BY SUE MEAD
While driving along a twisty road coiling through small villages, I’m smitten with the views of a majestic, multi-peaked rocky mountainous range. Lowering my gaze to the cockpit of the 2018 Volvo XC60, I’m impressed by the quiet charm of this Scandinavian-inspired interior.
Its mission is to shelter its driver and passengers in a sanctuary of tranquil luxury, with a plentiful dose of comfort, convenience and technology features at-the-ready, and to protect the precious onboard cargo in a cabin engineered to provide world-renowned safety.
The new XC60 is longer, lower and wider, with more interior roominess and a more planted feel on the road. It boasts a number of significant upgrades to safety, along with standard all-wheel drive and an optional air suspension. Three trims include the base Momentum that starts at $41,500, the sporty R-Design, and the top-of-the-line Inscription. All can be ordered with choice of a 250-horsepower four-cylinder T5 powertrain, or a 316-hp four-cylinder T6. A T8 supercharged version, built on Volvo’s gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain gets 400 horses.
Two gas-powered engines are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission; the T5 is turbocharged and gets 258 lb.-ft. of torque, while the T6 is both turbo- and supercharged and pushes the torque to 295 lb.-ft. Drives modes include Comfort, Dynamic, Off Road, and Eco settings, with changes that affect throttle, steering, brake pedal feel, suspension and fuel economy.
We drove a XC60 T6 Inscription that was impeccably poised with a quick-reacting AWD system and sprightly power; well-weighted steering was well-weighted with three levels of driver-adjustable settings to vary overall power assistance. Our model came with the four-corner air suspension that has automatic leveling-it can raise 1.5 inches in the Off-Road mode for backcountry excursions.
Think of the second-gen XC60 as a smaller version of the award-winning seven-passenger XC90, as it borrows the athletic influence on the design language of its sibling both outside and in. The exterior has been sculpted to communicate muscle and performance through a brawnier design sketched with a long hood, short overhangs, a sleek profile and a shorter and more snubbed backend than the XC90.
The front is distinguished by a glossy chrome frame grille; LED headlights with the heritage-indicator Thor’s Hammer design. The interior is crafted with an atmosphere that whispers peacefulness and simplicity, with a driver-oriented cockpit that has uninterrupted design surfaces hewed of beautiful natural materials and tasteful trims that include reclaimed driftwood inlay and hand-stitched leather, among other high-end surfaces and touch-points.
Safety is boosted with standard or available features, which Volvo says are best-in-class. Onboard are updates to standard Intellisafe City Safety and the new Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous “hands on the wheel” system that reads straight lines and gentle turns up to 80 mph.
Among other features are standard Oncoming Lane Mitigation and BLIS with Steering Assist safety information that is displayed via an optional Heads-Up display or the Digital Driver Display. Lane Keeping is also standard and actively steers you back to the middle of the lane between 40 and 124 mph and standard Collision Avoidance now works up to 37 mph, guiding your vehicle to make evasive actions on its own to save pedestrians, cyclists, or large animals, such as moose.
A run-off road mitigation system helps keep you on the road, and state-of-the-art shock-absorbent seats help protect your spine in an accident; the XC60 also brakes to a halt and unlocks automatically after an accident. An additional safety package bundles a 360-degree camera, rear-collision warning with auto braking, cross traffic alert and both ultrasonic and camera-based parking aids.