2018 Volvo XC60 T8 first drive review: The accidental performance crossover

September 5, 2017

With 400 horsepower on tap, you’d think that the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Plug-In Hybrid would be the right choice for carving your way through a winding canyon road.

The ingredients are mostly there: a lot of power, a balanced chassis, grippy all-wheel drive, and nicely weighted steering controlled via a thick-rimmed, three-spoke wheel. And automaker’s hip-to-be-square styling works even better here on the five-seat XC60 than it does on the divine, three-row XC90.

MORE: Read our full review of the 2018 Volvo XC60

Yet there’s some fine tuning to be done here, which leaves this powerful, eco-friendly crossover feeling more like a low-guilt hot-rod than a dynamic dream like the Porsche Macan Turbo that Volvo floats as the closest thing to a rival for the gutsiest of Volvo crossovers.   

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

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That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, since the wildly popular compact crossovers the XC60 lineup generally emphasize comfort and style over tenacity—which stretches from the 250-hp T5 through the 316-hp T6 before landing at the range-topping T8 with its estimated 400 turbocharged, supercharged, and electrified ponies.

We recently put about 30 miles on an XC60 T8 Plug-In Hybrid on a short drive through the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado and it whet our appetite for more. Consider this an incomplete review, perhaps, since we weren’t able to test out its 10.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack’s approximately 20-mile all-electric range. Our test car’s battery was fully depleted, although what the regenerative brakes lacked in feel, they made up for in their ability to supply a little more juice to the battery for short distances.

Volvo quotes about three hours of charging time on a 220-volt outlet, which is about par for the course among plug-in hybrid vehicles with a similar capacity.

An XC60 with more

Aside from its difficult-to-modulate brakes, the XC60 T8 drives like its brethren. That’s high praise. Its steering is weighted nicely and accurate, leaving this tall-riding wagon feeling more like a sedan even on a winding canyon road.

The 400-jewel movement found underhood pairs the T6’s 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-4, 8-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive with a battery pack that can both aid passing response and allows for emissions-free driving under low load situations and for up to 20 miles in normal driving.

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