Volvo is going all-electric in Australia, but it’ll sell petrol cars for a bit longer – and the XC60 is a key part of that plan.
It’s getting long in the tooth, but Volvo has worked hard to keep it fresh in the face of ever-increasing competition.
Along with massaged looks and some new trim levels, it features a new Android Automotive-based technology suite inside that aligns it with newer models in its range.
Unlike Mercedes-Benz, which has slashed the GLC range to just one model, the XC60 line-up offers plenty of choice.
You can spend up to $100,000 before on-roads for the plug-in hybrid flagship, but there’s a strong argument to be made that the entry-level model on test here is all the XC60 you need.
The Plus B5 on test here is the cheapest XC60 in Australia, with a sticker price of $72,990 before on-road costs – equivalent to a drive-away price of around $81,000.
2023 Volvo XC60 pricing:
- Volvo XC60 Plus B5: $72,990
- Volvo XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright: $79,990
- Volvo XC60 Ultimate B6 Dark: $86,990
- Volvo XC60 Ultimate T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid: $101,990
Prices exclude on-road costs
The XC60 is getting long in the tooth, but it still looks and feels modern inside.
The vertical touchscreen still features across the broader range and has recently been upgraded with new software, while the design and materials still stack up alongside fresher rivals.
Volvo does some of the best seats in the business, and the XC60 is no exception. There’s plenty of support for tall drivers, and it neatly balances long-haul support with soft cushioning.
The base model features soft leather-effect trim that reminds me of the first-generation XC90 on the seats, silver trim on the dashboard, and a leather steering wheel. Unlike in an Audi Q5 35 TDI, it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on much here.
Volvo’s switch from the Sensus infotainment system to one based on Google’s latest Android Automotive bones looks small on the surface, because a lot of the graphics/menus are similar. But the new setup is much faster to respond, and has up-to-date Google Maps with live traffic.
You’re able to download Spotify directly to the car, rather than plugging a phone in to use it, and it’s compatible with over-the-air updates so the feature set will continually evolve. Hopefully it evolves to include wireless Apple CarPlay at some point.
Facing the driver is a pretty simple digital instrument binnacle. You’re given a choice between dials only, or dials with a Google Map in between – but the car lacks the range of options available elsewhere in the segment, or in cheaper cars from the Volkswagen Group.
Storage space could use some work relative to newer rivals.
The dual cupholders are good, but the wireless phone charger sits in an awkward spot if you have a larger phone, and there’s less space for coins, keys, or garage clickers than in a BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC.
It’s something Volvo will need to address when the XC60 goes electric; the EX30 packs a very clever interior that maximises what limited space is on offer, so it’s safe to assume the EX60 will follow in those footsteps.
Rear seat space is decent, but not class leading.
The rear doors open nice and wide, making it easy to load a child seat (or child), and the upright profile means you get plenty of headroom. There’s enough space back there for adults to sit behind adults, and kids will appreciate the rear climate controls and air vents on hot summer days.
Volvo actually gives you air vents on both the centre console and the pillars, which none of its rivals can match. Volvo’s integrated booster seats remain a neat touch for parents in a pinch, too, and the dual USB-C points will keep iPads charged on long road trips.
Cargo capacity in B5 models is quoted as 483 litres with the rear seats in use, expanding to 1430L with them folded flat.
It’s slightly smaller than what you get in a BMW X3, but it’s not far off the mark. In typical Volvo fashion it has a flat floor and nets in the sides to keep smaller items secure. Under the floor is a space saver spare wheel.
Power in the B5 AWD comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 183kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
It’s backed by a 48V mild-hybrid system designed to deliver smoother start/stop than before. In more expensive models it also drives an electric supercharger.
The XC60 B5 AWD uses a claimed 7.6L/100km on the combined cycle, with emissions rated at 174g/km of CO2. We saw 9.0 litres per 100km during a week skewed to city driving.
The XC60 is a comfortable, refined cruiser that doesn’t make any effort to be sporty.
It’s perfectly suited to cruising around town, with light steering that makes it simple to slot into tight parking spots, and a suspension tune focused on keeping pimply city roads outside.
Although the engine is a 2.0-litre unit, and is the least powerful option on offer in the range, it packs enough of a punch to get the XC60 rolling without feeling strained.
Unlike a base BMW X3, the entry-level XC60 is still all-wheel drive. Although it’s not a necessity, having an extra degree of security in wet conditions, or if you venture to the snow, can only be a good thing.
Lean on the accelerator and it squeezes you back in your seat well enough, and the eight-speed transmission shuffles smoothly through the gears.
There’s a bit of noise from the engine inside relative to what you get in a BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC, especially when you’re in a hurry, but it’s still nicely refined.
The relaxed vibe pays dividends on the highway, where the XC60 is a very comfortable cruiser. It hums along quietly on coarse-chip roads, and the soft suspension tune means potholes and expansion joints waft beneath the wheels.
Although it can feel a little bit floaty over big crests and dips at 100km/h, this is a car you could happily drive from Melbourne to Sydney.
The less powerful engine tune is most noticeable at highway speeds, where the XC60 doesn’t have as much performance in reserve as its more powerful big brothers.
It still has enough punch to overtake with a full load of people and their kit on board, but you’ll need a slightly longer stretch of road than in more powerful alternatives.
Volvo’s driver assistance systems are smartly calibrated, from the confident lane-keeping to the smooth-moving adaptive cruise.
XC60 Plus B5 highlights:
- 19-inch diamond-cut alloys
- LED headlights with active bending
- LED front fog lights
- 9.0-inch Android Automotive infotainment system
- Satellite navigation incl. Google Maps
- DAB radio
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Digital Service, 4-year subscription
- Wireless smartphone charger
- 4-zone climate control
- Electric tailgate
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Electric front seats with memory
- Power-folding rear headrests
- Leather-accented upholstery
Petrol versions of the Volvo XC60 wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro NCAP tests in 2017. Plug-in hybrid models remain unrated.
The XC60 scored 98 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for pedestrian detection and 95 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Adjustable speed limiter
- Adaptive cruise control incl. Pilot Assist
- Active lane centring
- Stop&Go function
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Forward and Reverse
- Pedestrian, Cyclist, Animal detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- 360-degree cameras
- Front, rear and side parking sensors
- Hill start assist
- Hill descent control
Like the wider Volvo line-up, the XC60 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with eight years of complementary 24/7 roadside assistance.
Recharge models are also covered by an eight-year hybrid battery warranty.
Volvo offers three- and five-year service plans for the XC60 range, priced at $1750 and $3000 respectively. Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
The XC60 isn’t quite as flashy as its newer rivals, but it still has plenty to offer.
It’s still well equipped for the price, and packs a practical interior the delivers on the promise of the Volvo badge. While the driving experience isn’t class leading, it’s not all that far off the mark.
The real kicker here is the price, though. It undercuts even a base, rear-wheel drive BMW X3 by $10,000 based on list price, but it’s far from a cheap imitation or alternative.
Instead, it’s Volvo doing what Volvo does best – building sensible, practical cars for buyers who don’t need the lure of a German badge.
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