2011 Volvo XC60 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 7, 2011

The 2011 Volvo XC60 offers top in-car tech and luxury features, in a secure package that's big enough for small families.

The station wagon is a Volvo staple, yet as of late even Volvo has shown signs of abandoning traditional wagon designs in favor of taller utility vehicles. Case in point: it's added to the XC60 crossover lineup and stocked it with the latest luxury features while it's announced the demise (at least in the U.S.) of the V70 wagon.

The XC60 looks (and is) tall, but overall it drives like a much lower vehicle, with a secure, planted feel in tight corners. The automatic transmission comes with a sport mode, and steering is definitely weighted better than that in many previous Volvo models, but the XC60 is still by no means a sporty vehicle when the road turns twisty.

In its base form, with a 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine, the 2011 Volvo XC60 feels responsive but not as downright perky as its 240 horsepower (up 5 this year) should feel. Part of that's due to the fact that the XC60 is surprisingly hefty (more than 4,200 pounds in AWD guise); but the engine seems to come into its own on the highway and with the responsive six-speed automatic can pull off very rapid passes. Sporty T6 models get a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six, now making 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet. As such, the XC60 is very quick, and capable of getting to 60 mph in seven seconds, or a little less. T6 models corner a bit better, and steering feel can be adjusted through screen-based settings.

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The XC60's crossover shape provides lots of passenger comfort, and a cargo-friendly setup as well. Up front, the driving position is nice and upright, but there's a little less support from the bottom cushion than Volvo seats normally deliver, and the passenger footwell feels a bit narrow. The second row is just passable for two adults, as it's somewhat tight on legroom and there's not quite the width to fit three adults across. Overall, the XC60's interior speaks of quality trim and textures, with lots of upscale finishes like available real oak veneer. Cargo space is pretty generous, at more than 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up, but they fold down into a large cargo area (67 cubic feet), but they don't fold quite flat. However, there's an extra stash area just under the cargo floor.

In addition to all the conventional safety features, and good safety ratings, the XC60 offers a few active-safety tech features you won't find everywhere. City Safety wraps together the sensors used in various other high-tech safety aids in the XC60, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Control, Distance Alert, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).

For 2011, you can now get the R-Design package. This new model includes most of the same equipment included in the T5 R-Design: dual xenon headlamps with Active Bending Light, a panoramic sunroof and power sunshade, leather sport seats with contrasting colors, roof rails, and a special R-Design grille, trim, and 20-inch wheels.

Top options include a Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, a rearview camera and navigation system, 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.

9

2011 Volvo XC60

Styling

With flowing sheetmetal and starkly contrasting interior materials, the 2011 XC60 is a very stylish crossover—and one that's unmistakably Volvo.

Overall, the XC60 is a handsome machine. It has an exterior that's organic and rakish from some angles, just like the S60 sedan that was designed by the same team, while it's a little more reined-in and formal. Particularly from the side, where some crossovers in this class either look like squat station wagons on stilts, or slightly elongated faux-rugged utes, the XC60 design is smooth and cohesive, with shoulders that flow nearly from headlamps to taillights. The large "ironmark" badge and big grille complete the slightly more athletic look.

Inside, the XC60 is has a very appealing design, taking design attributes from other Volvos, like the 'floating' center stack with storage behind, and meshing it with an updated version of the smooth but more upright dash in the XC90—with the center stack slightly angled toward the driver. The wood (Nordic Light Oak) or metallic-finished center stack (surfaces with curves that remind us of Scandinavian furniture) verges into the gauge cluster hood, and all sorts of pleasing colors and textures—including contrasting two-tone seats—fill out the cabin.

7

2011 Volvo XC60

Performance

While not inspiring, the 2011 Volvo XC60 T6 is quick, handles relatively well, and with all-wheel drive is a good fit for those in the Snow Belt.

The XC60 looks tall, but overall it drives like a much lower vehicle, with a secure, planted feel in tight corners. The automatic transmission comes with a sport mode, and steering is definitely weighted better than that in many previous Volvo models, but the XC60 is still by no means a sporty vehicle when the road turns twisty.

In its base form, with a 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine, the XC60 feels responsive but not as downright perky as its 240 horsepower (up 5 this year) should feel. Part of that's due to the fact that the XC60 is surprisingly hefty (more than 4,200 pounds in AWD guise); but the engine seems to come into its own on the highway and with the responsive six-speed automatic can pull off very rapid passes. Sporty T6 models get a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six, now making 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet. As such, the XC60 is very quick, and capable of getting to 60 mph in seven seconds, or a little less. T6 models corner a bit better, and steering feel can be adjusted through screen-based settings.

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. That, however, means that under some slippery surfaces you'll have to feel a little wheelspin before the Haldex system sends power to the rear wheels. Its 9.1 inches of ground clearance can come in mighty handy for those needing to get through deep snow, though.

8

2011 Volvo XC60

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Volvo XC60 has an impressively tight, well-appointed cabin, and a reasonably good ride; the only blemish is backseat space.

The XC60's crossover shape—essentially a tall wagon with a couple more inches of ground clearance—provides lots of passenger comfort, and a cargo-friendly setup as well. Up front, the driving position is nice and upright, but there's a little less support from the bottom cushion than Volvo seats normally deliver, and the passenger footwell feels a bit narrow. The second row is just passable for two adults, as it's somewhat tight on legroom and there's not quite the width to fit three adults across.

Overall, the XC60's interior speaks of quality trim and textures, with lots of upscale finishes like available real oak veneer. About the only thing we aren't impressed with is the driver interface, which seems cluttered, and relegates some controls to a screen display and a button on the back of the steering wheel. Cargo space is pretty generous, at more than 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up, but they fold down into a large cargo area (67 cubic feet), but they don't fold quite flat. However, there's an extra stash area just under the cargo floor.

Ride quality in the XC60 is quite firm—enough so to allow better body control than you might expect, yet be pliant enough to take on most nasty, unmaintained road surfaces. It's quiet and stable, too.

10

2011 Volvo XC60

Safety

The 2011 Volvo XC60 is, in the Volvo tradition, a good choice for the safety-conscious.

The 2011 Volvo XC60 has impressive crash-test ratings, along with a strong set of high-tech features that might just serve to help avoid an accident in the first place. One such feature—first introduced in the XC60—is the City Safety feature, which can identify an object or person in the road ahead, and bring the vehicle to a complete stop at speeds of up to 9 mph, and engage the brakes to help reduce the severity of a crash at somewhat higher speeds.

City Safety wraps together the sensors used in various other high-tech safety aids in the XC60, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Control, Distance Alert, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). And that's in addition to a well-rounded package of the safety features expected in this class, like electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side and side-curtain airbags. Of course, there's more to it here; the stability control, for instance, includes a special mode for towing stability (up to 3,300 pounds).

In traditional occupant safety, the XC60 does very well, with top 'good' ratings across the board from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the group's Top Safety Pick accolade. The XC60 hasn't yet been tested by the federal government.

9

2011 Volvo XC60

Features

Nearly everything you'd expect in a luxury crossover is available in the 2011 Volvo XC60.

Volvo used to be known for its rather stark, utilitarian interiors, but that's history. The 2011 Volvo XC60 is packed with an impressive list of standard features, including 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 also included.

For 2011, you can now get the R-Design package. This new model includes most of the same equipment included in the T5 R-Design: dual xenon headlamps with Active Bending Light, a panoramic sunroof and power sunshade, leather sport seats with contrasting colors, roof rails, and a special R-Design grille, trim, and 20-inch wheels.

The XC60 T6 model gets a slightly more aggressive look compared to the base XC60—with 18-inch alloys (instead of 17s on the base), silver side trim, the panoramic sunroof, rood rails, and a couple of other color choices, but its look isn't quite as aggressive.

Top options include a Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, a rearview camera and navigation system, 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.

6

2011 Volvo XC60

Fuel Economy

Volvo might be quite safety and environmentally minded, but many vehicles in the XC60's class go easier on fuel.

There's a lot to like about the XC60—until fuel economy numbers enter the discussion. In sizing up the XC60, most shoppers would expect it to do a little better than its EPA ratings of 17 or 18 mpg in the city and 22 to 25 mpg highway.

For 2011, a retuned engine brings fuel economy down slightly for the base front-wheel drive model but up for the XC60 AWD. The numbers are also better this year for the turbocharged T6—even though power has significantly increased for it.

Volvo's six-cylinder engine haven't been very efficient in real-world use either in our editors' experience; we've seen numbers in the 16 to 19 mpg range in mixed use.

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September 7, 2015
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The XC60 compares very well to SUVs costing consideralby more. We shopped the MB, Audi, and BMWs before buying. The Volvo has interior design and finish that are at least as good as the others and more user... + More »
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Styling 9.0
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