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New Volvo XC60 2017 review

We see if the new Volvo XC60 SUV can hit the heights of its XC90 big brother on British roads

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

The second-generation XC60 shoots straight to the top of the premium SUV class thanks to its beautifully crafted cabin, comfortable ride and economical engines. A Jaguar F-Pace is more engaging to drive, but most buyers won’t be that bothered by the Volvo’s slightly softer approach to dynamics. It counters this where it matters, with its better refinement, extra on-board technology and easier day-to-day use. You can’t go wrong with a new Volvo XC60.

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The XC90 was such a success, we declared it our Car of the Year in 2015. Now, though, it’s the turn of Volvo’s smaller (yet bigger-selling) XC60. Can it hit the same heights as its larger brother?

We first drove the new XC60 on European roads, rating its comfort-biased and tech-laden set-up. But as is often the case, we reserved final judgement on the ride and handling until we’d tried it in the UK.

That opportunity has now arrived, and to kick things off we’re sampling Volvo’s mid-sized SUV in entry-level D4 Momentum guise. However, far from being sparsely equipped in base form, this XC60 is loaded with kit.

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So much so, you can’t help but wonder who would feel the need to step up to the pricier R-Design or Inscription models. Our car came with sat-nav, leather seats and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as a power-operated tailgate, keyless start and cruise control. Optional Pro trim adds a heated front windscreen and steering wheel, along with active-bending headlights.

Externally, the XC90’s styling influence is clear. Yet the smaller dimensions suit the new Volvo’s shape better, and so the XC60 is arguably even sharper on the eye. On the inside it sets a high benchmark in the premium SUV class. There are soft-touch materials throughout, and the well designed dashboard focuses around a slick eight-inch touchscreen that’s packed with tech.

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It’s as simple and easy to use as the set-up we’ve grown used to in the XC90, with the same swipe menus and pinch-to-zoom functionality. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto give seamless smartphone integration.

As with any Volvo, safety is key. The new model may cost less than the XC90, but engineers haven’t skimped on kit. Pilot Assist is available across the range (it’s a £1,500 option on Momentum models), and this can accelerate, brake and steer through traffic at speeds of up to 80mph. The standard City Safety package can now steer to avoid pedestrians and other obstacles, too.

While the Volvo can’t match the Jaguar F-Pace’s direct steering and tight body control, its comfort-orientated approach will find favour with plenty of buyers. All XC60s get steel springs as standard, but our test car featured optional air-suspension. The ride is very impressive, with the softer set-up absorbing lumps, bumps and harsh expansion joints without fuss.

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In fact, the XC60 is as quiet and stable on the motorway as a Mercedes GLC, and our D4 diesel model was all but silent at 70mph. There is very little in terms of wind and road noise, too, making the newcomer a relaxing long-distance cruiser.

While the handling can be considered safe rather than truly engaging on a twisty stretch of tarmac, the Volvo is perfectly predictable and easy enough to drive quickly. If, as with our test car, you don’t spec steering wheel-mounted paddles, taking control means using the traditional gearlever on the centre console. All models get selectable drive modes, with the Dynamic setting keeping the revs higher for improved response.

Practicality is another strong point; headroom is plentiful and kneeroom more than adequate, putting the XC60 on par with the most spacious cars in this sector. The newcomer misses out on the XC90’s seven-seat configuration, but you do get a big 505-litre boot. That’s 45 litres smaller than you’ll find in a GLC or Audi Q5, but the standard-fit power bootlid makes loading easy. The seats fold quickly and easily to create a decent 1,432-litre load bay, too.

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