2021 Volvo XC60

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
November 5, 2020

Buying tip

The base version’s a bargain, but we prefer the T6 Inscription for its heavenly interior. Take the air suspension, too.

features & specs

Recharge T8 eAWD PHEV Inscription
Recharge T8 eAWD PHEV Inscription Expression
Recharge T8 eAWD PHEV Polestar
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MSRP
$61,000
MSRP
$53,500
MSRP
$69,500

The 2021 Volvo XC60 drops the luxury-car attitude and delivers all the luxury-car feels.

What kind of car is the 2021 Volvo XC60? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Volvo XC60 is a five-seat luxury crossover SUV, one that hits a sweet spot for performance and elegance. It’s a rival to vehicles like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes GLC-Class.

Is the 2021 Volvo XC60 a good SUV?

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It’s very good in many ways, from safety to technology to soothing in-car comfort. We give it a TCC Rating of 7.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Volvo XC60?

This year Volvo adds steering assist to its standard blind-spot monitors, and makes its standard LED headlights adaptive, with automatic high beams.

The XC60 comes dressed for any occasion. It telegraphs a cool, collected style with a subtle undertone of luxury that comes from near-perfect proportions to just-right bits of metallic trim. The interior’s the showcase for that style: It’s glamorous but low-key, dressed to the nines in driftwood and light-toned leather in the most appealing versions.

A turbo-4 engine powers all versions, but base 250-horsepower T5 XC60s come with front-wheel drive to go with their 8-speed automatic; all-wheel drive’s an option with that drivetrain. We’d spend up to the supercharged turbo-4 in the T6; its 316 hp deliver 0-60 mph times in the seven-second range, and place power precisely thanks to all-wheel drive. T8 Recharge plug-in hybrids get batteries and a motor for 400 hp net and 19 miles of electric driving, while Polestar Engineered cars have 415 hp and sub-six-second acceleration. The latter gets sport tuning and a stiff price tag; the more composed XC60s have an air suspension, light steering feel, a composed ride, and well-muted cabin noise.

The XC60’s thronelike front seats come covered in leather and surrounded by beautiful wood trim. They’re softly supportive and can be heated and cooled. The rear seat’s lost its heating option, but it’s still spacious enough for three adults, with an ample cargo hold behind them.

Volvo fits every XC60 with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control. Each also gets a 9.0-inch infotainment screen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

How much does the Volvo XC60 cost?

It runs from $42,695 for a front-drive T5 Momentum, to more than $70,000 for a Polestar Engineered XC60. 

Where is the Volvo XC60 made?

In Sweden.

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2021 Volvo XC60

Styling

The XC60 exudes good taste.

Is the Volvo XC60 a good-looking car?

We’ve waxed enthusiastic over Volvo’s sense of style since the XC90 was new in 2016. The XC60’s more of the same, in the best way possible: It’s tasteful, elegant, and attention-getting without being overbearing. We give it two points for its interior and one extra for its body, for an 8 here.

That cockpit impresses us more than the exterior. It’s cloaked in high-quality leather and wood, without the big swaths of black plastic that have become too common. The spa-like serenity comes from understatement; the screen is large but not ostentations, the wood trim ranges from a medium walnut to a light driftwood. The glints of metallic trim are subdued by a sea of neutral tones.

The XC60’s body has pleasantly rounded lines, and a classic upright stance. The grille helps it look larger than it really is, in combination with the tall vertical lights on its tail. Its tidy dimensions means there’s no mistaking it for the big-boy XC90, though.

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2021 Volvo XC60

Performance

Power ranges from T5-fine to Polestar-stunning.

If the XC60 were a sport shoe, it’d be a cross-trainer. It’s not set up for pure sprints or for rock-climbing, but its talents range wide and far between those poles. We give it a 7, The XC60 shares its 2.0-liter turbo-4 across the lineup, as well as with the bigger XC90. Base versions, which we haven’t driven, offer a front-drive, 250-horsepower version of the drivetrain, coupled to an 8-speed automatic, with an all-wheel-drive option. It’s less powerful and somewhat lighter than other versions, but still has to move nearly two tons of crossover SUV.

How fast is the Volvo XC60?

The quicker versions can accelerate to 60 mph in under seven seconds.

Most drivers will get that performance from the T6, which takes the same drivetrain, and supercharges it. Torque builds easily off the line, and the T6 combination spins out 316 hp, good for 0-60 mph times in the sub-seven-second range. It goes about its business quietly, and comes off as unburdened, even when it’s full of passengers.

Is the Volvo XC60 4WD?

The T6 model and more powerful versions all come standard with all-wheel drive.

The Recharge plug-in hybrid, or T8, couples that latter engine with an 11.6-kwh battery and an 87-hp electric motor that powers the rear wheels. That’s enough for 19 miles of electric driving, and with 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque, it’s one of the quicker XC60s.

The quickest XC60 is Polestar Engineered, both a description and a trim name. It takes the 400-hp engine and applies some mild tuning to net out at 415 hp—but revised coding extracts better acceleration, which means it’s capable of 0-60 mph runs in the five-second range.

All XC60s have an independent suspension and electric power steering. Base models have a conventional steel suspension, but air springs can be fitted to all other versions. The air springs create a supremely well-damped ride with three drive modes that toggle from Eco to Comfort to Dynamic programming to alter steering feel, shift patterns, and ride damping. Comfort matches the XC60’s mood best, but by no means is Dynamic brittle or harsh. An off-road mode increases ground clearance slightly and slows throttle and steering to better navigate difficult terrain.

Polestar versions up the wheel size to 21-inchers, with 22s available, and install 22-way adjustable shocks and bigger brakes. It’s a high-performance vehicle, from an unlikely source, in an unlikely body style—and it’s exceedingly rare.

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2021 Volvo XC60

Comfort & Quality

The XC60’s made of all-day comfort and attention to detail.

Comfort is the XC60’s game, but it’s also able to tote lots of stuff. We give it points for front seats, for its ability to carry up to five people, for its cargo space, and its fit and finish, for a 9 here. 

There’s no third-row seat, but there’s nothing to complain about in the XC60. The upright shape grants each passenger lots of head room, especially in front, where the incredibly comfortable seats have good bolstering and a thickly padded cushion. The seats can be covered in a higher-cost leather, and can be heated and cooled as well as kicked into a massage mode. Volvo wraps them in a low console and an uncluttered cockpit for maximum actual and visual space.

The back seats aren’t quite as supportive, but three adults can sit across without much fuss. Heated rear seats have been dropped as an option, but leg room is still here in abundance. The back seats fold down to increase 30 cubic feet of cargo space to about 50 cubic feet.

Volvo knows how to press our buttons: It trims out the XC60 cabin with soft leather, sparkling audio, even a crystal-tipped shifter.

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2021 Volvo XC60

Safety

Crash-test scores and safety gear peak in the XC60.

How safe is the Volvo XC60?

The NHTSA gives the XC60 a five-star overall rating, while the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick+. That plus its standard automatic emergency braking and safety options give the XC60 a score of 9 here; it misses out on just a single point due to some rearward vision issues over its headrests and around its roof pillars.

Every XC60 has automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors with steering assist, and adaptive cruise control. On the options list are front parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, and Volvo’s Pilot Assist, its driver-assist setup which can steer and brake the car for short periods on well-marked highways, maintain a safe following distance, and stay in its lane.

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2021 Volvo XC60

Features

The XC60 caps its wealth of features with a big infotainment screen.

Volvo equips the XC60 with all the customary features and options, throws in a big infotainment screen and strong warranty coverage, for a 9 here. 

The base $42,695 XC60 T5 Momentum has standard leather upholstery, keyless start, rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and 18-inch wheels. New this year are standard blind-spot monitors with steering assist, and adaptive LED headlights. 

From there, packages define equipment levels on the $48,495 T6 and the $54,495 Recharge T8. R-Design models get glossy black trim, nappa leather seats with front thigh extenders, and 19-inch wheels, along with standard navigation and a sport-tuned chassis. 

Which Volvo XC60 should I buy?

We like Inscription versions, which have a little more chrome trim, driftwood on the dash and doors, four-zone climate control, cooled and heated front seats, nappa leather upholstery, and signature LED lighting. 

How much is a fully loaded Volvo XC60?

The $70,495 Polestar Engineered models get 21-inch wheels, a head-up display, and Bowers and Wilkins audio.

The XC60’s 9.0-inch display uses infrared to mimic touch inputs. It’s handsome and has lots of functionality, but some simple tasks such as heating seats takes a couple taps of the screen. It’s logical and intuitive, but there’s always room for improvement.

As with other 2021 Volvos, the XC60 comes with 4 years or 50,000 miles of warranty coverage, and now includes the first three maintenance visits for free.

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2021 Volvo XC60

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage isn’t the XC60’s biggest virtue.

Is the Volvo XC60 good on gas?

It’s average. Volvo fits small-displacement engines in every XC60, but hefty curb weight and luxury gear brings fuel economy down to a 4 on our scale.

The front-wheel-drive T5 earns EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined—middling for its class. All-wheel drive pushes ratings down to 21/28/24 mpg, while the T6 is pegged at 20/27/23 mpg.

The T8 plug-in hybrid does better, but at a cost. Its 19 miles of electric range come with a 57-MPGe EPA rating, and 27 mpg combined when the battery’s empty.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$41,700
MSRP based on T5 FWD Momentum
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7.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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2021 Volvo XC60 Pricing Insights

  • 2021 XC60 selection looks good
  • Lease: From $415 for 36 months
  • Rebates: Up to $3,750 off
  • Finance: From 1.9% APR for 60 months + up to $2,000 bonus
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