Many vehicles promise to be all things to all people, but the 2014 Volvo XC60 is the rare ride that actually delivers.
Look at what this luxury crossover offers: Safety? Hey, it's a Volvo. The crash-test results are just about perfect. Comfort? Four adults can lounge all day in the XC60's roomy cabin. Performance? The optional turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder has you covered with its healthy 300-horsepower output. Styling? Thanks to a sleek exterior and Volvo's distinctive interior design, the XC60 is one of the coolest crossovers around.
What more could you want? Well, maybe something a little more inspiring than the base 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder, which lacks a sense of urgency. Better fuel economy would be welcome, too. And ... we're struggling here. Put it this way: If you're looking for a well-rounded luxury crossover, you'll be hard-pressed to do better than an XC60.
What's New for 2014?
The XC60 receives new front-end styling with LED running lights, a new rear fascia, quicker shifts and shift paddles for T6 AWD and R-Design models, a new steering wheel, revised interior trim, a TFT instrument-cluster display (except the base 3.2) and a torque-vectoring stability control system. There's also a smattering of new convenience and safety features.
What We Like
Excellent crash-test scores; strong optional turbocharged engine; accommodating back seat; easy on the eyes; plenty of cargo space
What We Don't
Mediocre base engine; forgettable fuel economy
The XC60 3.2 model is powered by a 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The all-wheel-drive T6 gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder, which is good for 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The R-Design shares the T6's fundamentals but turns up the boost to 325 hp and 354 lb-ft.
Every XC60 comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, which may not be the best device for maximizing fuel economy. The 3.2 gets a so-so 18 miles per gallon city/26 mpg hwy (18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive), while the turbocharged XC60 models drop to 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. A number of crossovers in this size and weight class are more efficient than the Volvo.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Volvo XC60 is offered in three trim levels: 3.2, T6 and T6 R-Design.
The base 3.2 ($35,765) comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a power driver's seat, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth, the Sensus infotainment system with a 7-in central screen, dual-zone automatic climate control and the 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine. It also comes with Volvo's City Safety system, which can bring the XC60 to a full stop at speeds under 15 miles per hour.
It's a big jump to the T6 ($42,465), but shoppers get a lot of bang for their buck. Not only does the T6 model add 60 hp to the 3.2, but it also includes standard all-wheel drive, a power sunroof, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat and a TFT instrument cluster with three modes (Elegance, Eco and Performance).
Topping the XC60's range is the T6 R-Design ($46,715), which offers a sporty take on the T6. In addition to 25 more horsepower, it adds 20-in wheels and several other appearance features inside and out to give the XC60 a performance-oriented feel.
Three main option packages are available. The Premier Package is offered on the 3.2 only and adds enough features to equal the T6's equipment level. All models offer the Premier Plus Package, which includes a power lift gate, power-folding rear headrests, and front and rear obstacle detection. Topping the range is the Platinum Package, which includes navigation, a rearview camera and a 650-watt surround-sound audio system.
Volvo also offers a Climate Package, which boasts heated windshield washer nozzles, a heated windshield, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, and the Technology Package, which includes adaptive cruise control, the Road Sign Information System, a lane-departure warning system and a more advanced version of City Safety.
New for 2014, the Sport Package adds sport seats and 20-in alloy wheels to the 3.2 and T6 models, while the Inscription Package (T6 only) adds special soft leather upholstery, a black headliner, a leather-wrapped dashboard and front console, power lumbar support, unique wood inlays and Inscription door sill plates and floor mats.
The 2014 XC60 features standard stability control, six airbags and Volvo's City Safety system, which can bring the car to a full stop at speeds under 15 mph. The XC60 also boasts a long list of optional accident-avoidance technology, including the new Road Sign Information System, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
Six airbags may not seem like many, but remember that the crash tests are what count, and the XC60 aced them. In government crash testing, the XC60 scored a perfect five stars in all impact categories. Similarly, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the XC60 its top rating of Good in every category.
Behind the Wheel
The XC60's front seats aren't as stellar as those in the S60 sedan, but they're close. Volvo's trademark combination of simplicity and long-distance support is certainly present in these chairs. From the driver's perspective, the dashboard is brilliant, too, featuring premium materials and the "floating" slim-line center panel, which looks like something out of an avant-garde design magazine. Ergonomics are satisfactory, with extra points awarded for Volvo's neat airflow controls.
The XC60's back seat is more adult-friendly than many in this class, and the integrated 2-stage child booster seats are a notable kid-friendly option. Fold back down the versatile 40/20/40 split rear seat and you'll enjoy 67.4 cu ft of cargo space -- a robust figure for a vehicle of this type. Even with the seat back fully in place, there's still 30.8 cu ft of room behind it.
On the road, the XC60 has the quiet, smooth ride that luxury shoppers expect, and the view from the driver's seat is appropriately commanding. What's unexpected is the XC60's handling prowess, which blows up the stereotype of the stodgy, conservative Volvo family vehicle. There's real athleticism in the way the XC60 moves. And for 2014, the revised stability control system with Corner Traction Control distributes power to the outside wheel(s) for reduced understeer and better control. The XC60 is right up there among the most satisfying crossovers to drive.
As for the engine choices, we're not fans of the base 3.2-liter unit, as it's rather noisy and not particularly energetic. If you can justify the expense, we strongly recommend stepping up to the T6's turbocharged motor, which delivers authoritative performance. As for the R-Design's extra 25 hp, we didn't really notice them. So if you upgrade to the R, make sure you're sold on more than just the extra power.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi Q5 -- Smaller inside than the XC60, the Q5 nonetheless matches the Volvo's styling panache, and it's fun to drive, too.
BMW X3 -- The X3 boasts excellent power in turbocharged xDrive35i form, yet it gets better fuel economy than the sluggish XC60 3.2 AWD.
Cadillac SRX -- Boasting a standard 308-hp V6, the SRX is a distinctive luxury crossover that has some real substance to go with its style.
Get the T6 and avoid the 3.2-liter engine, but watch the expensive option packages. The base T6 comes loaded with kit for a reasonable price.