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Saturday
Nov112017

2018 Volvo XC60: Dropping the Hammer on the Competition

By: Brian Armstead

With such a wide array of Crossover and Sport Utility Vehicles now on the market, wily auto manufacturers are in a pitched battle to infuse their ‘Utes with the latest comfort, convenience and safety technology.

Volvo is no different.  Once on the brink of extinction, the renowned Swedish brand was purchased by Chinese auto giant Geely, which wisely pumped cash into Volvo to resuscitate it, while allowing Volvo to do what it does best -- build superb cars with tons of luxury and safety.  The result has been a string of hits for Volvo, including the XC90, S90, V90 Cross Country and the 2018 XC60.

Let’s start outside with the all-new XC60 where surprisingly, Volvo’s are now known for sensuous, sleek styling.  Up front, “Thor’s Hammer” Daytime Running Lamps with LED technology are a “smashing” styling hit. Loosely based on the shape of Thor’s Hammer from Norse mythology, these lights make quite a statement that carries into the side styling.  Along the sides, the profile sports a high character line that accentuates the height of the XC60.  Deeply sculpted concave lower door panels angle down toward symmetrical, convex rocker panels.  Add an upper hatch lip spoiler and gorgeous, optional 20” diamond-cut alloy wheels, and the XC60 is a bonafide head turner.  At the rear, high mounted taillights and dual rifled tailpipes round out another impressive design from Volvo.  Remember folks, Volvo was formerly known for safety and boring styling.  Still a safety icon, Volvo’s new styling themes are super impressive.

Inside, good things continue. The list of standard and available comfort and convenience features is long and comprehensive, depending on trim level.  XC60’s are available in Inscription, Momentum and R Design trims, with prices starting at $41,500 (Momentum).

During the national media launch for the XC60 in scenic Denver, Colorado, assembled automotive journalists drove top-of-the-line Inscription T6 models with a base MSRP of $45,300.  

Standard Inscription goodies include remote engine start, navigation with real time traffic, blind spot system, 4-zone climate control, 10 way power front driver’s seat, Bluetooth, satellite radio, high performance audio system, steering wheel controls, real driftwood or aluminum mesh interior inlays, humidity sensor, Nappa leather, smart remote key fob, hands free open/close tailgate, Wi-Fi hotspot and much, much more.  One major interior highlight on Inscription trim is the 12.3” Digital Driver Display. The 12.3" display shows relevant driver information – including navigation directions, telephone and actual road signs (read from a windshield camera). The display layout adapts to how you use it, and you have four graphic modes to choose from. The display features two large round instruments and one central information display. If you use the navigation system, that display becomes bigger. “Sensus” navigation features an iPad-like screen integrated into the upper center dash, which gives you total control of navigation of course, but also vehicle settings, menus for audio, vehicle functions, climate control, access to a digital owner’s manual and much more.

Within the Inscription trim level, you can choose from three propulsion options, all with All-Wheel Drive (AWD).  T5 models offer 250 horsepower (turbocharged), T6 models 316 hp (combination turbocharged and supercharged), and Hybrid plug in T8 models, 400 hp (turbocharged, supercharged and electric motor).  All use a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine as a base of performance.

Power in T6 guise is very impressive.  As we wound our way through very twisty roads at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains, the T6 turbo responded without a hiccup – a notable achievement given that automobiles generally lose power as the air gets thinner at higher altitudes.

Another achievement of note for the XC60 and for all current model Volvos is that they are fun to drive.  Lighter weights, more advanced technology and a whole new philosophy drives Volvo’s new commitment to performance and handling.  And they are still world leaders in safety. 

To say that XC60 handling was spirited and BMW-like is the ultimate compliment.  No excessive body roll was present in what is essentially a tall station wagon.  Volvo XC60 suspension underpinnings include aluminum double wishbone front suspension and rear integral link design with transverse lightweight, composite leaf spring.  It’s a total hoot to drive a Sport Ute that handles as well as a performance sedan.

The 2018 Volvo XC60 does everything well.  It’s a terrific buy for pretty much any demographic you throw at it: younger professionals who want their own individual style; families seeking safety and utility; active lifestylers; and older drivers who want to spice up their driving experience. 

Well done Volvo!

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