Volvo XC60 review

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

The Volvo XC60 is stylish and comfortable, but it's let down by a poor driving experience

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 smaller and more manageable version of the much loved Volvo XC90 meaning it's yet another comfortable and practical SUV from the Swedish manufacturer

The Volvo XC60 has five seats instead of the seven found on the bigger XC90, but it still has a big boot. It also gets rugged looks and a high driving position, which makes it supremely comfortable on the road.

Available with either front-wheel or four-wheel drive, the Volvo XC60 - along with the S60, S80, XC70 and V60 - was given a facelift for the 2014 model year. This really brought the car up to date and it looks a lot more upmarket than before.

A new diesel engine has been added to the Volvo XC60 range, the efficient new D4 unit. This unit is our pick of the bunch thanks to its efficiency and power. It also provides decent cruising refinement.

The Volvo XC60 now gets an optional new eight-speed automatic gearbox, and it's significantly smoother and quicker to respond than the previous clunky old auto 'box.

The Volvo XC60 may not be the most engaging car to drive, but for those seeking a comfortable ride it won't disappoint. There's also plenty of space for passengers, meaning long trips aren't a problem. The car is available in entry-level SE trim, plus the mid-range SE Lux and flagship R-Design and R-Design Lux. An optional Nav pack is also available across all trim levels. The interior feels sturdy and comes well-equipped too.

Our choice: XC60 D4 Manual R-Design

Styling

3.8

The Volvo XC60 is a handsome SUV that doesn't look out of place when compared to premium rivals such as the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and Range Rover Evoque.

Volvo's facelift brought the XC60 up-to-date with the rest of the modern Volvo range as it was updated at the same time as other models in the Swedish manufacturer's line-up. The main aesthetic improvements Volvo made to the XC60 were at front end with the bonnet, grille and front-end getting redesigns.

The new Volvo badge on the grille 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.

Volvo XC60 interior

The Volvo XC60's interior is also a nice place to be, with simple controls and an elegant floating centre console design. All the switches feel sturdy and built to last, and the seats are incredibly comfortable.

The optional TFT digital dials also look great, and the options list includes an ambient lighting package and a heated steering wheel for cold winter days.

The flagship XC60 R Design also gets a chunky, sports orientated bodykit.

Driving

3

While supremely comfortable, the Volvo XC60 can't really be called a drivers car – the best place to drive it is on the motorway.

The Volvo XC60 is very comfortable and quiet inside, and its efficient range of engines will keep your bank manager happy. Unfortunately, the Volvo XC60's electric power steering feels artificially heavy and gives very little feedback on twisty roads, but the 4x4 version is surprisingly capable off-road.

While it may not be able to offer as much grip as a Range Rover Evoque, the AWD Volvo XC60 is more than capable of tackling muddy country lanes and flooded roads thanks to its four-wheel drive system, high ground clearance and strong diesel engine.

The Volvo XC60's new eight-speed automatic gearbox is a big improvement on the old transmission, which was jerky and slow to respond. However, it's still not quite as good as the automatic gearbox in the BMW X3.

The Volvo XC60's 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 when fitted with larger alloy wheels, bumps and motorway expansion joints can send big judders into the cabin.

Reliability

4.4

Volvo is a firm that's always been renowned for its strong reliability and safety. However, the XC60 ranked 66th out of 150 cars in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey - a drop of 37 places from 2013. Plus, Volvo came 11th in the manufacturer rankings, so you can expect the ownership experience to be pretty decent.

The Volvo XC60's Safety equipment is superb, with entry-level 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.

Volvo's 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. It is, however, worth remember that the system only works at speeds under 19mph.

Practicality

4.2

While Volvo's 2013 facelift of the XC60 refreshed its looks, it certainly didn't sacrifice practicality.

The Volvo XC60's boot is a large 494 litres and that's just up to the load cover. If you cram it with stuff to the roofline, that'll increase to 655 litres. When you fold the seats forward, the boot-space further increases to 1,455 litres.

The XC60's 40/20/40 split rear seats are handy, and they fold flat so sliding objects in and out is no problem. It's worth noting that headroom isn't great for taller passengers in the rear, but there's plenty of legroom and it doesn't feel cramped, either.

You'll also notice that the Volvo XC60's door bins are a little small, but overall the cabin has plenty of places for a family to store their valuables.

Running Costs

3.7

Despite its size, the Volvo XC60 is generally good in terms of running costs.

The Volvo XC60 comes with a choice of two strong diesel engines - the efficient new four-cylinder D4 with a 2.0-litre 160bhp unit, and the five-cylinder 2.4-litre D5 which develops 213bhp. The D5 is definitely the stronger engine of the two, but it feels a bit rough when compared with the smooth engines in the BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque. The D4 is also much cleaner.

The D4 engine returns 53.3mpg and emits just 139g/km of CO2. If you want the added security of the all-wheel drive system then you have to pick the older version of the D4 engine, which does 44.1mpg and has CO2 emissions of 196g/km.

The only petrol engine available is the 300bhp T6. Despite its impressive power output, it's also very thirsty with a fuel economy of 26.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 249g/km. It also doesn't feel as fast as its high bhp suggests.

The Volvo XC60 with the diesel D5 engine is only available as a 4x4. With start-stop technology and the six-speed manual gearbox, it returns 139g/km and 53.5mpg. With the automatic gearbox, it returns 44.1mpg along with 169g/km of CO2.

The XC60 is quite expensive with a starting price in excess of £30k, meaning insurance should also be pretty high. 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, including a Polestar performance pack.

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: 15 May, 2014
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