Good design is timeless – case in point is Volvo’s XC60 SUV.
It has been mildly facelifted for 2022, but the second generation of the Swedish mid-sizer still has the largely unchanged core styling (inside and out) that first lobbed back in 2017. It remains impressively fresh and contemporary.
For its facelift, the headline change is that all versions feature electrified propulsion, be it in so-called mild-hybrid form or as a more serious PHEV. The diesel option has also been dropped for good.
The other notable news in XC60-land is more evidence of Volvo’s migration to an Android Automotive connectivity ecosystem. And with that, no Apple CarPlay (well, not yet at least).
Our test vehicle is the penultimate variant of the current four-strong range, the 2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R-Design. Its effortlessly sporty styling hits the right marks, from its 21-inch wheels to its Nappa leather sports seats and mesh-look aluminium trim-work. Classy? You bet.
The B6 part of its nomenclature means that the sole R-Design version fits a higher-power version of 48-volt mild-hybrid petrol engine than the tamer B5 stuff fitted to the bottom half of the range.
With its sportier vibe comes improved performance, if without the elaborate supercharged/turbocharged/electric-motorised application of the new flagship Recharge Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Read more about the full range breakdown here.
Electrified, Google-centric motoring is currently the big selling point for a marque promising a transition to an all-electric line-up in the not-too-distant future. So, does the XC60 hybrid – mild or not – feel like a stop-gap measure? Or does it stack up well enough right now to serve long-term ownership nicely into the foreseeable future?
The B6 R-Design arrives at $82,490 plus on-road costs, which is up around $600 over the older non-hybrid version.
Too pricey? The base B5 Momentum version of the XC60 is $13k cheaper, at $69,490, followed by the similarly powered if more nicely appointed B5 Inscription at $76,490. The range-topping Recharge, which effectively replaces the old Polestar Engineered version, tops the line-up at $97,990.
Logical premium ‘Euro’ (and Brit) four-pot rivals include Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce ($79,450), Audi Q5 45 TFSI Sport quattro ($80,800), BMW X3 xDrive 30i ($89,900), Land Rover Discovery Sport R-Dynamic HSE ($83,050), Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic ($86,800), Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic HSE ($82,699), and Porsche Macan T ($91,500). Asian competition comes by way of the Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD in Luxury/Sport trim ($81,786) and Lexus NX350h F Sport ($77,900).
Our B6 R-Design arrives at $91,840 list as tested thanks to some judicious option box ticking. Fitted are a Climate Pack of headlight washers and a heated steering wheel ($400) and a Lifestyle Pack bringing a panoramic glass sunroof, rear tinted glass and premium-grade Harmon Kardon sound ($3600). Elsewhere, our tester is equipped with Four-C active air suspension ($2600), Advanced Air Cleaner ($500) and metallic white paintwork ($1950).
XC60 B6 R-Design highlights:
- 21-inch alloy wheels
- Nappa leather/vinyl/textile upholstery
- Aluminium pedals
- Electric front sport seats with lumbar and cushion adjustment
- ‘Metal Mesh’ aluminium interior trim
That builds atop what is offered elsewhere in the XC60 range, including:
- LED headlights with active bending function
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 9.0-inch portrait-style touchscreen infotainment system
- Google smartphone integration
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Wireless phone charging
- 10-speaker 220W sound system
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
- Power-adjustable front seats with four-way power lumbar
- Four-zone climate control
- 360-degree camera system
- Ambient lighting
- Keyless entry and start
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Rain-sensing wipers
…Well, it’s a Volvo. What do you expect?
The Volvo XC60 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, covering all powertrains past and present bar the plug-in hybrids, which remain unrated.
The XC60 achieved an adult occupant protection score of 98 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 87 per cent, a pedestrian protection score of 76 per cent, and a safety assist score of 95 per cent. Pretty outstanding on a few counts there.
All Volvo XC60 models come standard with:
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection
- Reversing AEB
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Lane-keep assist with oncoming lane mitigation
- Lane centring
- Run-off road mitigation
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic sign recognition
- Surround camera system
- Front and rear parking sensors
The XC60 also has front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags.
While visible facelift changes are subtle enough to miss if you squint, the XC60 remains one of the cleanest and classiest designs out there. Your author is a big fan… of most of it.
The cabin ambience is rich and upmarket, with maturity that some digital flash-obsessed German rivals struggle to match. In many ways it’s not the most futuristic vibe but for certain tastes the thematic subtlety is much more appealing than some of the neon-lit, gin palace-like SUV alternatives out there.
Material choice and solidity are top notch, be it the plastics, metal finishes or the quality and tactility of the various trim materials. Volvo mints a cabin design that’s been at the forefront of the increasingly trendy minimalist approach for quite some while now.
Those R-Design front pews look fantastic. Thing is, they’re quite snug fitting and stiffly padded and it takes a lot of fiddling with the myriad electric adjustment to find a setting relaxed enough for long-haul comfort. Perhaps the more leisurely formed seats fitted elsewhere in range might suit some buyer tastes better.
The digital driver’s screen is large, clear and nicely uncomplicated. You can essentially toggle between minimalist and navigation mapping-type display skins in a format that’s simpler than some premium displays out there.
I’ve long liked Volvo’s choice of portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment. Its modest 9.0-inch display increasingly appears a little on the small size against big-screen rivals and it seems the second-gen XC60’s particular dash fascia design won’t allow enlargement without serious remodelling.
Usability wise, the swipe feature to change screen content is oh-so handy, though annoyingly many of the car’s system adjustments – like the switch for the idle stop/start system, for example – are buried a little too deep in sub-menus.
An Android Automotive integrated universe, with no available Apple CarPlay too? Hmmm…
While I appreciate that committing to the Google-based ecosystem might bring a depth of connectivity benefits, from Google Play apps to over-the-air updates, simply omitting a convenient plug-and-play screen-mirroring feature for we iPhone users is an annoying put-off.
You do get fully formed Google navigation mapping in Android Automotive, but then again Google maps and navigation are available using Apple CarPlay anyway.
Perhaps the saving grace is that Bluetooth phone and media streaming hurdles some Apple phone connectivity shortcomings – you can still make calls and stream music. However, at times the Apple wireless connectivity can drop out. C’mon Volvo: just add CarPlay and be done with it.
Other quirks? The XC60 demands two key fobs. And it helps facilitate everything from remote keyless starts to the aforementioned over-the-air Android Automotive updates. But, jeez, they take up a lot of pocket space in your pants.
Other stuff? The novel twist start/stop dial is a neat point of difference, but the whole sliding panel system that effectively helps secure your phone above the horizontal inductive charging pad is a good idea in theory that just does not work well in practice.
Storage is good, though you can’t use the cupholders and the phone capturing slider panels at the same time.
Device power for MY22 is now USB-C rather than the older -A format, and there’s one in the decent-sized console bin that you’ll inevitably use for housing/powering your phone (ditto for using as a cubby for the bulky dual-key fobs). The door bins and glovebox are both quite well sized and practical.
Row two offers ample roominess for adults in the outboard positions and, typical of its segment, it’s usable if slightly squeezy accommodation for three adults across. Seating is relaxed and comfy – perhaps more-so than the front seats – and the four-zone climate control, aka proper dual-zone in the rear, works fantastically well with air vents situated in the B-pillars.
Outboard ISOFIX anchors and three top-tether points means the XC60 is fully fit for child seat and capsules. Plus, the mid-sizer fits Volvo’s brilliant height-adjustable integrated booster seats, that pop up from either side of the seat base cushions, eliminating the need for the usual additional booster seat hardware for youngsters who need them.
Boot space is 505 litres as a five-seater, converting to 1432L with the rear seats stowed. That’s decent rather than class-leading, though as a two-seater it’s quite a flat load area. Further, the floor is a little high in order to house the space-saver spare and air suspension hardware, and there are handy suspension height adjustment controls in the driver’s side luggage space wall so that you can tune the height of the load space to taste if need be.
Annoyingly, the auto tailgate functionality isn’t faultless. It failed to open with the requisite foot gesture when your author really needed it, lugging a large slab of bottled water into the boot at the supermarket.
The ‘B’ in Volvo nomenclature designates a mild-hybrid power. That’s the key difference to the older combustion-only Ts (petrol) and Ds (diesel), though T has been used on its plug-in hybrid models too – though with the additional Twin Engine moniker to distinguish its added electrified bits. So, what separates the B6 in the R-Design from the B5 power units lower in the range?
The B5-spec, as fitted to Momentum and Inscription variants, uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance via an IGSM, or integrated starter generator module. It produces 183kW and 350Nm.
The B6 in the R-Design is the same but adds a so-called E-Charger. Some references describe this as supercharging; although, instead it actually introduces an electrically-driven compressor to further aid internal combustion. Result? A healthier 220kW and 420Nm.
Comparative benefit. Volvo quotes 6.9-second 0-100km/h performance for B5 and 6.2s for the B6. The penalty for the extra oomph is in economy, where B5’s 7.6L/100kms plays B6’s 8.0L/100km neat. Both ‘B’ engines have an eight-speed automatic and mechanical all-wheel drive.
The flagship Recharge (plug-in) Hybrid drive is quite different. Its related 2.0-litre engine is turbo and supercharged with eight speeds and front-wheel drive, adding an electric motor to exclusively drive the rear axle. It yields 340kW/709Nm with a rather impressive 4.8s 0-100 acceleration and frugal 1.6L/100km consumption, with a claimed 90km EV-only range.
Steel spring suspension is standard on B6 R-Design, though as mentioned, our tester fits the $2600 optional air suspension system.
At 1886kg (tare) in its lightest configuration, our tester fast approaches two tonnes at the kerb. It’ll tow a decent 2400kg braked and its fuel tank is 71 litres.
Motoring has had a patchy history with heavy luxury SUVs powered by boosted two-litre petrol fours, and while driveability across the board improves with time, there’s still big discrepancy between the good and the merely make-do – the Volvo’s B6 is certainly one of the best.
Acceleration is brisk and downright punchy, the turbo four feeling amply energetic yet refined and pleasant – even when called to arms. In truth, it’s very difficult to detect whether the electric compressor focuses on filling in the low-end response for extra off-the-line torque, or if it’s blossoming the top end. From the seat of the pants, I suspect it’s both.
In short, it feels like a larger capacity power unit than it actually is and fulsome enough for the task at hand. Better yet, the engine rides enough torque across the board that it never feels caught short for kickdown punch or overtaking pep, and it brings a properly premium vibe at a light-throttle cruise. Driveability is a B6 R-Design strong suit.
It’s not perfect, though. Occasionally it’s a touch tardy in throttle response, but not to any major degree. The same can be said of the eight-speed automatic: 98 per cent of the time it’s a pillar of polite and smooth shifting, but in rare situations it gets a little nippy and can hunt around a little too enthusiastically.
One of the XC60’s other quirks is the transmission controller, that demands double tapping in order to toggle between Drive and Reverse. It takes some getting used to lest you constantly keep finding Neutral (one tap) or Manual (three taps), particularly when parking or doing three-point turns.
Surprisingly for its sporty focus, there are no performance or sport drive modes. The steering can be adjusted through three assistance settings – its default light setting is perfectly fine all-round – while the air suspension can be set to either Standard or Firm.
In Standard, ride comfort is quite decent. Despite some minor thudding across road expansion joints and speed bumps, the XC60 does a good job of smoothing out progress. That’s despite its large 21-inch wheels and Pirelli P Zero rubber – this wheel/tyre combo gives the Volvo a lot of grip, especially in the dry.
Body control could be a little more disciplined, with a bit of evident wobble entering or exiting driveways. Setting the air suspension to firm does tighten up that body control without the ride becoming so terse as to rob from the Volvo’s nice upmarket luxury vibe.
Frankly, the B6 R-Design’s character is strictly ‘smart casual’ and never really drums up much in the way of keen sportiness. There’s nothing about it that encourages you to go chasing twisty backroads, but then again there’s nothing unruly about a character that ideally fits daily-driven, family hauling duties.
Most of the XC60’s safety systems seem to work predictably and transparently, though the reversing AEB did trigger unexpectedly while backing into the home’s car space once. The overhead surround camera view does take some getting used to and its ‘surrounding environment’ display isn’t great in the dark.
Volvo covers its local range with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever comes first. Volvo offers two servicing packages, with its three-year/45,000km package costing $1750, while a longer five-year/75,000km bundle costs $3000.
That 8.0L/100km combined consumption claim? It’s a little optimistic. On test, our B6 R-Design would dip below double figures but it wasn’t all that interested in staying there short of long highway stints on cruise control.
The B6 R-Design version of the updated Volvo XC60 is hugely likeable.
Stylish, suitably upmarket, notably different to the usual German alternatives, and in many ways more appealing on many different levels.
It does have its quirks, but most are easy to acclimatise to and collectively bring a certain – and perhaps uniquely Swedish – charm. Sure, there are some annoyances, but there’s nothing in the XC60 experience your author sees as anything like a deal-breaker.
As seductive as the sportiest mild-hybrid version is, the jury is out as to whether it’s the sweetest spot in the range. By the seat of the pants, the extra pace it seems to bring is worth its upcharge, though we’d have to compare B6 power against the tamer B5 version to reveal what you lose without the former’s E-Charger engine trickery.
An electrified XC60? It seems to work a treat and the model feels improved and more evolved because of it. Even if there’s very little about its mild-hybrid technicalities that contribute to electric propulsion or improved real-world economy.
Further, at its $92k as tested, our subject is fast approaching the $98k ask for the whiz-bang plug-in Recharge flagship that’s measurably quicker and much more eco-sensible.
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