2013 Volvo XC60

An integral part of Volvo’s recent growth, the midsize XC60 crossover has also served as a pleasing alternative to best sellers like the Lexus RX350. Recent updates not only serve to keep it competitive but also bolster the case for shoppers to think outside the mainstream and look to Europe, not Asia.

Outside, not much has changed, but then again the XC60 looked fine right out of the gate, boasting a combination of fluidic yet dynamic contours and confident and brand-specific detailing such as the wrap around taillights and newly emboldened grill.

Inside it looks great in a distinctive way was well, with interesting textures to the dash and door moldings, high-contrast available upholsteries, and detailing like clear coated, high-gloss trim that makes the gray plastics in the Lexus (and others) look low rent.

Of course the seats remain great and the XC60’s driving position is first rate. Back seat and cargo space is restricted compared to larger competitors, tough. And despite more standard equipment for this year, the ease of working the infotainment system still lags the German’s logical interfaces.

One area Volvo continues to make great progress on is ride quality. Increasingly overlooked in the quest to convey a useless sense of “sportiness” in such vehicles as the F Sport version of the RX350, it is an integral component to making any upper-end vehicle feel truly luxurious. There’s nothing worse than crashy, noisy progress over bad pavement to draw attention to a vehicle’s shortcomings, and the Swedes have done a stellar job of quieting and softening the impacting harshness of previous generations of Volvos. That the XC60 still steers accurately and can handle a set of curves with acumen is a bonus.

Now Volvo needs to update the engine offerings in the XC60. While the T6 turbo is really fast, with massive off-the-line torque, it is a gas hog, rarely able to achieve 20mpg in real world mixed use. And the standard torque split means you light up the front tires trying to turn at any type of 90-degree junction. Pre-loading the rear wheels to take some of the power would eliminate this unseemly trait. But the normally aspirated 3.2-liter inline six isn’t a great alternative, as it lacks midrange muscle and doesn’t do much better at the pump. The right answer is to slot the excellent T5 engine from the S60, giving this crossover the combination of guts and efficiency to compete with the likes not only of the Lexus, but from the Continent as well.

Despite these shortcomings, the XC60 remains one of the most compelling five-passenger crossovers available, with a sumptuous body and interior, great dynamics, and a wholly unique character. Volvo’s continuing progression in vehicle desirability and sales growth seems safe.

Fuel economy: 17/23mpg
Price as tested: $45,845
Here’s what Volvo has to say about the XC60.


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