They come from all corners of the globe in Australia’s luxury SUV segment. Against rivals from North America, Japan, England and Britain, Volvo brings the Scandinavian design of the XC60.
And that’s the point. It’s that stylish and clever Scandinavian design which provides the handsome Swede a significant difference in comparisons with rivals.
That and Volvo’s world famous safety technology, lots of features and very sharp prices.
Volvo XC60 Overview
Volvo amended the XC60 lineup for 2012 adding ‘Teknik’ versions of the T5, 3.2, D5 and T6 (previously the Teknik was an options pack). Car Showroom tested the mid-grade standard D5 model (priced at $60,990).
Entry to the Volvo XC60 range is the petrol 2.0-litre turbo T5 model ($54,990), while the range-topper is the sporty T6 R-Design which is stickered at $75,990.
The XC60 is Volvo’s mid-size luxury SUV. Smaller than the XC90, the Volvo XC60 comes loaded with Volvo’s usual safety technology and, in the D5 model we tested, the handy 2.7-litre five-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine.
Changes for 2012 include more performance, an improved audio system and power operation for the tailgate.
Volvo XC60 Engine
Volvo’s D5 2.4-litre DOHC five-cylinder twin-turbo diesel is one of the world’s most acclaimed powerplants. Kilowatt-for-kilowatt and Newton-Metre-for-Newton-Metre, this five-cylinder (shared with Ford) oozes technology and makes some rival engines look a bit plain.
Sure the D5 has been around for a while, but Volvo is still working wonders – for 2012 more power and torque combined with reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Part of the story here are lighter weight camshafts (each 200gms lighter) and a more efficient impeller in the coolant pump (reduced output loss means a cut in fuel consumption).
Maximum power is now 158kW at 4000rpm and peak torque has grown to 440Nm between 1500-3000rpm. Fuel consumption has decreased by 10 per cent to 6.9l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions are down to 183g/km – the latter important as the Volvo XC60 D5 now qualifies as a low emissions vehicle with flow-on benefits for buyers under the Luxury Car Tax.
Drive is via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Volvo XC60 The Interior
Smart Scandinavian interior style allows the Volvo XC60 to standout from the crowd in the luxury SUV segment. It’s there wherever you look – quality materials, good looks, practical design (appreciated by families)…and it’s just different to the big-name Germans.
This time around our test car ran the standard trim but we’ve previously driven Volvo XC60s with the optional Classic Wood or Nordic Light Oak timber trims which looks great and are well worth their extra $700.
Volvo XC60 comes standard with leather seats and electronic adjustment up-front combines with rake/each adjustment for Volvo’s usual nicely-designed four-spoke steering wheel to provide a handy driving position. Conventionally-styled instruments again highlight a nice design and up-market look.
Audio is an eight-speaker DVD/MP3 system with a seven-inch screen (also used for the standard reversing camera) with Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity. And a special word for the slick-design centre console with clever storage bins.
Rear seat accommodation is surprisingly spacious and, while the luggage capacity is not the largest in class, typical Volvo smarts are shown with the luggage net, tie-down hooks and tonneau cover.
Towing capacity is 2000kgs.
Volvo XC60 Exterior & Styling
Matching that stylish interior is the exterior design of the Volvo XC60 – again the Scandinavian influence which is both clever and different.
Side profile is highlighted by the rising glasshouse, bold beltline curves and good-looking 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch, 19-inch and 20-inch are options).
The front scores Volvo’s latest ‘corporate’ look with the hallmark large grille and large ‘wraparound’ headlights (Volvo DNA halogens with leveling adjustment).
Same at the rear with Volvo’s usual good looks and the inclusion of electronic operation for the tailgate will be appreciated by mums with groceries.
Volvo XC60 On The Road
In any test of the Volvo XC60 you must start with the engine. Volvo’s twin-turbocharged five-cylinder turbo-diesel is a beauty and while it’s not the newest engine in this league, the latest improvements to performance and fuel economy make it even better.
The Volvo XC60 D5 delivers its 158kW/440Nm with a real push in the back, accompanied by a hearty growl when you nail the right-hand pedal. Hard to believe you’re driving a good-sized SUV weighing 1819kgs.
Underneath, Volvo’s clever coil-front/multi-link rear suspension with anti-dive/anti-lift is well sorted and nicely matched to a similarly tuned chassis. Over our high-speed mountain roads loop the Volvo XC60 was pleasingly flat when pushed to the limit (some German rivals actually have more body roll) and responded well to throttle changes to keep things balanced.
A special mention for the front-end which impressed with its poise and response when turning-in even in our series of switchback turns (the Swedish ‘Moose Test’ still paying dividends?).
Around town that twin-turbo five-cylinder turbo-diesel again came into its own with abundant acceleration for freeway merging (helped by nicely-spaced ratios in the six-speed auto). You do notice that the Volvo V60 is one of the larger luxury SUVs and the not-insignificant 11.7-metre turning circle meant the standard reversing camera was appreciated when we got to our tight CBD car park.
As you would expect, in all driving environments, the refinement levels of the Volvo XC60 were top-notch with good noise insulation and slick cog-swaps from the six-speeder.
Volvo XC60 Challenges
Like all European SUVs those high standard driving dynamics come at a cost – low speed ride on poor secondary and rural roads. Just as you find in similar German vehicles, the Volvo XC60 is a tad firm.
Volvo XC60 The Competition
While German brands dominate the luxury SUV segment, the best-seller last year was actually the Jeep Grand Cherokee from America. The latest generation Grand Cherokee has a stupendous amount of kit and technology for its $60,000 sticker, and its 177kW/550Nm six-cylinder turbo-diesel out-muscles the Volvo XC60.
BMW’s X3 is of course superb (eight-speed automatic transmission for starters) and sharply priced at $62,200 (xDrive 20d). But BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is outgunned by the Volvo XC60 D5 and we reckon the X3 is a bit short on interior space compared to the stylish Swede (larger X5 starts at $92,100).
From Britain, the Land Rover Discovery is a Car Showroom favourite but you’ll need a bit more coin as the Disco starts at $68,490 (TD V6 S). Land Rover’s 2.6-litre V6 turbo diesel sports 20Nm more torque than the Volvo XC60 D5 and of course the Discovery comes into its own if extreme off-roading is on your ‘To-Do’ list.
Volvo XC60 Verdict
We would happily park a Volvo XC60 D5 in our garage permanently. The good-looking Swede handles the rigors of family life perfectly but with Scandinavian style to keep mum and dad happy.
Improvements for the latest D5 model are spot-on (including extra power and torque while reducing fuel consumption and emissions, upgraded audio and power tailgate). But it’s the stylish Scandinavian interior design which marks the Volvo XC60 as a Car Showroom favourite.
Sure it’s not ideal for tackling that Far North Queensland track-clearing, mud-digging off-road challenge…but for most, the Volvo XC60 D5 is a sophisticated European luxury SUV that’s well-equipped, nice to drive and of course extremely safe.