few years ago, and knowingly attempting to let a car drive towards a barrier is a rather harrowing experience. The XC60's City Safety system did deliver though, and stopped the car completely.
My test model had the T6 engine, a lovely turbocharged 3.0 liter 300 horsepower package mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It had get up and go to spare and was extremely confident while turning. Also equipped was the 'Platinum' trim package, which for $4,400 gives you dual-xenon headlights, Harmon Kardon premium stereo, the full technology package (adaptive cruise control, auto-brake system mentioned above, lane departure warning, and other safety systems), keyless drive, rear park assist camera, and power operated tailgate. I liked that the power tail gate didn't take forever to raise, and I also really enjoyed the optional $500 sports seats. The optional 20” wheels ($1,000) were impressive as well.

Comments I received from passengers were about how luxurious the interior was as well as how much room there was in the back seat. We all liked how simple but refined the dash layout was and the nice panoramic sunroof. One significant black eye was the infotainment system. Volvo actually brags about the new system on their website, but I found it non-intuitive and rather frustrating. And this is coming from someone that handles a different system every week! They really need to work on this. One bit of technology that I did enjoy was the new Volvo On Call system. It's an app that you install on your phone and allows you to see the status of, and control your car. Current mileage, door lock status, and even remote start are available. You can turn on the Driving Journal as well, which logs the start and end positions or a journey, fuel consumption, time, etc and export that data into a spreadsheet (you can turn this off if you are uncomfortable/visiting a mistress). If you find yourself losing your car, it'll show you on a map where your car is and allow you to honk the horn and/or flash the lights. Very handy. Volvo On Call service is free for 6 months, but will cost you after that. At press time, prices weren't available, but will be announced Nov. 24.

  • MPG: 17 city / 24 highway
  • Price: $36,200 for base T5 FWD model. $42,400 for base T6 AWD. $52,225 as-equipped
  • Upsides: Luxurious and roomy
  • Downsides: Terrible infotainment system

Wrap-up: My overall experience with the XC60 was a very positive one. I love the recent exterior update and found the XC60 to be a good value for the money. I'm assuming it will be possible to learn to love the infotainment system (ok, maybe learn to live with it) but everything else delivers with the car. It offers lots of great safety features that are only available on higher-end cars like blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and of course the fantastic auto-stop City Safety system. While the XC60 is Volvo's top-selling car, it's still my pick if you want something great but you don't want to blend in with the pack of Lexus RX that roam the suburbs.

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