By Derek Price
The XC60 keeps bettering better.
That shouldn’t be a surprise considering this midsize crossover is Volvo’s hottest seller, accounting for roughly a third of the brand’s total sales. It makes sense to keep investing heavily in it, and it only takes a quick drive to see the dividends.
Its optional plug-in hybrid drivetrain is spectacular, for starters. My XC60 Recharge tester is rated for 35 miles of pure electric range, after which a gasoline engine will keep you going for hundreds more miles.
As much as I love electric cars for short trips around town, they don’t make sense for a lot of the regional driving I do. A best-of-both-worlds drivetrain like this gives you the benefits of an electric car for most daily driving without the drawback of having to find a charging station and bide your time on long road trips.
I think it’s a brilliant way for buyers to dip their toes into electric power while America’s charging infrastructure plays catch-up.
Even better is the fact that it doesn’t make you sacrifice performance for efficiency.
The XC60 Recharge is spectacularly quick. It combines a 312-horsepower turbocharged engine with a 143-horse electric motor for thrilling, instantly available acceleration.
A combined 455 horsepower and 523 pound feet of torque give you the same feeling you’d get from a high-performance V8 a few years ago, albeit with dramatically better fuel economy.
The federal government gives the XC60 Recharge an equivalent rating of 63 miles per gallon with electric power in combined city and highway driving. With a lot of local driving on electric power, the real-world MPG numbers can be dramatically higher than that.
Even if you never charge it, only relying on the gasoline engine 100 percent of the time, the fuel economy is impressive. It earns a combined rating of 28 mpg on gasoline only, which is phenomenally efficient for a vehicle this roomy, heavy and powerful.
All that under-the-hood technology comes at a cost, though. In this case, it’s $13,750 more than the base XC60.
Some upscale options, including a rich-sounding Bowers & Wilkins audio system for $3,200, pushed the price of my tester deep into luxury territory at nearly $73,000.
For that price, you get a wonderfully comfortable and stylish family vehicle that coddles passengers and excites the driver.
Volvo’s cabins have long catered to people who appreciate clean, simple Scandinavian design, and the latest XC60 continues that tradition. Its Nordic cabin exudes a sense of quality everywhere you look and touch.
Outside, distinctive headlights and taillights put a uniquely Volvo spin on the familiar crossover shape.
It should be no surprise that a new Volvo comes packed with a long list of standard safety technologies and driver assist features.
There is one shocker, though. Volvo did something I’ve spent years wishing every car company would do: outsourcing its digital features to a digital-native company.
In this case, Google designed the tech interface for the latest XC60, and it should be instantly familiar to anyone who has used the Android operating system before. It includes Google Maps, Google Assistant and the ability to easily add new apps via the Google Play store.
It works wonderfully, and I wish more brands would do the same thing. Car companies are best at making cars, and tech companies are best at making tech. The faster car manufacturers realize that, and stop pouring money into creating inferior tech systems from scratch, the better off consumers will be.
Pricing starts at $43,450 for the base XC60 with a mild hybrid drivetrain or $57,200 for the dramatically more powerful Recharge plug-in hybrid.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription ($62,250). Options: Climate package ($750), advanced package ($2,050), metallic paint ($695), power tailgate ($200), Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,200), air suspension ($1,800), 20-inch wheels ($800). Price as tested (including $1,095 destination charge): $72,840
Wheelbase: 112.8 in.
Length: 185.4 in.
Width: 83.3 in.
Height: 65.3 in.
Powertrain: 2.0-liter four cylinder and electric motor (combined 455 hp, 523 lbs. ft.)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 63 combined MPG equivalent
Why buy it?
A distinctively Scandinavian look and Google-designed tech system make the XC60 stand out. Its powerful and efficient plug-in hybrid system delivers the best of electric and gasoline energy sources.