Want to be unique with your crossover choice? Here's the Volvo XC60, and it's totally built on merit, too.
Review of the 2022 Volvo XC60 B6 by Mitchell Weitzman for The Road Beat
On a beautiful spring morning, my best friends and I decided to go for a drive on our favorite Nor Cal roads, heading from Folsom, CA to Mark Twain's Angels Camp and then Murphys, the Sonoma of the foothills. Our varied lineup of cars consisted of a 997 Porsche 911 S, E28 BMW M5, Lotus Europa, E34 BMW 540i (one of those cool ones with the six-speed manual), a MK3 Toyota Supra...and then there's me, in a bright white Volvo XC60. An eclectic and mixed collection of driver's cars, and then a fancy grocery getter; Someone on their way to that night's parent-teacher conference. But, this is one of Volvo's best vehicles probably ever.
From it's understated, handsome looks that are straight out of a Architectural Digest feature on minimalism, a luxurious and well-made cabin, and to the surprisingly robust driving dynamics, this is a Volvo that instills a desire. I particularly like the sideway T-shaped LED running lights that are akin to the 'Ts' on Tom Ford glasses. Why go for another Lexus like half the people in your gated community already own. Don't want an Acura or a boring BMW? Yeah, choose Swedish in the shape of the Volvo. And besides, I like the complete package of the Volvo better than any of those.
Yes, I did hoon the heck out of the modest Volvo, too. On the gloriously weaving Scott Rd that connects to Rancho Murieta's quaint golf community, Sweden's XC60 did remarkably well, with confidence inspiring steering and handling once you select sport mode to firm up the suspension and responses (otherwise it was far too soft. It's still soft in sport, but was notably improved). Over some crests at speed, the chassis did unload a bit and require some counter-inputs (the friend chasing me in their 540i laughed each time the XC60 nearly caught air in situations like this), but the overall composure was remarkably unanticipated. I think Acura's RDX has the edge in body control and sharpness on the whole, but the Volvo was happy to be pushed out of its cosmopolitan comfort zone. Understeer came gradually with easy adjustability via the throttle to tighten your line, and the AWD system did well to provide traction on exits. Seriously, even on a tough uphill section of spaghetti, the 911 pulled ahead of course, but it never left my view. And besides, I was way closer to the edge, with tires squealing at each corner, which was fun in this instance to be bordering on adhesion rather than tip-toeing like plastic surgeons would.
I didn't expect much from the Swede's dynamics, but I was surprised at the enthusiasm it had for spirited driving. To be clear, I'm not saying this is a sports car, but rather, when placed completely out of its element and what anybody would ever dare to use it for, the XC60 impressed me.
Interiors continue to be proven as mastered by Volvo, with the XC60 having an exquisitely crafted and fashioned cabin. Materials all feel great with only the odd cheap switch here and there. The attention to detail is also quite nice, such as the lovely door handles and speaker/metal trim. It's quite easy to get comfortable as well thanks to supportive seats and an intuitively natural steering wheel. The optional Bowers and Wilkens stereo is nifty, too. While not a large vehicle, space proved to be plentiful enough even when hauling adult passengers in the back. Want more space and a third row? Step up to the XC90 for that.
When driven normally, the XC60 is as quiet and refined as one would hope and expect, with basically no qualms of any sort. I liked driving the XC60 around, being a nice place to be each trip. The steering has little in the way of feedback, but it is accurate on the road and avoids any wandering and meandering.
The inline-four that is bolstered by a trifecta supercharger, turbocharger, and mild hybrid combo (a 48-volt hybrid system that supports the ICE, rather than being able to run on its own) is among the smoothest fours available now, with assuring throttle response and wonderful frugality. I averaged a convincing 26 MPG during my time in the XC60 and saw the trip meter reading 31 on my highway test.
The most glaring area where this crossover lacks is in the power department. Yes, I know I said I liked the engine, but it doesn't have the sustained punch I was hoping for. 0-60 MPH takes an average 6.2 seconds, but off the line the XC60 feels rather rapid, albeit only initially. Once the speed piles on, though, momentum stalls, with that start-line surge likely owing to the hybrid's mild assistance at low speed to give you a good shove. It isn't noticeably slower than some counterparts, like BMW's X3 30i, but I did hope for just a tish more due to the exciting powertrain specs of 295 horsepower and 310 pounds of torque. Looking at past tests, the prior year XC60 was actually a little quicker.
The infotainment/center display is attractive to the eyes, but isn't the most natural on first meeting, requiring a small learning curve. I do like the Google integration for maps, but some settings and processes are cumbersome. The on/off switch remains a peculiar judgement call on Volvo's part, twisting an odd knob near the shifter one way to start, and then the same way to shut off. You learn it, but it's awkward the first few tries.
And then there's the price. At $65,890, this a lot of money. It's beautifully furnished and equipped, yes, but that's a lot of dough considering the competition. That kind of money can get you into the top-level BMW X3 M40i, which crushes the Swede in performance, running 0-60 in under five seconds. The Genesis GV70 is a similar story, drives even better and has a towering luxurious interior of its own. I haven't even mentioned Mercedes' offerings or Jaguar and Alfa Romeo, but this shows how competitive this space is now and I think a lot of it comes down to style and brand preference.
The verdict is in...
All told, I'm really quite fond of Volvo's XC60. It's the right size for a lot of people, gets good economy, drives well, and has a beautiful finish inside and out. Despite the high price, this is a crossover that stands out from the standard crowd of German, British, Italian, Japanese, and now South Korean offerings, and stands out in all the right ways for those seeking a different flavor from their neighbor. Just be sure that you're willing to pay for it in this specification.
2022 Volvo XC60 B6 AWD
As-tested price: $65,890