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by Tony West and Sommer Thornton
For 2016 Volvo offers up a refreshed XC60 with a familiar exterior, refined powertrain and luxury interior.
Volvo is prepping to stunt in 2017 starting with its illustrious Inscription Package to deck out its XC60. And the XC90 Signature already has car fans in awe with its pristine performance and immaculate interior.
The exterior visual of the XC60 is typical though, not changing much since 2014. Volvo retains a boxy look that gives it more cargo room, but now the CUV sits low with a wider more raked windshield. The true beauty of the Volvo is in its performance, and its sophisticated interior.
The 2016 XC60 is offered with three powertrain options, the $36k T5 FWD features a 2 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged and supercharged engine with 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The $41k T5 AWD boasts a 2.5 liter 5-cylinder turbocharged engine, and the $43k T6 AWD has a 2 liter turbocharged and supercharged engine.
We reviewed the 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 all-wheel drive E, the classy CUV that could emerge at the top of its class.
Sophisticated Design with new Low-Key Flair
The design of the 2016 Volvo XC60 is very similar to the previous 2 models. I was a little disappointed. Luckily there are subtle enhancements that give the CUV a touch of new style. The grille looks bigger and Volvo sign more prominent. And the CUV now has standard vertical LED daytime running lights, dual halogen headlights, and a dope tail light design.
The XC60 T5 boasts 18-inch Pan alloy wheels. New 18-inch Leda alloy wheels are fitted to T6 models while the top-notch XC60 T6 R-Design has 20-inch Ixion alloy wheels. A wider front fascia with new front skid plates trick out the front while new rear skid plates, a chrome strip on the tailgate and dual tailpipes trick out the rear.
I also like the heated power folding outside mirrors, power liftgate, and dual panoramic sunroof. Volvo should consider some more drastic updates to its exterior design. Aside from the more raked windshield that makes the whip feel like you’re pushing a spaceship, the whip still a sleeper from the outside. Exterior lighting that includes new puddle lamps look cool at night. But the CUV should have even more new swag, like chrome grille, deep air intakes, and more muscle lines on the side.
The XC60 “R” Design tries to give the CUV a swag boost with 20 inch wheels and twin chrome tailpipes. The XC60 R also retains the smooth silk metal finish to outside mirror housings, trim moldings, and skid plates.
Refined Powertrain has Start-Stop tech on Steroids
I like the performance of the 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD. It’s well-balanced, powerful and clean. Three engine options are offered that power this SUV like a luxury sedan. The T6 AWD with Drive-E technology boasts an ultra-efficient 2 liter 4-cyliinder if you can believe it. The turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder has 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Volvo’s R&D engineers in Sweden employed advanced fuel-saving technology when developing Drive-E engines including friction reduction, advanced boosting and combustion, thermal management, and variable valve timing.
The XC60’s performance can go from tranquil to thrilling and robust. The combination of a supercharger and turbocharger is magnificent in the Volvo XC60 getting up fast from a standing start, and attacking the road with a push of the gas. The supercharger gives the whip the initial push and the turbocharger kicks in when airflow builds up.
Eco+ is the exclusive Drive-E fuel-saving technology that optimizes shift point, engine control and throttle response. For 2016 Eco+ includes Start/Stop technology that still needs to be refined. Volvo could learn a thing or two about start/stop tech from Toyota and Ford. Start/Stop in the XC60 shuts down the engine at 4 mph, which makes it difficult to make left turns. It shuts off as the CUV comes to a stop, so I had to accelerate through a turn, even when I was close behind another car. And the XC60 rolled back when stopped on an incline.
Also part of the Eco+ gift and curse, Eco Coast will release the engine brake when I take my foot off of the accelerator, so I can’t roll to a stop. And Eco Climate disconnects the air conditioning compressor. But I don’t like to have to restart my a/c because it auto-shut off. Thankfully most of the annoying eco functions can be disabled with the press of a button. At first I hated having the Start/Stop functions on, but I decided to turn them back on halfway through the review because the Drive-E technology saves the XC60 a ton of gas and contributes to the CUVs amazing 22 mpg combined EPA -27 mpg highway, 19 mpg city.
Once the Eco+ functions are disabled, the XC60 runs like spaceship floating down the highway, and now more nimble. The XC60 T5 features a 6 speed Geartronic Automatic Transmission. And the T6 AWD XC60 we reviewed features an 8 speed Geartronic automatic transmission with Advanced Quickshift. Extra gears allow for the powerplant to operate at peak efficiency. The 8 speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts for excellent drivability with reduced noise.
The XC60 is also offered with a race-inspired R-Design featuring a 3.0 liter turbocharged 6 cylinder engine with 325 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. The R-Design’s chassis employs stronger damping and more direct steering feel that allows the driver to benefit from more dynamic driving and more responsive traction. The R-Design also features standard Advanced Quickshift.
Volvo’s All-wheel Drive with Instant Traction is phenomenal in the XC60 T6. The advanced all-wheel drive system transfers power to the wheels with the best grip in rain, snow and mud. I was driving fast on the highway over a patch of iced rain and the XC60 floated over it, quickly correcting the wheels.
MacPherson Strut front suspension and rear multilink suspension keep the steel caged XC60 sturdy and resilient over adverse terrain. Touring Chassis features advanced stability control that prevents roll-overs and reduces trailer sway. The XC60 also has Power-Assisted Rack and Pinion Steering in its arsenal. And sturdy 4-wheel disc brakes stop on a dime, making the CUV feel light on its feet.
The performance of the 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD is one of its many bragging points. The whip is fun on the road with fundamental safety enhancements that give the driver more confidence at high speeds and in bad weather. With Drive-E technology fully enabled, the XC60 is efficient like a hybrid sedan.
Classy Interior with Abundant Safety and Infotainment Tech
Inside the 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD is a leather trimmed cabin spacious up front, with abundant tech for comfort and safety.
What’s missed with the exterior freshness is captured inside with standard stylish cues. Leather upholstery is standard with an 8-way power driver’s seat and leather and silk metal steering wheel. Keyless entry with welcome lighting is also standard along with push-button start. The heated power outside mirrors auto fold when I park, and as I approach they illuminate with other exterior lighting. The mirrors extend when I unlock the car.
Drivers have a heated seats and a heated steering wheel. I like the laminated dual panoramic sunroof and metal and wood accents. Volvo is known for possessing a unique touch of class, and the XC60 successfully marries a sophisticated layout with advanced infotainment.
Among the XC60’s roster of luxurious cabin appointments is the standard leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, aluminum inlays, off-black dash top, wood décor trim on the front door panels, cloth covered B-pillars, metal trim around the air vents, Quartz headliner, and front door sill plates.
The Inscription Package ($2,300) steps up the luxury even more adding perforated soft Sovereign Hide leather seats with Linear Walnut wood inlays, leather covered dashboard, inscription aluminum door sill plates, leather front console cover, and an anthracite black headliner.
The R-Design interior adds unique split leather upholstery with embossed “R” insignia on the seats, and steering wheel. The “R” XC60 T6 also includes specially designed aluminum inlays, sport pedals, instrument cluster and floor mats. The “R” XC60 also has standard steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Drivers sits low in this driver-focused cabin. But with a raked windshield, drivers see more of the road ahead because they driver’s eye line is higher in the cabin. The sweeping convex front area allows for a lot of legroom for the front passengers, but less in the rear. And with a large center stack, the front seating is narrower.
The XC60 is honestly more ideal for female drivers or slimmer male drivers. A husky person may find it harder to get comfy behind the wheel. And the rear has little legroom for a tall person if the front passengers are also tall. But the rear seat does have a child seat converter.
Every XC60 receives an instrument cluster with the adaptive digital TFT display standard on the T6 and R-Design models, and available on the T5 with the Platinum Package.
The digital dash on the T6 we reviewed isn’t truly configurable, but it’s still pretty dope. I’m a fan of the car illustration with red icons depicting the passenger and door status. The instrument panel also displays helpful info like fuel consumption, average fuel economy, coolant temperature, voltage power, speed limit icon, and time, gear, outside temperature, trip, and speed.
Another cool feature is a subtle beep the XC60 makes when I’m approaching a high speed in a speed zone. It’s a great example of Volvo being a step ahead of many of its peers on predictive safety technology. The XC60 also has a red light in windshield where a heads up display would be, that blinks constantly to tell me that I’m driving too close to a car ahead. This is part of the Distance Alert system. The problem with this annoying function is that it uses a sensor in the front of the car to measure the proximity of the car I’m following and determines from only this that I’m – I guess traveling too fast, or need to brake. I’m not sure. That’s part of my issue with it. The red light blinks every few seconds, but doesn’t utilize the rear sensors to take account of the distance vehicles are that follow. If I tapped my brakes every time that light went off, I would cause an accident. The light is virtually useless without communication to the driver. It’s not known from a blinking light if the driver should break hard, break gently, if they should heed a speed warning, or what. It’s like an old grandma who tells me I’m going to fast when there’s no cars near me and I’m just going 30 mph.
The XC60’s interior also has standard dual-zone climate control, 40/20/40 folding rear seats, aux and iPod inputs, voice command, HD radio, Bluetooth, and Volvo Sensus Connect.
The heated steering wheel is multifunctional with controls for cruise control on the left and sound and navigation controls on the right. It’s really cool how drivers can access voice command, scroll radio stations, and zoom in and out on navigation all from the steering wheels.
The center stack of the XC60 T6 is nearly identical to the previous years. The layout looks great, clean and classy. But there’s too much real estate given to the dial pad. Who still uses a dial pad in a car when most people have a phone and a digi pad on a touch screen?
Climate and sound and navigation controls are pushed to the 4 edges. And the remaining most important buttons for climate, navigation and safety features form a perimeter around the useless dial pad and the cool looking climate level control.
What’s silly that my Start/Stop button is placed next to the heated steering wheel button that’s adjacent to the lane departure button. Why aren’t the climate buttons grouped all together, instead of the AC button being next to the “Cam” button, and under the navigation buttons?
The center stack also features a 7 inch color LCD monitor with for navigation, settings, and the 8 speaker sound system. The acoustics work so well with the pristine sound system that when a car alarm went off next to me I simply rolled up my window and even with my radio low, I couldn’t hear a peep.
Navigation is just okay in the XC60 because it doesn’t show all of the street signs and there are so many icons sometimes it takes up too much space in the visual. It should allow for drivers to zoom in more.
The XC60 is also a Wi-Fi hotspot and features Sensus Connect that includes an internet browser, on-screen owners’ manual, and cloud-based apps Pandora, Stitcher, Yelp and more.
Safety Features Integrate with Comfort Tech
Safety technology is a home-run for the XC60, helping it compete well with the Mazda, Toyota, and Ford SUVs, and peek its head in the luxury CUV arena.
The XC60 is offered standard with Corner Traction Control with Torque Vectoring. This technology made its debut on the Volvo S60 as a further refinement of Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control. The system makes it easy to smoothly maintain the desired line on winding roads and on wet surfaces. When curving, the brakes are applied to the inner driving wheels while more power is transferred to the outer driven wheels. This enables the driver to take the curve more lightly while reducing understeer. So no two-wheel motion while cornering, but I can maintain a smooth speed without having to hit the gas again.
City Safety with low speed collision avoidance is also standard on the XC60 T6. Using a closing velocity sensor the XC60 will determine if a forward collision is imminent at speeds under 31 mph and auto-brake if needed.
Other standard features offered with the XC60 include electronic stability control, emergency brake assist, roll stability control, dope tunnel detection that shows a tunnel illustration on the LCD display, safe approach and home safe lighting, rear fog light with auto-off, whiplash protection seating and Volvo on Call emergency notification with a 6-month complimentary subscription.
The $4k Platinum Package on the XC60 T6 adds a slew of trippy features like the Harmon Kardon sound system, auto dimming rearview mirror and accent lighting, and includes safety tech like the lane departure warning, collision warning, cyclist detection & pedestrian detection all with full auto brake, road sign information, and Sensus Navigation with mapcare.
The $900 BLIS Package includes the blind spot info system, cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist, and road sign info. Even with more features offered with a Climate Package – $1,550, a Proximity Package- $1,500, and a $600 Convenience Package, the XC60 still offers up stand-alone options that make the XC60 a real after-market tailored vehicle.
The XC60 offers personalized options like sports seats, a dual screen rear entertainment system, a linear walnut or piano black wood inlay, metallic paint, and dual outboard child booster seats with power child rear door locks.
The 2016 XC60 looks boring on the outside but is really top-notch and classy on the inside. The XC60 also boasts a refined powertrain like no other CUV. And the whip isn’t too pricy with worthwhile add-ons that give it personalized luxury and style.