Volvo built a good chunk of its reputation for durability with its rugged station wagons, which were said to be built like trucks. It still makes wagons, although it has expanded its horizon to include the Volvo XC60, a Crossover Utility Vehicle, which serves the same purpose as a wagon in a different way.
The truck identification was a natural one, because the Swedish company originally was a manufacturer of trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles as well as automobiles. Today Volvo is part of China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Fortunately, the new owner elected to let Volvo be Volvo. The cars are as Swedish as ever -- except for the truck chassis that legend said underpinned the old station wagons.
Volvo is also famous for its dedication to safety, including the invention of the three-point seat belt in 1959 and the rear facing child car seat in 1964. That reputation endures, though with government safety rules most other car companies have caught up and some have even surpassed Volvo, whose name is Latin for "I roll".
With 2014 sales of 56,366, Volvo continues as a minor player in the U.S. market. But it has a dedicated band of fans, many of whom would not consider anything else. There now are six variations: four series of sedans and wagons, and the two crossover utility vehicles.
The XC60 is a midsize, five-passenger crossover with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive -- not a bad configuration in an era when compact and midsize crossovers are on track to become the biggest automotive category.
The XC60 is aimed at buyers of premium vehicles with price starting at $37,125 -- that's for the T5 version with FWD and a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
Our tester, the XC60 T6 AWD is powered by a 300-hp turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 325 lb-ft of torque. City/highway/combined fuel consumption is 17/24/20 mpg.
It has a starting price of $43,325. But the tester was a Platinum version, a $4,400 option. Along with other extras, the sticker price came to $52,225, which puts it in the premium/luxury category given the equipment.
The list is long and features a host of modern safety equipment with the usual stability and traction control, along with adaptive cruise control; collision warning with full braking, including pedestrian and bicycle detection; lane departure warning; blind spot detection, rear park assist camera and cross traffic alert.
Purely luxury touches include some of the best seats in the business, leather covered of course. There's a panoramic glass sunroof with a powered sunshade, steering wheel covered in silk and leather, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outside power mirrors, electronic parking brake, power tailgate, pushbutton starting, power folding rear headrests, premium audio, garage door opener and Volvo's Sensus connectivity system with navigation.
On the road, the XC60 performs competently. The conventional six-speed automatic transmission also has a manual mode operated by paddles on the steering column. It shifts smoothly either way.
The suspension system is biased toward a comfortable ride, augmented by the excellent, well bolstered front seats -- a Volvo trademark. Yet the XC60 drives like a smaller vehicle and has decent handling. A quibble: Sun visors do not extend to block sunlight from the side.
With the fully competitive XC60, Volvo has traveled a long way from its truck-like station wagons. With limited production, it offers exclusivity with Swedish cachet.
Copyright © 2015 Motor Matters
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