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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2018 Volvo XC60
By now, the word on the street is that Volvo is in the midst of a major renaissance. The most recently redesigned of these vehicles, the 2018 Volvo XC60 compact SUV, begins arriving at showrooms this month.
Starting at $41,500, the XC60 is the most affordable and versatile of the Swedish automaker’s new models. Sleek and curvy, the new XC60 drops pounds and gains standard all-wheel drive to become more compact and capable. The T5 base model runs on a 250-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, while the T6 gets a 316-horsepower, turbo- and supercharged, four-cylinder engine. The T8 plug-in electric hybrid delivers 400 horsepower using a turbo- and supercharged, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor.
Each model is available in three trims — Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription — that provide varying degrees of Scandinavian luxury. Even the base model gets leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system with a 9-inch, iPad-like touchscreen that works even with gloved fingers. Buyers can upgrade to Nappa leather upholstery, heated seats with massage capability, and open-pore driftwood inlays, which complete the Nordic look. The two-row SUV seats five and features average cargo space for the class.
Volvo’s commitment to safety — the automaker has declared its intention that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo model by 2020 — has gotten as much attention as its new look. In addition to the usual standard safety equipment, such as a rearview camera and lane keep assist, the new crossover includes several advanced capabilities. Like the outgoing model, the new XC60 comes with the automaker’s City Safety suite of safety features but introduces a steering assistance function to help avoid collisions with vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Another feature, called oncoming lane mitigation, prevents collisions with oncoming traffic if the XC60 crosses the lane divider at speeds between 37 and 87 mph. The new model has not yet been evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the agency rated last year’s model a Top Safety Pick+ and expects the 2018 version to perform at least as well.
The base model achieves above-average fuel economy, delivering 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Base trims for the T5 and T6 models start at $41,500 and $44,900, respectively. The T8 plug-in hybrid begins at $52,900.
What the experts are saying
Sporty and luxurious
“Battling the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC is no easy task, but Volvo has stepped up to the plate with its very impressive XC60. The appearance as a miniaturized XC90 isn’t far off the mark, as the two share platform architecture and powertrains — stout, capable, and efficient. The slightly smaller XC60 is tuned for a sportier demeanor than the XC90 (regardless, the Germans still do a better job in that department), but its strongest assets remain a luxurious cabin and top-notch safety equipment. The Volvo XC60 is a serious contender.” – Michael Harley, automotive analyst at Kelley Blue Book
A competitive crossover
“The Volvo XC60 lives in the hugely popular and fiercely competitive segment of compact luxury crossovers. Compact crossovers have exploded in popularity because they offer more utility than midsize sedans. They have a higher, more commanding view of the road, and their size makes them relatively easy to drive and park. With Volvo’s XC60, one can surround oneself in luxury, comfortably transport five, and reserve the option to venture up a dirt road if the urge to be rugged suddenly strikes one weekend. The German luxury brands maintain the strongest foothold in this segment, as newcomers either fail to meet the high standards of the class or don’t provide anything original. Volvo navigates this territory masterfully with its own style and sense of luxury. The XC60 looks and feels like nothing else in the class but is every bit as elegant as the others. The Driftwood interior trim in particular, available on the top Inscription models, is worth a test drive alone.” – Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager at Edmunds
A safe choice
“While we haven’t tested the redesigned XC60, the current version is one of our top-performing midsize luxury SUVs. As you would expect from a Volvo, it aces all of our crashworthiness tests. Unlike most other vehicles, it has a standard front crash prevention system with autonomous braking that can help drivers avoid crashes at low speeds. This system earns our middle rating of advanced. An optional system is more capable at higher speeds and earns our superior rating. With optional headlights that earn a good rating in our nighttime track tests, the XC60 qualifies for our highest safety designation of Top Safety Pick+. We expect the redesigned model will perform well when we have the opportunity to test it.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety