THE XC60 UNDERWENT RIGORUS TESTING AT THE HANDS OF NWAPA JOURNALISTS INCLUDING YOURS TRULY . PHOTO CREDIT:NWAPA/JOSH MACKEY
On a recent trip to the Great Northwest to participate in the annual Mudfest gathering of cars and trucks put on by the Northwest Automotive Press Association of which I am proudly a member, I was able to spend a few days in a Volvo XC60 SUV which is the smaller of the three tall SUV's in the Volvo lineup.
The XC60 along with its big brother the 90 are pretty much staples of northwest living battling the Subaru lineup for space on Seattle's crowded roads. Also with Volvo's new V60 wagon being more of a sport wagon than a voluminous place to put the kids and stuff to head up to skiing or the cabin the XC gives you more cargo volume and a more substantial feel than the V.
From the outside the XC 60 cuts an attractive profile. More upright and glassious than the smaller wagon, the visibility is excellent adding to the safety factor. The Volvo designers struck a nice balance between keeping a trace of the old Volvo boxy wagon as indicated by the crossbar and badge on the grille and softening the body up to give it a more car like personality.
Inside the XC is luxury all the way. It is what you have come to expect from Volvo with the cool pass through center console, comfortable bolstered leather seats, fine materials including some wood paneling that was exceptionally good looking for what you would see in a lower end luxury car and a well laid out dash. Rear seats are a little tight but no more so than most in this class.
As safety is the biggest word in the Volvo lexicon you can get an incredible number of electronic devices that carry out that tradition. The City Safety package with pedestrian detection is even set up so it can detect cyclists, something important in a city like Seattle where cycles are becoming more and more the norm during dark rainy commute hours. The system applies the brakes if it senses a pedestrian and you don't. There is also a full suite of safety features above and beyond the typical ABS and air bags that make the XC 60 among the safest vehicles on the road.
Okay. We are safe but how does the XC60 perform? The version I tested the T6 has a 302 hp turbocharged 6 that delivers 325 pound feet of torque through a 8 speed automatic that can be shifted with well located paddle shifters. It gives the 60 a lot of oomph for an AWD SUV delivering 0 to 60 times of less than 7 seconds. Shifts are crisp and even with a full compliment of hefty people the Volvo never seems to strain. It also handles among the best in class despite a high profile and a 9 plus inch ground clearance. It actually holds the road like a much lower slung vehicle and having the chance to take it through the off road course at the DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie I can report that it's off road manners are quite ample for what 99.9 per cent of XC60 owners are going to use the car for off road and through the snow or mud.
The Volvo XC 60 I drove, pretty well optioned including the Platinum and Sport packages which included 20 inch wheels, heated seats and the complete gaggle of safety equipment stickered at $50,725. EPA mileage figures come in at 22 city 30 highway and the XC 60 would be the safest car on planet earth if it weren't for the Feds giving it a four star instead of a five star rollover crash rating. It is however a 2014 Top Safety Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety doing especially well in the frontal overlap crash tests (meant to simulate someone crossing over the yellow line as they are texting someone else).
The Volvo XC60 was so impressive to Northwest automotive journalists that it tied with the Mercedes Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC as "2014 Best Premium Compact SUV" in the Mudfest competition.
This is the kind of vehicle that Volvo does oh so well. They have for the longest time been the standard bearer for safety in consumer minds and their new grab bag of safety features only reinforces that. It's roomy inside, responsive to drive and instills confidence that you or your wife or husband or your kids will be safe in this car and that's where the Volvo shines. Is it safer than other cars in it's class? Probably not. But go by the middle school as parents driving Volvos drop their kids off...they'll tell you it is and that's what counts!