2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
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Published on Sun, Jul 12, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story and photography by John Grafman
Times are a changing, and at a pace that’s staggering. What’s a car company to do? Volvo is a company with a strong history of being a leader in safety. Yet, almost every OEM today has a very strong focus on safety, from extensively engineered cabins using high strength steel safety cages, to tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), as well as whole host of automated collision avoidance systems, just like this Volvo XC60 T6 AWD.
The XC60 T6 AWD includes in the Technology Package (part of the optional $4,400 Platinum Package) advance features like Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning, and Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection with Auto Brake, Lane Departure Warning, and perhaps the best feature – Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist.
The Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) package also includes the useful Cross Traffic Alert (CTA), Lane Change Merge Aid (LCMA), and front and rear park assist. In other words, this has sensors all around, only slightly less data streaming in than the control tower at an international airport.
However, it’s tough when an important attribute, like safety, is no longer your sole domain. It seems most OEMs are jumping on the bandwagon. To Volvo’s credit, how many other companies have been so fortunate as to steer the conversation in a new direction, and make a positive global impact? Countless lives have been saved directly attributed to Volvo, and indirectly due to the brand as it pushed other OEMs to improve safety technology.
Given this current industry-wide focus on safety, how does one stand out from the pack? More importantly, does Volvo still have relevance if it isn’t seen as the “Smokey the Bear” of the auto industry?
As it stands, the Swedish company (now owned by Geely of China) has over the past few decades been creating a following as a manufacturer of pleasing, upscale, attractively, albeit conservatively designed cars and SUVs. This dates back to when Ford owned Volvo as part of the PAG. Thankfully, the 2015.5 XC60 follows in that same path.
The XC60 T6 AWD under our care still has all the safety we could ask for, and it’s light-years ahead of where the auto industry as a whole was just a dozen years ago. But rest assured, this SUV has plenty of other attributes.
The designers are showing great restraint by refraining from unnecessary clutter, and adding short-lived, trendy doo-dads when creating the XC60. While trendy styling might look good for the moment, the current, clean design will stay good looking for years to come, long after the fashion of the day has changed.
Punctuating the fluid, soft shape is the LEDs in the daytime running lamps and taillights, adding just the proper accent, or dare we say bling?
Indeed, this does have include a good selection of standard of luxury features including a laminated panoramic roof with power sunshade, keyless entry and drive, leather and silk metal steering wheel, rain sensing windshield wipers, electronic parking brake, 8-way power seats, and more.
One of the better assets of the XC60, and other Volvo products, is the Volvo On Call app for your phone. Beside useful features like locking/unlocking of doors, and remote starting, this has a couple other handy aspects, like the roadside assistance button, and the extremely smartly crafted driving journal, which is perfect for those that need to write-off the car as a business expense. The driving journal will log all aspects of the trips from when the engine turns on, until the driver shuts it down. All of these are clear and easy to use once set-up. Initially, it might take the assistance of a teenager to get it authorized the first time, but after that it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
The interior is also a welcome surprise showing the same moderation in design. Perhaps the grain on the dash is the only notable exception, and even that isn’t a far cry from the rest of the luxury styling. However, this demi-croc grain look isn’t bowling us over.
In addition, the interior trim still allows us to see the painted metal around the doors, yet not in an intentional way. Perhaps not the worst sin in the world, but it could use a bit more polish.
Without a third row of seats this cabin feels like there’s more room throughout. And, with the seats down in the rear the XC60 provides a healthy 67.4 cubic feet of storage.
The leather, two-tone seating of the optional sport seats ($500) breaks up the interior from being monotone without looking out of place, or tacky. The wood-grain trim pieces such as on the center console are handsome, but feel and sound plastic-like when tapped on. A premium product should look, sound, and feel like the real McCoy, and these pieces fall short in an otherwise nice presentation.
The controls are fairly straight forward, aside from the adjustments that are found on the stalks on either side of the steering wheel. Rotating the switches on the stalks bring forth different options on the center binnacle screen. While the stalk controls are by no means difficult to use, they do require the driver taking a hand off of the wheel.
A twist of the stalks switch changes the themes for the graphics on the adaptive digital TFT display, which range from a stately, luxury screen, to an eco-theme, and finally a sporty look. Each has different colors and graphic elements to differential one from the other.
The instrument panel gage cluster offers the driver a considerable amount of info to swallow, bordering on overload. But, over time it’s easy enough to digest. As distracted driving is a major concern, being able to provide key info in an easy to read manner is important, and the XC60 does a decent job.
Nearly all of the system controls, like NAV, media, radio, and phone, are found on push buttons on the center stack. Once again, it’s necessary to look away from the road in order to depress the correct button. If the buttons were at least of varying types it would be easier to operate without glancing over.
While I know it shouldn’t make a bit of difference, my driving behavior definitely altered when in the sport mode. Maybe it has to do with the red color, or maybe simply because the XC60 T6 AWD has got 302 ponies under the hood to get up and go.
The 325 lb-ft. of torque goes a long way to moving this appropriately sized SUV that stretches to 182.8 inches of length. The 3.0-liter, inline six with DOHC, 4-valve per cylinder, turbo and intercooling is pleasing, and wants to play. However, at 4,277 pounds, and a higher center of gravity, this is a sports car.
On the other hand, the XC60 T6 AWD 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds is enough to be competitive among other luxury SUVs. As this does behave with the standard Touring Chassis with Advanced Stability Control, ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, and Roll Stability Control (RSC), it doesn’t shy away from expressive driving. Nevertheless, the 118 MPH top speed is a reminder as to what the true purpose of this is.
The XC60 T6 AWD does feel reassuring as only an all-wheel drive vehicle can. Plus, the braking and steering also feel comfortable even when being pushed a bit harder. But, there’s no getting around it, this not my choice to take trough Decker Canyon.
The XC60 is sort of a jack-of-all-trades. It is dressy enough for more formal purposes, like a night out on the town, and yet is can haul around a family back from the beach and park, or even lug the guys around on a road trip for a few days. It’s hard not to like this as a do-it-all vehicle.
Sure, the fuel economy is pretty much what one would expect at 17 MPG in the city, and 24 on the highway. And, driving this with vigor won’t help those numbers. So, maybe this isn’t the best commuter car on the market.
The base price is also reasonable at $42,400, and slightly over $51K optioned up like this model.
The variety of SUVs in America is about as plentiful as sardines in a can, and the XC60 T6 AWD is just one more in this packed field. But, our guess is those at Volvo would still say it’s the “safe” bet!
For more information about Volvo products, go to volvocars.com/us
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Price: Base $42,400 as tested $51,175 Engine type: 3.0 Liter, inline six cylinder, DOHC, turbo with intercooler, cast iron block, aluminum alloy head EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway/ Combined: 17/24/20 Horsepower: 300 @ 5,600 rpm Torque: 325 lb.-ft @ 2,100 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine, transverse mounted / all-wheel drive Transmission type: Six-speed “Geartronic” driver adoptive automatic transmission Suspension: Front: McPherson struts with asymmetrically mounted coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Rear: Multi-link with coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar, cast aluminum subframe Wheels and tires: Front: 8” X 20” “Titania” alloy wheels, 255/45/20 tires Rear: 8” X 20” “Titania” alloy wheels, 255/45/20 tires Brakes: Front: 12.9” diameter Rear: 11.9” diameter 4-Channel ABS, Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), Optimized Hydraulic Brakes (OHB), Ready Alert Brakes (RAB), Fading Brake Support (FBS) Overall length: 182.8” Overall width: 74.4” Overall height: 67.4” Curb weight (lbs.): 4,277 0-60mph: 6.9 sec Top Speed = 118mph (limited)