Volvo XC60 review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The safe and stylish Volvo XC60 is comfortable and practical enough to suit a busy family lifestyle

For: 
Comfortable ride, spacious interior, punchy diesels
Against: 
Pricy compared to rivals, numb steering, jerky automatic

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The Volvo XC60 is a comfortable and practical family SUV that's a bit smaller and easier to manage than the big Volvo XC90. While the larger XC90 has space for seven, the XC60 gets a normal five-seat layout, though it does have a big boot. Although it might look like it, the XC60 is not really set up for off-loading - the high driving position is aimed more at improving comfort on the road.

The Volvo XC60 range was updated with a fresh new look recently, which really brought the car up to date and it looks a lot more upmarket than before. A new engine range has been added to with the ultra-efficient new D4 Drive-E model the pick of the bunch. This engine is efficient and powerful, and also provides decent cruising refinement. A new eight-speed automatic gearbox has also been introduced, and is significantly smoother and quicker to respond then the previous 'Geartronic' auto model.

The Volvo doesn't match its rivals on driving fun either, but for those seeking a comfortable ride it won't disappoint. Plus, there's plenty of space for passengers, so long trips aren't a problem. The car is available in SE, SE Lux, R-Design and R-Design Lux variants. The interior feels sturdy and comes well-equipped too.

Our choice: XC60 D4 Manual R-Design

Styling

3.8

The newly updated Volvo XC60 is a great-looking SUV, and easily matches its rivals when it comes to styling. The fresh looks have brought the XC60 up to date with the rest of the modern Volvo range as this car was given a facelift at the same time as the S80, XC70 and V60, with the main improvements being to the front end and bonnet design, lights and bonnet design.

The Volvo badge might be huge, but the XC60 has a somewhat understated look to it. It's certainly better looking than the larger XC90 and the smaller dimensions mean it feels well proportioned. It's better looking than the rival Audi Q5, but when it comes to style we think the Range Rover Evoque is still the best in this class.

The simple controls and an elegant floating centre console design on display in the Volvo XC60's interior are also great touches. All the switches feel sturdy and built to last, and the seats are incredibly comfortable. You now get TFT digital dials (as a £350 option), which looks great, and the options list includes an ambient lighting package and a heated steering wheel for cold winter days.

Driving

3

The best place to drive the Volvo XC60 is, unfortunately, on the motorway. It's very comfortable and quiet inside, and the efficient engines will keep your wallet happy. The electric steering gives very little feedback on bending roads and feels artificially heavy, but the AWD XC60 might surprise you off-road. Decent ground clearance and a strong diesel engine make it quite capable for tackling muddy country lanes or flooded roads, but and four-wheel drive system will not offer quite as much grip as rivals like the Range Rover Evoque.

There are two strong diesel engines available: the D4 uses a 2.0-litre unit with 169bhp, while the five-cylinder 2.4-litre engine in the D5 develops 213bhp. The D5 is definitely the stronger engine, but it feels a bit rough compared with the smooth engines in the BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque, and the D4 is much cleaner. Sadly though this brillant new engine is not available with four-wheel drive - so if you want the added security of the all-wheel drive system then you have to pick the older version of the D4 engine.

If you prefer to go for a petrol engine you can choose the T6 engine, it comes with an impressive 300bhp but is also very thirsty, and does not as feel as fast as that high output suggests. The Geartronic automatic gearbox is also a no-go, being jerky and a bit irritating to use. The new eight-speed auto is a big improvement on the old transmission, but its still not quite as good as the automatic ZF gearbox in the BMW X3.

The high driving position gives great comfort and visibility, and grip is good, too. The pedals are light, but the weak spring in the clutch on manual models takes some getting used to. The steering is oddly weighted at times and on larger alloy wheels then bumps and motorway expansion joints can send big judders into the cabin.

Reliability

4.4

Safety and reliability is always a strong point for Volvo, but a 19th place finish in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's top 150 cars is proof that the XC60 is great in this area - it was the old model that featured, but this new one uses the same mechanical parts. Plus, Volvo came in 8th in the manufacturer rankings, so you can expect the ownership experience to be generally good, too.

Safety equipment is superb, with even SE versions getting five different electronic braking aids, dual-stage airbags, traction control, hill descent control, an inflatable curtain for side impacts and a range of security features.

A City Safety system is also included, which will automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision and the driver doesn’t react in time, but the system only works at speeds under 19mph.

Practicality

4.2

The recent update definitely improved the styling of the XC60, but it didn't come at the cost of practicality. The boot is a large 494 litres - and that's just up to the load cover. If you fill it to the roof with stuff, you'll be able to get 655 litres out of it. Plus, fold the seats down and you'll get a total of 1,455 litres.

The 40/20/40 split rear seats are handy, and they fold flat so sliding objects in and out is no problem. Headroom isn't great for taller passengers in the rear, but there's plenty of legroom and it doesn't feel cramped back there.

The door bins are a little small, but overall there are plenty of places for your family to put things around the cabin.

Running Costs

3.7

The XC60 might be a high-riding, heavy car, but it's actually not to bad when it comes to running costs. It matches rivals like the VW Tiguan for official fuel consumption and emissions figures. All of the older diesel models, the smaller D4 and larger D5, in two- or four-wheel drive, emit 139g/km of CO2. However the manual version of the new D4 produces a class-leading CO2 figure of just 117g/km and returns a claimed 62.8mpg.

The automatic version, however, decreases fuel consumption – another reason not to choose one. The petrol T6 manages just 26.4mpg and emits a whopping 249g/km of CO2, so we'd avoid that engine as well.

It's actually quite expensive to buy than its rivals from VW and Audi, and insurance should be pretty high as well. However, Volvo offers a range of fixed-price servicing deals, and the XC60 is well equipped as standard. There are lots of extras to choose from too, although they can get quite expensive.

Disqus - noscript

Where on earth did you find a jerky auto box on an XC60?
Mine is, and always has been, silky smooth with undetectable gearchanges, unless you are attuned to the (subdued) engine note or watching the tachometer instead of the road!

I have to agree with Alec.

Where on earth did you find a jerky auto box on an XC60

Afraid I don't think much of this review.

Odd that Whatcar find the car to be better than the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW x3, Landrover Freelander.

Is it £slated" because it not German?

Why is it that any test on a Volvo requires stating how better is a matching BMW? The 6-speed gearbox with the T6 engine, at least in the S60 car which I own for already three years, is a very strong performer, one should not forget to set in sport mode where it can give any BMW or Audi a good run for their (excessive) money. I've done it, very often.

Last updated: 4 Feb, 2014

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