The 2010 Volvo XC60 is a very good five-passenger luxury SUV, experts say. This new model doesn't boast the strong reliability history of the top-rated 2010 Lexus RX 350 (Base MSRP: $37,625 to $39,025), and it's not as sporty as competitors from Acura and BMW. Still, reviewers say the XC60's robust safety, comfortable cabin and competitive price make it a fine choice.
"Best-driving Volvo around," Motor Trend's Ron Kiino says of the XC60. "How often can you say that about a brand's SUV?" Testers say it strikes a good balance, with a reasonably comfortable ride and reasonably taut handling, although both Car and Driver and TheTruthAboutCars.com complain of a syrupy steering feel. Off-road, the XC60 gets mixed results. In Motor Trend's 2010 Sport/Utility of the Year test, an all-wheel-drive XC60 "feels rough on battered roads" and is the only competitor to "get loose on the off-road loop … Stability control only went to full freakout once, during a fast right on the gravel." Meanwhile, TheTruthAboutCars.com's Alex Dykes spent "over 26 hours on unpaved backcountry roads in the XC60 and didn't get stuck." The XC60 spun its front wheels on an icy grade until traction control was disabled and power shifted to the back wheels, but it did "strikingly well on sand, several inches of mud, steep ruts, a few inches of snow and moderate off-roading."
Few critics test the Volvo XC60 3.2 (Base MSRP: $32,395 to $34,395). Its engine, a 235-horsepower, 3.2-liter inline-six, is "unremarkable, but it will get the job done for those who don't care too much about passing power," Edmunds.com says. With the six-speed automatic transmission, expect 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/27 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive, dropping to 18 mpg combined (16 mpg city/22 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive.
Most sources test the Volvo XC60 T6 (Base MSRP: $37,200 to $41,550), an AWD-only model with a turbocharged, 3-liter inline-six. It delivers 281 horsepower and 1 highway mpg less than the base AWD model with the same transmission. The turbo engine is uniformly judged smooth and strong, "clearly the one to get if you're getting a Volvo XC60," says Michael Karesh at TheTruthAboutCars.com. All XC60 models can tow 3,300 pounds. Unlike most luxury SUVs, the XC60 runs on regular gas.
Safe, stylish and loaded with features for the price
Inside, critics appreciate the Volvo XC60's clean Scandinavian design and exceptionally comfortable front seats. Some testers find the backseat adequate for adults, while others find legroom a little tight. Cargo space with the rear seats folded is 67 cubic feet -- more than some other luxury midsize SUVs, but less than the 80 cubic feet you'll get in the Lexus RX 350.
The Volvo XC60 3.2 includes several standard features that cost extra on pricier SUVs, including driver's seat memory, Bluetooth and satellite and HD radio, plus cruise control, USB and auxiliary audio jacks and more. Also standard is City Safety, which brakes the SUV automatically if an infrared device detects an imminent low-speed frontal crash. Motor Trend calls it "an impressive safety technology that has worked for us perfectly in other settings," but testers couldn't get it to work when they repeatedly set up bounce boards and drove the XC60 toward them.
Leather seats, a power passenger seat and privacy glass are optional on the XC60 3.2. They come standard on the turbocharged Volvo XC60 T6, along with bigger 18-inch wheels. The T6 R-Design adds a stiffer suspension, 20-inch wheels and sporty styling touches. A long list of packaged and individual options are available for both models, including a panoramic sunroof, dual backseat DVD screens, dual rear booster seats, heated seats and washer nozzles, a power liftgate and front and rear park assist.
There's an optional navigation system, but ConsumerGuide.com complains that the small screen can be hard to read, and Edmunds.com agrees that its controls -- inconveniently located on the back of the steering wheel -- "aren't immediately intuitive." There's a remote control, Autoblog.com notes, but it will get lost, and anyway the navigation software is "dreadfully antiquated." Unfortunately, if you skip it, "you get a bizarre cubby where the screen should go that tells all your passengers you were too cheap to splurge for the nav," writes Alex Dykes at TheTruthAboutCars.com.
Safety is paramount in the XC60, experts say. Even the ill-advised nav system was created small and deep-set "ostensibly to avoid striking it during an accident," writes Chris Paukert at Autoblog.com. The XC60 has not undergone government crash testing, but it earns a Top Safety Pick award in crash tests at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Antilock brakes, traction and stability control and front, front-side and curtain airbags all come standard, along with City Safety. AWD models get standard hill descent control, and optional features alert you if you're not paying attention to the road, about to drift out of your lane or if a heartbeat monitor detects someone lurking in your car.
This model is too new to have any reliability history, but Volvo's overall brand reliability ranks slightly below average in one major survey. The Volvo XC60 carries five-year/60,000 mile basic and powertrain warranties.
Edmunds.com's comprehensive review is the only one we found that analyzes the Volvo XC60's base engine as well as the optional turbo. Other sources have tested only the turbo. TheTruthAboutCars.com tests it thoroughly both on- and off-road. Motor Trend also evaluates both on- and off-road performance, but its review is shorter. ConsumerReports.org and ConsumerGuide.com stick to the pavement and rate most aspects of the XC60. We found comparison tests at Cars.com and Car and Driver, pitting the XC60 head-to-head against its rivals. Two separate Autoblog.com testers come to similar conclusions about the XC60 and its optional navigation system. The XC60 aces crash tests at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. FuelEconomy.gov provides government fuel-economy estimates.
The Volvo XC60 is "a solid hit," Edmunds.com says, with plenty of features, safety, room and style. It also has plenty of competition, editors say, but they make the XC60 one of their top recommended picks.
Review: 2010 Volvo XC60 Review, Editors of Edmunds.com
The turbocharged Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design is "clearly the one to get if you're getting a Volvo XC60," Michael Karesh concludes. It handles better, and styling tweaks make it look better than the ordinary XC60.
Review: Review: Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design, Michael Karesh, May 7, 2010
This time, TheTruthAboutCars.com takes the turbocharged Volvo XC60 "where no $47,000 Euro CUV should ever be taken" -- on dirt roads and icy pavement, through ditches, sand and mud. It's no boulder-crawler, Alex Dykes says, and it spins at first on a steep, icy slope, but it never gets stuck.
Review: Review: Volvo XC60 Take Two, Alex Dykes, March 1, 2010
Editors here test the turbocharged version of the Volvo XC60 for performance, comfort, fuel economy and accident avoidance. It's too new to have any reliability or depreciation ratings, but editors do include in their separate SUV rankings chart based on its test scores.
Review: Volvo XC60, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
5. Motor Trend
Volvo's "best new car is its new crossover," Motor Trend declares after testing the XC60. It doesn't win Sport/Utility of the Year, but editors like its crisp handling and optional turbocharged engine. It feels rough off-road, though, and they can't get the City Safety feature to work.
Review: 2010 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year: The Contenders: 2010 Volvo XC60, Todd Lassa, October 2009
6. Car and Driver
"Pancake syrup in the steering" and "crashing sounds" over rough pavement relegate the Volvo XC60 to third place in this five-SUV comparison. Editors do find plenty to like, including the styling and the strong turbocharged engine.
Review: 2009 Audi Q5 vs. 2009 BMW X3, 2010 M-B GLK350, 2010 Volvo XC60, 2010 Lexus RX350 -- Comparison Tests, Patrick Bedard, June 2009
The turbocharged Volvo XC60 wins this comparison test, beating the BMW X3 and Land Rover LR2. The Volvo has the strongest powertrain, is the most stylish and luxurious, and is judged the best overall value.
Review: Cars.comparison: Downsized Luxury Crossovers, Joe Bruzek, Mike Hanley and Kelsey Mays, Aug. 3, 2009
Autoblog's Chris Shunk and colleague Chris Paukert both test the turbocharged Volvo XC60 and like it -- except for the optional navigation system, which both say is the pits.
Review: Review: 2010 Volvo XC60 Delivers on Looks and Lux -- Handling, Too. Nav? Not So Much., Chris Shunk, Chris Paukert, Aug. 4, 2009
The Volvo XC60 is a Recommended choice here. Testers find it safe, refined and feature-rich, with balanced comfort, handling and power -- in short, a good value among premium SUVs.
Review: 2010 Volvo XC60: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com
10. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2010 Volvo XC60 wins an IIHS Top Safety Pick award. Testers deem it Good (the highest possible rating) in front, side, rear and rollover roof strength crash tests.
Review: Midsize Luxury SUVs, Editors of IIHS.org
This government chart ranks the Volvo XC60's fuel consumption alongside most other 2010 SUVs. In combined city/highway driving, it delivers an estimated 21 mpg with front-wheel drive or 18 mpg with AWD, regardless of which engine you pick.
Review: 2010 Sport Utility Vehicles, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov