- Attractive styling
- Well-trimmed interior
- Good handling and acceleration
- Poor fuel economy
- Lots of techno buttons
The 2010 Volvo XC60 brings unexpected style and a heavy dose of safety technology to families with all-weather needs.
The 2010 Volvo XC60 is the Swedish car company's first foray into the compact crossover segment—the same niche that includes the BMW X3, Land Rover LR2, Acura RDX, and Infiniti EX35. Happily, the Volvo entry is one of the handsomest of the bunch, comes standard with all-wheel drive and surprising off-road specs, and adds to the brand's reputation for safety with a new twist.
With the $38,025 XC60, Volvo allows its designers freer rein. The XC60 is a handsome machine—particularly from the side, where it reminds other drivers of a four-fifths-scale Buick Enclave, and from the rear, where the taillights flow into its shoulders like the deltoids of a muscular athlete. The large "ironmark" badge and big grille complete the pro-sports analogy and may be a little big for some tastes. Inside, it's even more appealing: The Volvo trick of making a thin-panel console leaves storage behind its wood-paneled center stack, metallic trim outlines big geometric shapes, and all sorts of pleasing colors and textures fill out the cabin.
The XC60 shares some mechanical and structural pieces with the Volvo S80—the crossover's turbocharged V-6 engine and Haldex all-wheel drive will be familiar to fans of the big four-door. The XC60's 3.0-liter V-6 spins out 281 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and delivers it to the four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The slight whistle that accompanies the turbo six is expected; there's also a little vibration that sounds more akin to diesel thrum, but it's not too loud. The six-speed automatic has a sport-shift mode that accesses the six's torque in abundant scoops, too. Together, the pair combines to scoot the XC60 to 60 mph in about seven seconds, quick for a sport-ute.
All-wheel drive is of the as-needed variety; wheelspin calls the rear wheels into action, while in most dry situations the XC60 is essentially a front-driver. And the XC60 has a surprising 9.1 inches of ground clearance, for anyone who cares to off-road this nearly $40,000 machine.
Handling and braking are a strong point for the 2010 Volvo XC60. The electric power steering's been programmed with decent feedback, and ride quality is well sorted. The brakes feel strong as well, and 18-inch wheels are standard, with 19-inchers available. The XC60 tracks smoothly on freeways and is almost entertaining to drive on twisted trails, particularly when you engage the transmission's sport mode. It's still a heavy machine, though, and in all scenarios, fuel economy disappoints at 16/22 mpg. That's only 2 mpg better than Volvo's own seven-passenger XC90 ute.
Crossover vehicles need to deliver carlike handling and SUV-style space. The XC60 succeeds with a cargo-friendly cabin and supportive seats. Up front, there's a little less support from the bottom cushion than Volvo seats normally deliver, and the passenger footwell loses room to the front right wheelhouse. Plenty of room exists fore and aft, but the console trim rubs uncomfortably on the knees. In the second row of seats there's good legroom for two large adults. Overall, the XC60's interior speaks of quality trim and textures, with lots of upscale finishes and feel. The rear seats fold down into a large cargo area, but they don't fold quite flat.
Volvo stakes its reputation on safety, and the 2010 XC60 meets that mission with a raft of new features. One is City Safety; it uses cameras and sensors to detect imminent impacts with vehicles in the lane ahead. If the XC60 is about to drive into the vehicle in front at 19 mph or less and the driver does not react, the car brakes itself. City Safety is standard on the XC60, and its sensors occupy a not-so-small chunk of the windshield behind the rearview mirror. It's joined by standard anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, the usual airbags, and an optional set of lane-departure, collision, and blind-spot warning systems. That makes for lots of buttons, bleeps, and blinks; if you're not used them, it takes a while to get used to piloting the XC60.
The 2010 Volvo XC60 is stuffed with a long list of standard features. Along with leather trim, the XC60 has standard Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio with six months' service, USB and auxiliary inputs for audio players, a large moonroof, roof rails, and power front seats. The first three years or 36,000 miles of maintenance are included. A Dynaudio 650-watt sound system is an option; with a rearview camera and navigation, it runs $2,700. Volvo's nav unit takes some getting used to also, by the way—it's not a touchscreen device, and only the driver can operate it from wheel-mounted controls. Heated seats are part of a $1,000 package; adaptive cruise, distance alerts, lane-departure warning, and collision warning are bundled for $1,695.