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2019 Volvo XC60 Ownership: Exceptionally Competent

The one thing I’ve noticed about the 2019 Volvo XC60 is that it’s overwhelmingly competent. Is that a compliment? Yes. For many car-buyers, it is the perfect midsize luxury SUV. If you want a comfortable, good-looking SUV with all the latest driver-assist features, this new XC60 is exactly right for you.


"Competent" sounds like a backhanded compliment to the XC60 but it’s exactly the kind of family car many people are looking for. It’s a luxurious, accommodating, tech-heavy SUV that has just enough fun to be rewarding, but not so much razor-sharp aggression that it beats you up. One thing I notice right away is that the XC60 is quick. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine makes 250 horsepower, which is a fair amount and about the same as a similarly equipped Audi Q5 or BMW X3. One odd thing — I’ve been driving this Volvo for about three weeks (mostly just daily commuting) and I never push the accelerator past about a third of the way down, even when merging onto the freeway. The power comes on fairly early and it just never requires the kind of heavy-footed driving that’s so rewarding in many American SUVs.


One thing about that driver-assist tech — Volvo’s terminology is Pilot Assist and it does exactly what the name suggests, it "assists" the driver. If you find terms like "self-driving," "automated" or "autonomous cars" confusing, drive a Volvo with Pilot Assist and you will instantly get it. The car doesn’t drive itself, but you can see how it might one day. Plus, using the assist features takes some of the stress out of driving.

The Pilot Assist seamlessly guides you down the highway, interfering only when it senses you drifting or getting too close to the car ahead. Other cars do this with a "lane departure prevention" feature or forward-collision braking, but almost all others (except Nissan and Mercedes-Benz) feel intrusive. It truly feels like an assist and not something that totally takes over.


The exterior look of the redesigned XC60 is one of its strong points. The proportions are just right, the wheels are contemporary and stylish, and both the headlight and taillight treatment add to the SUVs high-end vibe. The XC60 also has a substantial look versus some other midsize SUVs like the Acura RDX and the Audi Q5 — somehow the Volvo looks more prominent and even larger than it really is.

Bottom line, the 2019 Volvo XC60 does a great job of splitting the difference between an all-out performance SUV and a useful family car.

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