Despite the last (minor) refresh taking place in 2014, the T6 AWD trim finally benefits from the new, efficient drivetrain from Volvo, the 2.0L Drive-E engine and 8-speed “Geartronic” transmission, keeping it competitive with the recently refreshed competition until it receives a full overhaul like its bigger sibling, the XC90.
• Unique, clean, classy aesthetic throughout
• Plush, nimble, efficient and responsive (especially for an SUV)
• Classic Volvo safety & bang for your buck
• Infotainment system works (things like Bluetooth sync, etc. are all fine), but the advanced features (apps, Internet/hotspot, etc.) are simply just too slow to use – with Sync 3, CarPlay, and Android Auto starting to see wider distribution, the age shows.
• While the current suite of safety tech doesn’t disappoint, we know it’s obsolete given the new safety technology on Volvo’s XC90 and upcoming S90
I took the XC60 down the California coast and was really impressed with the 8-speed transmission in the mixed driving I did. Even with all the curves and hills of the 1, I didn’t notice a lot of searching or delay between shifts. The abundant power from the 302hp/295lb-ft torque Drive-E engine was immediately available without hesitation, and the AWD system noticeable handles it a lot better than the FWD variant I’d driven previously, easily putting the power to the pavement to pull itself out of corners (and without the bemoaned torque steer!), despite Volvo’s heavy nose.
The suspension was a good mix of comfortable and stiff, able to isolate me from road imperfections (albeit interrupting the usually quiet cabin with some chassis noise) but also confidently manage the vehicle’s height in the corners. I found the DSTC present, but largely unobtrusive, which is exactly how it should be and probably goes a long way in preventing over corrections should people encounter it during a panic situation.
Over the course of the trip, the computer put me 1 better than the combined driving rating; 23 mpg. Cruising down the freeway at 70 with the A/C cooling the cabin to a comfortable ice-box 64 degrees, the XC60 averaged just shy of 30 mpg, which is pretty reasonable for such a formidable SUV and puts it near the top of the competition.
This variant lacked the ECO+ option and, to my disappointment, I found the vehicle particularly hesitant about shutting off the engine when at a stop. After getting used to the aggressive coast/shut off features in another variant I’d driven, I found myself feeling guilty sitting at long traffic lights with it idling – the eco coaching really does work!
Safety and Comfort
The inside of a Volvo is generally a great place to be – safe, quiet, comfy – and the 2016 XC60 is no exception. Even with essentially the same interior since it debuted in 2010, the SUV has aged well. Minor updates like a frameless rear-view mirror and cleaner LCD/IP stack are surrounded by soft touch materials and tasteful and soft finished wood inlays (even nicer versions of which can be had with the Inscription trim) which basked in the sun let in through the massive panoramic sunroof.
And, as always, you get to enjoy the cockpit from Volvo’s famous, organically tanned leather, designed-by-orthopedic-surgeons seats. Ingress and egress is pretty easy, and the XC60’s power liftgate and 40/20/40 folding rear seats let’s you fill up its class-leading cargo hold with with pretty much whatever you need for your errands.
The basic functionality of the infotainment system is bearable and I found myself using the steering wheel mounted controls, rather than the knobs on the center stack, to accomplish most tasks. Beyond radio/Bluetooth audio or tweaking some advanced car settings (configuring door unlock settings, etc.), though, the system starts showing its age.
The version of the software in this XC60, Sensus Connect, was one rev higher than my car and it felt severely underpowered. Launching the integrated apps like Pandora takes so long that you’re definitely better off streaming from your phone via Bluetooth (and, while Volvo isn’t alone in this sin, a rotary knob is not a preferred way to enter a username and secure password these days).
This XC60 was equipped, of course, with Volvo’s City Safety, since debuting in 2010 as the world’s first standard equipment driver support system. It also came with a suite of other safety acronyms like CWAB (Volvo’s Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian & Cyclist Detection which will prevent accidents at low speeds), LDW (lane departure warning which keeps you centered), and ACC with Queue Assist (adaptive cruise control which maintains a safe following distance).
The rear seats were even configured with dual, two-stage integrated booster seats which keep children properly elevated and restrained in a vehicle for two critical periods of their growth. All these systems help keep you safe and keep Volvo on the path to Vision 2010, but are also good for some serious savings on insurance premiums.
When parking, however, I was surprised to learn that, while the XC60 had a backup camera, it did not chirp when objects were in my path. Rather, the front and rear ultrasonic parking sensors are part of the $925 Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) Package which also includes Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Merge Aid.
Fortunately, the Volvo gives you good visibility of the nose and rear so, even without the helpful camera, I didn’t find it difficult to maneuver around in cramped parking lots. I enjoy the feature on my S60 and wouldn’t mind seeing Volvo embrace this as a standard feature like its competitor the Macan.
Overall, the 2016 XC60 is still a great family-oriented people mover. It’s a great looking, efficient, and reliable ute that you can’t go wrong with. If you’re not in a rush to purchase, though, it’s probably worth holding out until the 2018 MY refresh due to the significant upgrade potential and low cost differential between the loaded XC60 described here (MSRP $52,505) and the newer XC90. I was sad to say goodbye to the XC60, but if the XC90 and S90 are any indication of what Volvo’s pushing out these days, I’m excited for its future.
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