2013 Volvo XC60 Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 26, 2013

The 2013 Volvo XC60 carries on the tradition of Volvo wagons--even their top-of-the-class safety--only in a modern, fashion-conscious crossover.

Wagons have remained a large part of Volvo's business, even when most Americans were shunning them for minivans, and then crossovers. But over the past few models years the Swedish brand has completely abandoned that foundation in favor of somewhat taller, more ruggedly styled 'XC' crossover models.

And in recasting wagons as something a little taller and rugged, it's the 2013 Volvo XC60 that remains at the core. Smooth and rakish from most angles, yet a little bit chiseled underneath it all in profile, the 2013 Volvo XC60 manages to look handsome to buyers with a wide range of expectations. It's an about-face compared to the boxy Volvo wagons of the not-too-distant past, which repeat Volvo buyers and wagon aficionados might not appreciate, but you could also argue that the XC60 is merely the next step in the long evolution of them. Inside, you'll see contrasting wood and metallic trims that remind us of Scandinavian furniture, along with carlike design attributes from other Volvos, like the 'floating' center stack with storage just behind, meshed with a more upright dash. It's a classy look and feel.

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.

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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 also been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2013). 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.

For the past several years, Volvo has been adding even more value by bolstering its feature set without much of an increase in price--a trend that continues for 2013. Volvo has added standard headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, a new tunnel-detection system for the headlamps, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminum inlays all as standard features this year. A factory fill of synthetic oil is now also included, for a 10,000-mile or one-year maintenance interval. for all the models. The quicker T6 models wear stylish 18-inch 'Zephyrus' wheels as standard, and add full leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, a power panoramic moonroof, keyless drive, and silver roof rails. And at the top of the line, the R-Design gets the highest-output 325-hp engine, a sport suspension, huge 20-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, and special trim inside and out.Top options include a Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, heated seats, a rearview camera and navigation system. Volvo's nav unit and its unusual steering-wheel controls take some getting used to also, by the way.

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.

9

2013 Volvo XC60

Styling

The 2013 XC60 represents how Volvo wagons have evolved from boxy to beautiful.

Smooth and rakish from most angles, yet a little bit chiseled underneath it all in profile, the 2013 Volvo XC60 manages to look handsome to buyers with a wide range of expectations. It's an about-face compared to the boxy Volvo wagons of the not-too-distant past, which repeat Volvo buyers and wagon aficionados might not appreciate, but you could also argue that the XC60 is merely the next step in the long evolution of Volvo wagons.

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, no vast swaths of chrome. 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.

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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.
7

2013 Volvo XC60

Performance

The XC60 is quick and secure, but not at all an edgy performer.

You can get the XC60 with a choice of two different engines, as well as with front- or all-wheel drive. While they can vary quite a bit in perceived quickness, the XC60 in any case handles securely and responsively.

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.

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.

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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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2013 Volvo XC60

Comfort & Quality

Passenger space in back is tight, but good cargo versatility and top-notch interior appointments make the XC60 a standout.

The Volvo XC60, within its upright, tall-wagon silhouette, is just as roomy and family-friendly as you might think. It's only a five-seater, but busy parents with weekend-hauling tasks will appreciate the level of versatility and cargo capacity.

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.

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.

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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2013 Volvo XC60

Safety

The 2013 Volvo XC60 has cutting-edge safety technology that could help you avoid an accident entirely.

The 2013 Volvo XC60 retains its perfect score, for a number of reasons that range from top-notch safety scores to a generous helping of active-safety systems.

The XC60 has not only earned five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) but also all 'good' scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The XC60 is also a Top Safety Pick+, and has earned the best 'good' rating in the new IIHS small overlap frontal crash test.

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.

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9

2013 Volvo XC60

Features

The XC60 offers more features for the money than some luxury rivals; though its navigation interface could be better.

Like most new Volvo models, the 2013 XC60 includes a list of features that's comparable to vehicles from all the prestige luxury brands, but at a somewhat lower price. For the past several years, Volvo has been adding even more value by bolstering its feature set without much of an increase in price--a trend that continues for 2013.

Base XC60 3.2 models include power features; cruise control; a large sunroof; power front seats; and an audio system with satellite and HD radio, USB and auxiliary ports, and Bluetooth. For this year, Volvo has added standard headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, a new tunnel-detection system for the headlamps, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminum inlays. Volvo now provides a factory fill of synthetic oil, for a 10,000-mile or one-year maintenance interval. for all the models.

The quicker T6 models wear stylish 18-inch 'Zephyrus' wheels as standard, and add full leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, a power panoramic moonroof, keyless drive, and silver roof rails. And at the top of the line, the R-Design gets the highest-output 325-hp engine, a sport suspension, huge 20-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, and special trim inside and out.

Top options include a Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, heated seats, a rearview camera and navigation system. Volvo's nav unit takes some getting used to also, by the way—some features are best accessed through the steering-wheel-mounted controls, although for 2013 Volvo has increased the functionality of those.

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.

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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2013 Volvo XC60

Fuel Economy

The XC60's fuel economy isn't so stellar in the city.

Fuel economy for the 2013 Volvo XC60 actually leaves a lot to be desired.

Base XC60 models earn an EPA rating of 19/25 mpg with all-wheel drive. The problem with that is that we can think of plenty of three-row SUVs that meet the highway number. And if you upgrade to the T6 or R-Design, the numbers dip to 17/23 mpg--which are numbers you'd otherwise see for some vehicles a size larger, like the Ford Flex. 

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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Styling 9
Performance 7
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