2010 Volvo XC60
Base price: $32,995 – $37,200
As tested: $42,250
MPG: 18 city/27 highway (3.2); 16 city/22 highway (T6)
- Safety features
- Great ride
- Lots of standard equipment
- Confusing array of buttons and controls
- Myriad bells and lights for safety equipment
- Can get pricey
By Jim Prueter
Volvo’s distinguishing feature has always been safety. While they’ve never had a reputation for being the most attractive vehicles on the road, they are thought of as the safest. With the introduction of City Safety as standard equipment on the new XC60 crossover, Volvo takes active safety systems to the next level.
Rear-end collisions account for 29 percent of all reported vehicle crashes in the U.S.; in about half of those, the driver has not applied the brakes at all prior to impact. City Safety is designed to work in stop-and-go traffic conditions, to help mitigate low-speed rear-end collisions or prevent them entirely. Here’s how it works:
Based upon the speed you are traveling and the distance to the vehicle in front of you, the system calculates the braking speed necessary to avoid a collision. If you, the driver, don’t react within the calculated time, the system takes over, applying the brakes and restricting the throttle.
While it would be unwise, for obvious reasons, to test City Safety out on the streets, I had the opportunity to give it a try at the Volvo proving grounds when the system was under development. Driving a vehicle equipped with City Safety, we followed another vehicle with what looked like a huge airbag suspended behind. We were instructed to follow at a close, but reasonable distance at low speed. When the lead vehicle applied the brakes, we were to let the system kick in.
Since it is counterintuitive to not brake when the car in front of you does, it took me a few tries to engage the system. However, when I was finally able to lay off the brake, City Safety performed admirably, applying the brakes on my behalf and reducing the severity of the impact — or avoiding it altogether. The XC60 is the first vehicle to come equipped with City Safety, but other models are expected to follow suit. It’s an innovative system that could help prevent countless collisions – if only every car driving behind you was also so equipped.
So, it’s safe. What else is there to say about the XC60? Perhaps bucking the Volvo trend, it’s also an attractive vehicle. It’s got a clean, sleek style atypical of its brand’s lineage and an interior that has an upscale feel with quality materials throughout. Metallic trim is standard; real oak trim is optional as is two-tone upholstery.
Front and rear seats are comfortable, and the rear seat is roomy enough for average-sized adults to be comfortable. Cargo space is an above average 67-cubic feet, and the rear seats split and fold in a 40/20/40 configuration.
The XC60 is available in two models: a 3.2 powered by a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower, and a T6 that gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged engine that puts out 281 horses. All-wheel drive is standard on the T6 and optional on the 3.2.
We drove the T6 and were very pleased with its performance. There was no sensation of lag or bucking upon heavy acceleration as we’ve experienced with other vehicles equipped with turbocharged engines. There is some body roll around corners, but overall the XC60 provides a comfortable, quiet ride that will please even the choosiest of drivers in the market for a small luxury crossover.
In terms of amenities, the XC60 does not disappoint. Power driver’s seat, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel mounted controls, USB and auxiliary inputs for the audio system, satellite and HD radio, 17-inch alloy wheels and foglamps are all standard on the base model. Upgrade to the T6 and you’ll also get 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating and a power passenger’s seat, all of which are available on the 3.2 with the purchase of the Premium Package. Climate ($1000; includes heated front and rear seats), Convenience ($1000; ParkAssist, power tailgate), and Multimedia ($2700, premium sound system, navigation system, park assist camera) systems are also available. Standalone options include integrated booster seats, dual screen rear-seat entertainment system and xenon headlamps.
Our tester came equipped with the Multimedia package. The only real complaint here is the not-so-intuitive controls. It took a good two days of searching to realize that the controls for the nav system are located behind the steering wheel. And even once we discovered them, we found the controls to be cumbersome and irritating to operate. There are much simpler systems on other vehicles we’ve tested; this was a real disappointment. On the bright side, it is a bit easier to operate using the supplied remote control.
We’ve discussed City Safety here in-depth, but the XC60 comes loaded with other safety features worth mentioning. Dynamic stability traction control, roll stability control, tire pressure monitoring system and a full complement of airbags are standard. You can also add the Technology Package ($1700) and get adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system with auto brake, distance alert, lane-departure warning system and driver alert control.
The lane departure system warns you if you stray over the marked lines in the road. In development, but not yet available is a system that will detect oncoming traffic, signal a warning if you are about to depart from your lane, and then auto steer you back into line if you fail to react to the warning.
Driver alert control aims to alert drowsy drivers from falling asleep behind the wheel by monitoring your movements between the line markers. If it senses the car drifting or driving in an otherwise uncontrolled manner, an audible beep attempts to keep you alert. If you find all of these bells and whistles more distracting than helpful, most systems can be deactivated.
While there’s no doubt that you will be safe in a Volvo, the XC60 shows that you can also be comfortable and travel in style.