By Derek Price
Weirdly, though, I rarely see any ads for this Swedish brand, making me wonder whether I’m just watching the wrong TV channels or whether Volvo poured all its capital into developing awesome new products, leaving only a few crumbs left for marketing.
Usually it’s the other way around: mediocre cars backed up by a gazillion-dollar marketing campaign that makes so-so vehicles seem more palatable.
Volvo has even managed to create a vehicle that gets attention in the most competitive, least forgiving segment of the car industry. Every single manufacturer is offering a great two-row family crossover this year — their sales would get hammered if they didn’t — but Volvo’s XC60 entry stands out from this near-perfect pack for several reasons.
One, it looks different. With very rare exceptions, crossover vehicles are all copying the same dull theme with jellybean bodies, squinty headlights and big, bold grilles. And when everybody does that, it doesn’t seem so bold anymore.
The XC60 takes a more original tack with its body styling, using deeply carved shoulders and a squarish stance that makes it seem more utilitarian. It has an honesty to it with just a hint of athleticism, and I like that.
Two, its engines are some of the world’s best. Volvo has started using various combinations of turbochargers and superchargers across its lineup to squeeze crazy amounts of horsepower and fuel economy from small-displacement engines.
An engine that makes 302 horsepower and still ekes out a 30-mpg highway rating in the roomy XC60? Yes, please.
And three, it drives with a solidity that’s becoming rarer with each passing year. In a race to get better fuel economy and meet government standards, many of today’s newly designed cars are starting to feel more hollowed-out, but that’s not the case with Volvos. My tester felt like I was driving around in a brick, and I love that feeling when I’ve got kids in the car.
Of course, being a Volvo, the XC60 is available with well-executed versions of all today’s hottest safety gadgets. Its optional electronics will warn you before you do anything stupid, whether backing out into crossing traffic, changing lanes when another car is in your blind spot, or even hitting a car in front of you. I had the impression that the electronics in my test car were always looking over my shoulder, trying to keep me from being an idiot.
Luxuries and safety upgrades can quickly add to the price, though. While the base XC60 starts at $36,200, my all-wheel drive, loaded test vehicle rang up at $52,225.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD ($42,400). Options: Platinum package ($4,400), climate package and child booster seats ($1,550), sport seats ($500), BLIS ($900), metallic paint ($550), 20-inch wheels ($1,000). Price as tested (including $925 destination charge): $52,225
Wheelbase: 109.2 in.
Length: 182.8 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 67.4 in.
Engine: 3.0-liter Six Cylinder Twin Turbo (300 horsepower, 325 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed Geartronic automatic
Estimated Mileage: 17 city, 24 highway
2015.5 Volvo XC60
Why buy it?
It stands out in the hotly competitive family crossover space. Its Swedish good looks, best-in-class powertrains and high-tech safety features make it a winner.