Considering my family sports utility vehicle is 18 years old, I can find something to appreciate about all the brand-new SUVs and crossovers put through test drives for this space.
However, the Volvos always pulls ahead of the pack, which may be no surprise given their buyers generally shell out more for that brand. (How much more, in the case of the 2018 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription, is covered farther down.)
When it comes to a smooth ride, stylish looks, solid performance, impressive extras and especially passenger safety, Volvos always score at or near the top, at least when I am doing the scoring.
I expected no less with the XC60 T6, which exceeded those expectations.
To be honest, the very first thing I noticed after climbing behind the wheel was the Bowers and Wilkins speaker on the driver-side door. Just looking at it, you know it had to sound great. It’s like an art piece.
All 10 speakers throughout the cabin sounded swell, as they should given they are part of a premium system that added a hefty $3,200 to the total sticker price.
The 330-watt sound system handles HD radio, Sirius XM satellite radio (that comes with a six-month subscription), hands-free Bluetooth audio streaming and smart-phone integration.
My first rides were back and forth to work, which is only a freeway exit away from my home, so my time to enjoy the tunes and Mr. Stern were limited. But crank it I did when errands took me to Newport Center, where a brand-new Volvo fit right in, as well as on test drives that spanned the entire Orange Coast.
Had it been unfamiliar ground, I would have more often relied on the Sensus navigation information displayed on the Inscription’s 12.3-inch touchscreen. New buyers get subscriptions of six months or three gigabytes of data for navigation and a wi-fi hotspot, which I can report comes in handy on a long trip accompanied by multiple passengers and electronic devices, as do the two included USB ports.
Of course, peace of mind comes with Volvo On-Call, a four-year complimentary service that includes a mobile app with remote start and navigation information sent to the XC60 T6.
I’ve written before about the safety features on Volvos being overwhelming, especially if you are not used to them. Something routinely seems as if it is chiming, buzzing or flashing. (Or maybe it’s telling me to enroll in a driver refresher course.)
There is run-off road mitigation, which steers you back into the lane if the vehicle believes–and yes, Volvos are capable of believing–you are getting off track. That’s the one that can be disconcerting because there are times it pulls the opposite direction of a curve, albeit ever so briefly.
It’s among the many standard XC60 T6 safety features that also includes run-off road protection, which tightens the seat belt in accidental lane departures. Fortunately, I did not experience that because there are other doo-dads to keep you in your lanes and most especially out of the oncoming ones.
City Safety Collision Avoidance detects other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and large animals, and road signs are displayed on the lower part of the driver-side windshield.
Should the unthinkable happen, you are riding in a high-strength steel cage with sophisticated seat belts and air bags all around, as you’d expect from a driving safety leader like Volvo, which applies the same consciousness to its protection of those in child seats. LED headlight and fog light configurations are also safety-minded, and a decade of emergency crash notification is standard for buyers.
Besides safety, Volvos are known for their smooth rides and luxury. The former is ensured with a double wishbone front and integral link rear suspension, advanced electronic stability control, electric power assisted steering and the all-season tires wrapped around the 20-inch Inscription alloy wheels.
Among my favorite standard features is the sunshade that can be retracted automatically to expose the panoramic moonroof. Four-zone climate control, leather upholstery, power front seats (with memory), seat extenders throughout, split-folding backrest, rear park assist camera, power tailgate with programmable height, aluminum sill plates, illuminated door handles, Driftwood Deco inlays and tailored dashboard are all standard.
The 2018 XC60 T6 has an importer’s suggested list price of $44,900. But my Inscription test ride included several extras, packages and fees that pushed the total sticker cost up to $63,290.
The extra chunk of change pays for, among other things, Nappa leather, a 360-degree camera, a 12-volt power outlet, the “Pine Grey Metallic” exterior paint job, chrome bars and trim, body-colored tailpipes, more safety alerts, headlight high pressure cleaning, heated front and rear seats, steering wheel and wiper blades and even a “cooled” glove compartment.
Lord knows how many times I’ve burnt my fingers in a hot glove box.
One luxury feature I shall not mock, because I am a spoiled little driving princess, is the front seat backrest massager. You don’t even have to tip it! Can someone please make those retroactive to a 2005 SUV from another carmaker?
By comparison, my XC60 T6 test ride had a 316-horse power, 295 pounds-feet of torque, 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged I-4 engine with standard all-wheel drive and power routed through an eight-speed authomatic transmission. If that read like deja vu all over again, you should have typed it!
Of course, being smaller than the XC90, the XC60 gets an EPA-rated 21 miles to the gallon in the city to its big sistah’s 20 mpg. They both are rated 27 mpg in the city; the XC60 gets a combined 23 mpg. But, get this: this XC60 costs $10,800 less than that XC90 did.
Volvo offers a 48-month or 50,000-mile (whichever comes first) limited warranty, 144 months of corrosion protection, free factory scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, roadside assistance and extended protection contracts through participating retailers.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.