The new-for-2018 Volvo XC60 is a trimmer, fitter, more muscular version of the vehicle thousands of Americans fell in love with over the past decade. It retains all the previous XC60’s strengths, including its good looks, adds some new luxurious features, and updates the characteristics that made it a favorite in the hot-selling category.
You'll Like The 2018 Volvo XC60 If...
If you like Volvos, Swedish cars in general and/or luxurious simplicity, you will like the XC60. In both exterior and interior style the XC60 adheres to a Scandinavian aesthetic, while its engineering offers straightforward Swedish execution. And it certainly doesn't hurt that the new XC60 took home 2018 World Car of the Year honors at the 2018 New York Auto Show.
You May Not Like The 2018 Volvo XC60 If...
If prestige is at the top of your wish list you might find the BMW X3, Audi Q5 or Mercedes-Benz GLC more to your liking, and if you value space the Buick Enclave or Honda Pilot offers more capacity for less money.
The Volvo XC60 small luxury SUV is all-new for 2018 after nine model years.
The interior of the XC60 captures the same upscale feel as its bigger brother, the XC90 sport utility, bringing a Scandinavian ethos. A key design touch is the “ribbon of woodgrain” that flows along the dash. Instrumentation is clear, and the dash features a sizable driver-information center between speedometer and tachometer. Seats are top-notch with superior adjustment and support. The rear-seat area is comfortable for three adults, and behind it is a voluminous cargo area. If you’d like your XC60’s interior to ring with the majesty of a concert venue, you can choose the 1,100-watt, 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system.
Volvo’s “Scalable Product Architecture” is the basis of its 60- and 90-series vehicles, and that works to the XC60’s advantage, since it gets the benefit of the sophisticated design of its larger sibling, the popular XC90 SUV. There is a distinct family resemblance between the two models, but the XC60 is definitely the sleeker and sportier of the pair. The 60 and 90 “cluster” vehicles also share powertrains, including the T8 “Twin Engine” hybrid system. The rationalization of the Volvo’s chassis, suspension and powertrain plans enables Volvo, a small player on the world stage, to compete against much-larger global automakers.
Most of our time in the XC60 came behind the wheel of an up-level Inscription series XC60 equipped with the T6 AWD (all-wheel drive) powertrain. The ultra-sophisticated and seriously complicated engine combines supercharging and turbocharging to provide a robust and utterly flat torque curve, which translates into ample power when you want it. The engine delivers 316 peak horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The XC60’s suspension provides both comfort and a significant amount of control and is designed to limit both understeer and torque steer for a neutral feel in a variety of circumstances. The integral-link rear arrangement enabled suspension engineers to tune comfort and handling characteristics individually. Our test vehicle, equipped with the optional air suspension, featured automatic leveling and speed-adjustable ride height. We expect that all versions of the XC60 will offer better-than-acceptable ride and handling characteristics and will be fun to drive.
The Volvo XC60 T5, the most basic of the XC60’s, starts at $41,500. The T6 with the more powerful and sophisticated engine starts at $44,900, and the plug-in hybrid T8 starts at $52,900. All this puts the XC60 in a very competitive position to fight it out with what has become a flood of small-luxury-crossover SUVs. The Lexus NX has staked out territory at the value end of the spectrum, while relative newcomers like the Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Velar are more high-end. Other competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Audi Q5. In terms of cost-to-own the XC60 figures to be among the best in the segment, though not quite as good as the Lexus NX. Since at this writing the 2018 XC60 is new to the market, we cannot calculate a Fair Purchase Price yet.
The “base” powertrain for the XC60 is the T5 turbocharged gasoline engine with all-wheel drive. All XC60s are equipped with an enviable level of standard equipment including a panoramic moonroof, leather seats, the signature “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights and an infotainment system with 9-inch touch screen and Apple CarPlay /Android Auto integration. On the safety front, “Lane-Keeping Aids” is standard as is the IntelliSafe City Safety System.
As you navigate the combinations of powertrains and packages you will encounter nine (yes, nine!) variations available here in the United States. While this might seem daunting, the handy way to look at the packages in conjunction with the powertrains (T5, T6, T8) is this: Momentum is a nicely equipped version but lacks some premium features; R Design is for the sporting driver and slants equipment in a handling/performance direction; Inscription is the all-in, fully loaded level. Inscription is the level where you’ll find Nappa leather seats with ventilation and massage, the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound and air suspension, for example.
Volvo’s advanced semi-autonomous driver-assistance system takes care of steering, acceleration and braking on well-marked roads, though it does require the driver to be attentive. It is available in the new XC60 as an option.
Volvo’s Sensus system has been revised and enhanced for use in the XC60. Among other changes, it now offers bigger icons to improve usability. CarPlay and Android Auto are also included, and the normal touch-screen functions don’t vanish when CarPlay or Android Auto appears.
Under the Hood
Volvo offers rational step-ups in its engine choices for the XC60 ranging from the straightforward but still high-tech T5 4-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged engine to the wildly complicated T8 that combines a 4-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged and supercharged engine with a lithium-ion-battery-powered electric motor. In between is the T6 4-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged and supercharged engine that delivers 316 peak horsepower and a rich, flavorful 295 lb-ft of torque that is available between 2,200 and 5,400 rpm. While we expect some Volvo fans will opt for the pricey plug-in hybrid T8, most of the volume will be in T5 and T6 versions. Power from each of the 2018 Volvo XC60 engines travels to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
250 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,5004,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged/supercharged inline-4
316 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged/supercharged inline-4 with plug-in hybrid
400 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
472 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
The Volvo XC60 went virtually unchanged for nearly a decade and still captured a substantial portion of the compact-luxury-SUV segment, so Volvo was careful not to mess too much with the basic recipe when it totally redesigned the model for the 2018 model year. The newest iteration is a trimmer, fitter, more muscular version of the vehicle thousands of Americans have fallen in love with. Essentially, this new all-wheel-drive Volvo SUV retains all the previous XC60’s strengths, including its good looks, adds some new luxurious features, and updates the characteristics that made it a favorite in the hot-selling category. What has changed in the past decade is that the XC60 now faces a formidable bevy of competitors, including the Lexus NX, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.