2017 Volvo XC60

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 28, 2017

Buying tip

For our money, Inscription models are better trimmed and are the same price as Dynamic XC60 models.

features & specs

T5 AWD Dynamic
T5 AWD Inscription
T5 FWD Dynamic
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MSRP
$42,950
MSRP
$42,950
MSRP
$40,950

The 2017 Volvo XC60 is a near-luxury contender at near-luxury prices. Its safety might be its biggest strong suit, which it rightly deserves.

The 2017 Volvo XC60 is the brand's second best-selling model behind the hugely popular XC90, and it's no surprise why. The compact crossover is packed full with standard gear, and is comfortable for four—oh, and it's still one of the safest crossovers on the planet.

The XC60 models range from Dynamic and Inscription, which are priced the same but offer more sport or creature comforts respectively, to the aggressive R-Design model.

It earns a 7.0 out of 10 on our overall scale, thanks to its nearly perfect safety score and great features. There's room for improvement in its fuel economy score, and its styling may be getting a little stale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

Styling and performance

About that styling, it may have aged quickly. New offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar age the XC60's exterior a little too fast and the interior—beyond its impressive digital instrument cluster—is a little old and boring.

It's still distinctly a Volvo, and its wedge profile still looks good in profile, but the 8-year-old SUV shows its age in the dash layout and some of the Volvo's packaging. 

New for 2017, Volvo ditched its dizzying array of powertrains in favor of just two. The base engine in T5 models is a turbo-4 that makes 240 horsepower and manages up to 30 mpg on the highway. It's mated to an 8-speed automatic and is front-drive only. It's a little coarse sounding at low speeds, and the 8-speed isn't very refined.

The step up to the T6 models comes with a turbocharged and supercharged inline-4 that makes 302 hp and is mated to the same 8-speed. We'll stop short of saying it's the best solution, simply because the transmission's singular mission is to keep it off the boil and maximize fuel economy.

In either configuration, the XC60 is fairly smooth riding crossover, although with bigger tires it can be a little jarring.

Comfort, safety, and features

Four adults will fit fine in the Volvo, with plenty of room for gear. Its fit and finish is good overall, but again, the interior can be a little plain looking compared to others in its class.

Where the XC60 succeeds is in safety—standard or optional. It nearly aced both major U.S. rating agencies' battery, a four-star overall score for rollover safety in the federal test is its only blemish. Regardless, the XC60 is impressively equipped with blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed crash mitigation, a rearview camera and parking assistants.

In standard configuration the XC60 comes with leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable front seats, Bluetooth streaming, panoramic sunroof, 7.0-inch display with navigation, and rear parking sensors.

We have a small bone to pick with Volvo product planners: some popular features are buried in bundled packages that we'd rather see as a la carte options. For example, a premium stereo is part of a $2,500 upgrade that includes safety features such as road sign recognition and lane-departure warning. A heated steering wheel is bundled in a $1,500 cold weather package that includes heated headlight washers and heated rear seats.

5

2017 Volvo XC60

Styling

The XC60's looks have aged in a hurry—inside and out.

Two things age a car: its looks and how it crashes.

Thankfully, the 2017 Volvo XC60 crashes like a champ (still), but we're not so sure on the looks.

The XC60 still looks distinctly old-school Volvo (compared to the XC90) and that's average in our books—not better or worse. We gave it a 5 for an average interior and exterior on our new scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Its wedge profile is still distinctive and unique, with smooth surfaces blended into some rakish angles. The beltline is swept up, and there's surprising cargo volume inside this practical utility vehicle. It's traditional Volvo virtues dressed in more recently acquired stylish clothes.

Inside the car, the black dashboard is relatively plain—at a time when more and more crossover utilities are adding leather, contrast stitching, metal brightwork, and other luxury accoutrements. The XC60's dashboard is businesslike and the antithesis of showy, somewhere between a very high-quality Subaru dash and the more stark end of the German luxury cars it's priced against. The dash angles toward the driver, with a large high-resolution display of all virtual instruments in the cluster. They're bright, clear, and thoroughly modern.

The floating center stack remains, though for some reason the space underneath seems less obvious—perhaps because it's no longer a novelty as it was five years ago. And for those who want to add some warmth to the interior, the optional two-tone treatment is exceptionally nice, while remaining as non-garish as you'd expect from sensible Scandinavian designers.

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6

2017 Volvo XC60

Performance

The XC60 feels a step behind others in its class, but we're not sure what to blame.

Volvo's dizzying array of powertrains have been pared down to two this year, which should be good news for shoppers. The bad news: None really bring the XC60 to life the way we were hoping, and a disconnected transmission has us wondering who's to blame.

Nonetheless, the XC60 gets a point for a good ride and earns a respectable 6 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 240 horsepower mated to an 8-speed automatic and is front-drive only. It's an economy move on Volvo's part, and is the only model rated in the 30-mpg range on highways.

The engine sounds fairly coarse for an inline-4—we're guessing that's due to the direct injection—and its thrumming is wholly unavoidable when stop/start is active. The XC60's 8-speed automatic, provided by Aisin, is eager to keep the XC60 around 1,500 rpm and can be easily caught flat-footed. In low-speed maneuvering, we've noticed some juddering, and at high speeds the 8-speed only complied when we matted the pedal. In short, we think there's room for improvement there.

The higher-powered turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 302 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque and comes in all-wheel-drive models. We're not convinced that's the answer either. The XC60 still feels hamstrung by the 8-speed's searching, and the XC60 feels heavier than it actually is. Only on the fastest acceleration did the transmission snap off a remarkable four downshifts to run the engine up near its 6,000-rpm limit.

The new Drive-E engine is just much lighter than the older engines, meaning there's now quite a difference between the FWD versions—which feel light, better balanced, and eager to go, especially in Sport mode—and the heavier AWD models, which proceed more deliberately.

Despite its tall proportions, the XC60 handles well. It stays planted in tight corners and drives with the secure feel of a much lower vehicle in tight corners. It's not exactly sporty, but you can certainly call it stable and responsive. We found the steering to be better weighted than in previous Volvo models, with road feel apparent through the wheel. Plus, with 9.1 inches of ground clearance and the Haldex AWD, the XC60 has the goods for getting through deep snow, muddy fields, and even rutted trails and rocky roads.

The firm European ride quality of the XC60 is not as smooth as many other crossovers, especially on the optional 20-inch Titania Alloy Wheels with lower-profile tires that were fitted to our test car. As always, ride comfort will likely be best on smaller-diameter wheels with tires that have taller sidewalls. But the XC60 is forgiving for rougher road surfaces, and its well-suppressed interior noise meets the standards of the near-luxury crossover segment.

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8

2017 Volvo XC60

Comfort & Quality

Four adults will fit comfortably in the XC60, with all the Ikea they can handle too.

The 2017 Volvo XC60 doesn't look like the 850 wagons we mostly remember from the Swedish automaker, but it's certainly just as functional as those old tanks—and now it has all-wheel drive. The XC60 seats five, is roomy and useful for families, and the cargo area has enough room to haul the requisite 50 pounds of gear per child. All the uses that wagons were once intended for are now performed by car-based SUVs like this one.

We can't say enough about the front seats in the XC60 other than to say that they're some of the best seats we've been in. During 300 miles of test driving over two days in three different test versions, we experienced not a single ache, twinge, or sag. Side bolsters on both the lower cushion and the seatback hold occupants firmly in place, though we worry that wider people may not find them quite as accommodating as we did.

The front footwells are narrower than some competing vehicles, but head room abound both front and rear. Leg room is a little tight in the rear, and second-row riders with longer limbs will have to bargain for space with those up front. Three children fit fine in the back, but even for round-the-block trips, three adults will be a bridge too far.

We give the XC60 an 8 out of 10 on our comfort scale for providing an honest-to-goodness four-seater compact crossover, great front thrones, and good cargo capacity. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The XC60 shares its dashboard with the mechanically related S60 and V60 and uses an entirely digital display that replaces mechanical gauges. It's crisp, clear, and easy to read, but we've found the "Performance" mode to be the most useful out of the three available modes. The rest of the dashboard falls flat comparatively. The console keeps Volvo's characteristic "floating" center stack—a thin panel for climate and audio controls, with a pass-through for storing (and hiding) smaller items behind. It's starting to show its age.

The interior's black plastic has soft-touch surfaces, with a coarse grain that reminded us of animal hide, but we miss the formerly optional wood trim in Nordic Light Oak. No longer can XC60 consoles resemble Scandinavian furniture. Very few people ordered it, Volvo said, so it's gone. The optional two-tone leather upholstery goes some way toward upping the premium feel, but all versions—even the plainer ones—remain comfortable in real-world use.

With the rear seat up, there's more than 30 cubic feet of space for groceries and kids' gear. Fold them down, and the resulting 67 cubic feet should handle most of the Ikea catalog. The sole drawback is that the cargo floor isn't entirely flat, which can make large flat items a challenge—is that ironic?

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9

2017 Volvo XC60

Safety

Volvo has earned—and kept—its reputation as one of the safest automakers on the planet.

Despite riding on a relatively old platform, the 2017 Volvo XC60 still manages to out-pace many crossovers in its class.

It nearly aced federal tests, earned top honors from the IIHS, and sports many standard safety features that others automakers are just now coming around to. For that reason, we gave the 2017 Volvo XC60 a 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Want details? Federal testers gave it a five star overall rating (out of five stars), with only a four-star rating in the rollover test, which is common for SUVs. The IIHS gave it top "Good" scores in every crash category, including a "Superior" rating for its optional crash avoidance, en route to a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Great ratings by the feds and IIHS are almost expected from Volvo at this point, but the XC60's standard safety set in the XC60 is still ahead of its class. Volvo's standard City Safety system in every XC60 includes blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed crash mitigation, a rearview camera and parking assistants.

An optional safety package includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and road sign recognition. It's pricey, at $2,500, but it's likely to nearly future-proof today's XC60 from being obsolete in safety tech for years to come.

Outward visibility is excellent in the XC60, despite its rising window line, and all models come with a standard complement of airbags and stability systems.

Don't expect Volvo's advanced Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving features to appear on this generation's XC60; engineers say the platform just can't handle those advanced driving features.

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8

2017 Volvo XC60

Features

The options list is fairly comprehensive, but some good features are bundled in pricey packages.

As far as compact crossovers go, the Volvo XC60 is handsomely equipped to start.

Base XC60s come packed with a suite of helpful safety features (which we cover separately), leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable front seats, Bluetooth streaming, panoramic sunroof, 7.0-inch display with navigation, and rear parking sensors.

Those cars' excellent base content, a solid set of optional features, and a good base infotainment screen add up to an excellent 8 out of 10 on our scoring matrix. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Starting at nearly $42,000 for a front-drive T5 Dynamic model, the XC60 is a relative value compared to the traditional German competitors; it's not surprising to see BMW and Mercedes-Benz come in at $5,000 for similarly equipped models. But like the Germans, adding options to the XC60 can be risky business, so we advise an easy hand with the options menu.

T5 and T6 Inscription models, which Volvo uses to denote a more comfort-focused package, are priced the same as Dynamic models—and are generally better equipped in our opinion. Top-of-the-line R-Design trims for the XC60 start nearly $52,000 and add many unique styling elements, and a few standard features that cost more than lower-priced cars including 20-inch wheels (T5 models get 18-inch wheels, T6 Dynamic models get 19-inchers, and T6 Inscription versions get 20-inchers).

We have a small bone to pick with Volvo product planners: some popular features are buried in bundled packages that we'd rather see as a la carte options. For example, a premium stereo is part of a $2,500 upgrade that includes safety features such as road sign recognition and lane-departure warning. A heated steering wheel is bundled in a $1,500 cold weather package that includes heated headlight washers and heated rear seats.

Thankfully, Volvo offers heated front seats as a standalone, $500 option that makes a lot of sense by itself.

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6

2017 Volvo XC60

Fuel Economy

The 2017 Volvo XC60 powertrain lineup is simpler now, but the results are largely the same.

The transition to all 4-cylinder engines for Volvo is complete, but the results don't impress the EPA.

Gone is the turbocharged inline-5 in select XC60s, which has been replaced by the company's standard inline-4 that comes in varying states of power and fuel economy.

The base engine, offered on front-drive models, earns a respectable 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined rating from the EPA this year, which is fairly good for its class.

Other versions will trickle down from there, and it's how we arrived at our rating of 6 this year. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Add all-wheel drive to an XC60—which we suspect many crossover shoppers will opt for—that is fitted with a turbocharged and supercharged version of the inline-4, all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic, and its mileage sinks to 20/27/23 mpg. The most potent version of the XC60, the R-Design, manages 20/27/22 mpg, according to the EPA.

That's on par with many in its class, but not as efficient as some. Subaru's base engine in the Forester, which has all-wheel drive as standard, checks in at 26/32/28 mpg with an automatic, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class manages a slightly better 21/28/24 mpg in its turbo-4.

In short, if you're looking for a fuel-efficient XC60, stick with front-drive models.

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy 6
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