Volvos are known for safety, but the Swedish automaker's also trying to build a reputation for its all-weather, all-activity vehicles--the XC range of crossovers.
Earlier this month, I rode along in a pack of XC60 and XC70 wagons throughout the desert southwest, on a 900-mile quest from San Francisco to Colorado. Volvo set it up as a mirror image of a summer vacation that its family owners might take, and in the end, it proved to me that the XC60 offers more abilities than even I believed it possessed.
I learned how comfortable and enjoyable this Volvo truly is. I wanted nothing more than to bring the XC60 back home and keep it for as long as I could, hoping the Volvo folks would not notice it missing.
The XC60 was comfortable on the long haul to the Gateway Resort in Colorado. It handled the interstate highways smoothing out the variations in road surface as the miles ticked along. More surprising was how very capable the XC60 was on the off-road trails that turned into muddy, nearly impassable creeks. The performance from the XC60 turbocharged engine and the smoothness of its suspension system makes it a wonderful meld of transportation and enthusiastic fun driver. This vehicle proved to be an all-around winner.
Co-pilot on autopilot
I should mention my driving partner (who I will just call Al) and I were assigned an XC60 R-Design, a new variant for 2011. Along the route, we were to participate in a number of contests, gathering points at each stop as we traveled through three states.
Well, that idea went right out the window, when my traveling companion put it bluntly: “I'm not doing anything of the kind. Get me to the hotel so I can read my book."
I decided to combat this the only way I knew. I asked where he wanted to eat.
“In & Out Burger," he spat out.
I knew then I had him through Las Vegas, because that was the closest In & Out.
Barstow and beyond
We pushed our XC60 through the desert. Cruising through Barstow, I mentioned that the world’s largest thermometer was located near our route. So, of course he had to stop and see that phenomenon. This is perfect, I thought; I’ll get a photo of the Volvo with this gigantic tower and fulfill one of our requirements.
I had barely gotten my photo when I noticed the young family who had pulled up next to us was tearing out of the parking area as if a demon was chasing them. Silly me, I walked to the car and asked Al what had gotten into them. I should have known not to ask, because Al said he'd told them, it sure was the largest rectal thermometer he’d ever seen.
To say that his witticisms throughout the 900-mile excursion were unexpected would be less than correct. It developed into a trip of surprise, bewilderment, shock, and astonishment. However, the one factor that surprised both of us, although it should not have, was the Volvo XC60. It proved to be the trouper and a wonderful complement to our travels. Out on the open road the XC60 cruised right along with the big rigs, RVs and state patrol cars. Yep, we did get attention from the black and whites. Fortunately, we did not become too familiar with the officers. For once, we behaved ourselves.
It was easy though, because there were a few states we visited that had reasonable speed limits on their highways. In areas where more tumbleweed raced down the asphalt, we eagerly and legally cruised along at 80 mph. The XC60 was rock solid. The comfortable interior offered plenty of quiet time so that we could carry on a low-level conversation. And even following hours behind the wheel we emerged without feeling fatigued.