Go ahead – try and name every team in Major League Baseball.
It seems easy enough, right? But even the most diehard fans would be forgiven if at least a couple of the 30 franchises were missed. Add them up alphabetically, geographically, or any other way that works for you and there’s still a good chance a team from the Rust Belt or one of the five from California were overlooked the first time through.
In a way, the same is true of the smattering of small SUVs that make up the premium market. Of course, there are the segment-defining Germans: the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. Then you’ve got entries from Acura, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, and Lincoln. Even Genesis has managed to force its way into our collective recollection with a GV70 that’s – well, it’s really good.
Often mixed in with the forgotten few, the 2022 Volvo XC60 is the kind of vehicle that defines unassumed luxury. Anonymous by design, both literally and figuratively, it’s an unpretentious example of exactly what a premium SUV should be.
Volvo’s design language is about as timeless as they come, and the current iteration works well with the proportions of this small sport utility. It’s tasteful from tip to tail, with hints of aggression hidden in the headlights and muscular rear haunches. Finished here in simple Silver Dawn paint ($900), the XC60 epitomizes the brand’s stylish sensibility.
The cabin is equally uncomplicated, with simple shapes filling out the space, and chairs that look as though they were designed at the Eames Office. The gloss-black trim on the dashboard, steering wheel, and centre console are the only disappointments to be found, the surfaces proving all but impossible to keep clean.
Its exterior dimensions are similar to those of the average entry in the segment, with good interior volume as a result. The rear door openings aren’t quite as large as those of the Mercedes GLC-Class, but second-row space is comparable between the two. Of course, neither is as roomy as their larger siblings – in this case, the ever-stylish Volvo XC90 – but a family of four should have no trouble making good use of what’s offered here.
Cargo volume is also class-competitive, with 613 L behind the back seats and a maximum of 1,410 L with them stowed. In a slight betrayal of its overall usefulness, the back bench is of the 60/40-split-folding variety instead of the 40/20/40 format of its European rivals, although the centre section features a small pass-through to accommodate long items like skis while retaining full seating for four inside.
While a plug-in hybrid version of the XC60 is available, the one tested here does without the ability to run on electrons alone. That means a 2.0L four-cylinder gas engine is nestled between the front fenders, with a combination of both an electric supercharger and a conventional turbocharger cranking peak output to 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque in the case of this B6 version.
It’s a sultry powertrain – one that’s perfectly content to cruise casually while possessing a turn of speed that’s befitting of a proper luxury brand. Mash the accelerator and the XC60 temporarily transforms into something that’s more sport than utility, with all its forced induction fury both felt and heard as it hurries to 100 km/h in around six seconds. The secret is the twin charging, with the supercharger providing low-end boost before the more efficient but equally power-dense turbo takes over.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
Also paired with the powertrain is a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that provides pulses of electrons to smoothly start the motor, while also reducing the load on the gas engine by powering various in-vehicle accessories. It’s not enough to save much fuel, with its combined rating of 9.9 L/100 km coming in slightly worse than most similar rivals.
It did, however, manage to exceed its official rating during real-world testing, turning in an impressive 8.5 L/100 km during a 200-km evaluation drive covering city, highway, and rural roads. The final tally came in at 9.5 L/100 km across some 330 km of truncated testing. Like its rivals, this Volvo runs on premium-grade gas.
For those so inclined, the base XC60 B5 is less powerful but is rated to burn about half a litre less gas for every 100 km driven – and it’s cheaper, too. The only trim offered with the less powerful engine, the XC60 Momentum starts at $52,765 before extras and taxes but with its non-negotiable $2,015 freight charge; upgrading to the B6 powertrain adds $3,550 to the asking price.
The sporty-looking R-Design skips straight to the more stout engine for its starting price of $62,665, as does the range-topping Inscription trim tested here. It has a starting price of $64,465, while the options and extras tacked onto this one pushed that to $77,665 before tax. That’s certainly a lot of money – a fully loaded Mercedes GLC 300 is about $6,000 less, as is a decked-out BMW X3 xDrive30i, while the priciest four-cylinder Genesis GV70 is a whopping $14,000 cheaper – but it’s not as if there isn’t a return on that extra investment.
It’s about more than the sum of its parts – although this particular XC60 has plenty of those, too. Build quality is simply exceptional, without a creak or squeak emanating from any corner of the cabin. It’s like a cocoon of modern luxury, with a sense of substance to the very fundamentals of its construction.
And then there are those features. While the front seats themselves are well contoured and supportive, the optional massage functionality ($1,300) makes them simply sublime. Add that to the list of what’s to like alongside seemingly endless adjustability, and three-stage heat and ventilation that’s standard with the Inscription trim.
Rounding out the tally of what makes this one of the most outstanding entries in its class in terms of comfort is the adaptive air suspension fitted to this tester ($2,350). The fully automated system continuously adjusts to conditions in order to take the sting out of rough roads and does so admirably, smoothing most road imperfections before they reach the cabin.
Volvo may not be the first name in small, luxurious SUVs, but it surely is when it comes to safety. After all, this is a brand that truly pioneered many of the systems we use every day, right down to three-point seatbelts.
In the case of the XC60, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, and rear parking sensors are all standard, while R-Design and Inscription trims also get front parking sensors and rain-sensing wipers.
This tester, meanwhile, was fitted with the available Advanced package ($2,900) that includes surround-view cameras, a head-up display, and a semi-autonomous system that incorporates adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic with steering assistance that can guide the XC60 along the highway and keep it within its lane markings should the driver’s hands remain on the wheel.
Driving Feel: 10/10
While there are no selectable drive modes here beyond an off-road setting, the air suspension and steering can both be toggled between standard and firm, if you so choose. The latter adds an appreciable bit of resistance to the electrically assisted steering rack, making it feel that much sharper (although the former setting is just fine, for those who prefer less engagement).
When it comes to the suspension, well, it’s best left alone. Despite employing air springs the ride tends to err on the rigid side, with potholes in particular leading to some obvious displays of the unsprung weight of this trim’s 20-inch wheels. It’s far from uncomfortable, though, while also providing satisfying body control even along sharply winding roads.
Shifts from the eight-speed automatic transmission are barely perceptible throughout the rev range, while the all-wheel drive system that’s standard regardless of trim quickly shuffles torque to the wheels that need it. Fitted with the requisite winter tires and with a fair amount of snow remaining on some of the unplowed rural roads traversed during testing, never once was the XC60 at a loss for traction, getting torque down confidently.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Driving this Volvo is as straightforward as possible, with the entire experience distilled in a way that’s not especially common in the segment. There is, however, a learning curve that comes with most controls.
Start with the gear selector, finished with a stunning crystal ornament here; the double pull or push to select drive or reverse, respectively, may be something you get used to with time, but all too often during testing was neutral erroneously (and frustratingly) selected instead. Likewise, the knob that must be twisted to start and stop the engine doesn’t seem especially intuitive, right down to its location on the centre console.
The simplified cabin also means there are no physical buttons to operate the heated and ventilated front seats or the heated steering wheel; doing so is managed via icons on the touchscreen. Likewise, a touch panel on the back of the console houses haptic buttons for the optional three-stage heated rear seats, as well as rear climate settings.
The new Google-based infotainment system also isn’t without an adjustment period of its own, nor is the simplified switchgear on the centre stack and steering wheel. The reward, however, is an incredible ease of use once you’ve figured it all out. Even Mac fanatics will find this Android-based system straightforward, with built-in Google Maps that can be called up on the head unit or the all-digital instrument display (or both).
The Android-based infotainment system is the fancy new feature all XC60s come fitted with, and its smartphone-like functionality is a nice touch. However, as of this writing Apple CarPlay isn’t yet available, meaning iPhone users have no way of mirroring their devices on-screen. It’s supposedly in the works; and, in fairness, a phone paired via Bluetooth functions much the same way, with access to calls, messages, and music – it’s simply not as streamlined as a centralized system like Apple CarPlay itself.
Otherwise, features get progressively better across the three-tier lineup, with fewer packages and options offered than key competitors that are far more à la carte. Of course, certain items require additional funds; for instance, while heated front seats are standard across the lineup, not even the most expensive model has a heated steering wheel. That’s part of the $1,000 Climate package that also includes heated rear seats and headlight washers.
Other options here include upgraded wheels ($1,000), metallic paint ($900), air suspension ($2,350), the package that includes adaptive cruise and the head-up display ($2,900), and the massaging front seats ($,1300). If there was a knock against the latter it would be that they only work the upper cushions, unlike the ones in the Lincoln Corsair that do the bottom ones, too. But then the XC60 is one of the few entries in the segment to feature massaging seats in the first place, with none of its German rivals offering them at all.
This tester also included an 1,100-watt, 15-speaker stereo upgrade ($3,750) in place of its 600-watt unit. Settings like “concert hall” and “jazz club” tailor the surround-sound system in unique ways, but none of them quite nails the simplicity of talk radio, with voices sounding like they’re being broadcast underwater. Unless Dizzy Gillespie or Ella Fitzgerald will be played on repeat (and even if they are), sticking with the Inscription trim’s standard 14-speaker stereo is a good way to save a few grand.
The 2022 Volvo XC60 is unabashedly upscale, and yet it’s not especially flashy. It’s so subtly distinguished that it’s easy to overlook, and yet doing so comes at the peril of passing up one of this segment’s most impressive entries.
In fact, it’s so good that it makes the comparably high price of a fully loaded example like this one a mere footnote. OK, nearly $78,000 before tax is a significant sum for a small SUV, and it’s enough to make this one of the most expensive entries in the segment this side of the available performance and plug-in variants. But it’s also the kind of vehicle that feels every part of its inflated price tag the moment you climb inside.
Skip the excessive stereo, the upgraded wheels, and maybe even the premium paint – although white’s the only no-charge hue available – and suddenly the $72,000 sticker price seems a whole lot more palatable, landing right in the range of its high-profile rivals. More importantly, what you’re left with is perhaps the pinnacle of this popular premium segment.
|Engine Cylinders||Twin-charged I4|
|Peak Horsepower||295 hp @ 5,400 rpm|
|Peak Torque||310 lb-ft @ 2,100–4,800 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.0 / 8.7 / 9.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||613 / 1,410 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2022 Volvo XC60 B6 Inscription|
|Price as Tested||$77,765|
$13,200 – Premium Stereo, $3,750; Advanced Package, $2,900; Adaptive Air Suspension, $2,350; Massaging Front Seats, $1,300; Climate Package, $1,000; Y-Spoke 20-inch Alloy Wheels, $1,000; Silver Dawn Metallic Paint, $900