2014 Volvo XC60 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 14, 2014

The 2014 Volvo XC60 keeps in sync with Volvo's reputation for safe, luxurious wagons–just in a taller crossover package.

Soberly styled station wagons have been the foundation for Volvo in the past; but its present hinges on its award-winning SUVs. The XC60 was new in 2010, and it's safe to say it's Volvo's most recognized vehicle in the U.S. today--as well as one of the safest vehicles on the road.

The 2014 Volvo XC60 is its mid-size ute, tinged with distinctive styling and infused with extensive safety gear, but still steeped in utility and all-weather capability. Handsome and rakish from most angles, yet a little chiseled, the XC60 is a big twist in Volvo's boxy wagon game from the recent past. While hardcore Volvo enthusiasts may not appreciate the step in this direction, we choose to chalk it up to the evolution of the vehicular marketplace. The interior is Scandinavian to the core–with its floating center stack, curvaceous seats and simple, dial-operated console, it's in a class with Audi here, in both look and feel.

The XC60 has received its mid-cycle refresh for 2014, meaning that a few of the cosmetic bits have been shuffled around, and it gets a new infotainment system. The headlights, bumper, grille and exhaust have all been updated, and cyclist detection has been added to the City Safe collision avoidance system. Inside, the infotainment system has been improved in both look and feel, and it's easier to use than past models. The nicer Sovereign leather is also available on upper trims of the XC60.

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In its base form, the XC60 gets a 240-horsepower, 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine that gives it a responsive, but not altogether perky, feel. 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 (or 325 in R-Design form), plus suspension improvements, as well as screen-based settings to adjust steering feel. One of our chief complaints is that with either of the powertrains, gas mileage is somewhat disappointing; EPA ratings are 17 or 18 mpg in the city, but we've seen lower in real-world use.

Overall, handling is decent--don't let the XC60's tall proportions scare you off; the XC60 drives like a much lower vehicle, with a secure, planted feel in tight corners. And with 9.1 inches of ground clearance and a solid Haldex all-wheel-drive system, the XC60 has the goods for getting through deep snow, or even through a muddy path to a trailhead.

The XC60's tall roofline affords a lot of passenger space inside. It's only a five-seater, but busy parents with weekend-hauling tasks will appreciate the level of versatility and cargo capacity. Legroom can be a bit tight in the second row, as it is in the S60 sedan, and there's not quite enough width for three adults. But cargo space is impressive--more than 30 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up. They fold down (albeit not quite flat) to more than double the space.

Top-notch occupant protection is pretty much a given in a Volvo (it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, which places it in an exclusive cadre). But even considering that, the XC60 makes perfect-ten scores thanks to its large roster of active safety systems offered in the XC60. Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Control, Distance Alert, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) all are likely to reduce the chances of an accident. And that's in addition to the City Safety system, which will brake automatically to reduce impacts with other vehicles, or through its expanded (and optional) Pedestrian Detection features, at low speeds for pedestrians.

A fully tricked-out R-Design Platinum can total more than $55k (more than $20k more than a base XC60), but then you'll get one of the best-equipped, most tech-loaded crossovers on the market. If you're not attached to one of those prestige brands, we dare say it's worth it.

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2014 Volvo XC60

Styling

A beautifully sculpted crossover, the Volvo XC60 doesn't pay any homage to SUVs.

The 2014 Volvo XC60 has an chiseled exterior, but only faintly so, as it's smooth and rakish from just about every angle. Even so, there's something tough-looking about it, and it's decidedly handsome for shoppers with a wide range of expectations. It's a complete diversion from Volvo's old-school boxy wagons, which some of the Volvo faithful may not appreciate, but you could also argue that the XC60 represents the future of the Volvo family car lineup.

Only in front does the XC60 overstep its boundaries of taste, with the ironmark badge. It's still understated relative to most other luxury SUV grilles, and perhaps just enough to win over recovering SUV addicts yet not scare away those who don't want to be seen in a truck. Especially from the side, this tall crossover is svelte by ute standards, with simple, balanced proportions and only the minimum of tasteful detailing--no side gills, with minimal swaths of chrome.

You won't find anything all that trucklike or rugged about the interior; the XC60 is much like other Volvo models inside--smooth and carlike in layout, with Volvo's trademark 'floating' center stack, which allows a pass-through behind the instrument panel and a place to stow smaller items. That familiar look is matched with an updated dash layout--a little more upright and angled to the driver than in Volvo cars--as well as some excellent detail work, including a wood (Nordic Light Oak) or metallic-finished center stack (surfaces with curves that remind us of Scandinavian furniture), or contrasting leather upholstery.
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2014 Volvo XC60

Performance

Stable and secure, the XC60 has an excellent grip on the road without feeling at all sporty.

There are two engines available in the 2014 XC60, as well as the choice between front- and all-wheel drive. The XC60 handles well in all versions, though there's a pretty definitive difference in acceleration feel between the engines.

If you appreciate decent handling, don't let the XC60's tall proportions scare you off; the XC60 drives like a much lower vehicle, with a secure, planted feel in tight corners. You can't quite call the XC60 a sporty vehicle, but it's stable and responsive, with steering that's weighted better than in previous Volvo models. T6 models corner a bit better, and steering feel can be adjusted through screen-based settings.

The base 240-hp, 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine is strong and very smooth, but it doesn't always move the heavy (4,200-pound) all-wheel-drive XC60 as quickly as you might think. Front-wheel-drive versions feel just a bit faster. And these models do wake up a bit on the highway, where the responsive six-speed automatic transmission helps make the most of it with rapid passes--especially with the Sport mode engaged.

With the more performance-oriented XC60 T6 model you get a turbocharged six rated at 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, the uprated crossover has gutsy performance, and it can accelerate to 60 mph in seven seconds or less.

With 9.1 inches of ground clearance and a solid Haldex all-wheel drive system, the XC60 has the goods for getting through deep snow, or even through a muddy path to a trailhead. The XC60 shares some mechanical and structural pieces with the Volvo S80, but running gear has been bolstered to be ready for when the pavement ends.
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2014 Volvo XC60

Comfort & Quality

The back seat can seem snug, but the XC60 has one of the biggest cargo holds in its class.

The Volvo XC60 just as roomy and family-friendly as its tall-wagon silhouette might suggest. While it may only seat five, there's enough room in the cargo hold to satisfy busy parents with a variety of weekend-hauling duties.

The XC60's interior feels luxury-caliber both in terms of materials and detailing; there are soft leather seats in high-contrast combinations, with upscale finishes like available real oak veneer.

Ride quality in the XC60 is a little firmer than you might expect in a family vehicle, yet as we've found it's forgiving enough for most pockmarked roads. Interior noise is up to the standard of other luxury models.

In front, there's plenty of headroom, as well as decent legroom, and while the XC60's seat bottoms don't have quite the firm support and extensibility of other Volvo models, they're comfortable perches. The second-row seat is a little tight on leg room, and three adults won't easily fit across, even for short trips, though three children will belt in with room to spare.

With more than 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up, the XC60 has a lot of grocery space. Fold them down, and you get 67 cubic feet good for a run to a big-box store, but the cargo floor isn't quite flat. Just under the cargo floor there's also a smaller hidden compartment, though. There's also the Volvo 'floating' center stack--a thin panel for climate and audio controls, with a pass-through for storing (and hiding) smaller items within. Front footwells are a bit narrow, but that's not a bad tradeoff.

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.

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2014 Volvo XC60

Safety

Only a four-star rollover score keeps the Volvo XC60 from safety perfection.

Volvo's City Safety system in the XC60 serves to help stop the vehicle or reduce crash severity in approaching other vehicles. And with the optional pedestrian detection with full auto-brake feature (part of the Technology Package), it can identify an object or person in the road ahead, also bringing the vehicle to a complete stop or reducing the severity of the impact.

Those features are just one of a large roster of active safety systems offered in the XC60. Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Control, Distance Alert, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) all are likely to reduce the chances of an accident and are supplemental to now-typical safeguards like electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side and side-curtain airbags.

The XC60 has earned five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it earns a Top Safety Pick+ rating again for the 2014 model year. Were it not for the four-star score in the rollover resistance test, it would be a perfect performer.

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2014 Volvo XC60

Features

For the price, the base XC60 is a good value; you can spend up to $55,000 in options for an R-Design.

The 2014 Volvo XC60 continues lumping on the driving technology found in so many other luxury crossovers, but at a somewhat lower price. The brand has spent the past few years improving the XC60's value proposition by adding features with a significant price hike, and that trend continues for the current model year.

The base XC60 3.2 includes power front seats, a large sunroof, cruise control, satellite and HD radio, USB connectivity, and Bluetooth. There are also standard rain-sensing wipers, tunnel-detecting headlamps, headlamp washers, and a leather-wrapped wheel. Volvo also offers a yearly oil change for XC60 models.

'Zephyrus' 18-inch wheels are standard on the faster T6 model, as are leather/power seating, a power panoramic roof, silver roof rails and keyless drive. The R-Design model gets a 325-hp engine, 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, bi-xenon headlights and unique trim pieces all over.

Within each trim there are Premier, Premier Plus, or Platinum packages. This year the Premier Plus level gains dual xenon headlamps (active in T6 models), while the Premier models get Keyless Drive and the Personal Car Communicator system, which can detect security issues with your car as you approach. Equipment between these three trims levels is otherwise different depending on the model.

Major options at the top of the lineup include a Technology Package (adaptive cruise, collision warning, pedestrian detection, full auto brake, distance alert, lane departure warning, active high beam, and road sign info); a Climate Package (heated front and rear seats, heated washer nozzles, and an air quality system); a rear-seat entertainment system; and a blind-spot system.

Top options include a Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, heated seats, a rearview camera and navigation system with a new user interface.

A fully tricked-out R-Design Platinum can total more than $55k (more than $20k more than a base XC60), but then you'll get one of the best-equipped, most tech-loaded crossovers on the market.

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2014 Volvo XC60

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is lower in the EPA's city cycle than it should be.

Fuel economy is a real paint point for the 2014 Volvo XC60.

The base front-wheel-drive model is rated by the EPA at 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway. The challenge is that there are at least a handful of three-row SUVs on the market that achieve similar numbers with extra utility. If you upgrade to the T6 or R-Design all-wheel-drive models, and you'll earn 18/25 mpg or 17/24 mpg respectively, depending on the engine.

We wish we had better news regarding real-world results, but we haven't seen any better, with XC60 models returning 16 to 19 mpg in mixed conditions.

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December 22, 2015
2014 Volvo XC60 FWD 4-Door 3.2L Premier

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We bought this xc60 2014 new. The problem we have is with the battery. In a matter of 2 years we changed the battery 3 times (including the original). I was told at the dealer that is happening because we are... + More »
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Styling 9.0
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