Volvo XC60 balances performance, economy and comfort

The Volvo XC60 is Volvo’s entry in the mid-sized SUV field
The Volvo XC60 is Volvo’s entry in the mid-sized SUV field

Dale JohnsonThe 2022 Volvo XC60 is a mid-size, five-seater SUV powered by what’s called a “mild” hybrid system featuring a 48-volt battery to help improve fuel economy. It’s Volvo’s best-selling model, with annual sales in Canada close to the 2,000 unit mark.

This test vehicle had a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing a 310 hp engine mated to a hybrid system to improve fuel economy; it’s not designed to operate only on electric power. Volvo says it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km in 6.2 seconds.

According to Natural Resources Canada, it’s rated at 11.0 litres per 100 km in the city and 8.7 litres per 100 km on the highway.

The XC60 has a starting price of $51,450, putting it between the XC40 ($42,250) and the XC90 ($70,950). The XC60 is also between the two in size. With a wheelbase of 2,865 mm. (112 in.) and an overall length of 4,708 mm. (185 in.), the XC60 is 283 mm. (11 in.) longer than the XC40 and 245 mm (9.7 in) shorter than the XC90.

The Volvo XC60 is Volvo’s entry in the mid-sized SUV field
The Volvo XC60 is Volvo’s entry in the mid-sized SUV field

2-VolvoXC60-interior
Volvo’s traditions of safety and comfortable seats continues with the XC60. The transmission selector has a knob of Orrefors crystal – just one of the elegant touches in the Volvo
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My test vehicle was the B6 Inscription model, with a price of $75,650. Options included the $1,000 Climate Package (headlamp cleaners, heated rear seat and heated steering wheel); the $2,900 Advanced Package (heads up display, pilot assist, 360-degree camera, 12V outlet in the luggage area); the $1,300 massaging front seats; the $3,750 Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system; the $900 metallic paint; and the $1,000 alloy wheels.

I found the exterior styling attractive.

The best part was getting behind the wheel and settling into the ultra-comfortable Volvo seats. This would be the ideal vehicle for long-distance trips, especially with two drivers who could take turns behind the wheel. The driver would not feel fatigued from the seats, and the passenger could comfortably fall asleep. And what a place to snooze. The interior is quiet, classy and elegant. The gear shifter knob on the console is Orrefors crystal.

It’s an ideal size for both city driving and highway cruising. It’s nimble and easy to manoeuvre and park in urban areas, yet out in the country, it feels the right size; not too small and not too big.

However, while sitting behind the wheel is comfortable, it’s also confusing when it comes to simple tasks such as adjusting the climate controls or changing the radio stations. You have to make these adjustments through the large, centre-mounted display screen, which is often awkward and cumbersome. You must also focus on the nav screen to complete simple tasks – when one should be focused on the road and traffic ahead. While Volvo is certainly not alone in this approach, I prefer vehicles with some actual knobs and buttons on the dashboard to do such simple things as changing the speed of the fan or selecting a different radio station.

Even going through the nav screen to make these changes on the Volvo is more complex than on some other brands, which runs to Volvo’s decades-long focus on safety. Don’t loan this vehicle to a friend or relative for a quick spin or a weekend jaunt without first giving them some lessons on how to operate the controls.

Competitors in this mid-size luxury SUV segment include the Acura RDX, the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Genes GV70, the Lincoln Nautilus, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.

The Volvo XC60 balances performance, economy, comfort, size and hauling capacity. But improvements to the information system with more intuitive controls and more actual buttons would go a long way to making this vehicle easier to operate and enjoy.

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.

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By Dale Johnson

Dale Edward Johnson has extensive experience in both journalism and corporate communications. He is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online, and has more than 1,300 articles and columns in Canada and the United States to his name. Dale has experience in news, sports, current affairs and feature writing. He has worked at the local and network level. He has been an anchor, disk jockey, editor, producer, reporter, researcher and writer. In his career in corporate communications, he has worked in the business, educational, financial and government sectors. As a university instructor and corporate trainer, Dale has guided and mentored board members, CEOs, politicians, university professors, senior executives and communications professionals. Dale earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Saskatchewan, and has taken classes in business, economics and education at the University of Regina. As well as his work as a journalist, communications consultant and instructor, Dale loves to restore classic cars, lead public walking tours of historical buildings and run half marathons.

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