Volvo is on a roll with its fantastic 90 Series models and now it’s hoping that it can pull off the same magic with the smaller 60 Series models. The first of these new models is the 2018 Volvo XC60. It borrows its good looks from its bigger brother, the XC90, but its smaller footprint is more ideal for small families or empty nesters.
With so many options in the compact luxury SUV segment how does the Volvo stand out against its rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz? For starters the XC60 is based on the same SPA platform as the XC90 and the rest of the 90 Series models. Its new platform has been designed from the start to be able to accept a range of powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid system. In the U.S. the XC60 is offered with a range of four-cylinder engines. The base XC60 T5 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 250 horsepower engine, while the XC60 T6 gets a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0L that generates a healthy 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. The range topper is the XC60 T8 with its plug-in hybrid powertrain that generates 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft. An eight speed automatic transmission is standard with all the powertrain options.
On the outside the 2018 XC60 looks more modern and sophisticated with the same styling cues that we’ve enjoyed on the larger 90 Series models. The Thor’s Hammer headlights are present as are the vertical taillights that we’ve come to expect from Volvo’s wagon and SUV lineup. The overall look is classic and understated without any of the flashy styling bits that some of its rivals use, like Lexus.
Compared to the last generation XC60, the 2018 XC60’s wheelbase has been stretched 3.6 inches, while its overall length is 1.8 inches longer. The 2018 XC60 is also 2.1 inches lower which gives it a more planted look and feel.
Inside it’s hard to tell the difference between the larger XC90 and the XC60, well at least from the driver’s seat. The dashboard is almost identical, even though it has been sized down a tiny bit. The same infotainment system is there, as well as the instrument cluster in front of the driver. Even the air vents look identical. As you move to the back seat, you’ll notice that there’s more interior space than before thanks to the longer wheelbase.
At the center of the dash, the 9-inch infotainment system controls most of the functions that you’ll need to adjust. It’s a touchscreen system that has you slide your way through a series of menus, while you look for the setting you want. It looks great, but it can be a bit slow at times and a little distracting.
If you choose the top spec Inscription model with the Luxury Seat package you’ll be treated to luxury features like, massaging front seats with ventilation, heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The package sounds like a lot, but you’ll be happy you chose it after a long day at the office or a cold winter morning. The only negative being that the front seats do feel a bit more mechanical than you’d expect.
After a week with the XC60 T6 we were impressed with the responsiveness of the supercharged and turbocharged engine. The XC60 T6 feels zippy off the line and it doesn’t take much effort to get up to speed. It would be nice if all the trim levels came with paddle shifters, but you get them if you choose the R-Design model. The rest are forced to use the gear shifter to toggle between the gears. There’s also the sportier Dynamic driving mode too if you prefer.
Our Volvo XC60 was also equipped with air springs and electronically adjustable dampers. Find a few fun curves on your daily commute and you’ll notice that the 2018 XC60 now feels sportier than before with less body roll. The steering does try hard to provide some feedback, but overall it does feel a bit over boosted.
We can’t do a Volvo review without talking about its safety features. The XC60 comes standard with a collision avoidance system and the typical cameras and blind spot monitors that we expect on anything with a Volvo badge. The XC60 also available with the Pilot Assist system – a semi-autonomous system that’s part of the adaptive cruise control system. It conveniently takes over the steering, braking and acceleration – reducing driver fatigue.
The 2018 Volvo XC60 succeeds by packaging everything that we love about the larger XC90 into a smaller package. It looks more sophisticated and elegant than before and if you choose the midline XC60 you’ll be satisfied. Is the XC60 the perfect alternative to its rivals from Germany and Japan? Yes.