Monday, January 7, 2013

Devon test drives a Volvo Crossover

Volvo has the classy XC90 under it's belt and that indeed is a good sport utility vehicle. So when Volvo released the XC60, they said that it was the safest Volvo ever. With our expectations set high, will the XC60 disappoint?

Performance: There are three engine choices to choose from. Base engine is a 3.2-liter six-cylinder producing 240hp, mid-range is a 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder producing 300hp. While the top of the range trim gets the same turbocharged six-cylinder but is pumped up to 325hp. Pick of the range is the mid-range turbocharged six-cylinder engine. It makes the most sense overall, you get all-wheel-drive standard and the overall driving impression of the turbo engine is much more impressive than the base engine.

Ride & Handling: The Volvo XC60 has good body control and the overall ride comfort is very well balanced. The front wheel-drive base version felt lighter around town than the all-wheel-drive version, but the extra grip from the all-wheel-drive does come in handy on slippery surfaces. The top of the range trades comfort for a sharper steering and ride comfort, which results in a firm ride over bumps.

Refinement: The XC60 has very low levels of wind, suspension and road noise. While on the highway you'll be greated by a very smooth and comfortable ride if you stick with the lesser versions. Families will enjoy this for long journeys and those who want a comfortable luxury crossover won't be disappointed.

Behind the wheel: There's plenty of leg, head and elbow room for the front passengers. The seats are superbly supportive and offer plenty of adjustments for all to get comfortable. Most controls are located on Volvo's snazzy floating central instrumental panel, which looks cool but some of the buttons are small and can be a bit fiddly to operate.

Space & Practicality: The rear seat is elevated to give a good view of the road ahead. Headroom, legroom is also very good for three passengers. The boot is very nicely sized as well, which should appeal to those who need the extra space and small families that don't want to buy a minivan.

Equipment: All versions of the XC60 come well equipped. The base trim comes with daytime running lamps, auto dimming rearview mirror and rain sensing windshield wipers. You'll have to step up to the mid-range to get all-wheel-drive, leather interior and a panoramic sunroof. Top of the range adds a bit more flare with a unique body-kit, 20-inch alloy wheels and a uniquely crafted interior to match the exterior looks.

Buying & Owning: The XC60 isn't cheap to buy but you can get decent discounts. Resalve value should be strong as the XC60 has been fairly popular. Running costs depends on which verison you choose. If you get the base 3.2 without all-wheel-drive, its lighter and will burn less gas than the all-wheel-drive 3.2 and the turbo versions which only comes with all-wheel-drive.

Quality & Reliability: The XC60 has very high class quality and feel to the interior. Many of the bits and materials used feel and look sturdy and long lasting. Many of the mechanical bits have been borrowed from the rest of the Volvo range, and should prove to be reliable. Long term reliability of the mechanicals however is a bit of a worry.

Safety: The XC60 has scored five stars in crash tests and comes standard with a safety kit that is very extensive, just the way a Volvo should. Twin front and side airbags are standard with active head-restraints and Volvo's unique City Safety system which uses a sensor to apply the brakes at full force at speeds below 20mph to prevent low speed collisons. However, it won't recongize pedestrians and struggles with motorcycles.

If you're looking for a luxury crossover that's classy, stylish and will leave you with the sense of being safe. The Volvo XC60 is clearly the best choice. It's roomy for five passengers and even a small family that doesn't want a minivan or larger heavier 4x4. However, like all cars the Volvo XC60 isn't the most exciting to drive like a BMW X3 and doesn't have the classy interior like the Audi Q5. But if you're looking for a distinct crossover in its own right, the XC60 is the perfect crossover.

Likes: A fantastic crossover for small families, classy interior design. Smooth highway drive and punchy turbo engine choices.

Dislikes: Not as sharp to drive as an X3, base trim all-wheel-drive option pushes price close to mid-range trim. Leather seats aren't standard on base trim either.

Devon M

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