Road Test Reviews, Vehicles, Volvo

2010 Volvo XC60 3.2 AWD – Road Test

It’s been a while since I’ve driven a Volvo CUV, so when the opportunity came up to take the all-new XC60 for a week I jumped at the chance. I’d eyeballed the XC60 from the moment I spotted it at the auto show last year and every time I saw one on the road it grabbed my attention right away. It’s definitely one of the best looking CUV’s on the road at the moment – but what’s it like to live with on a day to day basis?

Oddly enough every time I get a Volvo CUV, it happens to be winter and this year was no exception…. This time it was between snowstorms – but we had plenty of time to test out the bum warmers and other winter-related items with temperatures in the -5c to -15c range.

First Impressions
First and foremost in light of the weather – the 3-stage seat heaters were very good. One thing I really liked about them was that the heater didn’t switch off once you turned off the vehicle. All too often you get back into car and have to scramble to find the button to switch them on.. for once I could get in and know that within minutes the seat would be nice and warm. It’s a small thing but a very welcome change from the normal.

Behind the wheel, you sit quite close to the dash and centre console – it took a bit of getting used to, but after a few trips it doesn’t seem so odd. I think the main purpose is to create a bigger area in the back for rear passengers. Personally, I think they could have taken it a little further because it looks quite tight in the knee and legroom department.

The rear doors appear to be on the small side, but in actual fact they are very well designed and offer plenty of room to get in and out – especially since they open almost 90 degrees. Once seated there’s plenty of legroom, foot and headroom – it’s very comfortable and I got nothing but praise from rear seat occupants. The rear seats are very adaptable with a 40/20/40 splitting rear seat. Each section can be folded independently as well as completely flat. Another bonus – and typical of Volvo – is that the front passenger seat folds forward as well, so that opens up a vast number of adaptable possibilities for cargo.

Rear cargo capacity is somewhat compromised because the rear hatch area drops off sharply, but again not as badly as you’d think from a first glance. With the rear seats up I measured 1,040mm x 1120mm with the height varying between 75 and 160mm for a total of 872 liters. Folding the rear seats forward improved the cargo area considerably to 1810mm x 1,120mm x 750mm and provides a capacity of 1,908 liters [67.4 cu.ft]. In a pinch, you could carry a long item (3m or 118”) such as a ladder if you folded the front passenger seat forward.

The XC60 is smaller than you imagine looking at it from a distance. Before driving it I would have thought it would be up against the likes of a BMW X5 or a Lexus RX450, but in actual fact it’s more like a Toyota RAV4 or Acura RDX or ZDX for comparison.

Setting off, the response is very good from the accelerator – sometimes too good! More than a few times it caught me out and passengers thought I had floored the throttle instead of just pressing it gently! Once up and running the XC60 feels very light and athletic – a lot probably has to do with the maximum torque coming in at a low-ish 3,200 rpm instead of the usual 4,500 or so that most non-turbo V-6 CUV’s are equipped with.

Cornering in the twisties is very impressive for a vehicle as tall as the XC60. Part of that may be down to the higher seating position, but the XC60 is definitely more on the sporty-side than many other CUV’s that are more luxury-oriented. The XC60 is a very solid feeling vehicle with body roll being very well contained; the suspension is tight yet supple at the same time – a very impressive piece of engineering.

Special Safety Features

The Volvo XC60 has one very unique safety feature that is simply outstanding in its design. According to Volvo, in 50% of all collisions below 30 km/h, the driver takes no action to avoid a collision. Think about that…. ½ of all drivers don’t even react before driving into someone!!! In typical Volvo fashion, something had to be done about it and they’ve come up with the City Safety feature – exclusive to and standard on the XC60 at the moment.

The City Safety feature reacts for those inattentive moronic drivers who are too busy texting and talking on their mobile phones – at speeds below 30 km/h, City Safety calculates the closing rate between the XC60 and the vehicle or object in front. If a collision is imminent and the driver takes no action to avoid it the City Safety automatically activates up to 50% braking power.

If the speed difference is less than 15 km/h, it’s possible that a collision can be avoided entirely and Volvo’s goal is to reduce the speed as much as possible prior to a collision… to the point of a full stop! That’s right… the car comes to a complete stop if the driver fails to react.

One caveat however, is that if the driver is still busy texting and the car comes to a complete stop… he/she will have to apply the brakes within 1.5 seconds or the car will move forward again. Maybe in the future Volvo could come up with a way to text someone that the vehicle is heading for a crash and driver input should be attempted.

Volvo provided me with a special pylon set-up to test the feature. Once I’d set them up, it was very strange to drive toward them, resisting the urge to brake. As long as the driver doesn’t brake or steer the car, the City Safety system remains on and brings the XC60 to a complete stop with a very distinct thump – certainly enough to get the attention of the negligent idiot behind the wheel. I tried the test several times and it works exceptionally well.

The Conclusion

I liked the CX60, but I really can’t understand where it fits into the automotive landscape. Volvo aren’t alone in this quest to give people a vehicle that is somewhere between useful and questionable. I’m thinking about the BMW X3, the Honda Crosstour and the Acura ZDX to name a few. It’s a beautiful vehicle, but what’s wrong with the Volvo V70 or the XC70 which are both in the same price range but offer more cargo space? Perhaps it’s as simple as the XC60 is much sexier to look at than the boxy V70 and XC70.


City Safety system
Safety features galore
Panorama roof

Smaller than expected
Cramped rear seat (legroom)

Immediate Competition
Acura RDX or ZDX, Mazda CX7, Subaru Tribeca

By The Numbers…

Pricing for the 2010 Volvo XC60 3.2 AWD
Base Price/ As Tested: $44,495
Destination & Delivery: $1,490

For more information visit: 
Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.

Powertrain:        3.2 L CVVT V-6; 6-speed Automatic transmission; AWD
Horsepower (Kw):     235 (175) @ 6,200 rpm
Torque lb-ft (N.m.):     236 (320) @ 3,200 rpm
0-100 kph:         8.6 seconds
Top Speed:         209 km/h

Curb Weight:         1,874 kg
Cargo Capacity:     Behind Front Seats: 1,908 liters (67.4 cu.ft)  //  Behind Rear Seats: 872 liters (30.8 cu.ft)
Towing capacity:     1,497 kg (3300 lbs)

Fuel Consumption: (Regular 87 Octane)

City: 14.7 L/100 kms  //  Highway: 10.7 L/100 kms
I averaged 13.0 L/100 kms during combined driving. The on-board computer said I averaged 12.6 L/100 kms during highway trips.

Copyright © 2010 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland & Volvo

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